Stories and Anecdotes about Nonconsumers/howlies

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AxelHeyst
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Stories and Anecdotes about Nonconsumers/howlies

Post by AxelHeyst »

I brought up this idea in my journal a while back, but didn’t really pursue it (actually I attempted to shoehorn it into one of Ego’s threads, but in retrospect it got lost/wasn’t really a good fit).

The notion is that we’re surrounded by stories of mostly normal people. Many of us on the forum are interested in living non-normal lives, of a variety of styles. For inspiration and ideation, I’d like this thread to be a place where we can share specific examples of people who exhibit “non consumer” behavior. In the taxonomy of the WLs, I’d say we’re talking WL6 and up but if you aren’t into the WL schema, no worries! Just post stories about people doing badass non-consumery stuff.

I’m particularly interested in three kinds of people:
1) Historical non-consumers. A lot of people are going to fit the bill just because they lived before everyone in the world was a consumer. I think their stories are interesting to study, even if they were somewhat normal by the standards of their times. Some ideas: Thesiger, Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton, Benjamin Franklin (??), etc.
2) Non-consumers who don’t know anything about ERE. This would be the Suelos, the Boyles, the Greenfields. Also, it could include the woman who has been a solo cruiser for a long time and wrote the book Swell (on a phone so difficult to look stuff up at the moment). She mostly eats fishies she spears herself, forages from the jungle, etc.
3) ERE’rs who have Gone Beyond and stopped posting. Does anyone know their stories? Do any of these folks care to share their stories? I was inspired by BSOG’s post in the “A Jacob Mention”, his analogy of the hourglass funnel. I accept his explanation that on the other side of the funnel (WL7/systems thinking), people spread out and are no longer very interested in posting. Fine. But I’m intensely curious all the same, and would love to hear anything people on the other side of the funnel would care to share. Does anyone have a sense for how many people have come to ERE and worked their way to WL7, using the ERE framework?

Something Ego brought up in my journal is that it’s difficult to live legally at certain levels of non-consumer hood, which explains why many don’t post about their lives. I was reminded of his comment as I just traveled through the dense, isolated forests of Northern California where every property has a “keep out” sign at the gate and tarps to block views.

As the OP, I’m explicitly stating that while I want the core of the discussion to be practical (e.g. what are people actually doing? what are their journeys and stories? what does their day-to-day look like?), esoteric WL theoretical analysis on top of the stories is welcome in this thread. If the spiral dynamics nerds want to add red/blue/orange/purple commentary on the stories, have at it. etc.

I’ll start:
An example of a historical figure is the author/protagonist of Seven Years in Tibet. He was a German national in India doing scouting for a climbing expedition when WWII broke out. He was put in a prison camp, which he broke out of twice to escape to Tibet. His escape required a multitude of skills (orienteering, escape and evasion, social skills, negotiation/barter, tactical lying, medical skills, high physical condition, How to Not Freeze to Death at Super High Elevation). And then he lived in Tibet for a while, and made himself useful by employing his medical knowledge, horticultural skills (he became a desired garden designer for high class Tibetans), film/cinematography, and eventually became a tutor to the Dalai Lama. It’s an incredible story and lots of inspiration and practical examples of how he employed Renaissance Man skills to live an incredible life, and take advantage of serendipitous encounters.

daylen
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Re: Stories and Anecdotes about Nonconsumers/howlies

Post by daylen »

Hyper-consumerism is primarily an orange phenomenon and orange has been becoming more influential ever since people started to cluster closer together in cities which act as resource hubs for global extraction. It would seem that the WL's are an effective response to the excesses of orange that speaks mostly to orange itself. Blue will tend to either take models too seriously or completely ignore them. Green, the stage above orange, will tend to resist hierarchical models because they exclude. Yellow will soak up the model and if it comes up again then that's that.

The more orange you are the more likely you are to see utility in hierarchical models and this is ultimately ironic because a natural hierarchy pulls you away from personal utility and pushes you into greater inclusion. In the mist of green, the boundaries between personal and collective utility become fuzzy. Yellow tends to integrate and resolve this fuzziness by becoming more discerning and comfortable with uncertainty.

For the relevance of this thread, two separate sets of non-orange examples may start to accumulate. Especially in our past, purple-red-blue cultures mostly did not think in terms of consumption, optimization, or individualism. Now and into the future, green-yellow-turquoise examples can be found on the edge of mainstream but there is a "dark forest" awaiting revolution which is harder to see the more orange you lean. Orange is so pervasive in much of our current culture that probably everyone underestimates how much it influences their thoughts.

jacob
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Re: Stories and Anecdotes about Nonconsumers/howlies

Post by jacob »

Some examples of what I'd consider WL6+ non-consumers.
https://www.amazon.com/Possum-Living-wi ... 947793209/
https://www.amazon.com/Radical-Simplici ... 762424923/
https://www.amazon.com/Flight-City-Expe ... 789871271/

There's a lot that's pre-WL6 though. The way I distinguish is to specifically look for signs of holistic competence and concerns. That to me is the funnel---the transition between the cave and the surface. There's a whole lot more one can do once outside whereas the actual escape process is easier to determine since most have the same starting point.

I've been trying to curate a list for https://wiki.earlyretirementextreme.com ... ed_Sources but I worry that specific examples of "N+too much" will be seen as "oh so that's what it's specifically about" or "so ultimately it's just a bunch of hippie pseudo-science" insofar the reader is unable to read between the lines. E.g. a variant of this [concrete short cut] problem:
white belt wrote:
Wed Jun 09, 2021 3:22 pm
As an example, let's say there are 2 priests/monks/religious experts having a discussion about scripture. A layperson walks up (maybe they are a member of the same religion or maybe they are atheist). The man listens to the discussion, hearing many familiar words and ideas. He is surprised that the priests are using common language with minimal jargon. The discussion is complete and he walks away assuming that he grasps the ideas and has an understanding on par with the priests (let's call that X). If after the discussion, before walking away he were to instead tell the priests "Oh I get what you are saying; of course X!" both priests would look at him like he was crazy. "No we weren't talking about X at all, you misunderstand. You should really take more time studying and working on foundational knowledge Y and Z if you want a better understanding." The man then responds "No thanks, I think you guys just need to do a better job of explaining it to me."
So that's why I haven't and probably won't put in public wiki suggestions until I develop a [much] longer list.

Ultimately, I see WL9+ as more than non-consumerism. It's building a new society outside the cave. Not consuming is just a finger pointing at that society.

oldbeyond
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Re: Stories and Anecdotes about Nonconsumers/howlies

Post by oldbeyond »

I’ll submit Richard Perkins of Ridgedale Permaculture. Poke around his youtube channel or listen to some podcast with him to get the story. I could have chosen some other prominent figure in the regenerative agriculture universe but I’m most familiar with him.

Basically he runs a complex farming operation that is not only really regenerative, but also very profitable (from actual production, not courses or retreats) and an incubator for a host of other similar enterprises (so he is farming farmers in a sense). Extremely practical but embodying quite lofty ideals and living as a part of a complex system of his own creation. I’m not very well versed in spiral dynamics but I’d place him at yellow, often pointing out the excesses of green (the more idealistic/shallow end of permaculture for example) and how to transcend that.

horsewoman
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Re: Stories and Anecdotes about Nonconsumers/howlies

Post by horsewoman »

Yes, Richard Perkins would be a great example! I learned about his YouTube channel here on the forums and have been a subscriber ever since. Definitely worth checking out.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Stories and Anecdotes about Nonconsumers/howlies

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Carol Deppe, scientist, gardener, author, expert on food resilience. She bred corn back to original Native varieties!

Kind of outside of the box, but I was thinking about how Defoe’s early novels were relevant to “ERE.” Moll Flanders could hardly be described as frugal, but she was super good at working outside of societal preset norms with the limited “capital” at her disposal given era/gender/class. Then Defoe also offers the basis for stock reality TV survival show with the limitations faced by Robinson Crusoe. Seems to me that Defoe must have had Dirtbag soul.

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Lemur
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Re: Stories and Anecdotes about Nonconsumers/howlies

Post by Lemur »

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Erd%C5%91s

Fits the bill minus the constant want for stimulants :lol:

RoamingFrancis
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Re: Stories and Anecdotes about Nonconsumers/howlies

Post by RoamingFrancis »

I suggest an eccentric Russian friend of mine. He grew up off grid in Siberia, became a lawyer, moved to Thailand to become a massage therapist, and recently hitchhiked from Mexico to Argentina. Also an excellent musician and is known for his half-naked Metallica performances.

RoamingFrancis
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Re: Stories and Anecdotes about Nonconsumers/howlies

Post by RoamingFrancis »

Bill Mollison seems to fit as well. Here's his biography from Permaculture: A Designer's Manual:

Born in 1928 in the small fishing village of Stanley, Tasmania, Bill Mollison left school at the age of 15 to help run the family bakery. He soon went to sea as a shark fisherman and seaman bringing vessels from post-war disposals to southern ports, and until 1954 filled a variety of jobs as a forester, mill-worker, trapper, snarer, tractor-driver, and naturalist.

Bill joined the CSIRO (Wildlife Surver Section) in 1954 and for the next nine years worked in many remote locations in Austrailia as a biologist, doing field work on rabbits, locusts, muttonbirds, and forest regeneration problems with marsupials. In 1963 he spent a year at the Tasmania Museum in curatorial duties, then returned to field work with the Inland Fisheries Commission surveying the macrofauna of inland waters and estuaries, recording food chains and water conditions in all the rivers and lagoons of Tasmania.

Returning to studies in 1966, he lived on his wits running cattle, bouncing at dances, shark fishing, and teaching part-time at an exclusive girls' school. Upon receiving his degree in biogeography, he was appointed to the University of Tasmania where he later developed the unit of Environmental Psychology. During his university period (which lasted for 10 years), Bill independently researched and published a three-volume treatise on the history and genealogies of the descendants of the Tasmanian aborigines. In 1974, he and David Holmgren developed and refined the permaculture concept, leading to the publication of Permaculture One and Permaculture Two. Since leaving the University in 1978, Bill has devoted all his energies to furthering the system of permaculture and spreading the idea and principles worldwide. He has taught thousands of students, and has contributed many articles, curricula, reports, and recommendations for farm projects, urban clusters, and local government bodies. In 1981, Bill Mollison received the Right Livelihood Award (sometimes called the "Alternative Nobel Prize") for his work in environmental design. In recent years, he has established a "Trust in Aid" fund to enable permaculture teachers to reach groups in need, particularly in the poorer parts of the world, with the aim of leaving a core of teachers locally to continue appropriate educational work.

Bill Mollison is the Executive Director of the Permaculture Institute, which was established in 1979 to teach the practical design of sustainable soil, water, plant, and legal and economic systems to students worldwide.

Western Red Cedar
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Re: Stories and Anecdotes about Nonconsumers/howlies

Post by Western Red Cedar »

I shared this podcast with Rob Greenfield in @RF's journal, but wanted to post it here as I noticed some parallels to ERE Wheaton Levels and think it is worth a listen for the larger group. His focus on social capital, as an alternative to monetary capital, is particularly notable and something that's come up in other threads recently - viewtopic.php?f=6&t=11998

Greenfield is a powerful example because his approach to developing skills tends to focus on supporting and empowering other people.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IV5avFEUt3E

RoamingFrancis
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Re: Stories and Anecdotes about Nonconsumers/howlies

Post by RoamingFrancis »

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=HAoiSYEOGDA

Kenton Whitman of ReWild University, discussing the topic of money

http://liselotteroosen.blogspot.com/sea ... =false&m=1

Liselotte, who is dumpster-diving her way through her PhD.

Salathor
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Re: Stories and Anecdotes about Nonconsumers/howlies

Post by Salathor »

A good historical example is Charles Ingalls (Pa from the little house in the prairie books, which I just read through with my 5yo daughter). In many respects about as self-sufficient as a modern person could ever imagine, but in other respects he shows just how very true it is that there's nothing new under the sun.

He goes between surviving a winter by twisting hay by hand into little sticks to keep the family from freezing to death and then, a year later, spending all of his savings (and some of Laura's!) to buy an expensive organ for another daughter who doesn't live at home. And again, and again, this pattern of utter self-sufficiency and a complete inability to be wise with financial resources show themselves.

I highly recommend the entire series (except for Farmer Boy, which I didn't read, and Little House in the Big Woods, which was interesting but aimed at younger kids than the rest of the series).

ducknald_don
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Re: Stories and Anecdotes about Nonconsumers/howlies

Post by ducknald_don »

This guy has gone twenty years without touching money:

https://www.capitaldaily.ca/news/pennil ... hout-money

Laura Ingalls
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Re: Stories and Anecdotes about Nonconsumers/howlies

Post by Laura Ingalls »

@Salazor

The Ingalls crew also left Burr Oak, IA in the middle of the night owing money to nearly everyone. I also think the economy was just more volatile in those days. If grasshoppers ate all the crops in Minnesota today both the Feds and the state would rush to help instead they were SOL.

A hard South Dakota winter is no joke. That they survived purely from a mental health perspective is pretty amazing. Maybe the organ was for mental health?
Last edited by Laura Ingalls on Wed Jul 28, 2021 10:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

Salathor
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Re: Stories and Anecdotes about Nonconsumers/howlies

Post by Salathor »

Laura Ingalls wrote:
Wed Jul 28, 2021 8:08 am
@Salazor
I also think the economy was just more volatile in those days. If grasshoppers ate all the crops in Minnesota today both the Feds and the state would rush to help instead they were SOL.

A hard South Dakota winter is no joke. That they survived purely from a mental health perspective is pretty amazing. Maybe the organ was for mental health?
I don't think the organ was directly related to the winter; it was a few years later, after your namesake :-) had grown up and gotten a real job. It sounded like Pa just got a good line on an organ and couldn't resist!

My god they had a rough winter though. If you haven't read the whole series, The Long Winter is a powerful book of survival and pioneering on the very edge of civilization.

Laura Ingalls
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Re: Stories and Anecdotes about Nonconsumers/howlies

Post by Laura Ingalls »

Can’t speak for the rest of board but I have read the books, most of the biographies, visited most of the historic sites, and survived two winters in South Dakota.

Laura was also a pioneer in the young adult category which developed in the 1930-1940 previous to that (in English anyway) there were kid books and adult fiction.

tsch
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Re: Stories and Anecdotes about Nonconsumers/howlies

Post by tsch »

I'd suggest Callie Russell:
https://www.caprakhan.com/

She was a contestant on Alone, and it was clear during the show that she was playing on a different level that most. IIRC, she was recruited into the show (rather than hearing about it and then doing all of the marketing-type work to get selected to be on it).

AxelHeyst
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Re: Stories and Anecdotes about Nonconsumers/howlies

Post by AxelHeyst »

Chris Ryan (author of Sex at Dawn and Civilized to Death) interviewed Callie Russel on his podcast, recommended.

Bonde
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Re: Stories and Anecdotes about Nonconsumers/howlies

Post by Bonde »

Two youtube channels I really like:
- Simple living Alaska. Couple bought a cabin and makes most stuff by themselves. I have not seen their numbers but they must be low consumers. Inspirational for their DIY mentality and beautiful filming of the landscapes.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3FHvW ... 7IqPnb0nmA
- Ed Pratt. Goes around the world on a unicycle. Amazing series, binged it. Fun journey where he meets many people and gave me a low key view of other cultures. Shows his numbers in a vid and I thought it was quite low spending for a 3-4 year trip.
https://www.youtube.com/user/worldunicycletour

Bonde
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Re: Stories and Anecdotes about Nonconsumers/howlies

Post by Bonde »

AxelHeyst wrote:
Wed Jul 28, 2021 1:28 pm
Chris Ryan (author of Sex at Dawn and Civilized to Death) interviewed Callie Russel on his podcast, recommended.
Auch. Got spoiled by clicking on the link :lol:
The season just got available on Danish national broadcasting.

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