jess's Reviews > Living The Good Life: How One Family Changed Their World From Their Own Backyard

Living The Good Life by Linda Cockburn
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's review
Mar 28, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: 2009, growing
Recommended to jess by: krista wanted to read "made from scratch," but the library had t
Read in March, 2009

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself -- Leo Tolstoy

This is an inspiring story of a small family in Australia, and their six month adventure of not spending money. Everything they use and consume is grown, produced, scavenged, or bartered, although mostly everything is produced and grown by the family. They have a composting toilet, rainwater barrels, solar panels, a giant garden, a nasty goat, a bunch of chickens, and an incredible ability to look at the possibilities of the world, instead of limitations. The triumphs and failures of the holiday are here for you to celebrate or groan alongside the family. The family makes a clear case that nothing in the world will change unless that change starts with them. I wish I had that kind of motivation & accountability to a better world.

Trev & Linda have been on the path to a more sustainable lifestyle for a while, so they already have a lot of the capital invested to switch over for this experiment. It would be unsustainable for most families to just lose an income (Linda stays home to care for their homestead), bike everywhere, start homeschooling, build tremendous gardens, and move their house toward water/energy independence for six months. There is a lot of sage advice here, especially if you live in a similar climate, but it is definitely not a manual for your own six months of spending-free living.

The book is laid out brilliantly. Anecdotes from the "journal" section of the book segue into how-to sectiona, complete with recipes or building advice, followed by a fact-heavy subchapter that correlates with the larger, national issue at hand - water consumption, power consumption, factory farming, pesticides, and so on. It flows really well, and avoids common traps of books like this - superiority complexes, guilt trips, I never felt like I was reading a text book, but there was a lot of dense information available. Additionally, a memoir/journal like this can come across as very biased, but these interspersed factoid sections grounded the family's work in reality & science.

you can follow the cockburn family on linda's blog, here:
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