a simple life

A few days ago, my old friend Pippa and I were out for a stroll on a humid Vancouver evening. We recalled the intense sense of emergency we felt about the state of the world when we first met, in 1995. The millennium was five short years away. Everywhere there was news about collapsing fish stocks, global warming, battles over clearcut logging. I decided to drop out of university and move to Cortes Island on the west coast of British Columbia to learn how to grow my own food. At the time, it seemed like the only logical thing to do. The end was nigh and I was going to be part of rebuilding something better when it came. Pippa and I met when she came to visit a friend who was also on Cortes. A couple of years later in Victoria, we teamed up to teach people how to grow their own food and took guerilla tours through Safeway alerting shoppers to product marketing, genetically modified foods, and the social and environmental impacts of agricultural practices. All this was done with a sense of urgency, a deep conviction that we had to get this message out Right Now.

Things are different for us today. Not that the warning signs about the world's fate are any less dire but the millennium came and went. We realized that we were dealing with a longer window of time than we had imagined. More importantly, the weight of our message became too much for us to live with so urgently on a daily basis. We could only maintain our doomsdaying for a few years before we both burned out and realized we had to simply focus on putting what we believed into practice. I buy organic produce, go to local farmers' markets to meet the people who grow my food, bike almost everywhere, rarely buy anything that isn't used, and enjoy nothing more than picking and eating a fresh tomato from the vine. But I am less motivated now by urgency and guilt than by the pure pleasure of these acts. Feeling the push to reduce my negative impact on the Earth led me to discover one of the best kept secrets about living with less: It actually feels better. . .

Samara Brock currently lives in Vancouver where she is pursuing a Master's degree in Community Planning.

Alex Abdilla is fascinated by people's quest for security and satisfaction in urban environments. He uses Vancouver's burgeoning steel and glass condominiums as the subject of his artwork, juxtaposed against the ocean, forests and mountains that have garnered the city an image of "urban utopia." Abdilla's art encourages us to consider what really makes for quality of life and a sense of belonging in the city. "When does the economic value of a packaged product, like a modern home, outweigh the spiritual connection gained from a green space?" Abdilla asks. "What kind of city would we be developing if there were no place for children to bond with other children in a playground?"

Abdilla graduated from Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in 2000. His works are found in the Canada Council Art Bank and other collections across North America and Europe. His next show "In Pursuit of Home" appears at the Diane Farris Gallery, Vancouver, in spring 2004. See www.dianefarrisgallery.com for images and information.

Copyright ©2007 ascent magazine, first Canadian yoga magazine, yoga for an inspired life