How can we turn environmental and economic crises into an opportunity for a better life?
That’s the question behind a documentary that I watched a couple of weeks ago. “A Simpler Way: Crisis as Opportunity“, directed by Jordan Osmond and Samuel Alexander, follows a group of Australians as they build and live in a small community called Wurruk’an in Gippsland (south-western Victoria).
They build tiny houses and communal spaces from recycled materials, grow their own food, share skills, and struggle with community dynamics.
Scattered throughout the film, providing context to the on-the-ground experiences of the Wurruk’an community, there are also interviews with luminaries about simple living, energy descent, and permaculture.
I had a few reservations about the film, especially how it glossed over some of the more difficult areas. I would have liked to see more detail about the disagreements that ended in some people leaving the community. I would also have appreciated some recognition that the community was heavily dependent on fossil fuel transport, and hear some ideas about how they could live in a regional area, sourcing recycled building materials and bulk foods, and bringing in crowds of people to help with building projects, without depending on cars and vans.
That said, I found the movie thought-provoking and inspiring. It certainly gave me a kick in the pants to reconsider my own lifestyle, and how I can continue to bring it more in line with how I want to live.
For some time I’ve been meaning to sublet my spare rooms. One of the least sustainable parts of my life – both economically and in terms of energy and materials use – is that I live in a three-bedroom house all by myself. The time has come to change that, by finding others who want to share this space and this way of living. “A Simpler Way” helped me get over my fear of the difficulties involved in that, and to realise the urgency of doing so.
I hope “A Simpler Way” spurs others to action, too. With around 45,000 views on Youtube already, it has great potential for inspiring change. I highly recommend watching it, or even better, getting a group of people together for a viewing and discussion. The film is available on Youtube, or you can download a copy (at whatever price you choose) from Happen Films.