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Twelve by Twelve: A One-Room Cabin Off the Grid and Beyond the American Dreamby William Powers
Synopses & Reviews
Why would a successful American physician choose to live in a twelve-foot-by-twelve-foot cabin without running water or electricity? To find out, writer and activist William Powers visited Dr. Jackie Benton in rural North Carolina. No Name Creek gurgled through Benton’s permaculture farm, and she stroked honeybees’ wings as she shared her wildcrafter philosophy of living on a planet in crisis. Powers, just back from a decade of international aid work, then accepted Benton’s offer to stay at the cabin for a season while she traveled. There, he befriended her eclectic neighbors — organic farmers, biofuel brewers, eco-developers — and discovered a sustainable but imperiled way of life.
In these pages, Powers not only explores this small patch of community but draws on his international experiences with other pockets of resistance. This engrossing tale of Powers’s struggle for a meaningful life with a smaller footprint proposes a paradigm shift to an elusive “Soft World” with clues to personal happiness and global healing.
“Powers learned firsthand what it means to be self-sufficient in the midst of a nation that profligately squanders its resources and looks askance at those who choose to live deliberately....[His] eloquent memoir reveals the breadth of this conflict and the depth of one man’s commitment to himself and his community.” Booklist
“Powers combines environmental writing in the vein of Thoreau with Zen, economics, warrior presence, and even a touch of dramas of the heart to present a holistic view of contemporary deliberate living. Readers interested in a simpler and more sustainable lifestyle will enjoy the flowing prose and concrete thoughts as they reflect on their own American dream.” Library Journal
“Offers precious insights into the ways that all individuals living in a fast-paced consumer culture might incorporate different ways of thinking about the natural world into their lives.” Publishers Weekly
“Powers speaks with the authority of one who has seen the ramifications of the flattening world....Students of environmental and globalization ethics will be just as interested in Mr. Powers’ journey as the activist or layperson exploring how to motivate self and the world to move towards sustainability.” ForeWord
Book News Annotation:
Powers, after traveling extensively in Africa as part of his activity with humanitarian concerns, returned to the US with a changed perspective regarding the American way of life. His insights were deepened by living on the land in a 12-foot by 12-foot cabin. This memoir records the experience of that time in detail, and argues for the spiritual depth and closer relationships that can come from questioning the need to consume, living closer to the land, and learning to appreciate a slower lifestyle. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Part Annie Dillard, part Bill McKibben, this book offers riveting armchair travel through a landscape rich with clues to personal and global healing.
About the Author
William Powers is the author of two critically acclaimed books. His Liberia memoir, Blue Clay People: Seasons on Africa's Fragile Edge (2005) received a Publishers Weekly starred review and Whispering in the Giant's Ear: A Frontline Chronicle from Bolivia's War on Globalization (2006) has been featured on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross and in Newsweek.He lives part-time in New York City.
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