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.
A penetrating account of what its like to move to the margins in our particular time and place. It will make you think, hard.”
Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy and founder of 350.org
An honest, courageous, and authentic tale of one gifted writers attempt to find balance in a world in crisis. Reading this deeply human book has helped me to find a more genuine peace in the midst of the craziness.”
John Robbins, author of The New Good Life and Diet for a New America
In this quiet, startling adventure, William Powers brings two worlds into focus simultaneously. He helps us see with fresh eyes the stultifying ugliness, homogeneity, and bankruptcy of a growth-addicted culture. And, at the same time, he helps us rediscover the beauty and liberation that radical simplicity can bring. In his engaging company, we look into the lives of sly, unobtrusive heroes who are building the new in the shell of the old.”
Joanna Macy, author of World as Lover, World as Self
How much is enough? And what is really important? These are questions that William Powers runs into again and again in his time off the grid in the U.S. and overseas, but his humble and contemplative memoir handles them with freshness and honesty, recognizing that sometimes asking the questions is more important than finding the right answers.”
Lester R. Brown, president of Earth Policy Institute and author of Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization
A true story of rediscovery of and reconnection with fundamental truths and values. Enchanting and heartwarming, Twelve by Twelve is a modern-day Walden.”
Dr. Thomas E. Lovejoy, president of the Heinz Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment
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.”
For anyone who has considered that there must be an alternative to our busy, speedy, hungry, consuming world, this book shows us the way. William Powerss deeply personal journey reminds us that a return to basics and a simple life may help us to rediscover ourselves, our communities, and the natural world we live in.”
Michael Ableman, farmer and author of Fields of Plenty
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.”
“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
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.