(Page updated 11/01/2013)
is some background on our ongoing exploration of some of the practical aspects
of simple living.
While living in Brownsville, Texas in 1990, he remodeled a small outbuilding on a friend's property, converting it into simple living quarters. Here he began experimenting with composting toilets, solar ovens, rainwater harvesting, gardening, and other technologies and skills of simple living.
Pearl also experienced a turn toward a simpler life around the same time. Although she had been attracted to simple land-integrated living from an early age through the influence of her Mennonite up-bringing, our meeting in 1990 was her first exposure to many of the simple technologies described here. Pearl is a nurse and works part time in Oregon.
In 1991, we (Pearl and David) developed a partnership with the ICM Missionary Sisters, an international order of Catholic sisters working in some of the world's most marginalized communities. Together, we started Casa Juliana, a community of people dedicated to living and working with migrant farmworker communities along the Texas/Mexico border. All who lived at the Casa Juliana community were committed to using a variety of simple technologies on a daily basis. This practice and commitment was an invaluable proving ground for developing and refining these technologies. During our 7 years at Casa Juliana, David also did consulting work on affordable housing and simple technologies with individuals and other organizations such as United Farmworkers Union, Habitat for Humanity and Appalachia--Science in the Public Interest.
In 1997, we moved to the small rural community of Cascabel, Arizona in the Sonoran Desert, where we continue to live about half of each year (winter). Our experiments here have taken the lessons learned at Casa Juliana a step further, simplifying the technologies even more, adapting them to an aridland environment. We belong to and are active in several local conservation groups including the Saquaro-Juniper Association, the Cascabel Conservation Association and more recently helped found the Lower San Pedro Watershed Alliance. David continues to do sustainable system design and consulting with individuals and organizations in the U.S. and Mexico. In 2005 he was also active in helping to rewrite the composting toilet rules for the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. A current project includes field testing of two site-built composting toilet designs at 24 sites in southeast Arizona. A goal of this project is to develop a reference design for these toilets. The project is being coordinated by the Tucson-based Watershed Management Group and is being conducted in conjunction with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and the University of Arizona.
In 1999, we began spending part of the summer with friends on a farm in the Willamette Valley near Corvallis, Oregon (see www.holderreadfarm.com). Since then, it's become a tradition for us to spend summers there, gardening, working with on various projects around the farm and enjoying occasional backpacking, bicycling and sea kayaking trips. We live in the same relatively simple fashion in Oregon as in Arizona.