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The Good Life Lab: Radical Experiments in Hands-On Living [Paperback]

Wendy Jehanara Tremayne , Dale Dougherty , Christopher Bamford , Brad Lancaster , Sandor Ellix Katz , Alyce Santoro , Pir Zia Inayat-Kahn , The Reverend Billy , Doug Rushkoff
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

May 1 2013

This is the inspirational story of how one couple ditched their careers and high-pressure life in New York City to move to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, where they made, built, invented, foraged, and grew all they needed to live self-sufficiently, discovering a new sense of value and abundance in the process. Alongside their personal story are tips and tutorials to guide readers in the discovery of a fulfilling new lifestyle that relies less on money. Tremayne wholeheartedly believes that everyone has the skill, imagination and creativity to make it work. 

 

Tremaynenot only teaches the art of making biofuel, appliances, structures, gardens, food, and medicine but also presents reasons for makers to share their innovations and ideas through open source and creative commons licenses. She shares the joys of creating out of waste, home manufacture, and reconnecting with nature, and she teaches readers how to live off the grid. Practical, contemplative, and action-oriented, The Good Life Lab is the manual for life in a post-consumer age. 

 

In addition, The Good Life Lab is filled with illustrations contributed by a community of artists -- Alethea Morrison, Allegra Lockstadt, Andrew Saeger, Bert van Wijk, Christopher Silas Neal, Gina Triplett, Grady McFerrin, Joel Holland, Josh Cochran, Julia Rothman, Kate Bingaman Burt, Katie Scott, Kristian Olson, Mattias Adolfsson, Meg Hunt, Melinda Beck, Miyuki Sakai, Rachel Salomon, and Sasha Prood -- making the book itself a work of art. 

 

The Smyth-sewn binding style is the highest-quality book binding available. It is more durable than a glued binding and lets the book open flat, making it easier to read. The Good Life Lab has an exposed spine so that readers can appreciate and understand how the object was made.


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Review

"Stop whatever you’re doing and get this book. I’ve just finished reading it and I have to say that Wendy and Mikey could easily be the poster children for modern day hacking. ...There wasn’t a single piece of their lives that wasn’t somehow improved by their efforts to play an active role in their own living. … Their life is their workbench. … should be handed out in high schools as part of the curriculum.”



“Tremayne is part of a grand American tradition of abandoning urban commercialism to grow food and build houses far from the crush of city life. … There are many roads to satisfaction, from homesteading to buying a ticket into space, and the advice underlying [The Good Life Lab] ultimately has less to do with composting and more to do with deciding what you are willing to sacrifice to live as you choose.”



“Have you ever felt so fed up with the materialism of the modern world that you wanted to opt out and go back to a simpler way of living? That’s exactly what Tremayne and her boyfriend ended up doing, in an effort to get in touch with what’s important in life."



“Captivating right from the start … Whether for inspiration or as a road map to creating your own off-the-grid homestead, Tremayne’s book is a must read for any maker who fantasizes about stepping off the consumer-centered treadmill and into a life that is connected to nature, unhurried and meaningful.”



“Visionary naturalist and conceptual artist Wendy Jehanara Tremayne presents a unique synthesis of memoir, travelogue, guru-level spiritual wisdom and pragmatic instruction on how to get out of the ‘waste stream’ in which urbanites wallow and re-enter the vital stream of the natural world.”



“Part essay, part how-to book, The Good Life Lab is for anyone who wants to live closer to the source of their food, housing, clothing and energy use.  If you want inspiring examples of do-it-yourself creativity then read this book.  From building with recycled materials headed for the land fill, to making biodiesel and more, this one is sure to spark ideas for your own hands-on living.  A refreshing read from a couple who is leading by example.”



Named a Best Staycation Summer Read: “If you want to reset your psychological clock and improve your lifestyle while staying in the same place, then The Good Life Lab is the book for you.”



“Shares a wealth of information to inspire people who may want to embark on their own path of discovery. “



“This rollicking, inspiring tale of Tremayne’s journey from being the creative director of N.Y.C. marketing firm Green Galactic to being a Burning Man volunteer, yoga teacher, Sufi seeker, and hardscrabble DIY urban homesteader in a former trailer park in the eccentric community of Truth or Consequences, N. Mex., is alternately funny, tender, philosophical, and practical. … Illustrated with whimsically florid drawings by a variety of artists and interspersed with essential how-tos for living “life in the waste stream”—from fermenting tempeh and brewing mead, to building a papercrete dome and removing rust from wrenches with electrolysis—the memoir riffs off Scott and Helen Nearing’s 1954 Living the Good Life with much more style and humor than the original, bringing the back-to-the-land genre up to date with impressive sophistication and appeal.”

About the Author

Wendy Tremayne was a creative director in a marketing firm in New York City before moving to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, where she built an off-the-grid oasis in a barren RV park with her partner, Mikey Sklar. She is the founder of the textile repurposing event Swap-O-Rama-Rama, which has spread all over the world; a conceptual artist; a yogi; a gardener; and a writer. She has written for Craft's webzine and Make magazine and, with Mikey Sklar, keeps the blog Holy Scrap.



Dale Dougherty is the founder, editor, and publisher of Make magazine.



Christopher Bamford is the author of An Endless Trace: The Passionate Pursuit of Wisdom in the West.



Brad Lancaster is the author of Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond.



Sandor Ellix Katz is the author of The Art of Fermentation.



Alyce Santoro is a conceptual and sound artist and a member of the multimedia collective known as the Center for the Improbable and (Im)Permacultural Research.



Pir Zia Inayat-Kahn is the spiritual leader of the Sufi Order International.



The Reverend Billy, of the Church of Stop Shopping, is the author of The End of the World.



Doug Rushkoff is a media theorist and the author of many books, including Life, Inc. and Present Shock.


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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars good blend of theory and practice Aug. 3 2013
By A. Butt
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
both a story of one couple's journey into "the good life", blended with some how-to guides on some simple living skills
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  41 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Model for Living June 10 2013
By Jennifer Alia - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Wendy, Mikey and their Good Life Lab are timely reminders that life is much more than the bill of goods we have been sold, literally!

While we may be convinced that the modern, material world, with its focus on money, stuff and entertainment, has the most value, it is really when we step out of this framework that a truly fulfilling life makes itself known.

The Good Life Lab guides us on the necessary steps to a better life, providing both loads of inspiration and useful information. Personally I am in the process of realigning my life accordingly and have never felt so free. Scared, too...yet gratefully unbound by convention.

This is an excellent manual for those of us called to simplify, become increasingly self-sufficient, learn how to make things, grow food, and live with abundance while spending less. Also a fabulous, engaging read. Highly recommended.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Warning: You Might Quit Your Day Job June 11 2013
By luke iseman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Seriously: this book may push you past the tipping point to dive in and start experimenting with a fulfilling, DIY, cubicle-free lifestyle.

Unlike most gardening books and permaculture tomes, this is not an academic text written by self-righteous 'experts:' it's an honest, hands-on account of the triumphs and setbacks encountered by real people who decided to make a tangible difference in the world by changing and sharing their lifestyles on a daily basis.

Memoir, political statement, DIY projects: this book is a lot of things. It succeeds at all of them. It's also the most beautifully-bound book I've ever purchased.

Read it, try some of their experiments for yourself, and share your own trials. A coupla million iterations on this and we'll have the bright green world we all hope for:)

Wendy and Mikey are great role models for anybody ready to stop making excuses and start changing the world. Read this, then get to work!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really a memoir, and a lovely one Oct. 15 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
This book is presented like a homesteader's guidebook ("First they modified a cooler by poking a hole in it for a lightbulb's cord to fit."), or even a self-help tome ("I hereby give myself permission to be illogical, contradictory, crazy, and strange -- whatever it takes to find a meaningful way to be in the world.").

However, don't be fooled. This book is really a memoir, and it's a powerful one, like a contemporary version of what it was like to read Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House on the Prairie". I plan to buy it for several friends and family members this Christmas. It's the kind of thing that should be read aloud to children (Ages 7-11) or given to teens who don't have a view into this kind of life.

If you liked or hated "Eat Pray Love", this book is a bit like that one, but done right. You get a very real sense of Wendy and her partner Mikey are doing with their lives - reading more about them on their websites makes it even more interesting. Who gives up the go-go world of advertising and marketing and corporate everything and drivenness and salaries to forage in dumpsters for junk and make their own fermented food? Well, normal people do, that's who. And they have found happiness doing it.

While you read it, you'll realize, even if you have zero intention of ever doing anything remotely like this with your life, that you are relaxing physically. You'll take some of Wendy's perspectives to heart, and you'll think of them as you live and work.

Some of the lovely takeaways from this book, that go way beyond homesteading, include:

- "View your life from the perspective of abundance, not lack"
- "With time, you can listen instead of hear and see instead of look"
- "Just get started - even if you don't know how"
- "Buy goods from people rather than from corporations"
- "Real quality of life is freedom from worry"

It is simply full of gems like this. So if you don't already live this kind of life - welcome to an enjoyable reading experience, that can fill a cold rainy day with bright warm sunshine.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poorly written, shallow look at homesteading Sept. 14 2013
By aj - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was skeptical of this book from the outset because of their pre-homesteading jobs (both were making six-figure salaries in NYC) but gave it a shot in the hopes that some practical information would be within. Nope! A few Southwest-specific recipes are scattered in the back but the rest of the book reads like a series of shallow blog posts - offhanded mention of GMOs, two paragraphs about renovating their house with repurposed materials, a page here about foraging along the river. I appreciate what they are doing but it is not replicable in any way for most of us - just the list of equipment and tools that they bought after cashing out (before 2008, mind) 401ks is outrageous.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maureen June 5 2013
By MEP - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Wendy has written a beautiful account of the life that she and Mikey created in Truth or Consequences, NM. They have blended living WITH the land along with a high-tech life. The freedom they have created for themselves is enviable.

The book is fun, informative and a true piece of art in itself. These two lovely people are the real deal.
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