The Good Life Lab: Radical Experiments in Hands-On Living Paperback – May 1 2013
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“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.”
"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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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."
“Shares a wealth of information to inspire people who may want to embark on their own path of discovery. “
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.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The thing that makes the book so troubling is the total disconnect the author has with 95% of the audience. At one point the author declares her amazement at being able to live off of less than 30k a year. Considering most people are lucky to make 20K a year I find her shock and joy at this sickening.
It's a book written by people of privilege who decided to come down from the mountain and slum it with the rest of us.
(Not to say there isn't anything useful in the book it has many good ideas, it may even be useful or inspiring if you have never ventured outside the glass and concrete of the city, but most of the information presented is stuff that most everyone outside of elitist circles already knew.)
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.
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!
This book is a unique blend of memoir, DIY/instructive practicality, spiritual philosophy, and creative illustrations. Good Life Lab is at once philosophical and funny and wise. It was great fun to read. I couldn't put it down.
As it happens, I used to live nearby Wendy and Mikey in New Mexico. I only met them briefly but I was always struck by the inventive and iconoclastic lives they lead. It never left me.
The project they run is a true lab, workshop, and experimental space.
Wendy has written authentic account of their lives spent waking up everyday and doing what they love: building and lacto-fermenting and welding and taking ownership of our abilities to use our minds and our hands with purpose.
Wendy said it best: "When the whole world is for sale, the maker of things is the revolutionary of the age."