Twelve by Twelve

Reprinted from New Age Retailer with permission


Twelve by Twelve: A One-Room Cabin Off the Grid & Beyond the American Dream
William Powers
$14.95 (P), ISBN 978-1-57731-897-2
New World Library

This is a perfect book for people who are opting out of the fast lane, whether voluntarily or because of economic setbacks. It will also resonant with those of us who don’t want to give up our creature comforts, but would like to be reassured that recycling, shopping for local produce, and replacing light bulbs does make a significant difference in creating a more positive future for the world.

The author spent a decade working in developing countries and lectures and writes on development and environmental issues. His return to the United States a few years ago was a difficult transition. As he searched for a way to reconcile the world he had been living in with the techno-superior, e-world he found in America, he discovered a sixty-year-old woman, a physician, living in a cabin in rural North Carolina. When she made a two-month journey westward, she offered him the use of the cabin. He accepted and discovered much — about life off-the-grid, about those he calls “free-range people,” and, of course, about himself.

“Instead of listening with one ear, as I sometimes do when faced with life’s deadlines, with multitasking, I used both ears. Real listening is prayer, I would find, as the weeks passed at the 12 x 12.” When the simplicity of praying at the 12 x 12 brought overwhelming emotion/dilemmas to the surface, he would reach out to the 12 x 12’s owner for answers. She was a patient, sage-like teacher. “First, she explained, see the problem … Often we look away from problems … This … is a core error … When we find a way … to become present, we can look at problems fearlessly and with clarity … She added that do-gooding, however outwardly noble, tends to bring the do-gooder into the blight .. Hence, the archetypes of the burnt-out aid or social worker, the jaded inner-city teacher, and the compromised activist.” In the end she would send him back to himself for the answers: “Have you asked the creek?”

The book reads like a good novel with overtones of poetry. The story is true. The names have been changed to protect the lifestyle of those involved. I almost missed this one. Don’t let your customers make the same mistake.

Anna Jedrziewski
Spirit Connection New York

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