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Outwardly Simple But Inwardly Rich: A View on the Simplicity Movement

04 Jun

Well, the journey was long but I am here in the beautiful city of San Diego. After an 8 hour drive down the 5 I found myself in a new space, living with an SMC alumni family just south of SDSU and, “15 minutes from everything.” I’m 15 minutes from downtown, work, and the beach!

Growing up in a more rural location on the outskirts of the Bay Area, I am still adjusting to the southern California lifestyle. The houses seem so close together, with narrow streets and small backyards. But one plus side to this close proximity is a greater sense of community than I have ever experienced before. My host family is so friendly with the neighbors… I have already been introduced to at least half the block!

There is also a strong sense of community in Linda Vista, where I am working. Originally a town developed as a temporary housing sight for factory workers making ammunition for WWII, Linda Vista is now a diverse community. Working at Bayside Community Center for only a few days now, I can already tell that the community is very proud of it’s diversity and using that diversity to help benefit the community as a whole.

The staff at Bayside are wonderfully welcoming, and very supportive of my fellowship experience. Even though my first few days have been hectic, I find myself improving and learning, mostly through observing. Working with 2nd and 3rd graders who are 1-2 grade levels behind in reading, I realize that I had a much different childhood than they, while at the same time I see so many similarities. For example, while I did not have to stay at an after-school program, like the students I am working with do (my mom worked part time and was able to pick my sister and I up after school), I remember playing  the same jump rope games and struggling in reading and staying focused. More to come on that…

After completing the reading on ‘simplicity’ I was a little skeptical. How could one family choosing the difficult choice of consuming less really make a difference? While I do think that consumption should be limited, just on a purely environmental level, I think it could be detrimental to the overall economy. With people consuming less, that reduces GDP, and not as many people are needed to make as much “stuff”. That is why I liked the section on political engagement coupled with simplicity. It is not enough to just lead a simple life, but that simple lifestyle should be the stepping stone into a world of politics that promotes a similar “societal lifestyle.”

In respect to my summer experience, living in a gluten-free home I have learned the importance of food-simplicity. My host family has their own garden which provides us with daily veggies for our family dinners, and there is always fresh fruit in the house. Everything is organic, and meaningfully purchased. This sharply contrasts with the students at the  Academic Club, who have Oreos, Skittles, and Lay’s chips as their snack. These are all highly processed foods that basically result in a sugar-high and crash later on in the day…

I want to bring some strawberries or pineapple one day soon to provide the students with fresh fruit instead of processed foods. This simplicity is not always easy though; it is much more convenient to pack up pre-packaged processed foods. The author discusses this dilemmas as well: parents that work full-time may not have the time, energy, or resources to even have the option of providing their children with fresh, ‘simple’ food.

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