Call it what you will, scaling down can be more challenging than scaling up. What do you keep and what do you sell, disperse among family members, give away or recycle or throw away? It’s an issue faced by those of us in the older generation who are making plans for the future that can be managed easily by either or both of us.
We moved from a large property that included a 3000 square foot house, an 1800 square foot barn, various, small outbuildings such as a chicken house, garden shed, run in shed for donkeys and 6 acres of landscaped, fenced in and gated land plus all the equipment that went along with it. That was 9 months ago and we unloaded a number of things then, put everything else in storage and lived in our motor home. We were on the road for several of those months, north in the summer, south in the winter and kept our base in Santa Fe. Among the RV crowd we were considered full-timers and faced the decision whether to stay in that mode or find a small place that was adequate, affordable and convenient from which we could travel whenever the spirit moved us, a place to come home to that we have enjoyed for the past 20 years.
We designed and purchased a “manufactured house” and put it in a small “senior community” where there are like-minded people from various walks of life – artists, engineers, educators, writers, business executives, trades people and world travelers. The house is simple, about 1000 square feet, 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and we must now deal with finishing and furnishing the house, emptying the storage units, organizing the new spaces and preparing for winter. There is not a lot of joy in dealing with stuff. For further insight into how we clutter our lives with stuff, have a look at Annie Leonard’s book, The Story of Stuff. We concluded some time ago that we did not want to spend much more time in taking care of things thus we are condensing, shrinking and becoming more compact and efficient.
At one level it is quite simply where we are at this stage in our lives. It is who we are given our values, choices, and life style. As time unfolds and gives us opportunities to explore and enjoy the world around us, we will continue to travel, to be connected to our children and grandchildren and we will continue to question our government with so much waste and agendas of self-serving politicians. There is also the miasma of health care in our country and elsewhere and the issue of how we can avoid GMO’s and embrace a more healthy diet such as that proposed back in 1971 by Frances Moore Lappe in her work Diet for a Small Planet.
If you want to make a leap from individuals to institutions and organizations, ask the question about where you are in your own stage of growth and evolution and whether you might consider becoming more efficient and effective by scaling down or scaling up. Either is possible with creative leadership, sufficient resources and the collective will and commitment to get it done.