Adonis Diaries

Archive for October 26th, 2013

The man who lives without money? I have been doing it for the last 4 years too

Irishman Mark Boyle tried to live life with no income, no bank balance and no spending. Here’s how he finds it.

Banoosh. com posted this Oct.12, 2013

If someone told me 7 years ago, in my final year of a business and economics degree, that I’d now be living without money, I’d have probably choked on my microwaved ready meal.

The plan back then was to get a ‘good’ job, make as much money as possible, and buy the stuff that would show society I was successful.

For a while I did it – I had a fantastic job managing a big organic food company; had myself a yacht on the harbour.

If it hadn’t been for the chance purchase of a video called Gandhi, I’d still be doing it today. Instead, for the last 15 months, I haven’t spent or received a single penny. Zilch.

The change in life path came one evening on the yacht whilst philosophising with a friend over a glass of merlot. Whilst I had been significantly influenced by the Mahatma’s quote “be the change you want to see in the world”, I had no idea what that change was up until then.

We began talking about all major issues in the world – environmental destruction, resource wars, factory farms, sweatshop labour – and wondering which of these we would be best devoting our time to. Not that we felt we could make any difference, being two small drops in a highly polluted ocean.

But that evening I had a realization. These issues weren’t as unrelated as I had previously thought – they had a common root cause.

I believe the fact that we no longer see the direct repercussions our purchases have on the people, environment and animals they affect is the factor that unites these problems.

The degrees of separation between the consumer and the consumed have increased so much that it now means we’re completely unaware of the levels of destruction and suffering embodied in the ‘stuff’ we buy.

Very few people actually want to cause suffering to others; most just don’t have any idea that they directly are.

The tool that has enabled this separation is money, especially in its globalised format.

Take this for an example: if we grew our own food, we wouldn’t waste a third of it as we do today.

If we made our own tables and chairs, we wouldn’t throw them out the moment we changed the interior décor.

If we had to clean our own drinking water, we probably wouldn’t shit in it.

So to be the change I wanted to see in the world, it unfortunately meant I was going to have to give up money, which I decided to do for a year initially.

I made a list of the basics I’d need to survive. I adore food, so it was at the top. There are 4 legs to the food-for-free table: foraging wild food, growing your own, bartering and using waste grub, of which there are far too much.

On my first day I fed 150 people a 3-course meal with waste and foraged food.

Most of the year I ate my own crops though, and the waste made up only about 5% of my diet. I cooked outside – rain or shine – on a rocket stove.

Next up was shelter. So I got myself a caravan from Freecycle, parked it on an organic farm I was volunteering with, and kitted it out to be off the electricity grid.

I’d use wood either coppiced or scavenged to heat my humble abode in a wood burner made from an old gas bottle, and I had a compost loo to make ‘humanure’ for my veggies.

I bathed in a river, and for toothpaste I used washed up cuttlefish bone with wild fennel seeds, an oddity for a vegan.

For loo roll I’d relieve the local newsagents of its papers (I once wiped my arse with a story about myself); it wasn’t double quilted but it quickly became normal.

To get around I had a bike and trailer, and the 55 km commute to the city doubled up as my gym subscription. For lighting I’d use beeswax candles.

Many people label me an anti-capitalist. Whilst I do believe capitalism is fundamentally flawed, requiring infinite growth on a finite planet, I am not anti anything.

I am pro-nature, pro-community and pro-happiness.

And that’s the thing I don’t get – if all this consumerism and environmental destruction brought happiness, it would make some sense. But all the key indicators of unhappiness – depression, crime, mental illness, obesity, suicide and so on are on the increase.

More money it seems, does not equate to more happiness.

Ironically, I have found this year to be the happiest of my life. I’ve more friends in my community than ever, I haven’t been ill since I began, and I’ve never been fitter.

I’ve found that friendship, not money, is real security. That most western poverty is spiritual. And that independence is really interdependence.

Could we all live like this tomorrow? No.

It would be a catastrophe, we are too addicted to both money and cheap energy, and have managed to build an entire global infrastructure around the abundance of both.

But if we devolved decision making and re-localised down to communities of no larger than 150 people, then why not?

For over 90% of our time on this planet, a period when we lived much more ecologically, we lived without money.

Now we are the only species to use it, probably because we are the species most out of touch with nature.

People now often ask me what is missing compared to my old world of lucre and business. Stress. Traffic-jams. Bank statements. Utility bills.

Oh yeah, and the odd pint of organic ale with my mates down the local.” End of post

More reading on this nemesis of currency exchange evolution and consequences

Note 1: How would you proceed if you lacked seed money to begin a life without money? How would you feed if you lacked enough land to grow produce?  How would you manage if you had no river close by?

What would you do if the community you live within refuse to cooperate with your life-style?

Note 2: I have been living for 5 years now without earning a dime, or being paid any money for the work I do, or having a bank account, or having money. The only needed money is for the medical treatment and medicine for my very old parents that other relatives extend in monetary currency.

I have no car, no bicycle, no computer, no internet connection, no land to grow anything to barter with… And I visit people to post two articles on my blog every day, borrow books… I maintain a small parcel around the house and grow salad ingredients for the daily dish, gather fruits from the trees…

And the community refuses to barter, and has no public facilities, and never gives you a ride when walking to a close-by destination, and I have no heath coverage…

I am living on a tight rope, but it is feasible. And still healthy and do not need any kinds of medication.

You might be living under the impression that having a bank account will provide you with a sense of security. Facts are that you might be exposing yourself to a wider array of dangers and high anxiety levels because you have money, or people believe that you do have money…

If you have no intention of using money to help other people learn how to survive on their own and with little money… money is liable to be a dangerous nemesis for your peace of mind and acquiring true friendships…

And I live in a stuck-up community that refuses to barter, and a community that lack public facilities for the members

And I posted many articles on that topic in my diaries, autobiography and essays…

Syrian Refugees Education Program?

Syrians Forward Together (JUSOOR, Bridges)

We are writing to report back on a trip several members of the Jusoor Team made to Lebanon over the past few days in order to explore ways in which the global Syrian community could work with Syrian refugees.

Our primary focus during the visit was exploring ways to work with children and youth among the refugee population, and particularly around education programs

On March 17, 2013, Jusoor posted

Refugee Education Program Background

This week’s heartbreaking UNICEF report, regarding the plight of Syrian refugee children which warns of  a “lost generation” of Syrian children, reiterates the urgency of pursuing such a program (pressfull report).  Take the time to read the full report.

What is Jusoor Looking to do? 

We would like to find opportunities for Syrians from around the world  to work with Syrian refugee children and youth.

Programs like these are core to Jusoor’s mission of engaging the global Syrian population in initiatives that will support the country’s development.

What we learned while in Lebanon?

During our visit, we met with 10 organizations working with Syrian children refugees in Lebanon, including international humanitarian organizations (Save the Children, War Child, UNICEF, USAID), local Lebanese philanthropic organizations and NGOs and Syrian refugee NGOs.

Here is what we learned around the challenges facing Syrian children and youth in Lebanon:

The government and multinational NGOs are trying to integrate the Syrian refugees into the Lebanese educational system.  This effort is fraught with challenges, including:

1. Language barriers:  Starting in middle school, the Lebanese curriculum is taught primarily in French or English, unlike the Syrian system which is taught in Arabic.

This is causing a huge challenge for middle school aged students to integrate. The global NGO community is working on providing language classes to as many Syrian students as possible to help integrate them into the system, but even with language support, there are high drop-out rates among Syrians in the Lebanese system and the international programs are only to support a very small proportion of the refugees.

2. Numbers:  Tragically, there are now an estimated 1 million Syrians in Lebanon which could mean more than 400,000 school aged children.  Meanwhile, there are only 300,000 Lebanese students in the school system.  As you can imagine, these numbers are going to overwhelm the Lebanese education system.

Meanwhile, there are several grassroots efforts springing up to set up Syrian curriculum schools for the refugees.

This effort is largely being led by the Syrian refugees themselves, though there is some assistance from Lebanese philanthropic organizations and some global NGOs.  The rationale for these schools is that they may have a better chance of getting students educated given the challenges of getting absorbed into the Lebanese system.

3. Overall, we were very impressed by the operations of these schools. They have hired former teachers from within the Syrian refugee population and have established partnerships with Lebanese private schools to use buildings in the afternoon.

  • The mere act of attending school is incredibly beneficial to these young Syrians; we observed them in the classroom and it was clear that having the chance to go to school allowed the children to begin to be children again.
  • The primary challenges these schools face are around funding.  The biggest challenge is transportation as many of the refugees live very far away from the schools.
  • There is great controversy over whether setting up these schools is the right thing to do.  On the one hand, they are not accredited by anyone and will likely not get accreditation. On the other hand, they are at least ensuring that our Syrian children remain literate and learn basic arithmetic.

There are several critical gaps and challenges facing Syrian youngsters in Lebanon including:

1. There is a real danger of illiteracy.

Given the high number of refugees cited above, many are not being reached by the education efforts that are being set up.  Anecdotally, several people we mentioned that children are forgetting how to read.

2. Older children are not being addressed in the solutions being put in place.

In particular, the global programs such as UNICEF are designed to support children up until 12 years of age.  That leaves the age group of 15 to 25 very underserved. In addition to a need for continued education among this group, there is also need for support with job placement.

3. Need for vocational training:  Several refugees are much better suited for vocational training than traditional education.  There are limited such opportunities in place.  Almost all of the refugee education funding is going to towards supporting traditional schooling.

What programs might make sense for Jusoor to pursue?

During our visit, we explored several potential programs for Jusoor to pursue.   In the short-term, we will most likely focus on the Community Center and the summer camps.  Stay tuned for details on how to get involved in these programs.

A. Community centers:  The leading program idea for Jusoor is to establish a community center to support youth between the ages of 15 and 25.  The idea would be to support them towards two specific objectives:

(1) job placement (we would particularly focus on finding them jobs with the global NGO organizations that are doing work with Syrian refugees) and

(2) reintegration into the education system by providing mentorship around scholarships and programs available to these students.  These community centers would be located nearby areas with high refugee concentrations.

B. Summer camps:  The idea would be to host a series of one week long camps for Syrian refugee children that would give them a chance to play and have fun as well as indirectly work on some of the social challenges we need to address (e.g., football / soccer matches that have children of different sects and religions playing together, theater, volunteer programs to encourage active citizenship).

C. Supporting one of the Syrian curriculum schools: The idea would be to send in volunteers to teach the English classes and to facilitate sports and recreational activities with the students. There is also important financial support that could benefit these schools, such as supporting transportation, buying books, and teacher (refugee) salaries.

What’s next? 

Next, Jusoor will focus on making one or a few of these programs a reality by establishing a business plan, entering into local partnerships, and launching some fundraising.  We’ll then open up the effort to volunteers among all of you.

Stay tuned for details on how you can get involved.  In the meantime, if you’d like to help us develop these programs please let us know.

We will also be sending our members a list of several programs they can volunteer with on their own if they are visiting Lebanon for the summer that support refugees in various ways.
We urgently need to find volunteers on the ground in Lebanon to play a key role in helping us build and execute these programs.  If you are based in Lebanon and would like to help us build these programs, please let us know.

Needless to say, our hearts were broken over the past week to see the state of Syrian refugee plight and especially those of our children and our hope for the country and its future.  We are working very hard to create programs for us each to get involved in supporting the education of young Syrians.
The Jusoor Leadership Team




Blog Stats

  • 1,516,363 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by

Join 822 other subscribers
%d bloggers like this: