Meet the newest member of the POOSH team, me! (April)

April Simmons's picture

Hiya, POOSHers!  I’m April and the newest member of thePOOSH team. I recently joined the team after helping these guys to build a yogaship— yoga studio earthship-style— in Portugal. (An earthship is a style of building that utilizes car tires rammed with earth and encompassed by cob to form the main structure of the walls). I became interested in natural and sustainable building after living for a summer on a farm with an earthship-type structure. Since then, I’ve seen over and over again how this way of living revolutionizes the way people see the world and how they can live in it.  We don’t have to rely on ‘professionals’ for the things we need because we can learn how to do anything ourselves. We don’t have to be hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and work for the rest of our lives in jobs we hate in order to have a home. We don’t have to live in isolated boxes with only our close family. We can build our own homes, grow our own food, and form communities of friends and family who we actually enjoy living with (at least most of the time)!

 

Let’s be real here though, aiming to live sustainably is a lot more work than the normal Western lifestyle. But I’ve found it easier than most of the things I did in my life before. I have to push my body further than I did before, but I never have to force my mind to ignore all the things I’m doing that don’t make sense or bring me any joy.

 

“How does one get here?,” I ask myself. I think it could go a little something like this: You were brought up in a culture that was incomprehensible to you as a human being, a culture where drugs and bibles were equally interchangeable as solutions for any of life’s problems—as soon as one stops working, switch back to the other— and you were too entrenched to know how or what to do different. But you knew that you had to do something different. So you tried ditching the small town for university in the ‘big city’ and a library of books on philosophy and history. Good job, this made you aware of the problems facing people in the 21st century but gave no clue what to do about any of them. And you escaped from one culture of terrible habits, only to enter another more socially-accepted culture that felt as equally destructive and unfulfilling as the one you crawled out of. This is the culture of working 40-hours-a-week at a desk typically, married to someone you don’t spend time with, in a house that you can’t afford and a car you can’t afford, with children that you mold to fit this lifestyle although you aren’t sure why because it sure as hell didn’t make you happy but it must be better than those people in poor countries who live in houses made of dirt. (And don’t get me wrong, in many ways it is but let’s not digress.)

 

So you decided that the best thing to do was leave all this insanity behind by becoming a self-dependent hermit in the woods, writing books for the rest of your life. Thankfully, before you were able to carry this plan out you met some of the most amazing humans on the planet living on a farm in the beautiful woodlands of Oregon. This is where everything suddenly made sense. You realized in one night that life is simple—just enjoy it. And the only way to help other people be happy is to be happy; humans need examples to believe that something so often sought after but not found is possible. But if it’s so simple, why did it take you so long to figure out? And how could you have ever thought that living alone would be as fun as listening and playing Bluegrass around the fire, picking blackberries for making jam and then eating it with your fingers, washing in the river by riding down the natural rapids, drinking hot toddies (whiskey + green tea), and being so excited to come home every single day that you run down the hill smiling so hard your cheeks hurt.  It doesn’t matter what you thought before, only that you know how to create the life that makes you happy and now you can show others who want to live this way too.

 

Something a bit like that is how I came to be an advocate for people doing what makes them feel alive and free, and I’ve seen how much easier that is when people are empowered to build their own homes out of materials they can find in their natural environments. I have many ideas for developing thePOOSH website and community to be even bigger and better than it already is. My major focuses, shaped by my life experiences and interests, will be exposing this way of life to children and people living in poverty. (And I know very well that you can be poor with a lot of money and rich with a little money, so poverty isn’t dependent on the amount of dough in your pocket.)  I also want to spend some time experimenting with building play-areas from natural and recycled materials, for children of all ages.

 

April on the road in FranceThe best way to describe my life mission is to help both hope and fun grow, and this fits naturally (and sustainably, I might add) into the mission of thePOOSH. Natural/sustainable building isn’t just a fashionable way for educated people to prove their environmental and social consciousness. It’s a way for people to take more control in shaping their realities while also acknowledging that we are an integrated species living on a planet we depend upon, where we can love, learn from, and dance in cob with our bare feet with the other humans we share it with.So I can’t wait to meet more of you so we can POOSH/learn/grow/dance together!

7 comments

Jim Self's picture

Beautiful words April- I am certain thePOOSH.org needs people like you to drive it forward! Welcome! And thank-you. 

Lily Allport's picture

I really needed to read something like this this morning! Such lovely words. Thank you.
April Simmons's picture

Thank you, Jim and Lily! 

LAURA CLAESSENS's picture

Your story blows my mind... The words you write could have come out of my mouth. Except from the fact that I am still studying and hoping very hard that I will find out where my path leads to... It is truly encouraging to read that there are ways to live your life according to your conscience, values and beliefs. April, you seem a wonderful person to me. If we get the chance to meet one day, I would be delighted!
April Simmons's picture

Laura, I know from experience that if you don't ever give up searching for your path-- and if you're not scared to follow it through both the fun and difficult lessons it has to teach you -- you will find what you're looking for. I am living on the move at this stage of my life, most of the time not sure where I'll end up next.. so you never know! Maybe we will meet in this big ol' world one day :) 

Laura Kingston's picture

Thanks for this, April. I too could have written this (if I was about fifty times more eloquent!), and it's great to see that you have found your way to what you wanted, despite everything. All the very best to you x
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