Saturday, 22 August 2009

Wellington Museum Talk - 23 August

The Wellington Museum of City and Sea have very generously asked me to give a talk on the Click-Raft - 23 August, at 5.00pm for those interested.

While it seems that the worst of this tough recession is largely over, the challenges of global warming are not. Both are having a huge impact on how we live on this fragile planet, which raises the urgent need for a different approach towards sustainable shelter (not just housing).
I am basing the talk around two wonderful sources of inspiration. Henry David Thoreau's experiment in minimal living at Walden Pond and the development of a radically spatan minimalist and inexpensive car - the citroen 2cv.

So how could we learn to lead a more simple life? How could we do more with less...or as Thoreau pointed out in Walden...

"... I would rather ride on earth in an ox cart, with a free circulation, than go to heaven in the fancy car of an excursion train and breathe a malaria all the way.
The very simplicity and nakedness of man's life in the primitive ages imply this advantage, at least, that they left him still but a sojourner in nature. When he was refreshed with food and sleep, he contemplated his journey again. He dwelt, as it were, in a tent in this world, and was either threading the valleys, or crossing the plains, or climbing the mountaintops. But lo! men have become the tools of their tools.
The man who independently plucked the fruits when he was hungry is become a farmer; and he who stood under a tree for shelter a housekeeper. We now no longer camp as for a night, but have settled down on earth and forgotten heaven. We have adopted christianity merely as an improved method of agri-culture. We have built for this world a family mansion, and for the next a family tomb..."

Thoreau's is a radical philosophy, yet in the late 1920's and early 30's a similar approach was developed at Citroen. Enlightened boss Pierre Boulanger introduced a radical re-questioning and returning to 1st principles to develop a minimal vehicle, a Toute Petite Volture (TPV the Citroen 2CV prototype). As writer LJK Setright noted many years later on reflection - the TPV philosophy goes something like this...

"If you cannot get at anything, it is not there. If it is not there, it is because it was unnecessary; and if it was unnecessary why should the poor customer have to pay for it, maintain it, bear its burden, endure its interference, and possibly - oh the bitter irony of cultivated consumption, in due course replace it."

It is this spirit that has driven the adventure, and development of the click-raft, returning to 1st principles, and a minimal approach to shelter, yet one that is appropriate to 21st century living.

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