I’ve been in BC for ten days, house-hunting on the Sunshine Coast and Bowen Island. So far, the plan I set out a year ago — to summer on the BC coast or gulf islands, and to ‘winter’ in Australia or NZ — is still on track. I’m thinking about what it will be like to live alone for only the third time in my life, and for the first time in thirty years.
I’m still sticking to the set of criteria I outlined back in March. My dream then, as regular readers probably know, was to live simply in an open space structure in the summer in each hemisphere, near forest and ocean, where heating and air conditioning (at least during the months I’m there) are unnecessary, in a peaceful, uncrowded and progressive location, with good Internet access, doing the reconnecting, activism facilitation, and reflecting activities I set out for my ‘retirement from paid work’.
But where? I’ve identified the following criteria:
- A place warm enough not to need heating.
- A physically beautiful, natural setting and house in or near forests and beaches.
- Peaceful and private.
- Not overcrowded.
- Reasonably sustainable when the economy and culture collapse.
- Good public transit, bike and walking lanes and trails.
- Good local organic food store.
- A place where the people nearby have a high sense of well-being, by their own standards, and ideally are progressive in their thinking.
- Connectivity: not too remote for visitors to access, and with high-speed Internet available.
I actually found two places that meet all these criteria, one in Roberts Creek on the Sunshine Coast (map), and the other on Bowen Island, and finally decided on a one-year lease on the latter.
My new home is on a hilltop with vast and amazing views of the ocean on two sides, right beside a park. Bowen has a temperate rainforest climate, so I’m surrounded by immense evergreens. The road my house is on was built specifically for the park and has no street sign, and I have only one neighbour, much further along this road, invisible from where I am. It is astonishingly quiet, lush, and beautiful. The house has huge windows all around, so there is no need for ornamentation — my home is this forested hilltop.
The house is quite a bit bigger than what I thought I would want, but it’s good to have a couple of guest rooms for visitors, and even sparsely decorated every room looks complete, magnificent. The local bus, which runs 1km from the house, hooks up to the ferry, which is 20 minutes to the lower mainland (West Vancouver), so the trip to the Vancouver train station (I plan to take more trains and few planes from now on, since with retirement from paid work I now have my time back) or airport when necessary, is not onerous, and does not require the use of a car. Since it is 6.5km to the ferry (where all the stores and activities are) I’m thinking of getting an electric bicycle to serve as an alternative to the bus.
I’ve already attended one ‘community’ event organized by Chris Corrigan, and in the process met thirty of the island’s most active members, and really started to become part of the community. The local organic food store, craft shops and wellness services are excellent, and, in the summer months, there is an organic restaurant five minutes’ walk from my door.
So I’m delighted: My plans to move forward with my life and to start working more attentively and intentionally on my own reconnection with all-life-on-Earth, and to create models of a better way to live and be active trying to undermine the most destructive aspects of industrial growth society, are beginning to happen. Stay tuned.
Sounds idyllic, Dave. There is one hurdle to get over, and that’s how to avoid falling into a false sense of perfection – in the absence of obvious horrors of civilization, how will you get motivated to keep working? A bit of a Catch-22, I know, but it’s one thing I have been considering when looking at future locations; in that way, living in Essex is a great way to stay angry >:-|
Welcome to BC and suburban Vancouver (I think half of the Bowen Islanders commute into Vancouver each day, or several times a week, for work).
And thanks for dinner a couple of nights ago, great to catch up.
Congratulations on (almost) making the move to the wet coast! Here’s hoping (to echo Keith’s comment) that there’s enough grit in that oyster to keep you moving and shaking.
Great to have you closer. Please holler and take a train stop when you are passing through Seattle! If you need a house sitter when you are down under, please let me know! ;-)
New Year…new 1/2 of your global home.
The editor of our local Haliburton paper has just become the editor of the Bowen Island Undercurrent.
She commutes by water taxi to Bowen Island.
You could not have a better local friend than Chris Corrigan….a truly fine human being.
Please give him my regards.
I hope you will post some pictures of the house you described.
I do regret not getting together while you lived closer.
Welcome to Bowen Island. Given we both live on the island I look forward to meeting you in person. Wonderful photograph from the quarry park… So many places to explore on our wonderful island.
Thanks everyone. House pictures to follow when it’s not quite so empty. Keith/David: My online reading and study of industrial society will be more than enough to keep me from complacency or any thought that we don’t have to work hard to make the world a better place.
Nancy, what a kind offer. Given the weird train schedules between Vancouver and California, I may well take you up on it. You of course are welcome to make my home yours when you’re in BC. And once furnished the house will be big enough for small brainstorming sessions, if you’re inclined to run some in BC. And Peter, thanks for the welcome and look forward to meeting you in person too.
Sounds ideal. I’m coming to crash on your couch. :)
Dave set a new record when, only an hour after formalizing his move to Bowen he was already helping out with a community Open Space gathering we did on “What green means for Bowen island.” The mayor was impressed, and welcomed him heartily aboard as did many of the long time islanders who were in attendance.
And hi Eric…Martha is doing a great job with the paper…haven’t met her yet. Hope to soon.
And of course Nancy…you have not yet tasted the brilliance of Cocoa West Chocolates…and you now have several standing invitations on Bowen. Perhaps this year is the year you make it over here finally!
Welcome to our island Dave!
Happy New Year and may it bring you all you have been longing for! Congrats on the new house – apparently a perfect location with lots of fine neighbours around. Who could ask for more?
Looking forward to the pics and stories.
Looks like you picked a special spot, Dave. Looking forward to more.
Wondering… I am remembering you talking about yurts and glass treehouses in the jungle… and now you say, “open space structure.” What do you have in mind these days, structure-wise?
You and Chris Corrigan living on the same island? Watch out world!!!!
Sometimes things just feel right. Thank you everyone.
Excellent work Dave and, congratulations!
Hoping this will mean more collaboration down the road.
I am so very happy for you, Dave. Bowen Island is a lovely part of the planet.
Dave, welcome to the west coast. Bowen is my hometown, and its under pressure to make a lot of changes itself. I think it will be an interesting vantage point from which to watch civilization wrestling with itself. There are frogs in the creek and mushrooms under most logs. Enjoy exploring!
> I’m thinking of getting an electric bicycle to serve as an alternative to the bus.
7 km is not so far away. I work with people biking 20km everyday to work and 20km back home everyday. It should be OK with normal bike.
Rafael — I’m used to traveling on flat terrain. My house is 200m up from the sea, and although it’s gradual, there are quite a few ups and downs between my house and the village. The electric bike is only for the vertical portions (I’ll pedal the mostly-flat stretches :-)