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Simple Living: Who Are The Relevant Voices Today?

by Gip Plaster on August 21st, 2012

I was inspired to blog about simple living and minimalism by a handful of other bloggers who wrote sincerely about the topic. But where have those voices gone? And who are today’s leaders of the minimalist lifestyle? Touching base with others who are on similar journeys is part of a simple, deliberate life.

Of that small group of writers who inspired me to start blogging about my increasingly simple life, Josh Becker is the only one still writing on the topic. His blog, Becoming Minimalist, may not be what it once was, but at least he’s still out there. I can’t recommend it, but I commend him for sticking with it.

I liked David Damron’s writing on The Minimalist Path, but he left the scene. I was never fully committed to Everett Bogue’s work on Far Beyond The Stars, but I liked some of it — before he dissolved into a different sort of writing style and a different kind of lifestyle that somehow resulted in the loss of some letters from his name. (He’s known as Ev Bogue now, I’m told, but I couldn’t say what he’s been up to.)

I can remember a few other names too, but you’re unlikely to remember the short-lived blogs associated with them, so I won’t mention them.

Perhaps I was once something of leader in this field too, but I haven’t been posting as much recently — and I had already noticed a big turnover in my readership anyway. Did I get too radical? Did I go off-point? Did the quality of my writing decrease? Did some of you simply lose interest in me?

A few of the bloggers who started around the same time I did are still around, still writing and still making a difference. That’s great. Sound off in the comments section to remind my readers that you’re here.

But I can’t really say who the leaders of simple living blogging are today. Can you? I’d love to hear you opinions.

Maybe we don’t really need any leaders. We all have equal footing in the blogging world, so why would leaders be necessary?

Or maybe I’m a leader and don’t even know it.

Could it be that you’re poised to be a leader in minimalist thinking but aren’t taking your place or your responsibility seriously?

What do you think? Please express your opinion about which voices are leading the simple living community today.

If I’ve let you down by posting infrequently this summer, I’m sorry. I accept my responsibility to share what I’m learning about living a simpler life.

And I’ll be back — very soon.

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From → Simpler Living

32 Comments
  1. I prefer to think of it as a community rather than a hierarchy…but that’s the way I’m wired generally – It’s likely I was truly destined to be born in the 60’s in a commune somewhere!
    My take on it is that the community has evolved and expanded. Maybe there were less bloggers ‘back in the day’ (I started reading in 2009 and blogging in 2010)? Maybe the message was fresher back then? More exciting, but like any life-cycle you move from the early-adopters to a more ‘mass market’ – if that isn’t a contradictory term when it comes to simple living. I like the fact we’ve moved on and it’s become more mainstream, because ultimately I hope life becomes simpler going forward for us all. There’s such a lot on offer to read, every week I find new blogs and new writing that expands my horizons further.
    Jo@simplybeingmum recently posted Too Chilled To Type

    • You’re right, Jo. There’s so much more out there than there used to be. Simplicity moving into the mainstream amazes me, but it’s surely a reaction to the overgrown attitudes of previous decades. There’s still plenty for all of us to say, I think.

      I know I have a new series planned that will say some things I’ve never said before…
      Gip

  2. Hey Gip,

    I’m still around and writing about conscious living (and enjoying your writing when you post). Not sure who the leaders are nowadays but I like that we all have the ability to be a leader in our own way. Thanks for doing what you do and good luck
    Sam recently posted Introducing the SamSpurlin.com Productivity Retreat

    • I know you’re still around, Sam. And I’m still reading. I call it “simple, deliberate living” instead of conscious living, but I just call it that because all the really good things to call it were already someone else’s tag line. I think the term “minimalism” — which was never quite right anyway — is going away, but simple living is gaining in popularity, I hope.
      Gip

  3. Hm, I feel like Francine Jay still has a pretty good following, as well as Joshua Becker, somepeople feel that Leo Babauta sold out after he told people to get rid of all of their subscriptions to save money, but his $24.99/month email bulletin he feels should be exempt from that suggestion…

    I feel like those are the professional minimalists. The rest of us seem to be more of a club, like Jo said. It feels like a group of friends sharing common like experiences and frustrations, and telling the occasionally funny/absurd story. I came for the advice and stayed for the friendships!
    joanna @ I won’t be a hoarder too recently posted Traveling the world with a tiny suitcase

    • To tell the truth, I had actually forgotten about Leo. He was probably actually the first minimalist blogger I read, but he seemed to go off topic early on, so I unsubscribed to his blog pretty soon after discovering it. He certainly had the right idea about some things. And although I’ve always lived a very simple life, his blog helped me make a commitment to simplicity as a lifestyle rather than something I just happened to do.

      I like the idea of a simplicity bloggers club in which we all lead and follow. I don’t like authority much, as you probably already know…
      Gip

      • Your comment has me harking back to the early days of the internet when a lot of the sites I visited were in “circles,” where dozens of people who had websites on a single topic would join. On every site in the circle there would be a link to another random site within the circle. It was a great way to discover other sites about a particular topic and it encouraged people in the circle to get to know each other. If anyone wanted to do this, I could at least come up with an icon, host a webpage or something to get it started…okay, I’m rambling. I’ll be quiet now.
        joanna @ I Won’t Be a Hoarder Too recently posted Traveling the world with a tiny suitcase

      • By the way, the thing about Leo is that I’m not sure he was ever really intending to be a purely minimalism/simple living blogger. I think his blog was really intended to be about what the URL would imply (zen habits :) ), and minimalism was kind of a side project.

        Minimalism is what most people know him for, but I don’t think it was his goal starting out.
        Robert Wall recently posted Pick A Knife, Any Knife (Kitchen Outfitting)

  4. I’m still here! Certainly not a leader, though. I read Tammy’s blog at rowdykittens.com, and I think she has a pretty significant following.

    Your post has gotten me thinking, though, about what you perceive as quietness on the simple living front. I’ve never had much luck finding simple living blogs that I felt a connection to, but maybe what you’re sensing is actually (as Jo mentioned) a widespread acceptance of simple living. Sure, people still forget to bring their reusable shopping bags to the store, but everyone knows they should use them. People are recognizing that they don’t need so much stuff or such a big house, etc. and that those things are often the cause of financial struggles. Our economic downturn of 2008 set the stage for simple living to be more commonplace because many of us don’t have a choice anymore.

    Also, could it be that blogging has lost its allure? I began blogging (different blog) in 2005. All my friends had blogs. Now, almost all of my favorite blogs on a variety of topics have disappeared. I hardly ever get comments on my blog!
    domestic kate recently posted 8 Tips for Relocating

    • You make some very good points, Kate. I do think simplicity is “in” these days and blogging is perhaps less “in”. Blogging isn’t a dying art — as some have said — but it’s not the hottest new thing either. Facebook probably had something to do with that change.

      I got very few comments on my (few) posts over the summer, but everyone seems to be showing up today. My audience has always included many infrequent commenters, but it’s nice when they sound off and let me know they’re still around. It’s comforting and encouraging, I suppose.
      Gip

    • By the way, I like the wordplay in your name. “Domestic Kate”. Fun stuff. :)
      Robert Wall recently posted The Economy Of The Scale (Kitchen Outfitting)

  5. I think bloggers burn out. Especially those who become very popular. When they turn off comments you can lose your sense of connectedness to them. That makes it easier to go find the newer ones who can get you excited again.

    I also think the basic ideas are changing. We are becoming less about simple travel and more about what we want to surround ourselves with. Counting things has pretty much disappeared from the blogs I read now. For many the focus is now on becoming healthy which includes simplicity in many areas of life including how many blogs you are reading and commenting on.

    But, there are lots of new readers out there who are just discovering this stuff so it is important to keep sharing knowledge–for free as much as you can. Charging for your knowledge changes things–a LOT.
    Linda Sand recently posted Texas Trip, Day 7

    • Those are very good comments, Linda. And you’re right about how the focus is changing. I know that new people find this blog all the time, so I feel some obligation to be here for them. It’s important to me even if it isn’t important to them…
      Gip

  6. I think the biggest problems with a lot of minimalist blogs is that they are started out to document one’s journey into a minimalist lifestyle and then once one has become a true minimalist there is not that much left to talk about. Things start out strong when they share their story of how they went from living in an overflowing house to living happy in a Tiny House and step by step details and struggles behind getting rid of their excess to find a happy medium of having just enough stuff to help support their idea lifestyle. But then when they have arrived at the goal of a more minimalist lifestyle they have run out of meaningful things to blog about, sure they can go on an anti consumerism crusade and urge people to get rid of most of their stuff or post pictures of everything that they own every few months to offer a window into the life of a radical minimalist. Although at this point I think it is best to become a minimalist with one’s words too and realize that there is a point that saying any more will start to do more harm than good. So it might be time to stop posting when one has anything meaningful to say and at most consider reworking the best of their blog posts into a book that has more substance of their journey into minimalism. Likewise I think the biggest downfall of some of the previous “fallen leaders” of minimalism is that they tried to quit their jobs and make a living off of blogging about minimalism and selling ebooks on the topic as compared to other more successful minimalists that remained long term like Nina Yau who used the freedom of minimalism to take a break and reinvent herself as a writer and yoga instructor.
    John Grebe recently posted The Paper 100 Things Challenge

    • Thanks for joining the conversation on this one, John. It does get more difficult to say something new once you’ve said it all before, but life continues to evolve. We’re never there. So there’s always something new happening. Sometimes, however, we don’t realize it immediately.

      Gip

      • Gip, I know it does I actually seriously considered starting a minimalist blog myself but in the end decided against it in favor of addressing the benefits of minimalism in my mysticism blog. I agree with you about it often taking time to realize that our understanding evolves and that is one of the main reasons why I am not the most regular blogger as I feel that unless I have something of more substance that benefits my readers, I have no business posting fluff for the sake of posting regularly.

        Also as to your original question I think the most worthwhile new minimalist blogger to come onto the scene is Mohamed Tohami of http://midwaysimplicity.com/ who focuses upon interviewing well known minimalists with questions that are geared to the typical person that wants to find the healthy medium between hoarding and radical minimalism. Although in many ways it is just as much a Youtube show as it is a blog which is unique and good as it shows that he is expanding into new mediums in the hopes of reaching more people with a message about the benefits of a practical form of minimalism.

        John
        John Grebe recently posted The Paper 100 Things Challenge

  7. Denise Bell-Johnson permalink

    I like Josh Becker. A lot. I think the most successful minimalist bloggers are those who live simply, but don’t feel the need to preach or talk about it 24/7.

    As for Ev Bogue, he was only ever a star in his own head.

  8. Every now and then I get delusions of grandeur and like to pretend I’m relevant. :)

    I may be a bit off here, but I don’t see real, true simple living making major headway.

    I see a lot of possession churning, and a lot of things that look an awful lot like the trappings of simple living, but without the mental frameworks that make the whole system function.

    Maybe I’m just being a bit cynical, or maybe the people I’m seeing aren’t representative. I just think there’s something missing.
    Robert Wall recently posted Minimal Knives, Maximum Quality (Kitchen Outfitting)

    • No delusions of grandeur here, Robert, but I’m glad you have them. Maybe the delusions are what make your blog more relevant than mine — or the podcast.

      I see people dividing into two camps: big overgrown lifestyles and simple ones. There are fewer people in the middle I think.
      Gip

  9. Thanks for posting this intriguing question and drawing us all in. I found your blog a short time ago when I went looking for minimalist/simple living blogs and was surprised that so many of the links for recommended blogs in that category were no long active or even “live.” While I don’t specifically blog about simple living–my blog smartliving365.com covers the topic from several different perspectives, so I was interested in reading what others were doing. (FYI–SMART stands for sustainable/meaningful/artful/responsible & thankful)

    In answer to your question I believe after reading several dozen sites that my two cents on the subject are:
    #1 Every blogger is passionate for a while until they realize that it takes a lot of work, time and commitment to keep a blog going over the long haul.
    #2 Lots of bloggers learned that they weren’t an overnight success and will never make buckets of money from their passion (be it minimalism or whatever) so they stop doing it. I’m not saying you can’t make some money…but if you are doing it for the money then you’ll likely burn out.
    #3 Many of the bloggers ran out of fresh things to say. Another comment above said exactly this…I actually did an environmental website for three years and just found the topic too dry and limiting for me. That’s why I came up with something like SMART Living 365–it is a much more holistic and well-rounded approach to living a happy simple life (IMHO).
    #4 I do think much of the minimalism idea is becoming a “fad” of sorts–more from necessity to a true life style change and when anyone who was attracted to it as a “fad” gets bored, they move on to the next best thing. I’ve always felt that the path of simple living requires some depth and I even wrote a blog about it asking: “Are you really a minimalist?–five questions to find out.” I got more comments from that one blog than any other I’ve written–and not all of it was nice. Some people didn’t like the fact that I was even asking questions!!!

    Anyway, I think your blog is great and I also believe that there is plenty of room for everyone’s perspective on this important topic. Maybe more bloggers would stay in the field if we all worked together more? Thanks for asking the question and helping me throw out a few ideas…. Kathy
    Kathy recently posted Are You Really A Minimalist?—And Five Questions To Find Out

    • You’re welcome, Kathy. I’m glad you’re enjoying this blog. I can’t imagine maintaining much of a list of simple living blogs as fast as they are coming and going these days.

      I don’t think you can get rich from a simple living blog without being a sellout — and I don’t want to be one of those.
      Gip

  10. I’m still around, for whatever that’s worth. Apparently way out of the loop if I’m just discovering this post after it has been up almost a month. It is nice to see you writing again, and judging by the number of comments on this post, it looks like maybe the “summer slump” has ended, at least for you.

    I’m not sure I’m a full member of this (or any specific) blogging community, since I tend to cover a rather broad range of topics: RVing, tiny homes, simplicity, frugality, as well as the occasional post or three on politics and lifestyle choices. I sometimes wonder what tribe I really belong to since I’m involved in so many.
    Mike | Homeless On Wheels recently posted Exploring RV Living – Supporting Your Lifestyle

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