Samuel Alexander

Entropia: Life Beyond Industrial Civilisation

Paul Gilding, author of The Great Disruption, has described Entropia as "a masterful work of the imagination… a literary manifesto that will inspire, challenge, and give hope." Richard Heinberg, author of The End of Growth, has praised the book as follows: "Overflowing with insight and beautifully written, Entropia unveils the radical implications of moving beyond fossil fuels. This book may come to define what sustainability really means." Below is an […]

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How to Build a Cheap Raised Garden Bed

I’ve been advancing my guerilla gardening efforts recently, with a significant new raised bed now beautifying my nature strip, as seen in the picture at right. I thought in this post I could provide a brief overview of how to build a cheap raised bed, either for use on your nature strip or in your front or back yards. This overview might seem a bit basic for the handy builders […]

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How to Grow Your Own Oyster Mushrooms on Straw

by Dr Samuel Alexander, co-director of the Simplicity Institute and a lecturer with the Office for Environmental Programs, University of Melbourne. I’ve been experimenting recently with growing my own oyster mushrooms, and as you can see from the photos, I’ve met with some success. I was motivated to explore mushroom cultivation partly because I’m a vegetarian and want to produce my own high-protein alternatives to meat; but I was also […]

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Psychedelic Garden Love

by Dr Samuel Alexander, co-director of the Simplicity Institute and a lecturer with the Office for Environmental Programs, University of Melbourne. A huge ‘dome of heat’ over Australia has broken temperature records, and this heat has been so intense that the Bureau of Meteorology has been forced to create new colours for their charts, which had previously been capped at 50°C. Deep red has now been followed by a new […]

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My Post-Electric Washing Machine: The Deindustrial 2020

by Dr Samuel Alexander, co-director of the Simplicity Institute and a lecturer with the Office for Environmental Programs, University of Melbourne. Introducing my post-electric washing machine, which I call the Deindustrial 2020. It’s of the future, not the past – although it does look rather like the old-style, Medieval 1450. It was made for only $2. As you should be able to see from the picture, the Deindustrial 2020 is […]

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The Sufficiency Economy – Envisioning a Prosperous Way Down

Editor’s Preamble: I would exhort readers to ignore the potentially off-putting length of this piece, to instead step into, and allow yourself to be absorbed by, this important and worthy attempt at future-visualising. Readers who have been following my own work over the last several years will recognise and appreciate the themes covered. From my own perspective, what follows is a highly pragmatic view on the potential near-future of civilisation, […]

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My Solar Oven: Renewable Energy the Simpler Way

by Dr Samuel Alexander, co-director of the Simplicity Institute and a lecturer with the Office for Environmental Programs, University of Melbourne. I was at the salvage yard the other day and saw some cheap mirrors, so I bought them. Not so that I could look at myself. From my typical appearance it is clear that I do not do that nearly as often as I should. Rather, I thought I […]

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Radical Simplicity and the Middle-Class – Exploring the Lifestyle Implications of a ‘Great Disruption’

by Dr Samuel Alexander, co-director of the Simplicity Institute and a lecturer with the Office for Environmental Programs, University of Melbourne. One of many ‘Hoovervilles’ during the Great Depression 1. Introduction How would the ordinary middle-class consumer – I should say middle-class citizen – deal with a lifestyle of radical simplicity? By radical simplicity I essentially mean a very low but biophysically sufficient material standard of living, a form of […]

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The Simplicity Exercises: a Sourcebook for Simplicity Educators

Preamble by Samuel Alexander: As spring dawns (in Australia), symbolising new life, it brings me great pleasure to announce the publication of Mark Burch’s The Simplicity Exercises: A Sourcebook for Simplicity Exercises. This special issue from the Simplicity Institute takes us in a new direction, moving beyond the analytical stage of defending simplicity and criticising growth-based, consumer-orientated economies, toward the recognition that our primary task now lies in actively promoting […]

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Degrowth, Expensive Oil, and the New Economics of Energy

by Dr Samuel Alexander, co-director of the Simplicity Institute and a lecturer with the Office for Environmental Programs, University of Melbourne. Our understandings and expectations of the world have been shaped by our experience of economic growth. The dynamic stability of that growth has habituated us to what is ‘normal.’ That normal must soon shatter. – David Korowicz Cutting Off Destructive Growth (image courtesy of Desazkundea, via flickr) 1. Preparing […]

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What is a Transition Town?

The ‘Transition Town’ movement burst onto the scene merely six years ago in Ireland, and yet already there are almost two thousand Transition Towns around the world. There are dozens right here in Australia. Given that some people are saying this is one of the most promising and important social movements on the planet at present, it is timely to ask ourselves: what exactly is a Transition Town? In order […]

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Resilience Through Simplification: Revisiting Tainter’s Theory of Collapse

Below, Samuel Alexander summarises his new Simplicity Institute Report, which discusses ‘voluntary simplification’ in the context of Joseph Tainter’s theory of collapse. The full report, ‘Resilience through Simplification,’ is available here (360kb PDF). A society or other institution can be destroyed by the cost of sustaining itself. — Joseph Tainter Joseph Tainter In 1988 Joseph Tainter published his seminal work, The Collapse of Complex Societies, in which he presented an […]

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