Living simply isn’t always simple. When Alan Boye first lived in sustainable housing, he was young, idealistic, and not much susceptible to compromise—until rattlesnakes, black widow spiders, and loneliness drove him out of the utilities-free yurt he’d built in New Mexico. Thirty-five years later, he decided to try again. This time, with an idealism tempered by experience and practical considerations, Boye and his wife constructed an off-the-grid, energy-efficient, straw bale house in Vermont.
Sustainable Compromises chronicles these two remarkable attempts to live simply in two disparate American eras. Writing with hard-won authority and humor, Boye takes up the “how-to” practicalities of “building green,” from finances to nuts and bolts to strains on friends and family. With Walden as a historical and philosophical touchstone and his own experience as a practical guide, he also explores the ethical and environmental concerns that have framed such undertakings from Thoreau’s day to our own. A firsthand account of the pleasures and pitfalls of living simply, his book is a deeply informed and engaging reflection on what sustainability really means—in personal, communal, ethical, and environmental terms.
Alan Boye is a professor of English at Lyndon State College in Vermont. His most recent book is Tales from the Journey of the Dead: Ten Thousand Years on an American Desert (Nebraska, 2006).
“Not only is this book beautifully written, with wisdom and humor, it also offers a practical guide for ‘sustainable’ home builders of any age. Boye writes with an impressive intelligence, immediately drawing readers in not only to the story but to the mind and heart of the author.”—Reeve Lindbergh, author of Under a Wing: A Memoir
“Alan Boye’s humor and generosity run through this book, as does his gentle compassion for the people and places he loves.”—Miriam Karmel, author of Being Esther