Independence Experiments

Buy Nothing Day

Spend no money for 24 hours.  Eat at home.  Ride your bike or walk.  Work in your garden or clean up your favorite park. 

Drive Nothing Day

Walk or bike or stay home and work in your garden. 

Plant a Seed

Learn how to grow a plant.  Save seeds from fruits, vegetables, and flowers.  Gather acorns and pine cones.  Do not buy potting soil or commercial fertilizer.  Any dirt will do.  Do not buy a pot.  Use any container you can find.  Knock a hole in the bottom of the container or the plant will drown.  Start a compost box.  Trees eventually can be planted in parks and so-called 'waste' areas.  In dry climates, you might have to water trees several times in  the summer for two or three years.  Expect casualties.  Dare to consult with park employees. Educate yourself. Become a guerilla farmer.  Grow birds.  

Kill your TV

Read a book.  Read aloud to your friend.  Watch PBS instead of commercial TV.  Rent movies instead of watching commercial TV.  Go to a play.  Go for a walk.  Do anything but submit your sensitive self to the onslaught of commercial television. 

Urban Expeditions

Cross town on foot or bike.  Take new routes.  Climb hills.  Look around.  Pack a lunch.  Take a friend.  Flip a coin at intersections to randomize your route.  Take a map.  Watch your step.  

Go to a Play

Most cities have small theatre companies that put up local productions.  The performers work for next to nothing and they very much appreciate the audience.  Go to the first show and offer to put up flyers for productions you like. If you like it, write a review and pass it around.  If you have a knack for promotion or fund-raising, they will love you.  You can join them.  

Write a Letter

Using paper and pen, pencil, quill, crayons, or other early word-processing resources, compose a letter, stick it in an envelope, lick it, stamp it, and put in the mailbox. 

Introduce yourself to a Neighbor

Look for opportunities.  Say hello to people on your street. 

Unprocessed Food Shopping

Shop for unprocessed foods.  Buy only fresh fruit, vegetables, flour, beans, rice, and other minimally-processed foods.  Make your own bread.  Make your own pizza.  Make your own beer and wine.  Make friends.  

Pick up Litter on Your Street

Even in front of other people's houses!  Wash your sidewalk with a bucket of soapy water and a push broom.  Adopt a section of your nearby park. 

Become a Critic

Learn to talk about media items and why you like or don't like them.  Read other critics, not just the ones in the papers and magazines: they're just slogging through their job trying to please their boss.  Read Susan Faludi, Michel Foucault, Lewis Lapham, Roland Barthes, Harold Bloom, Walter Benjamin, Noam Chomsky, Allen Bloom, and Soren Kierkegaard.  Discover new critics.  Continue to grow. 

Avoid Popular Movies

Movie-goers line up around the block for heavily-promoted films. The producers purchase full-page ads in the New York Times, saturate TV and radio, and plaster public transportation with ads in an effort to manufacture hype, which is all the madding crowd considers in making their choice.  Popular movies are as nourishing as cotton candy.  The crowds shrug their many shoulders and mechanically line up for the next one.  

Ensure that the ad men are wasting their dollars on you.  Make them work to find you.  Look at the smaller theatres that feature older releases.  Art films and classics are intellectually and emotionally nutritious.  Check out Marynoel's Movie Picks for our recommendations.  

Stop Buying Newspapers 

If you can't go cold turkey, skip the murder and rape and other crime news.  Don't read the disasters.  Don't read the funnies or the editorial cartoons. Already you don't read the ads.  Is there anything left?  Isn't the news actually old?  Listen to public radio.  

Go Dancing

Almost every urban area has opportunities for square, contra, and other folk dancers.  They welcome beginners.  Add them to your collection of friends. 

Feed the Song Birds

Okay, so much for good intentions.  Yes, being a bird is hard work.  

And yes, bird feeders are popular with winged flocks and I heard that the same migrating tribe will come back year after year to visit you.  

I grew sunflowers, which was my big crop, after snails in San Francisco, and which produced shopping bags of  seeds.  The sparrows and jays were safe but the mourning doves liked to feed on the ground and the neighbor cats found excitement lying in wait at my bird feeder. I found small piles of feathers.  

Fact: Cats murder hundreds of millions of song birds and other small animals on the planet every year. The house cat is a major ecological disaster.  

Immediate Gratification NOT GUARANTEED! 

Jim Strope