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Colby-Sawyer College's Environmental Studies Expo Hosts Radical Simplicity: Living Well in the Next Ecological Bubble

NEW LONDON, N.H. – Colby-Sawyer College will host the Environmental Studies Expo and a presentation by Jim Merkel, author of Radical Simplicity: Small Footprints on a Finite Earth. Merkel, director of the Global Living Project, offers ways for people to simplify their lives while preserving the environment.

Merkel will present his ideas on simplicity and living well in the next ecological bubble on Tuesday, April 19, from 7 to 9 p.m. in Clements Hall at the Curtis L. Ivey Science Center. The event is sponsored by the Environmental Studies Department. The public is invited to attend and admission is free.

Merkel will suggest dozens of lifestyle steps for lightening our ecological impact on the earth. He believes that government and corporations have no better plan than to urge Americans to continue living beyond personal and planetary means to save the economy. But after witnessing the bursting of many economic bubbles, which have left behind unemployed workers, depleted ecosystems, war-torn families and terrain, climate change, toxic aquatic systems and stressed-out populations around the world, many people have begun building a sustainable way of living. They are planting rooftop gardens and using root cellars, shopping in organic markets and hosting locavore potlucks. They are turning to solar and wind power and other utility-saving strategies and finding ways to have low-cost fun, create low-waste campuses and make other positive changes. Merkel believes the new ecological bubble will be based on ethical relationships with humanity, nature and future generations.

Originally a military engineer, Merkel was once involved in managing energy demand, the design of military systems, and foreign military sales. The Exxon Valdez disaster and the invasion of Iraq prompted him to change his direction and devote his life to working toward sustainability and world peace.

Merkel founded the Alternative Transportation Task Force in San Luis Obispo, Calif., that helped create an interconnected bike lane system throughout the city and county. He was elected to the board of the Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo County and to three terms on the Sierra Club's Executive Committee. As a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., he has worked to promote wilderness legislation, peace and Native American rights.

In 1994 Merkel received an Earthwatch Gaia Fellowship to research efficient resource use in Kerala and India and visited communities in the Himalayas. The following year he founded the Global Living Project in British Columbia and initiated the GLP Summer Institute for the measurement and reduction of biospheric impact, where teams of researchers attempted to live on an equitable portion of the biosphere. In 1996 he developed a permaculture demonstration site where teams of researchers monitored biospheric consumption for a six-week period.

In addition to Radical Simplicity (2003), Merkel is the author of The Global Living Handbook (2000) and Simplicidad Radical (2005). He teaches a wide range of courses and workshops related to the science and practice of sustainability on subjects such as wild edible and medicinal herbs, alternative construction, renewable energy, timber framing, ethical money management, ecological footprinting and bioregionalism.

Merkel has also initiated the “Cycling for a Sustainable Future” speaking tour that has logged more than 17,000 miles delivering lectures and workshops at more 40 colleges and universities. He has led more 1,000 workshops on personal and institutional sustainability. He is a homesteader, bike commuter and thrift store patron. To learn more about the Global Living Project, visit the web site

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Colby-Sawyer, founded in 1837, is a comprehensive liberal arts and sciences college located in the scenic Lake Sunapee Region of central New Hampshire. Students learn in small classes through a select array of programs that integrate the liberal arts and sciences with professional experience.

Colby-Sawyer College, 541 Main Street, New London, N.H. 03257 (603) 526-3000