Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Awash in stuff: mall owners know it too

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

When a representative of the retail industry says it, it may represent a real shift:

At the Cavendish Mall in Côte St. Luc, weak sales following the departure of top performing retailers like Gap Inc. and Roots Canada Ltd. prompted owners to demolish about 40 per cent of the mall, which is now being converted into residential townhouses, semi-detached and single-family homes. … “People are spending more on experience and service and less on stuff. The world is awash in ‘stuff’.”

I found it interesting how this is viewed by mall owners, who must adapt their spaces to medical centers, health clubs or condos. However, retail spaces are apparently still the most lucrative, so are still considered the gold standard in malls.

Steve Jobs

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

I’m not a big fan of today’s Apple, but Steve Jobs had an an enormous influence on my life. My first computer was an Apple IIe, he was presenting the NeXT workstation when I visited the University I ended up attending, I was an intern and Campus Consultant for NeXT in the 90’s, and the Macintosh set me on a path to Computer Science. I even wrote a paper about him in college.

He is regarded as a minimalist, from his trademark black turtleneck and jeans, to this photo of his home in 1982, to his design philosophy.

However, what impressed me most was his lack of cynicism; he was abrasive and downright mean at times, but he was always sincere in creating something great. Goodbye, Steve.

Just in time

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

The Just In Time business concept is like minimalism for manufacturing, but Martha Beck’s recent article has echoes of minimizing it forward and brings it to a more personal level. I have a hoarding instinct, and I’ll stand by the idea of keeping a week’s supply of food and water on hand along with basic medical and emergency supplies. But especially with the worrying press reports on the economy producing fear, this can become an obsession. The fact is that stuff is cheap and easy to get – we’re drowning in stuff. I agree that:

switching to a just-in-time mind-set (“Everything good is readily available”) restores health and balance to our lives

even though it is really tough to do.

Needs and circumstance

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Interesting poll on what people consider necessity vs. luxury (via WorldChanging). Perceived necessities are shrinking in the recession, but:

Finally, there’s the automobile — the ultimate survivor. It’s been around for nearly a century, but in good times or bad, it retains its pride of place at the top of America’s list of everyday necessities.

I hope this means “I need a car in my current situation” rather than “I need a car no matter what.” There are many places in North America where a car is a necessity – I grew up in a rural area with zero public transit, and the closest grocery store was over eight miles away. If I lived there now, I’d also tell the pollster a car is a necessity. Food is a baseline need, and if you need a car to get food, then yes, a car is a requirement.

However, such needs are a matter of circumstance. Realizing that your current situation is often a choice and can be changed means that you can largely define, and therefore limit, your needs. When making major decisions such as where to live, what size and type of home to buy, what type of work to do, or whether you have children, you are pushing some things from luxury to necessity. Make these choices carefully, and be mindful of the needs they will trigger.

Minimize it forward

Monday, September 15th, 2008

“I might need it someday” is really a curse for getting rid of stuff. Treehugger has a typically fiddly Lifehacker points to a fiddly way of overcoming the urge to hoard stuff “just in case,” but I think their this method would likely result in keeping a mental inventory of what you’ve sold vs. what you’re replacing with the funds. That’s a link to the stuff that should be severed right away – out of sight is not out of mind, and snipping the mental link is probably even more important than physically removing the item from your life.

Here’s an easier way that helps me. When I legitimately think I might need something in the future, but don’t need it now, I pitch it to myself as a “minimize it forward” event. I give it away, usually via freecycle, or sell it, free and clear of any special accounting. Someone else uses it and extracts value from it. If I need it again, there is a decent chance I can find it within a few days on freecycle, craigslist, or a garage sale. If not, I get creative, do without, or buy a replacement. The key thing is to try and keep everything in play – ideally someone should be getting value out of every item at all times. If I’m sitting on something “just in case,” I’m basically preventing it from being used, and probably causing another one to be created for someone who needs it.

Minimizing is good for the world, not just the individual, so keep what you really use, and put the rest in play.

Starting up again for 2006!

Sunday, January 1st, 2006

The original intent of The Minimalist was to be a daily clearinghouse of multiple articles interesting to aspiring Minimalists. This was just too much work, and we couldn’t find and write about articles fast enough to even approach anything comprehensive. With a fresh start in 2006, posting will be more personal, more in-depth, and more unique…but less frequent. Please join us (again) in exploring “everything about less!”