I drive through the Melbourne suburb of Coburg, and into the street of my guest for this week. I am looking for number 3, and see number 5. Instinctively I look to the right of number 5 and see a house that does not fit with what I imagine my guest would make his home.
I don’t know that much about him. I have seen him talk at The Weekly Service. I have read an amazing essay he wrote about two years of living in a shed he built from reclaimed materials. But from what I do know, the straight lines, the manicured garden, and the clean facade of the house I am looking at, all jar with my impression of him. I find the number of this house…number 7. No wonder.
Looking to the left I see a place that seems to fit much better. Vegetable planter box out on the nature strip. Lots of edible, interlaced plants and trees in the front garden. A place I feel comfortable approaching, as if it is not pretending to be anything it isn’t, and will allow me to be as I am.
I knock and my guest opens the door with a warm, understated expectancy. And while he is the guest for the podcast, I am the guest in his home, and he invites me in and has a cup of tea already brewing, made from lemon verbena picked fresh from the garden.
We move out the back and as I walk through the house I can see there is a richness of activity that happens here – piano, books, sewing machine. Through to the back yard, where we have our conversation, chooks, vegetables, fruit and compost toilet are all contained within this standard sized plot.
Among the many things that make up Samuel Alexander, being an academic, a writer, an activist, founder of an ecovillage, father and partner are some of them. The impression of him that lingered most after our conversation though was his empathy for our planet and his fellow humans, his willingness to challenge what it means to flourish as a human, and the alignment of what he talks and writes about with the way he lives.
Here are some links to some of the things we talked about:
If you enjoy listening to Samuel, you may also be interested in listening to Maria Cameron on simple, community living in an urban neighbourhood.