Dale Hooper - a practitioner of simplicity
Say hello to Dale Hooper, long time Simply Living member, and a man who, more than most of us, lives his philosophy. Dale lives in the city and spends a good bit of his time gardening and tinkering with various energy options. He also bikes everywhere: work, the store, Simply Living events – everywhere. You may think his lifestyle is a bit extreme, but Dale unabashedly will tell you he practices an extreme form of voluntary simplicity. What brought Dale to this place in his life journey? Let him tell you himself.
Dale: It was back in the early 70s during the oil crisis. I was 16-years-old. The shortage started me thinking about energy and oil. At first I was terrified, wondering if it all was real. Americans were in what I call “the fog,” in the sense that you can see that there’s a problem but you just can’t do much about it. By the 80’s it became clear that it wasn’t really a shortage of oil problem, but an oil extraction problem. Getting to the oil wasn’t cheap anymore. So in 2000, I heard a presentation by Pat Murphy who had developed something called “Plan C,” essentially posing that new types of renewable energy sources must be coupled with, not just energy conservation, but actual energy curtailment. We just have to find ways to use less energy in our daily lives. So now I can say that my avocation is living a low energy lifestyle.
SL: What do you do now to live in a simple way?
Dale: I’ve begun gardening more and more. It supplies me with a lot of my own food. I dabble with photovoltaic-based energy sources. And I do not own a car. I cycle everywhere I need to go. Even though I experiment with ways I can use solar energy at home, it’s important that I curtail energy use at the same time. I like to use a hammer analogy. If the head of the hammer represents solar energy, the handle represents energy conservation or curtailment, and to the extent that we use the handle better, it makes the head more efficient.
SL: What’s your relationship with Simply Living?
Dale: I’ve been involved with the Clintonville Co-op since 1980 and with Simply Living from the beginning . I’ve met so many others with similar philosophies, and I’ve been introduced to other groups that have helped me learn more. I’ve been active in the Peak Oil Group and attended many discussions there. I’ve also become involved with Green Energy Ohio, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting environmentally and economically sustainable energy policies and practices in Ohio. I’m an action type of person so I have to be “doing” something, not simply discussing it. So it’s been great to meet people with similar ideas and attitudes. Their energy supports me and lets me know that I’m not alone and I’m on the right track.
SL: Who inspires you?
Dale: My father. He was born in 1920 and survived the depression and World War II. He even told me once that as a kid one of his birthday presents was an extra spoonful of baked beans. He taught me that there are three kinds of wealth: financial wealth, social wealth and spiritual wealth. In the ‘30s and ‘40s, social and spiritual wealth was predominant. It’s easy to see if someone has financial wealth, but social and spiritual wealth only comes with living with people for a while. I’ve since concluded that a person is better off with less material wealth.
SL: If someone asks you what voluntary simplicity is all about, what simple living really means, what do you tell them?
Dale: It’s probably at least a dozen things. Maybe more than that I feel like I have a little more control of my life, less dependence on societal things I don’t believe in. I like knowing that I’m using only my fair share of the planet. I’m an experimental type of person. I like doing research and trying to find out what the outer edges of this simple living philosophy look like.