(taken from the Ran Prieur discussion forum)
I thought I'd talk about my great friend Don Schrader here. He is the most radical person I know, and has inspired me and educated me, and I think he might be an inspiration to folks here who are interested in radical/simple living.
Don Schrader is 62 years old. He lives on less than 3,500 dollars a year; his main motivation for living on so little money is that it allows him to legally avoid paying taxes, and war-tax refusal is the most important thing in the world to him. Don is an all raw-food vegan; he eats this way to avoid contributing to animal cruelty, to avoid environmental damage, and for health. He eats for about 2 or 3 dollars a day, and he eats A LOT ("the best nutrition for the least price," he says). Don is openly gay, and is a nudist that works for "naked-body freedom." He walks around mostly naked when weather permits, and sunbathes in weather as low as 33 degrees. He is in INCREDIBLE shape, doing hundreds of pushups and situps every day, rebounding 45 minutes a day, every day, and doing 40 pullups a day. He has not been in a car in over 7 years. He has not driven a car in many more years. He doesn't own or use a computer. He doesn't own a phone. He walks virtually everywhere he goes. He is very open about his urine therapy; he drinks and bathes in his piss daily (which seems strange, but is apparently quite healthy). He is agnostic.
Don is very distinctive in appearance. His hair is long, and his extremely lean, muscular body is very tanned. Many people mistake him for being at least partly Native, but he is of purely European descent.
Interestingly, Don didn't know he was gay until he was 31. He was a devout Christian, and was a preacher in his early 20's. In his early 20's, he became a conscientious objector (Vietnam era), and began his path towards truly radical living.
I found out about Don through TV; he hosts a local cable TV show which he uses to discuss pacifism, simple living, health, gay-liberation, naked body freedom, and so on. I grew up hating him, since I was raised fundamentalist Christian, but when I discovered anarchist thought when I was about 20, I started watching his show, and found it made so much sense to me on so many levels.
Truly, Don and Ran together have given me so much hope and inspiration. Both of these unconventional and brave folks have taught me that there are other ways to live that can be gratifying and beautiful. But since I know Don personally, and visit him regularly, I can see in great detail how he does what he does.
He writes down ALL his expenses - down to the penny (so when he says he lived on exactly 3,546.43 cents in such and such year, he means it). He recommends this practice to everyone; he says it cultivates discipline and wakes us up to how much money we waste on "crap no-one needs." He also picks up every penny he sees on the street (which is funny - now that he collects S.S., he has more money than he needs or wants). He collects throw-away produce at a local food market. He grows lots of edible wild greens - particularly lambs quarter (he calls it calitas, or "wild spinach.")
This is worth mentioning: edible wild greens are wonderful! They are naturally pest resistant, they WANT to grow, so you don't have to do much to take care of them, and because they are wild, they are hearty and packed with nutrients!
Don rents a small 12x14 foot apartment for about 210 dollars a month. He disconnected his toilet and uses graywater from the sink to flush it. He uses his shower as a closet. He doesn't eat ANY cooked food (literally NONE) and so has no stove. He uses virtually no heat in the winter (but has about 8 incandescent lights that he flips on when there is company present in the winter, and those add a good bit of heat). He uses no AC.
He buys his clothes used at the flea market, and often modifies them with his own (very colorful) designs (but he mostly only wears clothes in the winter time).
Don doesn't have a job, and hasn't worked a "real" job in many, many years. Until a couple years ago, he was a nude model at the University, which is only a few blocks away from his apartment. Living on so little money, he didn't need to work very much. So Don spends his days exercising, going to local events, reading, writing letters to the editor for various papers and magazines, doing his TV show, writing letters on behalf of prisoners around the world, visiting with close friends, and so on. He has a full life, and always has a very positive attitude, even though he speaks often of friends who have passed on, and the importance of sadness and death in life.
Don does not oppose being labeled a hippie, but only if people mean "someone who loves peace and nature." He doesn't use drugs or drink - at all. He eats no candy or junkfood, though he admits to having an addiction to icecream and other junkfood up until perhaps his 30's.
He has no long-term lover, but he estimates he has had over 300 sex partners (he doesn't brag on this - he says he would much rather have had serious romance with only a few men). He would love to find a serious partner that shares his values, but refuses to settle for unradical, unhealthy folks. He loves his freedom and is happy single (this is inspiring to me, since I have often felt lonely and have craved deep romance).
Many people here wish to live out in the wild, perhaps on a farm - something away from "civilization." That's a perfectly good goal, but Don, interestingly, prefers the city. He loves the wilderness and says that there is great appeal to living off the land, but he loves the city. He loves the people and the variety of life. I see a lot of this in Ran, too; a recognition of the insanity of civilization, but also a kind of love for urban life.
Years ago, his grandparents were murdered. He went and spoke to their killer, and personally forgave him and corresponded with him for years (until the man committed suicide in prison). Don believes greatly in the possibility of change (Don himself is an example of how drastically an individual can change, and also freely admits that disconnected from the love and wisdom in his own life, he is no better than Hitler or Stalin or GW Bush) and the importance of forgiveness. He opposes the death penalty and all war.
Most of all, Don is one of the most open, friendly, and sincere people I've ever met. He is utterly transparent and honest. A ray of sunshine. A true inspiration to me!
Anyhow, I can't do him justice in writing, but wanted to share about him since I know there are many folks like me who wonder "how the hell can I be free in this insane society!"
If there are any questions about any aspect of his lifestyle, I am happy to answer to the best of my ability!
If anyone here lives simply or radically, it would be fantastic to share about it, for the purposes of education and inspiration! For my part, I am nearly car-free (95% or so, and bicycle for most of my transportation), I am child-free for life (sterilized this past June), I am vegetarian, and I am increasingly frugal, but have MUCH work to do in that department. I go to UNM part time and work a 20 - 25 hour per weak job. I intend to work part time jobs for life - I've never worked a 40 hour a week job, and never plan to. I am 25. I consider folks like Ran and Don to be so inspiring and informative, and I am indebted to them both, as well as others.
I love radical souls!