New Slow City: Living Simply in the World’s Fastest City

new slow city

“We…left our 1,600-square-foot Queens townhouse…and moved into…a 340-square foot ‘micro-apartment’….”

– William Powers, New Slow City

Thanks to Tammy Strobel of Rowdy Kittens, I received a free copy of New Slow City: Living Simply in the World’s Fastest City, by William Powers. New Slow City describes a couple’s attempt to live a minimalist life in Manhattan.

You might recognize Powers as the author of Twelve by Twelve: A One-Room Cabin Off the Grid and Beyond the American Dream, which I read and blogged about last year.

“We’ll live a minimalist, leisure-rich, spiritually mindful 12×12 life in the world’s fastest city.”

– William Powers, New Slow City

As part of this experiment, Powers and his wife Melissa move to a tiny apartment, and Powers resolves to work no more than two days a week.

I doubt it will surprise you that two people sharing a 340 square foot apartment find it pretty tight quarters. Turns out the bathroom door doesn’t even have room to close if someone is sitting on the toilet.

While there’s not much to be done about that problem, they end up getting rid of a bunch more stuff than they had planned in order to make the apartment feel livable. Powers says, “Melissa and I both feel our well-being rise in proportion to what’s been shed.”

“I’ve decided to take back my time, but not all of it. I’m going to teach.”

– William Powers, New Slow City

Turns out that working two days a week may not be ideal after all. Powers quickly finds that five days a week of leisure isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and begins volunteering.

He cites John Drake for the idea that “it’s not enough to just eliminate the labor that’s causing unhappiness; it’s also key to fill the vacuum with activities that nourish you.”

Powers eventually decides to teach a class on sustainable development at New York University, in addition to continuing his writing career.

“This doesn’t feel like avoiding the rat race. It feels like mooching off it.”

– William Powers, New Slow City

Powers (and his wife) begin taking advantage of all the free food and activities they can find. It doesn’t take long, though, before Powers realizes this isn’t what slow living means.

“Slow is not about gaming the system,” he says. “It’s not about protecting one’s mellow. It’s not about me. There’s something far deeper. It absolutely has to be about us.”

He and Melissa begin to think of ways to help more people. “Having come to a golden fork in the road,” he says, “we’ll use it to feed others.”

Do you want to read New Slow City?

I’d like to pass on my copy of the book. If you’re interested in winning it, please leave a comment below, describing your current top priority for simplifying your life.

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2 thoughts on “New Slow City: Living Simply in the World’s Fastest City

  1. I couldn’t agree more with Power’s assessment that life without work is what makes one happy. Nor is gaming the system. I love to work but also on my own terms. There needs to be balance in these spheres of our life.

    As to how I plan to simplify my life further that’s a hard one. What I am working on is a way to provide more of my basic needs and become self-reliant. That means extending the amount of food I grow and put up.

I'd love for you to share your ideas and experiences.