A Handmade Life: In Search of Simplicity

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Chelsea Green Publishing, Mar 7, 2007 - House & Home - 144 pages
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William Coperthwaite is a teacher, builder, designer, and writer who for many years hasexplored the possibilities of true simplicity on a homestead on the north coast of Maine. In the spirit of Henry David Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, and Helen and Scott Nearing, Coperthwaite has fashioned a livelihood of integrity and completeness-buying almost nothing, providing for his own needs, and serving as a guide and companion to hundreds of apprentices drawn to his unique way of being.

A Handmade Life carries Coperthwaite's ongoing experiments with hand tools, hand-grown and gathered food, and handmade shelter, clothing, and furnishings out into the world to challenge and inspire. His writing is both philosophical and practical, exploring themes of beauty, work, education, and design while giving instruction on the hand-crafting of the necessities of life. Richly illustrated with luminous color photographs by Peter Forbes, the book is a moving and inspirational testament to a new practice of old ways of life.


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User Review  - sjmccreary - LibraryThing

I love those Mother-Earth type books where people are self-supporting, growing their own food, making their own clothes and tools and houses and furniture and stuff, living off the grid - you get the ... Read full review

A Handmade Life

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Serene and thoughtful, this rambling scrapbook by Maine native and yurt-house builder Coperthwaite provides a vision of a life lived simply and self-sufficiently. From violence to education to how to ... Read full review


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About the author (2007)

William Coperthwaite was a native of Maine who traveled the world in search of folk-art techniques and subsistence skills. Impressed by the beauty and intelligence of the traditional central Asian nomadic tents called "yurts," Coperthwaite adapted and introduced to North America yurt design and construction. For four decades he participated in building more than three hundred yurts for family homes, schools, camps, and outbuildings. Awarded a doctorate from Harvard University's School of Education for his work with Eskimo villagers, Coperthwaite taught in a variety of innovative educational settings. William passed away unexpectedly in late 2013. His organization, the Yurt Foundation, continues to serve to promote sensible and economical self-reliance through workshops, lectures, and publications. 

Peter has become a leader for the American conservation movement by creating a life in conservation as photographer, writer, and storyteller about the relationship between people and place. For the last fifteen years, Peter has focused his energies on bringing together and strengthening the worlds of environmentalism and social justice and offering those professions his experience with story, facilitation, contemplative practice, and relationship to nature. Peter is always learning and innovating across the boundaries of profession, culture, and home, and this has made his work influential to the different fields of leadership development, sustainability, philanthropy, and conservation. You might find him teaching spoon-carving on a city street, or giving a keynote address on courage at a national conference, or helping to heal a fracture within a community, or photographing a lost art. What he cares most about is strengthening people’s connections to one another and the land that sustains them, the most visible and important example being his family’s farm and tapestry in the Mad River Valley of Vermont. He is the co-editor of Our Land, Ourselves, author of The Great Remembering and What Is a Whole Community, and co-author of Coming to Land in a Troubled World, and collaborated with William Coperthwaite as the photographer for A Handmade Life. You can learn more about him at Peterforbes.org.

John Saltmarsh is one of the founders of The Good Life Center, the Nearing's former homestead in Harborside, Maine. He is an associate professor at Northeastern University in Boston with a joint appointment in the departments of Cooperative Education and History. He has been a Visiting Research Fellow at the Feinstein Institute for Public Service for Providence College. He resides in Wayland, Massachusetts.

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