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ICONIC PHOTOGRAPHS, PUBLIC CULTURE, AND LIBERAL DEMOCRACY

No Caption Needed is a book and a blog, each dedicated to discussion of the role that photojournalism and other visual practices play in a vital democratic society. No caption needed, but many are provided. . . .

October 17th, 2008

Downsizing the American Dream

This week we welcome Benjamin Sklar to NCN. A freelance photographer based in Austin, Texas, Ben’s portfolio includes highly regarded coverage of Hurricane Katrina, a Time cover, and regular work for The New York Times, Getty Images, and the Austin American Statesman, as well as his blog.

Amidst all the fears expressed in the last several weeks about losing money, homes, and the American Way of Life, it might seem astonishing to learn that some people are voluntarily deciding to live in radical simplicity–and not near the end of life but while raising young children. Aimee and Jeff Harris are one such couple. This photo essay is a continuation of a slide show that recently was featured at the New York Times. Titled “Voluntary Simplicity,” the Times chronicled the Harris’s preparations to discard most of their possessions in search of a low-impact, sustainable lifestyle. The photographs below pick up the story as they make the transition from their single family home to life in a RV. As Ben’s photographs make clear, no one should assume that this quest is going to be easy.

Jeff and Aimee Harris plan on moving on from their stable lifestyle and careers to pack up their children Quinn, 5 and a half, and Nichola, 1 and a half, to move to a simple life in Vermont. The family will donate all of their goods, even trade their wedding rings for what they see fit.

Jeff and Aimee celebrate after finding their new home.

Jeff Harris walks through their empty home in Austin, Texas

Dinner with the Harris family in the RV in West Texas.

Aimee Harris reading to Quinn and Nichola before bed in the RV.

Quinn Harris on the road with his family during traffic in New Mexico.

4 Responses to ' Downsizing the American Dream '

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  1. time featherstorm said,

    on October 17th, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    nice… but the link to ben’s blog is broken


  2. on October 18th, 2008 at 8:19 am

    Thanks for the note about the bad link, which I’ve fixed.

  3. Ella LeVally said,

    on October 19th, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    i just love bens photos of my family, especially the one of my sister reading to her kids in the RV. precious, wish i had copies!

  4. Sarah Potter said,

    on February 12th, 2009 at 2:39 am

    It’s not just people over there in America that Aimee and her family are inspiring, all the way over here in darkest rural England we love what they’re doing too. Wishing them all the love, peace, health and safety in the world, from Sarah (aka hippymummy) and children xXx

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