By Mike Sliwa
This week my wife and I assembled our Mongolian Ger and moved in. A ger (or yurt) is a round nomadic dwelling that is similar to a large tent. We’ve moved closer to a life of simplicity and fewer moving parts, so to speak. Although the ger does have a few parts to assemble. The space has a small wood burning stove, no electricity and no running water. We have access to both on the property it sits on but not in the structure itself. Our plan is to become less dependent on electricity. That doesn’t mean we won’t ever use it (we love Netflix and computers) but we are moving towards less of a dependency upon it. The common question is: Why would anyone want to live like this? The simple response is connection. My wife Karen and I want a stronger connection to what sustains our existence.
Flipping a switch for instant gratification has been our life experience up to this point. Learning about the sources of our sustenance is not only exciting but healthier for us as individuals, our community, and the planet itself. We don’t have any illusions that it’ll make any sort of difference in the world but it just feels better to us. Obviously there will be an adjustment period and we’ve been preparing for this transition for almost three years now. We’ve slowly pared down our belongings and have lived and learned from other people who have given us wonderful advice and insight into the world of simple living. It’s a journey that has brought great joy to our lives.
Now that we have a space of our own it’s time to make it our home. People have been generous with their time and possessions. Our nomadic dwelling has been a wonderful example of a gift economy. When we purchased the ger the owner gave us the stove, a cabinet for a sink and a half dozen beautiful wool blankets with our enormous discounted purchase. Another friend donated a couch. My cousin and his wife gifted a quilt to help insulate the structure. My friend’s mother provided a wall cover. My aunt gave us her old flooring and another couple gifted their time and many supplies to constructing the deck upon which it sits. In fact the money we spent was about a third of the cost thanks to such generosity.
The ger and its assembly brought a great deal of joy to people. We never asked for anything but people wanted to be part of the experience. We hope one day they visit because this home has part of them in its spirit. Today we live in a cozy home. It seems to be catching on a bit. Tiny homes (as we who live with privilege call them) seem to be popping up all over McMansion Land. I think it’s a trend that will continue whether we like it or not. As a wise man recently said to me, “All roads lead to the yurt … and that is no joke.” So come on in!