With the economy on a historic downturn, unemployment reaching record rates, and foreclosures littering the nation, it's easy to see that the poor will be growing in numbers, perhaps exponentially. So if an increasing number of people are becoming poor, then it might be time to look at how to live well with little. In western society, people live beyond their means, which has been a large component of this economic downturn, so it's about time we look at how to live and be happy within our means. You don't need a lot to live well, it's true, many have already realized it and many more will soon be forced to realize it as foreclosure rates increase and the economy crashes. Money doesn't buy happiness, as Dan Gilbert illustrated at Ted when he showed that a paraplegic and a lottery winner were equally happy 1 year after their life changing event. So if it doesn't take money to be happy, and an increasing number of people are becoming poor, then perhaps it's time for designers to look at how to live with less. Which brings me to the conclusion that poor is popular in 2009; many, many trends and movements in the last decade have tended (WORD CHOICE) away from the exclusive and toward the community. These new communities have been rewriting what it means to live happily, and how one might lead a fulfilling life with much less than is currently being consumed by the average member of western society. The purpose of this series has been to analyze transportation, food, and shelter, and show how we can achieve each with less money.
Could it be possible that we are at a turning point in history, where no longer are guided by the strife for riches? The rich have gotten richer and the poor have gotten poorer, but today, the system has broke down, it isn't working. The bankers, whom we unwittingly trusted, took our money and flushed it down the toilet. Is it possible that the people of the modern will will seize to live on credit, and revert to concrete value?
In every Kanye West album I find a line, a lyric, or a song that I feel really resonates with the times. On "Graduation" it was "Stronger" with lyrics such as "I ask, cause I'm not sure, does anybody make real shit anymore" and now on "808's and Heartbreaks" the song "Welcome to Heartbreak" where Kanye says,
"My friend showed me pictures of his kids, and all I could show him was pictures of my cribs; he said his daughter got a brand new report card, and all I got was a brand new sports car...Dad cracked a joke and the kids laughed, but I couldn't hear em all the way in first class, chased the good life my whole life long, look back on my life and my lifes gone, where did I go wrong? "
You can say a lot about Kanye that one could argue makes this point irrelevant. His clothing can cost more than 10 grand on any given day, and he's flashy, for sure, but his work consistently shows, more than others, an understanding of the times. This song is really addressing value. He valued material possessions his whole life, and chased the dollar, now he's looking back and realizing there was more to life than that. This isn't a new theme, but the fact that it has penetrated the infamously popular hip-hop scene, from the most in-touch artist, is perhaps a sign of the times. There will always be those who always need more things, more money, more credit, but I believe that the majority, the masses, are beginning to sway away from possession and toward experience, away from the riches and toward the modest.
Posh to be Poor? Introduction
Posh to be Poor? Transportation
Posh to be Poor? Food
Posh to be Poor? Housing
(Photo from ChangeTheThought. The original full-sized color version can be viewed by clicking the photo.)