Spotlight on downsizer member OtleyLad
written by Nell Merionwen
Every month the spotlight will shine upon a different member of downsizer, and show how the site has touched their lives.
1. Name and/or username
Otley, Wharfedale .
3. Could you tell us how you make a living?
I've never been a single-minded career person and, sadly for my partner, money is way down the list of motivators. But I do earn cash from building websites, a little from my books and I'm training to be an electrician. I think I'd be almost unemployable these days as I've been working and doing things my way for so long.
4. Could you tell us a little something about your home?
We live in a tiny semi that sits in a big garden. How I managed to persuade Janet that it would be a great place to live I'll never know. We sit by a main road (on the north side) that luckily is not too busy but the house backs onto the Chevin - this is the large hillside that dominates the town. Gently sloping near the house, the garden gradually gets steeper until it levels off again where it runs up to the disused railway line that used to run between Otley and Ilkley (itís now a very nice walk). There's loads of room to grow stuff and as the garden faces south itís in a pretty good spot.
I work from a 12'x10' shed in the garden. Itís warm (with a little pot-bellied stove) and well insulated and ideal for writing my books or web design. In the summer (remember those?) its lovely to have the door open and listen to the birds or the neighbourís sheep.
5. How did you find downsizer.net?
I was probably doing a search for gardening forums and stumbled across it.
6. Has downsizer inspired a life change?
Not really, as I was already on the way, but it has given me more confidence (and lots of practical advice) to go ahead and not feel quite so isolated.
7. What is your main objective to maintain a sustainable life?
To use as little of the earth's resources to live as possible - this includes growing as much of my own food as I can, using only locally sourced produce whenever possible, not travelling needlessly (tricky when my partner loves to travel), installing solar PV (one panel at a time!).
8. Does downsizer help you achieve this?
Yes it does - I have picked up lots of useful info from it over the years and been intrigued by what others are doing (sometimes having a go at it myself).
9. Which parts of downsizer do you visit most often (not including forum)?
Oh dear. I only ever look at the forum. I promise to change my wicked ways...
10. Which parts of the forum do you visit most often?
Business Questions, Ideas and Advice; Grow Your Own, Does it Really Matter, Community and Family, Chat and IT Matters.
11. Do you feel there is room for improvement with you own downsizing, and if so how will you implement this?
There is always room for improvement - that's what's so challenging. On the solar PV front I am saving up for more panels. In the garden I keep expanding the veg patch and planting more fruit and nut trees. Try as I might I can't persuade my partner that flying to the med for a holiday is a bad thing though.
12. Has downsizer led to any new hobbies and/or skills?
Not that I can think of right now.
13. Have you attended any skill shares or gatherings? If so did you learn anything?
No, they take place too far away.
14. Have you felt you have shared skills already known to yourself?
Yes, but not as much as I would like.
15. Do you have any anecdotes of stories relating to downsizer you would like to share?
16. How do you feel the site is most helpful/inspirational?
It does make you feel like you're not the only person on the planet working away on an idea that most people don't care about. When I get a bit down and think 'what's the point', going to DS and seeing what others are doing can be a big boost.
17. Have you made any "real life" friends or colleagues via downsizer?
Not in the sense of actually meeting anyone. There are not that many DSers up here, so itís not easy to meet them. I did try to organise a meet earlier this year but it didn't happen. However, there are a number of people who I feel I have got to know quite well from seeing their attitudes/views on different issues.
18. How could DS be improved?
I would like to see more cooperation. For example, many people don't have enough cash for small projects that could make a difference to their 'Downsizing'. Why not have a fund that we could donate to that would make small loans to DSers for these projects. I'm not talking thousands of pounds, but more like £500 loans. I'd be more than happy to start it off with £10 a month. I know there is Kiva but there are still worthy projects that are closer to home (and one need not exclude the other). It might be a challenge in allocating the money on a fair basis - but that doesn't mean its impossible.
On another front I wonder just how welcoming we are? I must admit I hardly ever go to the Welcome section - so I'm guilty of ignoring new people. What about a rota that we could sign up to, to make sure new people are noticed - I think people's early posts are critical - if they get few or no responses they might think itís not worth contributing?
19. Do you think DS will be here for ever?
It worries me a little that there seem to be few people below a certain age. Because there is a 'core' of old-timers who talk to each other a lot, it might be that new visitors don't get a look in. I also know that sometimes people can be quite scathing if someone asks a question that appears to be dumb or naive-this is a real put off for newcomers.
Next month's spotlight will be upon downsizer.net member 12Bore.