About the Good Life Center
The Good Life Center is the final home of Helen and Scott Nearing, in Harborside, Maine, on five acres of forested land overlooking Spirit Cove.
The mission of the Good Life Center is to perpetuate the legacy of Helen and Scott Nearing. The Good Life Center, through its programming and preservation of the historic Forest Farm homestead, advocates for simple and sustainable living skills, social and economic justice, organic gardening and the non-exploitation of animals.
Who Were Helen & Scott Nearing?
Helen Nearing (1904 -1995), Scott Nearing (1883 – 1983)
Perhaps the most resonant aspect of the Nearing’s lives is the fundamental consistency of attempting to live according to their values, approaching a way of life in which they combined the personal and the political, integrating simple living with a goal of social justice, creating lives of integrity. Their influence was widely felt because the homesteading they practiced – building their stone houses, organic gardening, energy self-reliance, using local indigenous resources – embodied aspirations for a principled, sustainable way of living.
The Nearing’s lived out their ethical and political logic through pacifism, vegetarianism, and environmentalism. As Scott and Helen wrote in Living the Good Life (1954), “we desire to liberate ourselves from the cruder forms of exploitation; the plunder of the planet, the slavery of man and beast, the slaughter of men in war, and animals for food.” The Nearing’s half-century of homesteading represent not an “exit strategy” from the complexities and contradictions of American culture, but a means of actively provoking genuine social change.
In the early 1930s, at the height of the Great Depression, Helen and Scott moved from their small apartment in New York City to a dilapidated farmhouse in Jamaica, Vermont. For over 20 years, they created fertile, organic gardens, hand-crafted stone buildings, and a practice of living simply and sustainably on the land. In 1952, they moved to the Maine coast, where they later built their last stone home – Forest Farm. Through their 60 years of self-sufficient living on in rural New England, their commitment to social and economic justice, their numerous books and articles, and the time they shared with thousands of visitors to their homestead, the Nearings embodied a philosophy that has come to be recognized as a centerpiece of America’s “Back to the Land” and “Simple Living” movements
The Nearing’s legacy is a demonstration that living a life of integrity can inspire meaningful social change. In the legacy left by the Nearings, simple living is a matter of economic, political, social, and cultural responsibility, a way of life constructed to address what many now understand as the most pressing social crises we face, neither of which can be dealt with through market solutions – insideous economic inequality and an environmental crisis of climate change. As the Nearings understood, our health as a democracy and our sustainability on the earth depend on a common commitment to addressing these issues.