Author chronicles 'healthy, happy and free' life

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What: Book signing for "Radical Simplicity" by Dan PriceWhen: 4 p.m. SundayWhere: Off the Beaten Path Bookstore, 56 Seventh StreetCost: Free Call: 879-6830

— Burned out after 10 years as a newspaper photographer and only 30 years old, Dan Price started to ask questions.

"I started questioning all the things we take for granted," Price said. "Do I have to spend all this money on a mortgage and car payments? Could I just go live in a tepee?"

For Price, the answer was "yes." He left his full-time, full-benefits job and began the search for a simpler, stress-free life where he could write, draw and take photos.

He ran an ad in the newspaper looking for a piece of land, "Newcomer seeks rural property to lease for tepee habitation."

Thus began the chapter in Price's life detailed in his latest book, "Radical Simplicity: Creating an Authentic Life."

He wrote in the first chapter, "And that's what I spent my own lifetime trying to achieve. To be a healthy, happy, and most important, free human being, able to pursue most of the creative interests that come my way.

"This is the story of how one person found true freedom right here in America. And how a stress-free lifestyle can be had by anyone with the desire to live the dream."

Of course, Price's life choices are not for everyone. He spent the past 15 years living in structures he built in a meadow. There was the tepee, the tent and an underground hobbit hole. He developed a lifestyle akin to camping and just as free of expenses.

"People spend their whole life driving away from a building to a job they don't really like to pay for the building they barely even live in because they are always at work," he said. "I didn't want to live like that anymore."

Instead of working in a traditional job to pay traditional bills, Price spent his days as an artist. For a time, he published a periodical of his photos called "Shots."

When he tired of that endeavor, he started the small magazine, "Moonlight Chronicles," for which he is best known.

"Moonlight Chronicles" was full of sketch drawings and journal entries literally chronicling his life as a "man in search of truth."

After 16 issues, "Moonlight Chronicles" was discovered by the Simple Shoe Company out of California. They paid him to continue publishing the magazine just as he had been, but with a $40,000 a year salary. The company sent Price 1,000 copies of the magazine and published it as part of their catalog.

"It helped the shoe company create an image of staying in touch with the common man, and it helped me to continue living the life I had chosen and to travel wherever I liked," Price said.

Price tells people who ask that his lifestyle (the life when he is not on a country wide book tour) costs no more than $3,000 to $5,000 a year. His life and his book are an examination of the mantra "Less is more" and a dedication to "food, shelter and clothing."

"Those two ideas really boiled my living situation down to bare bones," he said. "The less you have, the less you spend."

Price's book, "Radical Simplicity" has a similar feel to the famous 1968 "Whole Earth Catalog" and subsequent book "Shelter," full of illustrations and tips for living a self-sufficient life.

-- To reach Autumn Phillips, call 871-4210 or e-mail aphillips@steamboatpilot.com

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