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Around the Columns

Voluntary simplicity draws national attention


Laura McKabe, NBC producer, and Phil Lapkin, freelance network photographer, film Jill Lucht and Bill McKelvey walking near the intersection of Ninth and Elm streets in front of the School of Journalism. In the near future, the network will air a typical day in the lives of the Columbia couple. Photo by Rob Hill

A Columbia couple featured in the Spring 2009 issue of MIZZOU will be on NBC’s Today Show in the near future.

As part of a series about how Americans are coping with the recession, a camera crew followed Jill Lucht and Bill McKelvey on March 14 as they walked around campus, tended to their garden, ate lunch at the Main Squeeze restaurant and practiced a more sustainable lifestyle known as voluntary simplicity.

Lucht and McKelvey, both research associates at the University of Missouri, walk instead of drive, garden and buy from local farms to reduce their environmental impact, and live inexpensively. They were contacted by the network to illustrate their economic and environmentally friendly strategies for the morning show.

“We don’t practice voluntary simplicity because of the recession,” says Lucht, who escorted the crew to Goatsbeard Farm near Harrisburg, Mo., where she milks goats in exchange for cheese. “Although it is a strategy that people could use to save money during economic downturns, we make choices that are good for the environment and our health, and they also happen to be frugal. There is a lot of joy living this way.”