Sunday, 12 January 2014

'Summer of (Family) Love' - A Film by Kirsten Dirksen

You may have come across Kirsten Dirksen before on Youtube, especially if you are regularly taking a look at the latest van living videos. Her posts on the 'tiny house movement' often come up alongside them because of the crossover with living in a smaller space, and the ties with simplicity and sustainability. Well her latest feature length documentary is well worth watching. Kirsten and her partner Nicholas Boullosa have filmed their experiences travelling and living in a 1981 VW Westfalia camper van for a summer with their three children. Here's the trailer:

The film focuses on what its like to give up our usual comforts and security and live a nomadic lifestyle in a very basic home on wheels. They set themselves the boundaries of never staying in an allocated campsite, and always cooking their own meals for the entirety of the trip. This leads to some interesting reflection and deliberation on choosing a wild camping spot, and the ethics around this, also on how can nomadism fit into our modern world?

Along the way, the family make visits to others who have chosen to live simple and sometimes unusual lives in 'tiny homes'. There are fascinating tours of these dwelling places, and conversation on the philosophy of their lifestyle decisions and choices. The focus also turns towards living in community, and there are interesting discussions and reflection on how this is achievable, especially in relation to current planing legislation on property sizes and layout. Some of the tiny house people have come up with creative solutions to these challenges they have come across.

Travelling with the young children, one still a baby, adds a depth to this film that is rarely touched upon in other van lifestyle cultural media. There are some very touching scenes of the children getting ready for bed and Kirsten reflects on the experience of living so close with her family in the camper, and finding herself listening to her children breathe as they lie, still asleep, in the early morning. Its also a reminder of children's adaptability to new and changing experiences, and an opportunity to see real patience and kindness in parenting.

Some of the places visited in the film are especially inspiring too. The visit to the ancient redwood groves was a highlight for me, and all the time spent in nature is overlaid with Nicholas's philosophy of living deeply in the experience, and receiving the benefits that only a natural environment can offer us. In fact, its this sincere reflection that adds to the films richness, and offers a hand for you the viewer to join them in their world and share in the intimacy and insights being discovered along the way.

'Summer of (Family) Love' is a fascinating and intimate documentary on living life with just the basics, and of discovering what is most meaningful in what has become a complex often disconnected modern world. As Kirsten herself says, "One of the most elusive goals in life is determining just what you need to live."

If you'd like to view the entire film - here it is:

If you enjoyed this, don't forget to check out Kirsten's other videos on simple living, self-sufficiency, small (and tiny) homes, backyard gardens (and livestock), alternative transport, DIY, craftsmanship and philosophies of life.

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