American Dream – the movie

Stuff. We all have an abundance of things that we don’t need, right? I’m pretty sure everyone reading this falls into that category. As we fulfill these artificial needs for a better TV, a newer car, a bigger house… what is the real cost?

One of the big motivators for us to move onto the boat and take off on this adventure was to shed Stuff, and to get off the wheel of acquisition. To shed the what made our lives busy with things that seemed urgent, but weren’t really important at all in the grand scheme. To find a way to live a little more simply, with more time together as a family, and a lighter tread on the earth. To live by our values instead of just hoping to “someday.”

In the year leading up to our departure, we connected with a filmmaker, Joel Christian McEwen, who is inspired along similar lines. Joel was making a documentary about the crisis of the American dream: when did it change from the freedom and opportunity to build a good life, to the business of acquiring more and more *stuff*? Remember that bumper sticker… “He who dies with the most toys, wins.” How did our society get there?

Joel has gathered the stories of people who are opting out of the assumed path we march down to acquire. One of those stories is ours. There’s a 16 minute promotional cut you can watch here, or checkout the film’s website- Out here in the land of minimal bandwidth and poor access to the internet, we haven’t been able to see it all yet (this is killing me!)- but take a peek for us, and share what you think.

Film is a powerful vehicle for transformation. I believe deeply in Joel’s message, and would love to see the power of his work help effect social change. The film, hopefully, will be released this year- but Joel is still looking for funding to get it completed and bring to the public. If you, or anyone you know, is interested in sponsorship or investing (they can also take tax-deductable donations), drop a note to

Filming in our Bainbridge Island house, January 2008

yes, I'm on my blackberry. sad.

14 Responses

  1. It’s not just your bandwith, I can’t get the 16-min cut to load either. How fabulous that you were able to be involved in such a project. Preaching to the choir here, I totally get it. I am happy you were the one to be the spokesperson for boat peeps 🙂 I’ll let you know if I can get it loaded…

  2. Wow. Powerful stuff ! I can so see our family (kids approx the same age and two overworked tired professionals) in your video – and we just looked at a Stevens 47.

    Thanks for your ongoing blog. It is an inspiration to my family as we get ready to slip as well.

  3. This looks like a very powerful movie – it definitely resonated with me. It brought back all the memories of how frantic our life was two years ago. Now even though we sold just about everything and reduced our life to the confines of our boat, I still feel like I have way too much stuff. And that is completely ignoring the 10×12 foot storage unit of family heirlooms and other unwanted stuff back home! How little stuff can I own before I feel satisfied? I don’t know, but I think I’m willing to find out.

  4. Very, very good. I’m on the far end of the career treadmill, not quite ready to cast-off yet, but as soon as I can. I think this is an important and powerful message.

    I forwarded the link to my youngest daughter who is about to graduate college. I’ve been trying my best to illuminate some of this “stuff”, especially recently as the politics have gotten really really ugly, and I’m hoping to ensure she asks the right questions and makes the decisions that will take her down other paths in this society. Fingers crossed! This film will help.

    Thanks for telling us, and for your involvement. You are setting a good example.


  5. The movie looks fantastic. It appears the filmmaker is effectively juxtaposing people who are experiencing the negative effects of our consumption-focused society against people who are taking alternative approaches to living their lives. Clearly, you and your family have experienced both. I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts and your regular articles in 48 Degrees North over the past several months. You are an inspiration to me and my family!

  6. Very cool you guys. I get calls regularly from people who have a brand new car, a big flatscreen and a closet full of clothes, but they can’t pay their mortgage. More often than not my advice is “see ya”. Now I can direct them to this movie.

    Say Hi to everybody from the Spences!

  7. I finally got lucky w/ my horrible internet connection and watched the whole 16-min trailer. It’s amazing, I really want to watch the entire film!

  8. Yay! Go Behan! Btw, I love the way you guys rock the socks!
    P.S. Seattle sais hi and sends some sprinkles your way…

  9. I was able to view it, it looks GREAT! Keep doing what you do, I will be doing it soon as well….How cool it must have been, to be a part of it!!

  10. Amen! I hope I can find this when it is released and share it with my family. I don’t think we will ever get onto a boat ( not that I haven’t dreamed ) but the message is right on.

    Your kids are adorable, I love their smiles!!

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