Author lives for a year without car and finds a world of beauty on foot and bike

Paddling near Sucia Island in the San Juans - Photo courtesy of the Hoelting's website

Kurt Hoelting, a fisherman, wilderness guide and meditation teacher from Puget Sound, abandoned his car and foreswore jet travel for a year. Concerned about his carbon footprint, he confined his movements to a 100 kilometre radius around his home and traveled within it only on foot and by bicycle, kayak and public transportation. The Circumference of Home, a book about the experience, was published in April.

In an age of compressed distances, a passenger need only step on a plane to reach Frankfurt, Manila or Sydney in a matter of hours. But Hoelting reported just the opposite effect in his own sense of place.

"It just expanded so that the circle became really huge and really rich and nuanced and multidimensional," he said.

Hoelting drew his circumference based around his home on Whidbey Island to include most of Northwestern Washington. The arc of the circle passes directly over the summits of Mount Baker, Mount Olympus and Glacier Peak. Discovering that his home lies by chance at such a "symbolic epicentre" of Puget Sound, he said, sealed his decision to carry out the experiment.

Over the course of the year he allotted at least a week of every month to exploring under his own power; he climbed Mount Baker, kayaked through the San Juan Islands to Cowichan Bay and cycled through Seattle.

"The city's ecological niches came alive for me," he said, "You really don't see them when you're whizzing by on the freeway."

Hoelting will do a reading of The Circumference of Home at Banyan Books and Sound Thursday May 27th beginning at 6:30 pm.

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