Vicki Robin is a prolific social innovator, writer and speaker. She is coauthor with Joe Dominguez of the international best-seller, Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship With Money and Achieving Financial Independence (Viking Penguin, 1992, 1998, 2008, 2018). It was an instant NY Times best seller in 1992 and steadily appeared on the Business Week Best Seller list from 1992-1997. It is available now in twelve languages.
Blessing the Hands that Feed Us; Lessons from a 10-mile diet (Viking/Penguin 2014) recounts her adventures in hyper-local eating and what she learned about food and farming as well as belonging and hope.
Called by the New York Times as the “prophet of consumption down-sizers,” Vicki has lectured widely and appeared on hundreds of radio and television shows, including “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “Good Morning America” and National Public Radio’s “Weekend Edition” and “Morning Edition”; she has also been featured in hundreds of magazines including People Magazine, AARP, The Wall Street Journal, Woman’s Day, Newsweek, Utne Magazine, and the New York Times.
The President of the Atlanta Women’s Business Network said of Vicki’s 2009 presentation: Vicki, your talk last night was brilliant; we have not had so much fun in years and any speaker who can teach “money lessons” in the midst of the current economic woes AND have her audience laughing deserves praise – and attention!
Vicki has helped launch many sustainability initiatives including: The New Road Map Foundation, The Simplicity Forum, The Turning Tide Coalition, Sustainable Seattle, The Center for a New American Dream, Transition Whidbey, the 10-Day Local Food Challenge and more. In the 1990’s she served on the President’s Council on Sustainable Development’s Task Force on Population and Consumption.
Vicki is active in her Whidbey Island. WA community on a range of social and environmental issues: affordable housing, local food, community investing and more. For fun, she is a comedy improv actress, sings in a choir, gardens and nurtures a diverse circle of friends.
Born in Oklahoma in 1945, Vicki grew up on Long Island and graduated cum laude from Brown University in 1967. She received awards from Co-op America and Sustainable Northwest for her pioneering work on sustainable living. Vicki’s one of 61 visionaries featured in Utne Magazine’s book, Visionaries: People and Ideas to Change Your Life. A&E Entertainment’s show “Biography” honored Vicki as one of ten exceptional Seattle citizens. She currently lives on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound.
Vicki In Her Own Words
I jokingly say that I’m terminally curious. I love to learn. I love to put thoughts together like a jigsaw puzzle and then wrap them in words. I love to tinker with social norms, seeing if a push here or there might make the system work better. My personal memories and my public works all have this flavor.
I’m also quite fearless in the beginning of things – the fool who rushes through doors when others just see walls. The resulting projects usually arrive with a splash, but they survive because other people had the talent and drive to makes something of them.
In my 20s I lived in several rural communities – Rhinelander, Wisconsin (the coldest part of the lower 48) and Florence, Arizona (one of the hottest) and this gives you a clue about my approach. I call sustainability an extreme sport. I think it’s cool to get into a hot issue by living the solution, not just conjecturing. My first book, Your Money or Your Life, came out of living as much by my wits and as little by money as I could. I wanted to question our dependency on money and on buying stuff. My partner, Joe Dominguez, developed a systematic way to spend less, earn more, save like a demon and get out of “making a dying” with enough years left to enjoy life. Together we wrote the book which ended up selling a million copies around the world.
Another passion is local food. Local because I think the most common, wholesome and sustainable way of life is people in communities solving their problems and meeting their needs together. Food because everyone eats – and eating closer to home works for a host of reasons: food security, sovereignty, freshness, fairness and health.
In 2010 I undertook a hyper-local diet to test myself and the sufficiency of my island’s food system. The experiment turned into a blog which turned into a book, Blessing the Hands that Feed Us: what eating closer to home can teach us about food, community and our place on earth.
I’m over 70 and I now know what those “old people” meant about the older you get the less you know. For all my adventures when I was younger, I feel free-er now, more open, less “agenda-ed,” and more in mystery about how anything might turn out. When I was younger I believed my friends and I were going to “save the world.” Now life seems like an infinite faceted gem, a marvel as well as a terror, full of possibilities rather one big job. Like Alice in Wonderland. I think life just gets “curioser and curioser.” I still dive into experiments in truth, but Truth? I’ll get back to you on that after I die.
Studs Terkel said the purpose of life was “to make a dent.” Maybe that means to have some small impact – make your scratch on eternity. Maybe it means to take all our shiny ideas and dent them a little so we can drive around in them without pretense, enjoying a sunny day.