Josh and Sarah Brown honeymooned abroad through small European villages, becoming immersed in the lifestyle of scenic cottages and communities based around family and self-sufficiency. There were no supermarkets with long lines and no hormone-injected meats ? but only fresh produce, meats and dairy products all developed within the community.
“No one had to drive to Wal-Mart for anything, and ‘Made in China’ stickers were simply never found,” explains Sarah Brown. “Neighbors traded goods, instead of always using cash or credit. No one in these villages would be tempted by the white eggs, white bread and tasteless tomatoes that abound in our American groceries. ? We were inspired by the design and lifestyle we discovered in these villages.”
Upon returning to America, Sarah Brown began painting the villages they had seen on their travels. Not surprisingly, many people responded to the paintings by expressing their desires to live a more simple life like they saw captured on canvas. The artist was feeling the same thing.
The Browns began thinking of a way to make the idyllic lifestyle a reality in 21st century America. The result of that brainstorming is Simpler Times Village in Madison County, Indiana.
“When we returned to the United States we were dissatisfied with urban sprawl and were bothered by having to drive everywhere for the daily things of life,” Sarah Brown lamented. “We longed for a more simple way of life and got discouraged by current zoning laws that kept us from having chickens in the backyard and a home based business.”
The Browns saw problems in the typical American lifestyle, describing their dissatisfaction with the fact that neighborhoods are empty by day “and glowing with televisions by night.”
“Simpler Times Village will be a beautiful place where neighbors and visitors can enjoy a rural community built the old fashion way,” the Simpler Times Village’s website explains.
The application for property asks new residents if they will have any livestock. The Brown family plans to raise dairy and pack goats that can be used to help neighbors transport groceries from shops to their homes.
Part of the Brown’s vision for Simpler Times includes encouraging small, home-based businesses.
“Supporting small businesses is a big part of our vision for Simpler Times Village,” says Sarah Brown. “We feel like it?s very healthy for families to have home-centered lives. Working from home is a great way to make home life a priority. It’s also a great way to teach children the family trade and fulfill a multi-generational vision for family.”
Not only is a real village perfect for home-based businesses but for anyone pursuing a more localized, home-centered life, say the Browns. They expect the private business in the community to prosper because it may become a tourist attraction.
The cost for lots in Simpler Times Village ranges from $20,000 to $80,000, with cost estimates for homes between $100,000 and $500,000. Lot sizes range from one-sixth of an acre to one and a half acres. Lots with more acreage were available but have already been purchased. The community is scheduled to be built in 2008.
Simpler Times Village has more than 200 families who have expressed interest in moving to the community. It can accommodate as many as 300 families.
The village will have a mixture of home styles. Residents can choose between “Austrian village,” “European storybook” or “eclectic 1920s American-style” designs. Simpler Times will also have a cottage designed for senior citizens and single residents.
“A real village is a place where people are home all day,” explains Sarah Brown. “It’s a walkable community with a bakery, bookstore and lots of little cottage industries. In a real village you will hear the sound of a rooster crowing, children playing, bells ringing and horses clopping where streets are safe and narrow.”
Josh and Sarah Brown
That is precisely what the couple hopes to create in Simpler Times.
Mrs. Brown, 30, described her upbringing as “very family centered,” and patriotic. The daughter of a Calvary Chapel pastor and retired chief master sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, she was inspired at a young age by home-based business. While her mother worked as an artist, her father handled all the business. The family traveled the country to participate in art festivals, which she now credits for inspiring her in the architectural design of Simpler Times. She was homeschooled from the 7th grade along with her four sisters. Her parents now work as missionaries, traveling back and forth to Sudan. She wanted to make a family-centered upbringing like hers possible for others, through Simple Times Village.
Josh Brown, now 29, watched his father start his own business when he was a child. Josh started pilot training when he was 13 years old and studied computers in his free time. Then he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps by starting his own computer business eight years ago, with much success.
“Together we’ve been dreaming big dreams since we were kids,” said Sarah Brown in describing the goal of her spouse and childhood friend. “And at the heart of our dreams has been to build a strong family. Together as a family we want to have a meaningful purpose on this planet, making a difference in the world for God’s glory.”
The Browns hope Simpler Times Village will create the ability for families to build their lives around what truly matters.
“Shortly after 9/11, [we] saw an ache in society ? people really began to long to wrap their lives around the people they love,” said Sarah Brown. “The rat race began to lose its glory to an increasing number of people, and many people expressed a desire to live more home-centered lives, just to spend ? their days closer to their loved ones.”