A lot of my attention lately has been on a new dream of mine: living at the Gypsy Café, an all-female collective focused on sustainability, permaculture, and active community.  Oh, and they like to have fun, too!  That's very important.  No sanctimonious monasteries for me, no matter how self-sustaining they may be.

The ladies at Gypsy Café also produce the We'Moon calendar, an astrological datebook.  Within its insightful pages, I found the following gem on transforming community, by juliett jade quail. 

No matter where you live, or what your community looks like, let this be an inspiration to you as it is to me:
how to transform a suburb into a community

 
 
Life as a farm hand sure does take up a lot of time - so much that I've got no time to talk about it! 

Farming is already an overtime job... I also work as a professional modern dancer two days a week, plus I spend wonderful days with loved ones, then I spend the rest of my free time doing all the homesteading projects I normally write about!

Phew.  It's tiring just to write about it.  So, my apologies for the lack of brilliant, insightful, and helpful posts - I'm too busy living!  And that's a great thing. 

My challenge to you today, dear reader, is to pick one project / action / idea from the vast web of inspiring blogs, then shut off the computer and run with it.  Have fun!

What have you (yes, you!) been doing to:
use your resources wisely, gain skills, heal yourself & others, connect with the Earth, reach out to community, and take creative action?

I want to hear about it!

 
 
I'm a 23 year old feminist, am unmarried, don't have kids, live in rental housing, and have no plans to 'settle down' any time soon.  Yet, I identify as a homemaker.

Call it urban homesteading, simple frugality, traditional skills... I like to call it radical homemakingI am creating home, wherever it may be, with conscious intention.

My version of homemaking often doesn't look like others' - mine is a bit more ragged, opportunistic, and environmentally focused.  My homestead is less fleshed out than others' - my home is rented and shared, and my gardening and fermentation projects are tucked away into corners and windowsills.  My motivations are my own, too - though I'm sure many of you share them:

 
 
  1. Make what you need.  If you run out of lip balm, make your next tube.  If you love yogurt, make some more.  You can make most of the things you would buy. 
  2. Learn to want less.  We need food, water, air, shelter, exercise, meaning, and love.  We want comfort, beauty, entertainment, sensuality, and so much more.  Control your desire to consume and learn that you can live on much less.
  3. Choose your projects based on need and interest.  Do you love eating tempeh?  Make some.  Always wanted to learn to garden indoors?  Do it.  A note on pretty DIY projects:  Yes, we all crave beauty.  Craft a home that reflects the beauty of your spirit, of your dreams and imagination.  Don't just start a project because you're bored and the tutorial online looks pretty.
  4. Use what you have.  Upcycle and re-use, don't buy new materials.  Be resourceful.
  5. Source materials that are used, free (gifted, traded, found, dumpstered), local, and recycled.  If you really need something you don't have, do what you can to avoid buying new and imported.
  6. Choose function and frugality over appearance.  Don't buy fancy fleur-de-lis contact paper to decorate your new plastic wall-hung organizers, no matter how well it matches the curtains.  That's just wasteful.
  7. Learn skills as you go.  Don't let inexperience stop you.  Read, plan, read some more, learn from others, and give it a shot!
  8. Ask others for help.  Other people are so smart!  Ask questions, work together, and build community.
  9. Teach others what you know.  Trade your skills.  Network, barter, organize skillshares - the more everyone knows, the better.
  10. Consume less, produce more.  Radical DIY returns the power of production to your hands; it doesn't lead you to consume more.  

 
 
This year, I built a bike.  I finished it in January, and haven't ridden it since!  Snow, early sunsets, knee pain... I come up with a lot of reasons not to commute by bike, though I'm passionate about reducing my carbon footprint

Today (finally) I woke up and decided to ride my bike to do my errands.

I got all bundled up, took my bike out of storage, put on my helmet, and grabbed my handy U-lock... then I tested the key.  It didn't fit.  Waah waahhh... I don't know where my new bike lock keys went, but they sure aren't on my keychain!  Discouraged, I stored my bike back in the garage and started my car. 

I drove halfway down the hill (I live a mile into the Rocky Mountain foothills), feeling bitter that the lovely cloudy day and brittle wildflower husks were passing by so quickly.

Then I remembered a quote from The Urban Homestead, "We're embarrassed to admit that we used to drive to our local ATM, which is only a half mile away... Everything within a mile is an easy walk." Oh, right - the grocery store is only 1 mile from the bottom of the road.  So I parked my car, got out, and started walking.

 
 
I recently watched "Radically Simple", a short documentary about a man Jim Merkel & his quest towards sustainable living.  Merkel teaches and exemplifies a simple lifestyle, one that will allow all Earth's billions of beings the space and resources to live
Ever seen the bumper sticker, "Live Simply So Others May Simply Live"?  That's his whole point. 

Merkel leads workshop participants through a painstakingly detailed assessment of their Ecological Footprints, an estimate of how many resources you use, versus how many we each can afford to use.

Essentially, your ecological footprint is how many pieces of chocolate mousse pie you're taking at the party.  Turns out, I'm a little glutton and I'm eating three pieces of pie... but there's only enough for everyone to have one!

 
 
My diet doesn't fit into any easy label. 

When I say I'm vegetarian, friends raise their eyebrows over my occasional hamburger and call me a fake.  When I say I'm a flexitarian, it's dismissed as lazy vegetarianism.  When I say I'm a locavore, well, people are just confused.

The truth is, none of these dietary labels are accurate in the first place.  For me, food is highly personal, and my needs and intuitions change over time - daily, sometimes.

Currently, my diet could be described as a semi-locavore lacto-ovo-pesce-pollo-flexitarian.  But who really understands or wants to hear that?

If anything, I'm an intuitive eater.  (An intuitian?  Intuivore?  Hmm.)

 
 
Picture
_Happy Martin Luther  King Jr. Day, everybody.

And by 'Happy' I mean let's take a minute (or more) to honor what the man did, and what we can do in turn.

We all know the history lesson, mentally at least - but I invite you to tune in to video footage of one of his many speeches.  Listen to the raw passion in his voice, the sheer power of his convictions and his hope... and let that resonate within the deeper parts of you.

In one address, King famously said, "the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice." 

We live in a time of great injustice, in many ways.  Just look at the environmental state we're in:  We live in a time where money is valued over the health of our shorelines.  We live in a time where speed and convenience is valued over air that is safe to breathe.  We live in a time where our very home, our planet, is continually damaged by our cultural habits.

But look at where we've come from, look at what other injustices we have emerged from.   A mere 50 years ago - not even a lifetime - we had massive institutionalized segregation and racial mistreatment.  Through the passionate, hopeful efforts of civil rights activists, we as a culture bent the arc of justice towards equality, compassion, and inclusiveness.   

And we can do it again.  We are doing it.  But we need more hands and hearts to push.  The 'moral arc' does not bend on its own, but only through our actions.

Today, please, take action.

Take action in whatever way rings true to your heart, small or large, quiet or loud - it all matters.  The world needs help in many arenas, and they're all interconnected - progress in any area helps to heal our world as a whole.

If you need inspiration, you can look to King's speeches, the 'Solutions' section of my manifesto, or any source of compassionate, proactive inspiration you can think of, whether social, economic, environmental, or spiritual.

So go.  Bend the arc of justice with your hands, heart, and mind.  Help to make the change today.

 
 
_When I was 20, I learned to knit.  This was hard for me, because I identified strongly (and still do, to a more mellow degree) as a queer feminist.

I don't know about you, but when I think of queer feminist radicals, I think of combat boots, hand-lettered zines, and fair trade coffee.  Not knitting.  And certainly not homemaking. 

Turns out I'm not suited to knitting (I'm an angry, impatient knitter, who makes very ugly crafts).  But luckily, I found out several important things along the way:
  1. Knitting can be bad-ass (check out Slave to the Needles, via Microcosm Publishing: knitted beer muffs and thongs, anyone?)
  2. Femininity is powerful, but only when embraced.
  3. Taking the means of production into your own hands (however clumsy) is one of the most radical acts in which you can participate.

Fast-forward three years, and enter Shannon Hayes, author of Radical Homemakers.
I got tickets to the Sustainable Living Fair in 2011, and while researching the presenters I came across Ms. Hayes' biography.  Something struck a chord, so I followed my gut to the library and to her book....

 

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