Friday, 12 August 2011

Is change coming?

By Rhonda Jean @ Down to Earth

I think we're are gaining ground.  There has been a shift away from the purchased conveniences of modern living, women and men are beginning to see the light and more and more homemakers are returning to older and non-commercial ways of doing the house work and cooking.  It does my heart good to see how many younger women and men are expressing an interest in home cooking, knitting, mending, repairing and reusing, as well as making green cleaners and soaps. There is a move towards traditional home arts.  Here in Australia, fabric, yarn and craft stores are reporting record sales, and cooking has become popular again!

These traditional ways of housekeeping and home maintenance, passed down over the years by our grandparents, were replaced by convenience foods, cheap clothing and appliances, and when they started to disappear, most of us were too busy to notice.  The global economic crisis came along to show us that when we are given convenience on a plate it is at the expense of other significant things.  Many were surprised when they realised they could do a whole lot more in the home than they thought they could, for less money, while producing better quality, and they actually enjoyed doing it.

I believe it's a question of dependence versus independence.  Convenience encourages dependence.  If we buy food already cooked or half cooked, we forget our traditional foods and how to cook them.  If we always buy our clothes, we forget how to make them.  If we buy our knitwear, we never learn to knit.  There was a time when we never thought about having our nails "done", when we cut our own hair, fixed cars and lawn mowers, or we relied on friends and neighbours to help us do it, then we returned the favour by helping them do something we had the skill to do.  Now convenience and the cheapness of food, clothes and appliances makes us dependent on shops instead of each other.  We work to earn the money to pay for these things instead of learning how to do make them or repair them ourselves.

In my ideal world, mothers and fathers would teach their children how to live an authentic life in the modern world.  They'd make sure their children had the life skills they need to look after themselves, they would teach through example and they would be the people they want their children to become.  But we don't live in an ideal world, all we have is this one and while it is far from ideal, there are some thing we can all do to make our own family healthy, practical and competent.  From a young age, teach your children how to cook simple food, mend little things like toys, knit, recycle, plant seeds, harvest water, and how to care for what is theirs.  Giving them the responsibility of caring for a pet will teach them about nutrition, time management, gentleness and unconditional love.  Many parents think that teaching a child how to read before they go to school is a major achievement, but they need much more than that.  They need those practical life skills, those things they will enjoy learning while they're still young.  They will grow up confident and self reliant if you teach them these things; show them they are important part of the family and rely on them to help with the family work.  Giving too much to children only teaches them how to take.

I don't expect everyone to take up their knitting needles, start dressmaking or learn how to make a traditional meal from scratch, but I do see a move towards some of those things.  And the good thing is that many people realise that making and doing for oneself is a positive and life affirming thing; they enjoy it.  It has been a long time coming but the move is on and who know where it will lead us.  Now, more and more people are realising that we can change the way we live, and because of that almost anything is possible.  I think real change might be just around the corner. Do you?


Sadge said...

Hey, stranger! Welcome back!

Jason Dingley said...

If one person can change then it is possible for us all to change.

rhonda jean said...

Hi there Sadge! I thought I might fill in the blanks every now and then. It's good to be on the page again and not just lurking in the background.

Sadge said...

Your wisdom is a wonderful asset.

Dani said...

Rhonda - I am worried about all those people who totally depend on convenience food / clothing / even entertainment, etc.

It would appear that things are going to get a lot tougher before they get better, and those who are unable to "do for themselves" are going to be hit the hardest, I fear.

Those of us who know will be more than willing to help - but will it be enough?

I do believe that bartering has a significant role to play in the world - be it the bartering of home grown vegetables, home cooked meals , homemade clothing / your time (babysitting / offering home care), knowledge, homemade pottery / artwork, etc. Something small like bartering a lift to town in exchange for something home made / service offered - yet how many people consider that option. All it seems is money (i.e. the paying over of) is the main factor.

I, personally, would welcome, with wide open arms, the opportunity to barter what I am able to grow / do / offer for what another is proficient at.

rhonda jean said...

Dani, I admire your concern for those people but we humans have a surprising capacity for change when it's needed.

I totally agree with you about bartering. It's so under-rated. I barter advertising on my blog for organic yarns and modern cloth nappies for my grandsons. I barter in everyday life as well. I think we'd all be better off with a lot more bartering.

Heather said...

What a great post! I agree, I see a lot more people in my area trying to either make do with what they have or learn how to make it themselves. I have to say I am on that path. I have so. many. skills that I would like to learn, and I get anxious so I try to learn them all at once :-) But, I am on my way!

{ T G L } said...

This is a really lovely and thoughtful post that gave me a shimmer of hope :) And yes, I think you're right. We've become too reliant on the services of others but too distant from the solidarity of others. Making your own and helping others by trading skills is so empowering and helps us tread the Earth gently.

Thanks for sharing!

This Good Life

David said...

I think getting back to the basics will be coming sooner than we think. Some will run toward the change, others will embrace it when it comes, but other will fight it kicking and screaming. Withdrawal from convience and fast food with be ugly.

Amy said...

Thank you, Rhonda, for the reminder that there is more to a child's education than just reading and writing. My son now insists on lifting the lid on the worm farm every single time we are out in the yard, just to watch what is going on in there. He would probably love to eat it too but is not allowed! He's 15months old. I would like for him to grow up knowing about plants and animals, how to problem solve and think creatively, communicate well, and care for others. Amy

SARINA said...

I so much agree. Change is on the way. I see more and more people here in England going back to the traditional ways, now raising their own chickens in their back yards and doing far more cooking at home. It`s such a positive way to live.
Rhonda, I have had major problems for many month now, not being able to access your blog and miss being able to read it dreadfully. My computer does not seem to be able to open it and I was wondering how your efforts for your book publishing were going. Please let me know when it`s out on sale. I hope I can get it through Amazone books Uk, but was rather hoping to get a signed copy from you direct.
Please send me an e-mail if possible when the book is available. (
Lots of love, Sarina.

rhonda jean said...

Sarina, I'm sorry you can't open my blog. I wonder what is going on. Anyhow, I am actually in the final stages of the book this week - the last reading from cover to cover. Penguin say it will be on the shelves in March next year but I'll also be selling it from the blog. I'll let you know when it's available.