Friday, December 2, 2011
Last month, I announced that I would be writing about the value of food, and ways to reduce food wastage (here and here), topics that are very important to me. However, I won't be able to focus on them until the New Year, as I'm in the USA with my family at the moment.
We traveled on Thanksgiving weekend, when airports and planes were packed full with people on their way to spend the holidays with family and friends - more people than I ever imagined. I've always liked Thanksgiving - a whole nation (nations, even, as Canada also has its own Thanksgiving day) taking time away from daily life to be together, and celebrate by giving thanks. So it seems just natural, today, as I'm here in North America, to stop a moment and give thanks to the founder and the co-authors and readers of this blog, from whom I've learned so much.
I've learned new gardening strategies and many frugal living tips, read valuable thought-provoking posts, and just recently, I learned an important lesson: before concluding that your broken vacuum cleaner is beyond home repairs, ask your community for advice. Remember my broken vacuum cleaner? It is now fixed! We fixed it, following the advice of one of the readers - thank you so much Sarah!
This made me reflect on the importance of the support of a community, especially when on the path to self-reliance and a frugal way of living - how many times have we borrowed tools or sugar from a neighbor? An online community, such as this one that Rhonda has built over the years, is just as important: we all pitch in, we all share our thoughts and knowledge, and we all grow a little more self-reliant and knowledgable together.
Monday, August 1, 2011
I have long held the belief that a simple, frugal and green life isn't about following a script or ticking off certain things on a list. A simple life in the country isn't so simple if you spend your time yelling, constantly bargain hunting or feeding a tv addiction. A simple life doesn't mean you have to keep pigs and bees or make every single meal from scratch. A simple life doesn't mean you can't work. Instead I view the simple life as a paradigm and a lense by which I view the world; a fundamental belief in focusing on the most important things, seeking to find balance in all I do and living by the principals "less is more" and "living simply so others may simply live".
Lately all around me colleagues and friends have been talking about what is important to them, a few even mentioned the term sell out. You see many of them thought in their early 20's that they would make "good choices" (that is their term, I certainly am not value judging their choices as good or bad) but as their lives have developed through their late 20's and 30's they really haven't decided to stick to those "good choices" they once thought they would live by. I spent the last week listening to their examples, some of which were:
- Deciding to commute for 2 hours to work so they could have the "biggest bang for their buck" aka the biggest square footage house
- Not buying free-range or organic meat or dairy because they don't care anymore about animal welfare (this person was very pro responsible farming in her late teens)
- Not taking the option of a 4 day work week after returning from parental leave because that extra day is a weekend in Las Vagas every year.
- Never hanging clothes to dry because it would take an extra 10 minutes and interrupt precious facebook time
- Feeding the family hot dogs, boxed pizza and boxed macaroni & cheese almost every night because that is what is quickest and after 10 hours outside the home, no one has the energy to cook
- Admitting they see less than 10 hours a week of their 4 and 2 year old because with an 11 day work day 5 days/week and a love of bargain/frugal shopping (thus visiting 5 different shops on Saturdays and often nipping to the US for the real sales) the grandparents pick up the grandchildren from daycare Friday afternoon and keep them until Sunday morning. This was a hard one for this friend to admit because while suffering from infertility they swore time with their children would always come first, now they have 2 very good careers, a very large house they just totally renovated and only see their children Sundays.
- Being scared to go without because their friends are richer than they are.
- Becoming so obsessed (their words) with paying off their mortgage, buying a second and third home to rent out and retiring at 55 that they are not really living now
- Throwing away anything with a tear/needing a new button and buying new
As I have listened to these conversations, I have tried not to make any value laden statements but did occasionally ask "so if you know, would you change anything", I further asked one "would you now go to work 4 days a week so you can do the things that used to be important to you and simply shop/eat out less". What was really interesting to me, is that no one said they wanted to change a thing. One, a top city lawyer married to another top city lawyer, who eat out 20x a week and admits they don't see their children at all between Mon-Fri said "nope, I'm a proud sell out - I want as much as I can have for as little as I can get it for, we're not interested in having less money, we want more money". I smiled and pondered those words, asking myself what I can learn from their experiences, choices and definition of happiness/selling-out.
What is interesting to me, is in my experience, the older I get the less I want to "sell-out" and the more comfortable I am going without what most people view as a necessity. It took fostering four very broken and traumatized children to help me see there was another life waiting patiently for me to embrace; they taught me there is so much more to life than work, stuff, money and materialism. And while I don't really have any friends in real life who live like I do (although I am blessed to have one friend on either side of the Atlantic who are at the beginning of their simple living journey!) hearing these friends and co-workers yearn for more money and not desire to change anything about their current circumstances, made me very thankful for places like this co-op, the readers of my own blog, Rhonda's blog and the myriad of others which remind me daily that each day I will face choices, those choices bring me closer to the values I hold or further away. While I do aim to be careful about how much time I spend online, I do feel a bit of a haven in what I choose to read in this amazing place. It was that haven that helped me stick to my choice not to attend a friend's wedding and your words gave me the confidence to stick to my conviction when the bride expressed her anger.
Through my own learning this past month (both from the wedding and the new life that awaits me, as well as conversations with those who live so differently to myself) I've come to a place of both certainty I'm on the right path and also grace - grace in deciding I don't have to be perfect or do things exactly like other simple life followers. I've come to realize if we embrace the simple life as a lifestyle choice, then we are probably all doing the best we can, sometimes under extra-ordinary circumstances and most often without people around us to commiserate or encourage. I've come to accept this path will often be lonely. And maybe when it comes to a simple, frugal and green life, that is OK. Maybe as long as we hold onto that value and don't allow ourselves to totally "sell-out", then our anchor will at the very least keep us grounded through the seasons where being simple, green and frugal is more challenging. Like my current season of vermicomposting - and it failing time and time again. Yes, it may be easier to throw in the towel like many people and not bother with spending more time trying to "do good" but since when is the right choice the easy choice. And by heck, one day I'll get that worm compost system right!
My own personal goal this week is to write a list of things I'm not willing to compromise on, as I begin a brand new and exciting chapter in my life, maybe it will serve as a reminder to hold onto what is most important and leave the rest behind! Because the truth is, whether people see it or not, there is a cost to selling out - a cost to ourselves, our families, those we love, our community, our environment and future generations. By focusing on the most important things, I hope to avoid the real cost associated with selling out and instead reap the rewards of a slower, more balanced, person/community centered path. And suddenly I'm reminded of the tortoise and the hare. And now I can firmly, without a shadow of a doubt, say I'm the tortoise, how about you?
Have a happy, simple, frugal and green week, filled with choices which represent the real you !
Monday, March 14, 2011
Below is the final list of International Seed Catalogs for 2011 with links to the sites, that I have compiled with your input and help. It's subdivided by country, in no particular order. Some of these catalogs don't ship abroad because of customs restrictions on importing seeds, but the aim of this list is to be a useful reference tool for gardeners around the world, primarily to find good and reliable seed supplies in their own area.
If you have more recommendations, please leave them in the comments, and I'll include them in the 2012 edition of this list.
Thank you very much again!
Seed Savers Exchange
Sustainable Seed Co (large selection of organic and heirloom seeds)
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
Seeds from Italy
Territorial Seed Company
Eden Organic Nursery
Seedman.com (seeds from around the world)
Seeds of Change
Abundant Life Seeds
Peaceful Valley Farm
High Mowing Organic Seeds
Pinetree Garden Seeds
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
Wood Prairie Farm
Johnny's Selected Seeds
Monday, February 28, 2011
by Francesca @ Fuoriborgo
In response to a number of requests, I'll be posting one final updated version of the List of International Seed Catalogs in a couple of weeks. If you have more suggestions, please leave them in the comments here.
In winter time, when I don't garden, I like to read about gardening. I especially enjoy books written by gardeners who describe and muse about their life as growers. Blithe Tomato by Mike Madison is the most recent such book I've read. It's a wonderful collection of short, essay-like chapters in which the author, who lives in the Sacramento Valley, shares his views and insights on his life as a small farmer, his rural community, and the farmers' markets in the Sacramento Valley.
Madison's experience as a grower in a land so far away from me was very interesting to read: under clear California skies, he sun-dries small Italian paste tomatoes, Principe Borghese, in just a few days, whereas my experiments with sun-drying Pepolino date tomatoes here in Northern Italy resulted in a tray of shriveled tomatoe halves covered in gray mold. His soil is very fertile, but he has his share of problems, too. His area is plagued by gophers, a ubiquitous burrowing rodent that I'd never heard of, and whose damage to his crops and orchards made my loud complaints about our deer and wild boars sound rather wimpy: at least my garden-gobbling pests are large, above-ground creatures that you can't miss!
Woven throughout the book are the author's thought-provoking observations, which go well beyond his work and community, and touch on his personal philosophy. For instance, he discusses trends in fruit and vegetable breeding, and the fact that the most popular varieties of certain crops, most notably corn, but also carrots, apples, beets and grapes, are hybrids containing the sh-2 supersweet gene, which boosts their sugar content, resulting in level of sweetness that drowns out the vegetable's or fruit's original flavor. Does our society really need food that's been artificially or genetically or even naturally sweetened (think of the sugar that often is added to canned vegetables)?
But what struck me most was the chapter where Madison talks about methods of tilling soil in organic farming. Around this time of year, as gardening season approaches, I always suffer from a bad case of rototiller envy, directed at all those farmers out there in their fields with their rototillers and tractors and weed-busters and other mechanical devices, effortlessly ploughing, turning, aerating, fertilizing, and otherwise manipulating their soil, while the only things I have to work my vegetable garden are a few simple hand tools, my two hands, and my back (and these days, not a particularly good back, either...).
I'm a good enough gardener, but I've always tried to make my garden as biodynamic as possible. So I was amused, and encouraged, to see Mike Madison write this:
I've always been skeptical of those organic farmers who are so insufferably self-righteous about not using synthetic chemicals but who drive up and down the place in a tractor spewing carcinogenic diesel smoke all over their crops.
(Blithe Tomato, Mike Madison, p. 94)
Organic gardening starts with the soil, in ways that go beyond the type of manure or fertilizer we use. Madison's words eased my end-of-winter rototiller envy. Though it didn't help my back pain much.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Hello everyone! I'm here today to introduce you to our two new writers - Lynn and Amy. Lynn's personal blog is viggiesveggies and Amy writes hers at Progressive Pioneer Both these women are living well and truly in the spirit of the co-op's values and I am happy to introduce them to you. Lynn's first post here will be this Saturday and Amy will follow up on Monday, 2 November.
While I have this opportunity, I'd like to thank our team of writers here. They write interesting, relevant and thought provoking posts that teach, inspire and motivate. Thank you for your continued work here. And to Sharon, who keeps everyone informed and organised with the roster, thank you Sharon. It's a remarkable team.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Our other writer is Susy, who writes from Ohio. Do yourself a favour and check out her personal blog Chiot's Run.
Both writers will be posting here soon. I'm sure you'll find them an interesting and intelligent addition to our group.
We are saying goodbye to Julie from Towards Sustainability and Sarah from The Compost Bin. I'm sure you all join with me in wishing these wonderful women all the best in their writing and their blogs.
Thank you to the many people who applied to write here with us. The standard of blog writing is quite remarkable and I found the decision quite difficult.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Sharon: cdetroyes AT yahoo DOT com
Rhonda: simplegreenfrugalcoop AT gmail DOT com
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Come, introduce yourself in the comments.
I'm Melinda, I live in Seattle, WA, where I grew up. I've an artist in New York, a documentary filmmaker in Los Angeles, and I've had a whole slew of other careers in between. I also lived on a rural vineyard in Northern California for a year, trying to live self-sufficiently.
A few months ago I started my own business with 7 other people with very different backgrounds but one goal of making the world a better place. We've recently taken on our first client, a large mission-driven microfinance company that gives small loans to people in the developing world so they can lift themselves out of poverty.
My husband and I live in a small apartment in a dense area of the city, with a dog we rescued from a Los Angeles animal shelter and a cat we rescued from the vineyards. We do our best to live sustainably. Some days we falter, but we're forever getting better.
Please Introduce Yourself!
Ok - I would love to know about you now. Please join the conversation! Don't be shy - if you've never commented before, now is a great time to start!!
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Hello everyone, I am Compostwoman. I am very pleased to have been invited to join Simple, Green, Frugal and I am writing this post to introduce myself to you all. This is quite a long post (sorry!) but I hope you find it interesting.
I live in Herefordshire, England with my husband and 8 year old daughter. We have lived in rural Herefordshire for 11 years and own a brick built house surrounded by nearly four acres of woodland and garden. These four acres comprise three acres of mixed broad leaf deciduous woodland, a small meadow with a pool, a small apple orchard, a veg plot, poly tunnel, sheds, workshops, garage, lots of grass, fruit trees, flower beds and shrubs.
We manage this land organically, for the benefit of our wildlife visitors as well as ourselves, and aim to be as self reliant as we can. We grow a lot of fruit and vegetables and eat our own produce for a lot of the year. When we are not, we try to use local shops in our nearby market town or organic stalls at our local Farmers Market. We store lots of our produce, make all our own bread, cider, jams and chutneys as well as some wine, yoghurt, butter and cheese.
We have our own water supply and sewage treatment facility here, which is not common in most areas of the UK although it is quite normal around us. We are still on main electricity but hope to install some photovoltaic panels in the not too distant future to reduce our grid dependence. A solar thermal water heating installation is planned for summer 2009 for the same reason. Oh, and we use fuel from our own wood for the wood burner, also.
We are fortunate here to have enough land to grow most of our own veg, keep chickens and I am working on us rearing our own meat. Our woodland provides a playground for children and a place for me to carry out environmental education work. The wood is a comfort to the soul, a wonderful wildlife habitat, an endless source of fun and wonder and of course provides us with wood to burn.
I keep 14 chickens, 2 of which are ex-battery hens. We have lots of eggs and I sell the surplus eggs to friends who comment on how wonderful our eggs taste. I am, I freely admit, rather fond of my chickens! I have an Eglu and a couple of more traditional wooden hen house and am keen to expand my flock by hatching out further rare breed eggs under a broody hen (which was how I got the Silver Dorking’s in 2008)
We are fortunate here in Herefordshire to have a thriving local Freecycle network, which I love to use! There is also a very active and wonderful Carbon Reduction/Use Less Group in my local market town, which I try to support as much as, I can. We also have a lot of choice in buying local, often organic food and drink in Herefordshire.
Compostman and I support our local community as much as we can and have worked hard to try to make our personal and wider environment here as sustainable as we can. We are by no means perfect, "deep greens" in our lifestyle though. We have two cars as it would be hard to live here without them, a TV, computers and we live a normal life ( I think?) and there are so many people who could do so much more than we do here, I guess? BUT we are not aiming for perfection but rather to do the best we can at the moment. As and when we can, we work on the rest :-))
Compostman and I spent many years working as professional research scientists in Electronics and Material Science related areas, but we no longer do that anymore due to retirement (him) and redundancy (me). In the last 15 years I have switched career path completely and I now mainly work as an Environmental Educator. I volunteer to teach Organic Gardening at my daughter's primary school and I help run a successful after school Eco Club which Compostman also helps a lot with. I am currently finishing my training as a Forest School Leader, so I work with children helping them experience the wonders of playing in woodlands as part of their school day. I am also a qualified Holistic Therapist and enjoy making household and personal care items.
I have been a keen organic gardener and composter for many years and am a Master Composter - a volunteer community compost advisor with my local council and Garden Organic (the working name for HDRA). I go to various events such as county shows, give talks and demonstrations, take schools assemblies and enthuse about compost to all and sundry!
Compostman spends a LOT of time renovating and improving the house and working in the garden and wood. He manages and maintains our woodland and garden and is involved in an ongoing process of renovating our 102 year old house to make it as energy efficient and comfortable as possible. He also does most of the cooking and all of the baking( and he is VERY good at it)
So, how did we get to where we are now in our journey and how did we come to be living in rural Herefordshire?
Compostman and I have been married for nearly 25 years and we have always recycled, saved water, composted, cooked from scratch and grown some veg, as that was the way both of us had been brought up. We both come from farming grandparents, whose respective children (our parents) took non farming careers in teaching, science or engineering ( the classic "bettering yourself" generation!)
After I took redundancy in 1994 I got involved with various environmental pressure groups and as a result I eventually started up my own Environmental Consultancy business, advising mainly small community groups on fighting planning applications for Incinerators, Road Schemes and things of that ilk. I gradually learned more and more and it all sort of grew from there!
We used to live in an urban town house with a very small garden but had been looking for some time to move to a more rural location with a bigger plot of land and we finally found Compost Mansions in May 1997. It was FAR more land than we had intended to get (!), but we fell in love with the woodland (we walked around the wood, meadow, pool and garden, and agreed to put in an offer before we had even looked in the house!) It was a place where we could live a more self-sufficient lifestyle so we made an offer for the property and it was accepted.
When we moved over to Herefordshire in 1997 things began to change for us. Our previous concerns about pesticide residues in food, GM crops, pollution of air, land and water took on a more personal meaning, as we were living in a place where such things more directly affected us. This became even more important to us when we had Compostgirl in 2000. I found that being pregnant and then having a child concentrated my mind even more on what we were doing to our environment, as it was my child who would inherit the result. Talk about Climate Change suddenly had a real focal point: our child and HER future. All the lobbying and campaigning on ethical and sustainability issues we had ever done suddenly came down to one real issue:
How could we look our daughter in the face and know we hadn’t at least TRIED to do something to minimise our own personal contribution to Global Warming?
I strongly believe that it only takes everybody to each do SOMETHING positive (however small it is), for us collectively to make a BIG difference. So we decided we needed to try to do even more, which was achievable, in our own family, under our own set of circumstances.
And that is part of the reason why we make compost here, and grow veg, and recycle and think about everything we purchase and re-use stuff and not fly and generally live a more frugal, thoughtful life....
The other reason is, well it’s fun! (most of the time, anyway, not so sure about mucking out chickens in the pouring rain!) We are blessed to live where we do and I am very conscious that I am SO lucky to live here.
I work doing something I adore, I LOVE talking to people about making compost, gardening, growing their own veg and getting out to experience playing in woodland! I am so happy if someone says “ I grew some herbs” or “ I tried washing with Soapnuts” or “ I started making compost” I am passionate about helping children AND adults to live a more sustainable life and see the wonder of our natural world. And I get to do all these things everyday.
Sorry, I seem to have gone on a bit (oops) - I hope you will forgive me! and I will try not to do it again. Anyway that's me and why I live like I do. I hope you found it interesting.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
posted by Gavin
When Rhonda invited me to join the co-op, I was flabbergasted, but honoured to be asked to join. I had been following the formation of the blog from the start, and have been very impressed with the growing repository of information from a wonderful and committed group of simple living, green thinking, and frugal global citizens! Well done so far team. Hopefully, I can add the knowledge that I have accumulated in the two and a bit years since I made a determined effort to lower my carbon footprint. In the process, I have found that simple living is the only way to go, and all the benefits that go with this lifestyle have to be experienced to be believed.
It is hard to determine where to start, so maybe describing my green epiphany is a good icebreaker. My life changed back in September 2006, after I saw the documentary "An Inconvenient Truth", in which Nobel laureate Al Gore takes you on a journey and explains the impact of Climate Change. It had just been released, and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, and my employer kindly sponsored a group showing of the movie. Well what an eye opener and a real aha moment! A wave of emotion came over me. I felt guilty, angry, sad, overwhelmed, and then a funny thing happened, something I had never experienced in my life. I felt that I personally had to do something to fix this mess that I had been partly responsible for making. I thought that my first action should be to walk from the cinema back to the office, which was about a 5km journey. I didn't really think this through very well because I was wearing new shoes and the blisters I got from the walk were the size of 20c pieces, but there was no way I was going to add anymore CO2 into the atmosphere, after what I had just learned. The walk helped me gather my thoughts and develop the resolve required to carry out my new life goal.
When I eventually arrived at the office, my head was spinning. I wanted to learn more, to really understand the issue, and to see what simple actions I could take to lower my carbon footprint and that of my family's. I remember hitting the 'net and just spent the rest of the day finding out how I could make a difference. Green was a new colour for me, and until that time I had been a conspicuous consumer of all that was bad for the planet. I was surprised that many of my co-workers were not impacted emotionally as I had been. Possibly the message went straight over their heads.
When I got home for the evening, I tried to explain how I was feeling, but they didn't understand what a roller coaster I had just been on. Their knowledge of climate change was as limited as mine had been before I saw the documentary. It would take some weeks before I managed to get a copy of the movie to show the family.
It was a month of confused thoughts, lots of research and many fruitful discussions with family members. Until my wife, Kim had her own epiphany after she watched the movie, she thought I was having a mid-life crisis and an extra-marital affair! It was a crisis alright, but not the one that some men have at my age. It was a Climate Crisis, and I was determined to reverse the effects of it.
As they say, the rest is history, and my personal blog, The Greening Of Gavin, chronicles my journey towards a sustainable lifestyle on every step of the way. I look forward to contributing to this global community and believe that this opportunity has come at just the right time in my life so that I can help others take the first step on their own Simple, Green and Frugal journey.
We've invited several new writers to join us and I'm sure you'll agree they are great additions to the team of writers we already have working here. The new comers write the blogs: Throwback at Trapper Creek, Living the Frugal Life, The Greening of Gavin and The Compostbin - they are all on our blog list to the right, so click on them to see for yourself what you'll be in for when they start posting.
Our daily postings will start shortly, in the new year. I'm sure you'll understand that many of us have commitments over the holidays but as soon as we're organised, there will be an uninterrupted flow of posts here.
I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
So I'd like to introduce Heather's blog to you. She writes about the same things we do. She is mindful, frugal, eating local and visits her farmer's market on her bicycle. Take some time to visit her and say hello when you're there. I've also added Heather to our bloglist. Thanks Heather!
Thursday, October 16, 2008
I hope you're all finding topics that interest you. Don't forget to "follow" us or add us to your reader so you know when we update. With so many writers, we can't really tell you when that will be. There will always be interesting material for you to slowly flick through, so tell your friends we are here and hopefully we will will deliver information relevant to your life and the changes you want to make.
Hello to all the visitors from SouleMama! Amanda has a very special blog and we're really pleased to be mentioned on it.
Please let us know if you have any suggestions for the Co-op - topics we could write about or what your interests are. All feedback is helpful to us at this stage so let us know as much as you can via the comments or by emailing.
Hopefully, together, we can all make a difference, one home at a time.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Beauty That Moves
When Rhonda first invited me to join this group of writers I was admittedly surprised. I am by no means an authority on the global economy, greenhouse gasses, successful composting or alternative energy. After I stopped being my own worst critic however, I realized that although I am not an authority on any of these subjects singularly, I am a fellow traveler of simple living, and I am painfully aware.
When I was sixteen I wrote in a journal, “When I grow up I want to live in a little house in the country and grow peppermint.” Today I am thirty six and live in the city, our home is an Arts and Crafts Bungalow, it is beautiful and charming but larger than a house needs to be and sits on a 1/4 acre of very shady property which makes vegetable gardening a challenge. But we've begun trying and have had surprising and satisfying success! My teenage dream is still alive, and is thankfully shared by my husband and daughter. We are currently planning our escape from the city. If all goes as we hope, this exodus will take place in 1 1/2 years. In the meantime, I strive to keep the home fires burning in a way that encourages stability, nurturing, thrift, and respect toward the earth and each other.
How are you doing? Do you see the current state of affairs in the world as a glass half full opportunity? I have to admit I do, many of my friends do as well. I live in the USA and nobody in the world consumes or wastes more than we do. Many of us feel that it's about time things got a little difficult, that people begin thinking twice before using gas to make yet another unnecessary trip to the mall. Life is full of challenges at the moment, but it is also full of exciting opportunities. World economists and leaders say we better hang on, it’s going to get a whole lot worse. Now is the time to learn to do for ourselves, why did we ever look elsewhere?
This website will build quickly and is about to become a powerful resource for your home, family, community, independence, finances and life. The contributing writers have been chosen to offer cultural, generational, and gender diversity. But we all share a common bond of striving every day to live more simple, green, and frugal lives.
As humans, we have become so disconnected from nature, have lost the ability to take care of ourselves, and are dependent on too many outside sources for our family's needs. I can’t make any promises to teach you great things, but I will share what my own family is doing to improve our quality of life, to do more for ourselves, and to lighten the footprint we leave behind. Hopefully we’ll have a few successes along the way that will be inspiring to others.
I very much look forward to my time here.
I have spent most of my life searching for ways to make the world a truly better place. When I was younger I called this "saving the world" - that was my true calling!! Now, of course, I know it takes more than one person to save the world, but I'm doing my best to contribute in a significant way.
In college I looked far and wide for the best way to create positive change in the world, studying Cultural Anthropology, Environmental Science, Art, Literature, and Film.
I have had all sorts of jobs, including taking care of children in a drug and alcohol recovery center; writing multi-million dollar grants for state, county, and local community development and homeless programs; running Fine Art Camps for disadvantaged children; art directing film and television programs; directing and editing documentary films... and a whole host of other jobs. Most recently I have been moving away from documentary filmmaking toward environmental and sustainability consulting.
And over the past several months I have spent a good deal of my "spare" time writing at One Green Generation. There I share the many aspects of sustainable living that I encounter: recipes, gardening, saving money, living and eating locally, community-building, greening our home, nurturing one another, and much more.
I believe our journey to simplify, to become sustainable, does not stop at our individual actions at home. We can help bring our friends and neighbors together, where we can support and learn from one another. When we have the courage to venture beyond our doorsteps, we can help our communities to adapt, to become stronger, and to become whole after they have been torn apart by the past era of individuality.
Rhonda Jean has a link to other blogs in her sidebar, and she calls them her "Neighbors." It's a lovely thing. I'm honored to be one of her neighbors, and I take great pride in that. In the last 50 years, we have largely forgotten our neighbors. We have built walls and fences and shrubs to isolate ourselves from those around us. We have stopped borrowing butter and tools, we have ceased to rely on a neighbor for a shoulder to cry upon, or a good laugh over an impromptu cup of freshly brewed tea.
Individual actions are strong. But group actions are much stronger.
So, this is what I write about. I write about my own path, my own journey, toward living with as low of a negative impact as I possibly can. Simple, frugal, happy, peaceful. And I write about my new struggle to live within my community. I call this living locally. And what I've learned from living locally, is that our communities are not set up for that anymore - and so we must build them up again, make them stronger. And so I write about my efforts toward community-building as well.
At One Green Generation, we have created a community of wonderful, inspiring, and supportive people at various stages of their personal and lifelong efforts to live simply and sustainably. I am very much looking forward to becoming involved with this community of writers and readers here. (Thank you so much, Rhonda Jean, for bringing all of us together!)
I am proud to be a part of this co-operative. I think we can do great things, I think we can learn from one another, grow together, and create a movement of people working hard to change their individual lives, and to change our world for the better. And I'm very glad you're joining us on that adventure.
One final note...
Yes, there are tough times ahead of us. But we can - and we will - survive. If we all work together though, I wholeheartedly believe we can thrive! So let's do it. Join us for a cup of tea, bring your neighbors, and let's learn to thrive - together.
One Green Generation
Monday, October 13, 2008
I too, am honored to be a part of this co-operative venture. Looking over my fellow bloggers’ introductory posts, it appears I’ve taken a different route to the simple living philosophy. I started early. I grew up a city kid, the oldest of five. Dad was a salesman, earning only straight commission, and Mom was into the “reduce, reuse, recycle” lifestyle long before anyone else, probably out of necessity. Dad had a garden and fruit trees in the back yard, Mom canned the harvest. I was doing the baking when I was eight, and sewing my own clothes at twelve. Grandma taught me embroidery, and Grandpa taught me to not name anything you’re going to eat (and how to roll his cigarettes for him – probably best Mom doesn’t know that). When I read the Little House on the Prairie books, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to be a pioneer - living off the land, in a cozy little home where my husband and I made everything in it.
Maybe it's crazy, but that dream never died. I did what I could, when I could. Except for a couple of years in a college dorm, I’ve had a garden everywhere I’ve lived – in the backyards of rental houses or in pots on the windowsills of apartments. I even gardened for 10 years in Leadville, the highest city in the US at 10,200 feet. Organic Gardening magazine ran a photo of me with some of my high-altitude harvest one year. With a season too short and cold for compost, I kept a worm box under my bathroom sink. I was at the library every month to read the new magazine, Mother Earth News, and devoured the Foxfire books. I bought books like Diet for a Small Planet and Make Your Own Groceries, learned how to cook with a pressure cooker, and how to economically keep warm when it’s 25 below zero outside.
Twenty-two years ago, I moved to northern Nevada. I was overjoyed to be where I could once again grow tomatoes and corn! And I met Aries – a fellow pioneer spirit. He had a little house, originally a two-room building (all the plumbing on one wall of the kitchen – from the sink you’d walk through the shower stall to get to the toilet), with a bedroom added on later. He’d built a garage and added on a bedroom and bathroom. After we were married (19 years, yesterday!), we did all the work to turn it into a cozy home – wallpapering, sewing, building furniture, everything from laying floor tiles to texturing the ceiling. This isn't really a farm - it’s an urban homestead, on a little over an acre (half of that still just sand and sagebrush) on the outside edge of the capital of Nevada. But over the years we’ve raised horses, a goat, a pig, rabbits, ducks, geese, chickens and guinea fowl (only the latter two here now). I stood on a pitchfork to dig up the horse corral to put in a garden; we used our wedding present money to buy fruit trees. Through canning, dehydrating and cellaring, I rarely buy produce from the store. My childhood dream came true.
Over time, I find it interesting that perceptions of me have changed from "that crazy hippie" to that of a valued resource. People have stopped asking why I’d work so hard (when you can just buy things at the store) and started asking if I’ll teach them. When I saw young mothers trying to patch the knees of their toddlers' pants with iron-on patches, I realized that a lot of the things I know how to do are in danger of becoming lost arts. I volunteer with a group working towards making my community more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly, and have a B.S. degree in Human Ecology. Blogging seems a good way to share my knowledge and experience with a world now hungry to learn. I’m happy to be a part of this effort, and hoping I’ll learn more here too.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
We all welcome you to the co-op and hope you'll save us to your reader and become a frequent visitor. I hope we will have a new post every day for you to read. Please leave a comment to let us know what you're thinking about living in these tough times.
Our writers all live the life they write about so there is a lot of experience here. Ask questions, give us suggestions and let us all join together as a community to support each other and learn what we need to live to our potential.
Thanks for visiting us.
Down to Earth