I knew we came here to create a sustainable homestead for some reason, but it’s not always easy to keep your eye on the target of a project that won’t ever see completion, that has few models to imitate, and that takes a backseat to “real” jobs. My last couple months of silence and introspection was a result of trying too hard to see that blurry target, and the resulting frustration when it refused to come into focus.
Long before coming out here, I’ve been drawn to some totally “normal” ideas that still sound “off” to the mainstream: composting toilets, widespread and varied hemp usage, local food, simplified lifestyles and pleasures. But I’m convinced, this practical divide will not last for long.
Despite all our failures out here over the last two years, when it comes to food, our first challenge, we could not only live off the land if that’s what it came to, but we could support a few others. It wouldn’t be easy or comfortable the way we have it now, but we would survive Michael Ruppert’s predicted Collapse and the resulting “transition period”. That is a very far cry from how I felt after Katrina, disempowered and disillusioned, wondering if I was the only one who was seeing the nature of reality for what it actually was: not the sort of place you’d want to leave in the hands of government.
Government will never take the place of community, but that’s exactly what we’ve been expecting of it, and then some.
Beyond the Infinite Growth Paradigm
We have been living as creatures benefiting from “the infinite growth paradigm”-the one on which we base our economy, our culture, our choices every single day. The one that is squarely based in and ceaselessly perpetuating an obvious untruth: We have access to endless resources and can continue to physically expand, individually and collectively, forever.
And for those of you who might not care to populate outer space, that’s just too bad.
As part of a recent vacation we visited a cousin who has a beyond organic farm in Carbondale, Colorado called Sustainable Settings. They had themselves just gotten back from a vacation, which addressed my first concern of whether the farm life allowed for time away. Not easy, they confirmed, but that’s the same story of the average employed American.
Workable future solutions to local food and empowered community has kept Sustainable Settings around since 1997–the farm and ranch, community outreach, and the social and political commitment of Brook and Rose LeVan and their ever-evolving team are all impressive. But for me it was most inspirational to witness how in living it forward they’re preserving a deep sense of purpose that is obvious in their sparkling eyes. I want to spend my life, and then die, with those kinds of eyes.
Still I’m inclined to wonder, purposeful or not, is it really sustainable solution for a global society?
If I’d asked, their answer would most likely be a fairly obvious “Not really,” though for totally different reasons than our own. They are getting top dollar for their produce thanks to their wealthy region; their very pricey property was a gift; and part of their survival and expansion relies on donations. I have a hard time grasping that this could be an ideal farm model for this country, unless we plan to increase the welfare state.
Thankfully I’ve realized I’m asking the wrong question of us both. The important question should be, “Is it sending the right message?” And the obvious answer is: Absolutely.
What are we doing out here? What next?
A dozen eggs a day, surplus produce crowding every countertop, overflowing from the freezers and fridge, hours of labor daily in harvesting, processing, cooking from scratch. Of course I have to wonder, repeatedly, why?
I still have no clue. But with this homestead, we’re recreating our life right now. We are being the change I want to see in the world. We are living in possibility, crafting a sustainable global vision–in microcosm only–so what–it’s still one more manifestation of imagination beyond the infinite growth paradigm.
So Handy Hubby and I still aren’t any closer to a reasonable solution for ourselves or society, even after two years. Our chickens eat better meals than a sizeable portion of the world’s population, and I don’t know of a reasonable way to fix that for now. And nope we still don’t really know what we’re doing, despite having some moderate initial success at it.
But we’re still asking the questions, we’re gaining confidence, in our unique way we’re bucking an unworkable system with as little personal inconvenience as we can manage, something I can really see resonating with other Americans. There are factions of us expressing a new vision in all kinds of different sustainable settings suiting all different kinds of individuals and communities. We’re gaining numbers and means to communicate and collaborate.
It’s only a matter of time. Because empowered individuals and communities will never be possible without local control of common resources and life’s basic needs.
This year’s goal: Water Independence. The severe drought has been a timely wake-up call.