When I was young and idealistic I entertained various fantasies of being self-sufficient: Building my own house, growing my own food, and basically being a hermit. No environmental footprint for me.
Now that I'm older (though still idealistic) my feelings about self-sufficiency have changed. For starters, I now have a family who don't necessarily share my hermit plans. But more significantly, now that we've really and whole-heartedly embarked upon a life where we are attempting to provide for ourselves in as many ways as we possibly can, we've realised how bloody hard it would be to actually produce everything you need by your own hands. Not to say that kind of life wouldn't be rewarding - I'm sure it would - but my feelings about 'how to save the world' have ripened a bit now, and my ideology has ultimately found a home in community-building.
What do I mean by that? Well, I mean talking to people. I mean valuing the work people do. I mean supporting people who are creating and growing things in our local area. I mean sharing and providing food for people. I mean sharing knowledge and information and encouraging people. And maybe more than anything else, I mean swapping and bartering as much as possible.
One thing that hasn't changed for me since those heady early days of ideological veganism and Grass Roots idolatry, is my belief that money is pretty much the root of all evil. Unfortunately for us, (and even more unfortunately for the billions of impoverished and enslaved peoples around the world) we live under capitalism, which means that, short of the aforementioned hermit lifestyle, you kinda need to participate, at least a little bit, in the money economy. So what can you do about it? Well, you can be super-hyper vigilant about who you give your money to. Yes folks, it's true that under capitalism, one of your most powerful weapons is what you do and do not choose to spend your money on. Ask yourself: What kinds of things is this purchase supporting? Child labour? Slave labour? Crapy living conditions for factory workers? Environmental destruction? Cultural destruction? If you're answering yes to any of these questions, find an alternative, or go without.
|Springvale community food swap at Linda and Paul's, down the road. What the heck kind of shop comes with these views, cups of tea, cake and friendly advice about gardening and craft???|
While that may seem like a kind of crazily austere or strict regime to adhere to, let me tell you that it's actually a ton of fun, because in the process of seeking alternatives, you'll probably meet people and make connections you wouldn't otherwise make, and you will strengthen your sense of community. By supporting local people you will build resilience in your community, and you will help people find alternatives to the confines of capitalism, even if just for a little bit. Liiiiike.... you might start or participate in your local food swap, or you might think of some other way you can barter for the things you need.
|And more food swap action at Autumn Farm|
You might get involved with a local food co-op, or you might start buying your produce (and I mean all of your produce) direct from the person who grew it. You might start growing more of your own, and sharing it with a neighbour!
We are pretty much massive bartering devotees these days, bartering our chickens and craft for as much as we possibly can including acupuncture, veggies, fermented foods, art therapy, spoon carving lessons, pork, art classes, lamb, hand-knitted gloves and bread. Yes, many of these things we could produce ourselves, it's true. But you know what? Our friends Thea and Tim have the most amazing market garden. But they don't have the time and inclination to also grow chickens, just like we don't have the time or inclination (or watering prowess) to grow massive beautiful bunches of coriander and celery. So we barter.
Similarly, our friend Emily makes incredible sauerkraut, kefir and kimchi. Yes of course we could make these for ourselves, but that's her thing, so she's really good at it, just like we're really good at growing delicious chickens. So we barter.
I can't knit, but I really wanted a pair of rainbow-hand-dyed fingerless gloves for riding my bike in the early morning chill, and Vee really wanted one of my skirts. Her handy man Grimm knits beautiful fingerless gloves. So we barter.
You see what I'm getting at? By valuing other people's skills and interests, you don't have to be super-skilled at everything yourself. And besides which, sharing the love just feels plain old awesome.
|Fish Bone Farm abundance gracing the Autumn Farm kitchen. Happy days..|