Jim Christie: Coming Home to Sustainability | MOTHER EARTH NEWS

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Jim Christie, Coming Home to Sustainability

Name: Jim Christie

Occupation: Retired IT sales and marketing executive and sales person; aspiring builder, homesteader, beekeeper, cheesemaker and gardener

Serious Hobbies: music, photography, golf, reading

Values: honesty, education, hard work, generosity, beauty and abundance

Location: Recently relocated from Melbourne, Australia, to a small town near San Antonio, Texas

About Moving Home to Sustainability

The Christies have had a vision for years of moving back to small-town Texas and creating a sustainable homestead on their property. After ten in Australia, their vision is becoming a reality as they have recently relocated to Texas.

A year or so before they left for Australia, their daughter and her husband (or fiancée at the time) moved to Texas, taking a portion of property given to them by her husband’s family and embarked on a process of building their own home, complete with an array of farm animals and over the next few years, a few children. Jim and his wife visited them when possible, and started dreaming about what might be possible as Jim approached retirement. Jim’s wife was raised on a small, relatively self-sufficient farm in Washington, so she was very open to doing it again.

The property adjacent to their daughter seemed to be mostly unoccupied and underutilized. The owner had bought the property a number of years before and had visions of building a house on the property once he retired. His wife didn’t like the idea of moving out of the city so the Christies bought the property. Since acquiring the property 5 years ago, their transition plan started coming together and through their blog posts they have been chronicling their efforts, ideas and progress.

Current Projects:  After six months of being back in Texas, Jim has completed the house and is now building out gardens and other homestead buildings. Prior to leaving Australia, Jim completed a weekend workshop on artisan cheese making and a course on beekeeping. These skills will contribute significantly to the Christie homestead in the future. Jim is also looking for other synergistic workshops to build skills now that they’re back in Texas and looking forward to the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR in Lawrence, Kan., to get additional ideas. Jim is also plowing through 20+ books and numerous articles and web blogs reading and understanding what experts in the field have done and suggest.

Other Fun Facts:  Jim and wife Julie have 3 children spread widely across the US and now also have ten grandchildren, four of whom live near their property in Texas.  Probably the most “fun fact” about the Christies is that, unlike most of the other bloggers and contributors on this site, they are absolute novices (or worse) at most of the skills that they need to build and maintain their homestead. Undaunted, they’re driving aggressively forward with their plans. In addition to the courses and study they’ve undertaken while still in Australia, they also will learn (and blog) as they go and, in fact, they intend to use the blog to see if they can solicit advice from the experts in the audience.

Also, the Christies really like technology and modern conveniences (what the Aussies call modcons) and a good part of their quest will be to find ways, sustainably of course, to employ many of the “modcons” they’ve learned to enjoy.

Technology is progressing to the point where some of all of this may be possible and Jim will work hard to find the ways and discuss them. You can also follow Jim on Twitter (@jimchristie355).

Interesting Features of Jim’s Life and Plan

  • Retired after 30+ years of work within the IT industry.  Jim will retire while Julie continues to work for a large computer company and has relocated back to the U.S. after Jim finished the house. 
  • Has a PhD in Chemistry and practiced that craft for five years out of graduate school prior to transitioning to IT
  • In the 70’s, was a program manager in the Army’s Office for the Demilitarization of Chemical Materiel and was instrumental in creating the processes to destroy the Army’s lethal stockpile of these dangerous weapons.  Also, incorporated extremely innovative methods for protecting the environment while conducting these dangerous disposal operations
  • Jim and his wife lived in Australia nearly ten years and during the last three years worked on a plan to transition back where Jim will work solely on the homestead while Julie continues with her IT career. Jim and Julie are now both Australian and US citizens (both born and raised in the US). As a result, they don’t have any immigration restrictions in going back and forth. During the last two years (already part of the blog), the shell of the house and much infrastructure was built, mostly during annual 3-week visits to the U.S.
  • Jim hopes to use the blog not only to share his experiences with others but also hopes that the readers will interact with him to share their experiences, ideas and suggestions.