Urban Homesteading – Think Local

| 12/11/2009 11:24:56 AM

snowmanI’ve lived in my new neighborhood for almost eight months. Wow! Spring cleaning, summer’s garden bounty, fall leaves and now a winter wonderland. The block my little bungalow is on really celebrates the holidays Fourth of July was as exciting as a whole city event. And now, everyone’s house is ablaze with lights OK, not a sustainable practice, but extravagantly beautiful on snowy nights. There was a flyer in the front door a couple of days ago inviting us to an evening of neighborhood singing followed by a soup supper.

Why am I sharing the goings-on of my world with you? We hear from many folks, here at MOTHER EARTH NEWS, who are anxious to chuck civilization and head to the hinterlands to raise their families, gardens and goats. They dream of being off the grid in almost every way possible isolated from neighbors and easy-to-access roads. I wonder why? Humans, as an animal species, are herd creatures. We bond with our families, both parents are needed to raise the offspring, and we have the ability to communicate and to share the results of our efforts. Living within a community can provide help and safety in times of need, a venue for celebration when things go well, and a place for mourning when there is loss. This week, during the season’s first snowfall, our neighbor plowed everyone’s sidewalks with his little snowblower what an amazing gift to awaken to! I’m planning to bake a batch of cookies for him this weekend.

There are so many ways to be sustainable and still live within community. One can garden, raise chickens, use passive and active solar, and harvest rainwater all on a city lot the size of mine. For an extreme example of the possibilities, check out the Dervaes family, in Pasadena, Calif. Today, I challenge you to think local not just about buying food, but about all the ways you can live a sustainable life right where you are. Let us know how is goes.

Photo by Olga Gabai/fotolia
sherry majors
1/24/2010 11:26:02 PM

RC, I beg to differ, I am a woman that hates the cities, I love the hard work that it involves raising my own beef chickens vegtables ect. I was born 150 years to late! So no it isn't only the guys that like the old ways.

12/15/2009 3:44:41 PM

What a wonderful challenge! I am guilty of what you mentioned: I'm always dreaming of moving out of the city and into the woods. However, what you say is true..."There are so many ways to be sustainable and still live within community." And when you start to look at it that way, the challenges of city life begin to look more like opportunities. :) Thank you! Tonia www.ittybittyimpact.com

12/14/2009 10:23:10 PM

Humans are PACK animals, most certainly not HERD animals. But the mistake is quite telling. Pack animals are hunters and benefit from being in small groups, while herd animals are prey and benefit from being in as large groups as possible. Note that wolves/dogs are pack animals as well, and maintain fairly small groups, and stay fully independent and far away from other packs. I'm not surprised at the error. It's a gender thing. Women want to live in cities, with ready access to a large population and services. It's mostly men who want to live rural lives, full self-sufficient and independent. Of course this is an over-generalization, but the division is very clear, and overwhelmingly true. Of course that doesn't mean being fully isolated, just having a much smaller pack, and fewer, friendlier, acquaintances. I don't see any point in debating the relative benefits of each here, but suffice it to say, I don't believe your call for urban homesteading is going to make any headway changing one of the fundamental human drives.

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