It’s All About Building Community

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Photo by FangXiaNuo
A communal garden is a great way to bring the community together.

One of the best parts of being a member of an active and enthusiastic community is that folks readily reach out to help one another, answer questions, and generally work together to advance the common good. I routinely notice this on the Mother Earth News website and Facebook pages, and even in my email inbox. As the new kid on the block, I want to thank all of you for your kind words and passionate advice. We survey you folks routinely, and you let us know that DIY is on your mind most days. You also indicate interest in topics such as approachable alternative energy, and you crave instructions for developing near-perfect garden soil, the financial map to living debt-free, and real-life accounts of how other folks made the transition to living off-grid. And the letters you’ve all sent to my email address since the previous issue confirm what those surveys suggest.

So, one of our goals going forward is to include more real-life, innovative, problem-solving stories crafted from the lives of our community members. There are many possible solutions to every homesteading/gardening/energy problem you encounter, but sometimes it helps to see how others have approached a problem in practice, not just in theory. What was it really like to get a permit for a straw bale house in an area that had never encountered one before? How much did the engineering analysis actually cost? How much time did you need to spend explaining your project to the local inspector? How did you fund the project? Further, sometimes we all get discouraged in our day-to-day endeavors and need to be reminded that we aren’t alone and that the reasons we do what we do are compelling. Community helps with this, too, when impassioned folks reach out to lend a helping hand, share their bounty, and celebrate successes, small and huge!

Starting with this issue, you’ll find a department called Firsthand Reports, in which we’ll share your triumphs, failures, joys, and pains in a way we hope is compelling, helpful, and inspiring. For this community-building endeavor to continue working, we’ll depend on you to share your experiences for the common good! So please don’t be shy about offering your voice of experience to the entire community. You might not think your story is worth telling, but even reading about a new method for harvesting and using spruce tips will enrich our collective experience.

In our next issue, we also plan to devote a page or two to your photos. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for a call-out about what we’re planning to feature and where you can send your images. And for 2017, we have a new department in mind that would be very DIY-oriented — tentatively called Homestead Hacks — where you’ll be able to share your gravity poultry-waterer design, your hand-built composting toilet plan, your easy and innovative fence brace, your stone arch, your dough bowl, your hand-carved wooden spoon, or just about anything else that illustrates our collective ingenuity, creativity, and passion.

In the meantime, if you have any projects, accomplishments, advice, or awesome photos of cherry pie or your new solar array to share, please email me at — we love to see what our fellow community members are up to.

See you in October,