The Be the Change Project’s Top Tips for Regenerative Living #3 Health and Health Care

Reader Contribution by Kyle Chandler-Isacksen
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This is my third entry in our series, Top Tips for Regenerative Living where we take a deeper dive into what we can do and how we can be to live better for ourselves and the planet.  Each “tip” includes what we’ve learned from our lives with our Be the Change Project, background info giving some of the bigger picture, and usually a suggested stretch or two to help guide changemakers. Tip one. Tip two.

Health and health care are biggies for regenerative living.  Like the biosphere around us, when we’re ill things start to break down.  And there’s serious economic costs, too: health costs average $4,800/year per household and represent 18% of our overall GDP.  So what is our role on a personal level within this big system that helps us live more connected and regenerative lives?

When I present about our lives and work (which includes voluntary poverty, simple living…) people often ask how we navigate health care.  What they usually mean, though, is how do we pay for health insurance.  The short answer is that we don’t; we’re poor so we’re on Medicaid and Medicaid is just about free.  The longer answer, and what I share in detail, is a more holistic approach to healthier lives, communities, and ecosystems.  During the conversation I am also sure to point out that we take our health very seriously and that we are grateful to receive health care as needed.  It is a gift and one we’d like everyone to receive through Universal Health Care, Medicaid for All…whatever we choose to call it.  For us, it’s a human right that‘s encompassed by “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”  

Here are some examples of our Be the Change Project health care program:

Low-stress: We are, in large part, spending our time doing what we want to do and what we feel called to do.  Of course we’re still raising children, married, engaging with friends and neighbors in America in the 21st century, but we’re hardly jobbing and our immediate needs – shelter, food, water and warmth – are covered. 

Good Diet: We raise and eat a significant percentage of our own food.  It is all grown organically and our animals are raised with a lot of love and space.  Seasonal and fresh eating is the norm be it with hearty greens through the winter, apples in the fall, cherries in the summer, eggs potatoes, onions, garlic…all year from the root cellar. 

Beauty: What if every object in our lives was both beautiful and useful?  Now, we’re not there yet but we have made progress through the years and that’s been a function of how well we’ve gotten our systems to run and how much time that has allowed us to practice beautification. 

Flowers and plants, design of our space, natural materials, old and reused materials all contribute to good vibes on our property where we spend most of our time.  Along with the physical representation of beautiful objects, there is also the great satisfaction of making a beautiful thing and using it in our daily lives.  A good example of this is our cob oven which we built over a couple workshops with good people and then finished with a tadelakt plaster. It is so well-shaped and the finish is so lustrous that I can’t pass by it without running a hand over it or outright laying atop it.  And, we use it for pizza parties – gatherings with friends and music around fresh-cooked food.  Beauty and function.  Amen!

Sunshine and Fresh Air: We’re outside a lot!

Abundant Sleep: I wake up about 20 minutes before sunrise every day throughout the year no matter what the season.  I get tired when it gets dark and go to bed early.  I sleep a lot in the winter.  In short, we live with our natural circadian rhythms. 

Community: We have a wide and diverse community of people who love, or a least like us.  Throughout our week we get to engage with people on different levels as neighbors, friends, family, collaborators, and even strangers.  

Leisure time: Every Sunday I play basketball with a great group of guys.  Most nights with my family we’ll play a game or read aloud.  Often we have potlucks, get-togethers, sing-alongs.  And, we are able to travel, often for extended periods of time, to see friends, to work, to explore, to learn. 

Craft & Mastery: I am learning and improving at my crafts year-by-year.  My passion is natural building.

Fitness: I walk, hike, play ball, and work out multiple times a week. 

Creativity: This is happening all the time with our projects, building, art, writing and organizing. 

We also share a lot of what we grow and about how we live which sends ripples of wellbeing further into the world maybe helping others live healthier lives.  Our healthy land, too, sends its own ripples to passersby and the broader ecosystem. Altogether, a pretty amazing health plan. 

By this time, as you might imagine, the conversation about health care has moved beyond  health insurance.

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