In yesterday’s blog, I dipped my toe into political waters. That won’t happen often because mostly I prefer to stick to subjects close to the homestead or to theoretical ideas that I have some reasonable ability to act on. But I do want to go on record, at least once, to say that for me:
Homesteading is absolutely an act of political dissent.
I’m not a revolutionary leading the charge to tear down the megalithic political oligarchy that Thomas Jefferson and other anti-Federalists desperately sought to prevent way back at the beginning of it all. I also don’t want to make a habit of being a critic because I know how much easier it is to tear down other people’s work with words than to actually do something useful yourself. I’d rather not be the person doing the tearing if I can avoid it.
Overall, my participation in current politics consists of trying to do what is in my power to lawfully avoid supporting systems I find reprehensible. For example, by increasing my self-sufficiency and decreasing my dependence on money, I can live on less and pay less in income taxes. As a result, I contribute less to governmental activities I would prefer not to see funded. If I buy less stuff, then I pay less in sales tax too. If I avoid buying from suspect sources, I withdraw my support for business activities I can’t conscience. On the usage side, I also try to rely less on public infrastructure like using roads less frequently, since my tax reduction strategies also mean I contribute less to public space upkeep. Driving less also has the added benefit of cutting my carbon production. To offset, some of my lack of material support, I try to give back to my community in ways that are meaningful to me. For example, right now I spend a lot of time volunteering as a Master Gardener and teaching others to grow their own food thereby helping to increase local food security.
Yet, I am also more than a dissenter. Homesteading is my attempt to create an economic model for transition that is viable from a personal, community, and environmental perspective.
Homesteading at the outset is not going to be a carbon neutral activity. It is also not going to be a totally ethical activity. No matter how hard you try to do right, you will find yourself making some ethically questionably purchases and taking some unsustainable shortcuts. But, that’s why I see this as a transition model.
There’s fuel and feed lots in every load of manure I have hauled to our property for the purpose of building soil. But on the other side, our soil will sink carbon and produce sustainable homestead meat for us and my local farmer’s market customers. There’s almost a kind of just symmetry in using the very tools that are currently responsible for the degradation of our environment to build something restorative, resilient, and totally reLuxe.
If you are interested in ideas on how to make the transition in your home, check out one of my earlier piece Homesteading a Radical Re-Evolution for The Grow Network (an awesome resource for all things homesteading). I’ve also been working on The ABCs of Homesteading for Mother Earth News. I am up to K is for Kitchen skills now, but the series is meant to be an organized model for beginning homesteaders, so if you have some time to do a little reading, start at A and follow the alphabet.