I resisted posting this piece. After all, most of us assume we can’t afford to uproot from our current situations and replant ourselves in paradise. Plus, most of us wouldn’t want to. We’re entangled with friends and family and co-workers. We’re connected to the very real places where we already live, no matter what their deficiencies. And let’s face it. There are disadvantages to all life-styles, including the self-sufficient life.
For example, I was talking on the phone with a friend of mine yesterday. About ten years ago she and her husband uprooted themselves from a community-based life in Montana to plant themselves on eight acres 20 minutes from the nearest town deep in the desert southwest. On their land they built a state-of-the-art off-grid home and grow most of their own food. But — and it’s a big but! She would like to have others move onto their land with them, to share both the work and the company. She’s been putting out feelers for the past three years, and so far, no takers.
So here’s another couple in Oregon, who have done the same thing. Not sure how far they are from the nearest town, but I do wonder if they feel some of the same loss of community.
Okay, okay, there are disadvantages in what we’re trying to do here, too: regenerate community by transforming a neighborhood into a functioning village. For starters, people keep moving (it’s a university town); next, very few people really value neighborliness anymore — everyone is so busy either going to school or working or “entertaining” themselves that there aren’t many cookies being baked on Saturdays for neighborhood kids. Besides the kids are no longer trawling the neighborhood together, but ensconced in their rooms, on their screens. (Like the adults, when home.)
Sooner or later, in an age of downsizing economic opportunities, this stuck state will change. Indeed, it’s already changing, given the growing popularity of co-housing and intentional communities, and even co-operative living. But what we need are examples of transforming into community self-sufficiency that everyone can emulate, not just the privileged. And what better place to start than in our own urban and suburban neighborhoods? All we need do is change our attitudes and perceptions, and the rest will follow.
“Change attitudes and perceptions”? But that’s the most difficult thing! Yes it is. Let’s go.
Here’s the promised article.