Hot darn y’all. It’s me, Ben. I am not an astronomer, nor an astrologer, but I do in fact live in the dirt, like 80 percent of the world does, and I do declare that writing this inspirational tome, under a newish moon, in late May, in northeast Missouri, of temperate North America, is something of a chore. It is nothing I’m not used to; I do a lot of chores around here, some of which I actually enjoy when the weather cooperates.
As of late, our quaint eco-burg has been affected by a climate pattern I like to call the “tough luck” model. It rains when I don’t want it to and it doesn’t rain when I am least likely to enjoy the traditional running of the hose. In order to maintain adequate watering for our ark of critters and cornucopia of edible vegetable friends, without the seemingly fickle blessing of precipitation, I rely on running many great lengths of hose from tank to tank, hopscotching across the landscape, in order to feed myself and my friends slightly more well than I could do if I got a real job and shopped at Whole Foods. That said, I’ve always felt that bad food tastes better with real labor, and thusly, I have been rewarded with a sustainable level of nutrient intake.
Every year, my pants (or should I say “pantses,” as I believe that to be the appropriate plurality) seem to fall off more frequently than the last. This may be testament to my healthy diet — consisting mainly of lard, intentional ferments, and some less intentional ferments — and the fact that elastic don’t last forever and thrift stores don’t seem to stock pants for coes like me who are slender with no hips.
Some of my good friends helped me this week in the planting of eighty tomato starts. I am not a big fan of them myself, tomatoes that is, at least not fresh off the vine, unless they are sandwiched between starch, green food, and hog fat, (alternately fresh chevre); but I do greatly enjoy marinara sauce, dried tomato, salsa, catsup, and basically any competently fermented tomato fruit. Therefore it felt worth the while to invest the labor. Especially since all I did during the transplant party was touch stuff, look at things, and think about the frailty of biological life.
In addition to making a major push towards vegetable matter self sufficiency, I have also scythed some main pathways for my personal use, helped to support our upcoming Timber Frame Workshop, done the hand laundry, cooked fairly tasty and local food for a sizable group of eaters, met my clean team requirements in community in spite of my deep level of displeasure with it all, moved chicken pasture as well as mowed goat pasture, sterilized milking jars, helped my children with their mental and bodily functions, navigated at least two dozen funky social situations, and performed perhaps another two to three dozen wholesome, earth friendly tasks for the benefit of most of everyone I know. I have not dealt with my family’s collective humanure situation yet, but I’m sure that if I leave the buckets where they are that they’ll be there tomorrow, perhaps slightly fuller than I recall.
Yes folks, it has been a long and tricky few moments here in our wondrous, magical, community of communities. Certainly for myself and a fair few others, I imagine. It can be easy enough for folks with visions of utopia to roll in, declare their knowledge and commitment to this way of life, and then dissipate, often seemingly without comprehending just how much work there is to be done. It comes in all shapes and forms. While it may seem to the reader that most of the work I perform exists in the physical realm, much of it lies in the emotional and mental world as well. Saving the world is exhausting when a privileged population with access to a sizeable chunk of resources ignores the lifestyle that I believe is necessary to sustain a fair and harmonious planet. In a world where any single boardroom can declare entire watersheds poisoned for the profit of some shareholders, or where even well meaning individuals can do immense harm to the global ecosystem with the tap of a button, or where nations can man-spread their way to nuclear armageddon for the sake of ideological flexing, the small measures we take here, like licking our bowls clean to conserve water, or turning off the lights when not in use, can feel painfully insufficient.
I want to do everything I can to manifest a world where all people are well-fed and abundant in love and support. Please ask yourselves how we, seven billion of us, are going to do it. This now is the new dark age. While generations of humans prior to our own have struggled with an economy of depletion, we now sit at the teeter-tottering threshold of drowning in our own abundance. We have enough nukes available to destroy our global biome at a rate of umpteen fold. Enough ammunition to kill each other quickly, and enough environmental poisons to do it slow, in addition to the other couple few billions of organisms tolerating their existence here.
Please do the hard work with us. There’s a fair bit at stake. And look out for the ticks and chiggers too, because they’re frenzied nowadays. Take it easy, but take it.
Come visit us this year to learn practical ways that you can incorporate radical sustainability in your own life! There are still three Sustainable Living Visitor Program sessions and several more workshops happening between now and October, how will you choose to get involved?