Living outside of the city has already given me some new perspectives on sustainable living. I drove into Chimacum this morning for groceries. There's a corner stand there that almost exclusively carries local products, and by local I mean shouting distance. I passed two organic farms, two cideries and an apiary on the 8 mile trip. There was a farmer's market in the lot/garden next to the stand made up mostly of those local growers and artisans and even in the miserable, dribbling rain there were people, local folk of varying ages, attire and dirtiness milling around. Not just the hippy-folk and NPR listening Subaru drivers who tend to populate the larger urban farmer's markets. Farmers, fishermen, people who have been getting their food from their neighbors long before it became an ecological statement. In my muck boots and clothes splattered with sawdust, paint and chicken shit, I realized again that what we're doing is not as much a new revolution, a new homesteading movement, or a form of cultural activism. It's simpler than all that. We're just doing things the way they've been done for most of our cultural history, and we, like everyone else, have our own personal reasons for our lifestyle of choice. It may have evolved out of eco-consciousness, liberal guilt, urban frustration, a desire for accountability and to take the reigns of our planet away from the companies and systems steering it astray, but the end result is the same. And simple. It relaxed me.
I don't want to give the impression that this is a magical part of the state where plastic products don't exist, all the cars are electric and everyone harvests water and craps in buckets. Hell, I drove my inefficient old Toyota pickup (Trusty Rusty) into town. There are plenty of things in my own lifestyle and our shared culture that still need improving. As relaxed and happy as I may have felt seeing a local food economy function, I couldn't help but remind myself that what we should be doing IS cultural revolution. Even our little homestead seems a laughingly inadequate place to START addressing the larger, and more hazardous topics of the Earth. I don't feel like I need to go into them here; chances are, if you're reading this, you've got a pretty good grasp on the state of such things. I guess all I'm really getting at here is that I never want to get comfortable thinking that I'm doing the best I can to live responsibly. There are always more, and bigger steps to be taken, and the best way to approach those steps is by staying humble and concerned.
It's been easy to get wrapped up the step-by-step process of building our little slice of homestead heaven. I've worried at times that after all of the little compromises we've been forced to make, mostly by the county, we'll end up building just another house out of freshly milled lumber, tyvek and dry-wall, covered with a deep-carbon-footprinted metal roof, suckling on municipal power and water. Given the freedom to do so, our plans would be much more radical, for sure! But what do you do when the powers-that-be tell you that you can't get a permit without a septic tank? That you can't recycle all of your greywater? That you can't harvest your rainwater for potable use? That you'll be fined $525 a day for living in yurt? That a wood stove can't be your only source of heat in your house? I know the answer to all of these is to get involved in the politics and bureaucracies involved in making and implementing these rules, but that is a big, big machine compared to two raggedy-looking back-to-the-landers standing in the county offices. Tackling one of those issues could take years. Decades! What can we do in the meantime but play the game, appease their demands and try to do the best job we can, ecologically, within the given parameters? I've been trying not to feel like there's too much opposition for us to make the differences we would like to make.
It helps knowing that we're not alone in this. I take a lot of solace in reading the blogs, websites and books from other people who are heading down, or are farther along on, this same road. Sustainability is, after all, about community. A wide spread community of the humble and concerned.
Coming up on the next post: Less naval gazing and more doing-stuff! And pictures!
rain, rain, go away!