The amazing author Sharon Astyk has started The Anyway Project.
Here are the categories for the Anyway Project:
Domestic Infrastructure - these are the realities of home life, including making your home work better with less, getting organized, dealing with domestic life, etc...
Household Economy: Financial goals, making ends meet, saving, barter etc...
Resource Consumption : in which we use less of stuff, and strive to live in a way that has an actual future.
Cottage Industry and Subsistence:: The things we do that prevent us from needing to buy things, and the things we produce that go out into the world and provide for others. Not everyone will do both, but it is worth encouraging.
Family and Community: Pretty much what it sounds like. How do we enable those to take the place of collapsing infrastructure?
Outside Work: Finding a balance, doing good work, serving the larger community as much as we can, within our need to make a living.
Time and Happiness: Those things without which there's really no point.
So … how are we participating?
Domestic Infrastructure – We are preparing to get the ceiling installed in the south wing (finally), as The Reluctant Farmer now has time for that project. We also have the woodstove installations queued up – not quite certain on the timing of these, but they are the top 3 infrastructure jobs at the moment.
Household Economy – Top priority financially is getting the debts cleared. Construction creates a lot of debt, as did TRF’s retraining – but little by little, with spending less / more carefully and focusing on debt reduction, we’re making steady progress.
Resource Consumption – The woodstoves are part of this category, really – we try to use less natural gas and more wood heat. The new Baker’s Oven stove will also let us cook more easily on the stove when it’s already going for heat. I find myself moving to the South Wing of the house when I’m cold (passive solar gain really works), and we all just put on sweaters rather than increase the thermostat, which is a good start. We have more to do in this regard, but we’re aware – and that’s a beginning.
Cottage Industry and Subsistence – We try to diversify here: we have wool, lamb meat, beef, the ability to produce some of our household milk (can’t sell/share it, but it is okay for us to drink it), and we continually look for ways to diversify our income stream. In this vein, my next action is going to be getting to UFA to pick up the @*(&#$ RFID tags and tagger that I now require to ship the calf and sheep to the butcher. Really, there ought to be small farm exemptions for some of this stuff. Don’t get me started.
Family and Community - The Reluctant Farmer is a volunteer firefighter, which really gets him involved in our community. No doubt in a low petroleum world, that’ll look different but right now, it means he meets a lot of people who also care about our community, and that is cool. I’m going to be speaking to our new councillor about ATVs and road allowances, as we have a creek that reckless quadders seem to love tromping through and I’m hoping we can get some clarification on what ‘reasonable access’ actually means. And save the poor creek bed from becoming a mudhole for pinheads on bikes. To those of you who ride responsibly: thanks. To those of you who are idiots: think harder about the impact you leave behind, eh?
Outside Work – My outside work supports industrial ag, I might as well admit it straight up. This is a difficult thing for me to reconcile with the rest of my life, but the company I work for is highly ethical, takes very good care of their employees, and allows me to do what I do well without it taking away a good chunk of my soul (all of which are not exactly common characteristics in the IT world). Yes, I’d rather we didn’t support those who sell Roundup and Total, but our customers also sell alfalfa seed, and in the current set up, this is just how things are. The Reluctant Farmer’s new career as an EMT is about to get going (insh’allah) and that will shift the balance of inputs in our household somewhat. It’s a long-term transition: I know that some day, my job simply won’t be there anymore … so we’re working on having Plan B ready for when that happens. In the meantime, we take the Devil’s money to do God’s work, as it were.
Time and Happiness – I spent the weekend doing spinning demonstrations at the local Farm Fair. It makes me happy (and it is a chance to sell The Boy’s drop spindles, too – see Cottage Industry!). I am trying harder now to make the effort to go visit the people who matter to me, because life is short, and you know, I don’t want to miss out on all the birthdays and Thanksgivings and Christmases. Yeah, I have to drive an hour to see them … I’m doing it anyway. Also, at work I negotiated a deal: instead of a raise, I’d take more time off. We worked out an arrangement whereby I can work fewer hours (without causing trouble for my teammates, of course) and have more time for my life. Management is happy, I am happy, it’s a good balance. I said I worked at a cool place. :)