Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Radical Homemakers - Inspiring Growth

Because my adventure into permaculture, self-sustainability, homemaking by choice and choosing to be more ecologically responsible is fairly new - see i don't think i even said that right.  I know what i mean but do you?  Truth is i am flooded with information and swamped with decisions to make, juggling opposing family members and wanting to do the right thing, always (thanks Mum), that I'm probably not getting any of it right.  I feel guilty about the car i drive yet I'm not ready to give it up for a smaller one.  I want solar power but on one income (just now) its just not possible and I'm looking at 20+ panels to make even a dent in our current power bill (i know - I'm already feeling guilty OK).

Time, i know will sort this all out but at the moment the above book has me excited.  It was a gift from my beloved sister for my birthday and i am sure that she bought it purely because it had a picture of a chook on it, knowing my sudden desire to keep chickens.  Boy, my country family at home must be having a big ole belly laugh at my expense.  Supportive i am sure but very very amused. Not a little but rolling around the floor amused, slapping each others backs amused, uncontrolled giggling and get on the blower and shout it from the rooftop amused, it probably even made the local paper kind of amused.  So now I'm feeling guilty, overwhelmed with information and feeling slightly ridiculous all at the same time.  

I'm also a bit slow of the uptake since this book has been around since 2010 but you have to give me time to catch up. OK?   Although written about America, the Forward was written (in this edition anyway) by Patrice Newell, a well respected alternative lifestyle advocate, media personality and biodynamic farmer in Australia.  In her opinion we face many of the same difficulties though perhaps on a smaller scale.  Obesity (a future post) is just as prevalent here as it is there and much of this comes down to our choice to hand over our food choices and food preparation to the supermarket giants (Coles and Woolworths) rather than sourcing locally produced, organically grown produce from diverse species rather than what is selected for us and preparing meals in our own kitchens and serving meals to our families at the table.   I've started on this path step by step by step...... (hey Jessie!).

The following is the summary from the back cover - I'm sure the editor knew what he was doing.

Radical Homemakers is an inspirational book featuring stories of people who've cast aside the pressure of a consumer culture and quit their jobs to live a simple life of self-sufficiency and foster relationships within their communities.  It details a slow revolution quietly spreading throughout the United States in which families are deciding to reject the treadmill of high-pressure living and its never-ending consequences of expense, consuming and commuting - and are opting instead for a simpler life.  The parallels with what is happening in Australia are clean and fascinating.  Interviews with 20 men and women reveal how they achieved independence and happiness and redefined the good life by adhering to simple principles of family wellbeing, self-sufficiency, sustainability and community engagement. 

Radical Homemakers is about men and women who have centred their lives around family and community for personal fulfilment and cultural change.  If you've ever though of transforming your life to have more time to plant tomatoes, read to a child, pursue creative work, make preserves or heal the planet, this is your book.

Time for a picture to keep you interested and not bored.  Too many words above.

There are parts of this book that drew out the feminist within and made me so so mad.  Don't even get me started on the Chapter titled "A Woman's Place".  The intentional manipulation of women by capitalist and conglomerates to foster a need for more goods by deliberately targeting depressed and unfulfilled women in 1950's and 60's was deplorable and yet it is replicated today on a much grander scale.  We are constantly bombarded with coercive measures to buy buy buy stuff we don't really need to create profit in the hands of the few.   Have you noticed that with the ground swell movement towards being self sufficient we have been bombarded with all the products we need to do so.   Really - did our mothers and grandparents need them?    Its really tricky sometimes to stop and say - hey I'm being manipulated here.  I don't need that. 
Emmy Award wining American period drama set in the 1960's depicting the advertising men who ruled Madison Avenue - now in its 6th series.
I don't want to go on, my blood pressure is rising, so I'll switch to what inspired me. 

The interviews were conducted with 20 participants out of 200 who responded.  They represented a cross section of people at different stages of their lives who had made the decision to become Radical Homemakers for a broad range of reasons.  Their profiles appear in the final chapter and so you get to read a little about each participant and how they came to their decision.   Somewhere in there i saw little bits of myself here and there and it has encouraged me along my journey.  No matter how ridiculous i might seem to the general observer (not my fellow supportive blog reading friends) i will keep pursuing a path that is right for me and my family.   It may not be the grand "leave everything and run to the hills" kind of adventure, in fact, I'm pretty sure ill still be here in this house when i retire, but it will be my journey in my time.  So long as i go step by step by step in the right direction.  

I don't mind a little push every now and then. I might even need one.  So feel free to do so.  What im asking you not to do is pull me back to suit your own purpose. 

PS.  If you are reading this, leave a comment so i can connect - Im creating a community around me.

Thanks for visiting Living In The Land of Oz


  1. Obesity is definitely an issue here in the US. We eat the wrong things...the expectation is go go go more better faster here. Not many understand that joy and excitement of slow food...waiting for seeds to germinate and pop through the soil. It's about, my kid has a soccer game and I need to fill their belly before we go - it's not about giving nutrition it is filling the belly. We are guilty of this. Sometimes it's just easier (and so so good) to order pizza or grab a burger. We hope that once our food production is in full force that our slow food will become our fast food. Food ready to go, just to pull off the plant, give it a quick wash and eat. YUM.

  2. Do NOT try and do it all at once or you will burn out and give up. We've all lived normal consumer lives up until our epiphanies and if you try to stop cold turkey you will make it harder that it needs to be. We still use some disposable nappies. I hate it and the guilt and feelings of dishonesty kill me but we have reasonable reasons for doing so - Orik gets severe bum rasha nd cloth makes that a lot worse and, well, I won't go into Allegra's reasons but cloth just doesn't cut the mustard sadly. She is semi tt though so hopefully we can soon cut out her sposie footprint. My point is though we do what we can and a little more each time. Like getting fit. We don't start as overweight or weedy people and walk into a gym, run a marathon, bench press an entire weight rack and drop 50kg in a day. It takes time and we have to start at a level that is challenging but sustainable to continuance.
    As for laughing as you, my family calls me the "weird one" and has little contact. That's their loss as that's very much going to change when peak oil bites them as it will all of us and they realise we have a ready food source and security (my mum has been given the offer of when she wants a food garden to let me know), but we find it easiest to just ignore the naysayers and do our thing. Building your community in the blogosphere is going to fill in the gaps and provide an incredible wealth of knowledge and support and back up and the warmth of wallowing with like minded people in the eco mudpool is wonderful. :)

  3. This book sounds wonderful. I've only had my epiphany this year and finally realised that what makes me happiest is keeping our home. Looking after the chickens, growing fruits and vegetables, preserving what we can and baking. I find it really hard to explain that at 27, with no kids, I want to be a stay at home housewife. I was always pretty ambitious, traveling and going somewhere, doing/planning something in high school. And people just don't see how much work really goes into keeping a house they way we want to. Good luck, I can't wait to hear more about your adventures.

  4. I stumbled across the book "down to earth" just over a year ago and it changed my life and household. I have learnt so many new things in my journey. As a stay at home mum of 3 little kids I've gone not ever feeling like I was settled to loving my job.
    At times it feels like it's all taking a long time but little changes here and there have made a huge overall difference.
    Thanks for your post, the book sounds awesome. I'm off to check if my local library has a copy.

    1. Thanks for leaving a comment Michelle. How lucky you are to have had the choice to stay at home. If i could wave a magic wand and do it all again, i probably would have also. As i tell my friends, its just step by step, breathe in breathe out and move forward one day at a time. I loved this book and i found Rhonda's blog a few months before. She is very wise but very human.

    2. Thanks, it is nice to meet people who have similar ideas and goals. : )
      And I've found that my local library has a copy of this book too. Awesome.

  5. I have not read it either and I will be checking it out when I can. I agree with rabidlittlehippy not to do too much at once. None of us are prefect and there will always be a compromise here and there. I do not have anyone in my real life other than my hubby to talk to about this journey so I love having a blog and being connected this way.

  6. Woot! Another addition to my "Real Homegrown Aussie" blogs :). Cheers Rabid :). Obesity wasn't an issue back in the 70's when I was a kid (back last century when the world was a different place LOL! All of my kids were born then so if they stumble over this reply "YOUR OLD!" ;) ). It's an issue now because of processed food and specialisation of employment with the emphasis on sitting on your derierre to work for hours on end and then coming home to sit on your derierre all over again to watch television, text your friends, get online etc. We don't "do" what we used to do and we have so much more to occupy ourselves with that getting out into nature and cooking homemade nutritious meals from veggies we grew in the garden and from meat from the farmer down the road just isn't the norm any more. I don't know about you but is the baker in your town a real baker? I remember the town baker supplying EVERYONE in town. No supermarket for miles and if you wanted bread you either made it yourself or you bought it from Mr Kernutt. Same went for meat, veggies and fruit...local's everyone and locally sourced because transport was expensive. I agree with both Rabid and Fiona (we are starting to sound like a mutual admiration society here ;) ) about getting overwhelmed by trying to do it ALL. We moved to Serendipity Farm in Northern Tas from our home in Launceston and hit the BIGGEST culture shock known to man. Suddenly we had to fix everything ourselves. We are penniless middle aged student hippies hell bent on unconsuming ourselves out the wazoo and if it wasn't for our incredibly stubborn natures we would both be in the foetal position underneath our bed gibbering in unison. Thank GOODNESS we both studied horticulture or this place would be still 40ft underneath a tangle of banana passionfruit, milk thistles, blackberries and anything else that feels like growing unhindered in our neck of the woods. Through fellow bloggers we have learned SO much and it has given us the will to keep going. This last summer was horrific and has really given us the impetus to attempt to save up and get a rain water tank and make good use of our grey water next year...lessons learned and lessons shared make all of this bearable and the online community is an amazing resource for anything that you need to know. We are all here to share and help and welcome to the blogosphere :) Consider yourself added to my massive RSS feed read :)


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