My assessment of the themes: I need solitude to ponder, think, make sense of things to formulate solid opinions and plans that are directed by my values. Doing this thinking and prep satisfies my thirst for knowledge and deep intellectual connections.
We took a systems approach to sustainability. How do you encompass natural processes at home? How do you make going green accessible in a way that the apartment dweller with the smallest income can still be green?
Also, in 2008, it was discussed by Kelly & Eric at Root Simple.
It means, take your home and make it green by thinking in full cycles, like homesteaders used to do.
Would you throw away that tin can if it would make a great Christmas Tree Ornament? No? Well, you just saved something from the landfill. Go green! You are an urban homesteader!
Would you mow over that grass or would you bag it and take it to the curb? What, your time is limited, and you don’t want to spend the extra money for the bag attachment (or you don’t have a bag attachment because you’re using a Reel Mower)? Well – congratulations! You have just participated in grass-cycling! You are an urban homesteader!
You (attempt) to grow your own greens all around your small urban plot or your apartment? You are really keeping it local! Go green! Congratulations you are an urban homesteader!
What, you make your own laundry soap because it costs less than a penny per load and your family must be frugal with those limited dollars coming in? Congratulations! You are an urban homesteader!
I suppose our cultural ideas of Intellectual Property say it’s okay to trademark words. But, I think it’s a terrible idea. Trademarking ideas in this day and age of collective consciousness is simply another way to make a game out of doing good. Sure, a part of me agrees that rules can force us into creativity and better answers to our world’s problems, but sometimes it’s just gone too far. Trying to trademark a name for something that was already published as a book? Can this even be done? Wouldn’t the copyright law on the book trump the trademarking of the concept? And, how close are we to Big Brother when we try to enforce this collective consciousness? Seriously? In this economy? Don’t we have better things to do?
So, today, sponsored by Take Back Urban Homesteading and Crunchy Chicken, is a day of Action. It’s a day to Take Back Urban Homesteading. Write about what makes you an Urban Homesteader in the hopes we’ll jam the blogosphere with our collective consciousness.
We are (wo)men. (Or Womyn if you prefer). Women and men. We are human. We are not God, god, or gods. We are imperfect. We make mistakes. We lose things. We forget things. We unintentionally (sometimes intentionally) hurt people. We crash things. We break things. We take too much money. We shortchange ourselves. We underestimate our time. We overestimate costs and pass that onto others. We are imperfect. All of us.
I have had more than one boss that seemed to expect perfection. And, they, least of anyone, certainly never made mistakes. Other people were chided for not “knowing better” because they should have. Thankfully, I recall my parents being fairly understanding in life, although on a few occasions my siblings and I certainly heard that from my mother or step-father (You should have known better!).
This recent push to weaken abortion, make domestic violence okay, take away care for people with no money, and generally undermine our society even more makes me think about a book by Margaret Atwood, A Handmaid’s Tale. I eluded to this book in my rant, Subordination and Created Equal.
I used to believe we were innately good, as people. I hope we have enough goodness in ourselves to make the world a better place – but I think really we are innately selfish. I think it takes more environment than intuitiveness to groom ourselves to be good people who exhibit kindness, compassion, foresight, and vision. For me, this is a sad realization that solidified watching my son grow. I don’t think he intends to harm people, but he doesn’t instinctively share – for example. When he plays, he likes to knock blocks down, and playmates of the same age, younger or older, all despise this trait because they worked so hard to build their block tower so high. It’s not good or bad, what Levi is doing. It just is. He is looking out for himself, he is playing selfishly. That’s okay, but it’s my job, as his mother, to teach him about a broader world.
These recent digs at our well-being make me think the folks pushing this didn’t have the same kind of mothering. (Or maybe they did, but mom did something where they interpreted badly and now resent that kind of socialist thinking.) Here are a few compiled by MoveOn.org:
Republicans not only want to reduce women’s access to abortion care, they’re actually trying to redefine rape. After a major backlash, they promised to stop. But they haven’t yet. Shocker.
A state legislator in Georgia wants to change the legal term for victims of rape, stalking, and domestic violence to “accuser.” But victims of other less gendered crimes, like burglary, would remain “victims.”
In South Dakota, Republicans proposed a bill that could make it legal to murder a doctor who provides abortion care. (Yep, for real.)
Republicans want to cut nearly a billion dollars of food and other aid to low-income pregnant women, mothers, babies, and kids.
In Congress, Republicans have a bill that would let hospitals allow a woman to die rather than perform an abortion necessary to save her life.
This is a top five of ten. What happened in A Handmaid’s Tale that is so reminiscent?
The Bible was used to support decisions to allow handmaidens to birth couples children.
Rights were slowly taken away from women, banking on people not paying attention, where library cards, jobs, and the ability to smoke cigarettes was removed.
David Hume has said, “Liberty of any kind is never lost all at once.” We become complacent. We get the logic of one thing while abhorring the logic of another, yet allow it in maybe the name of safety and security.
The world is a big, bad scary place. Yes, we give rules to our children, but a rite of passage occurs between 16 and 21 where we are old enough to make our own decisions. The more we abdicate to the state, the less we have to do for ourselves. The irony of this eroding away at rights for women is the idea many of the same people pushing this agenda have that the Left instates too much of a nanny system.
I do not like Nanny States. I think it’s another method of control with a socialist twist. The challenge is to allow and support these Left agendas without creating a Nanny state, empowering people, and honoring choice.
Maybe that’s just too scary for those in charge. The alternative, for me, though is the scary part. I don’t want Levi to partake in a world like A Handmaid’s Tale. And that’s not the world I want to be a part of.
We have an imperfect government because we are imperfect. Together, though, we have a lot of smarts, intelligence, creativity. Together, we can create a more perfect union that embraces differences, choices, and rights of all. I want to be a part of that world.
“If you’re not in the queue, you won’t get served!” chirped the brunette with horn-rimmed glasses behind the counter. She said this to a perky blond in her 40s, who I assumed was from Texas. I was in England. I had just navigated my way through Heathrow down to the Underground. I was properly in the queue, waiting my turn to ask my questions and buy my tickets.
I was reminded of that philosophy today while in line at the doctor’s office. I had to set up my June appointment. When I got out of my appointment, there was a lengthy line. So, I walked, patiently, to the end of the line. I obediently stayed my distance behind folks in front of me, and I obediently waited behind the sign instructing me to “WAIT HERE.”
See, doctor offices have gotten much pickier since HIPPA rolled out in 2003. It was explained to me that the law was only adding a bureaucratic layer to what doctor offices were already doing. But, privacy certainly became much more important and at the forefront of doctor-patient-staff interactions. Forms had to be signed acknowledging privacy given and received, signs were placed instructing large personal space protections. We like our English heritage and the use of the queue.
But, some people still protest the queue. Like the woman with her son, in a wheel chair. I visit an endocrinologist for my Grave’s Disease. My endocrinologist is housed in the Arlene Schnitzer Diabetes Clinic at OHSU. We kindly refer to him as the “Bus Doctor” because there is this fabulous “bus” toy for all ages under 6. I assumed, with the lethargic, slooped stated of the boy that he was in some sort of diabetic coma.When she wheeled her son out of the office area, she neglected to get back in line opting for hovering in front of the desk – in front of the “STAND BEHIND ME” sign.
Then, the person in front of me moved away from the front desk, and I heard the gal behind the front desk politely scolded, nodding towards me, “She was waiting before you.”
When I got to the counter, the front desk gal explained that she couldn’t be rude. You don’t have to only yell at someone, though, to get a point across. I think she did okay by reminding the distracted mom that I was waiting, in the correct spot, long before her. I told the front desk gal about my London experience. She was very amused, but didn’t think she could do that.
I guess that’s why I’m fascinated with NVC now. A tool, a compassionate tool to allow us to tell people what we think. A tool that presumes reactions, room for reactions, and redressing of those reactions to clarify our original positions. A compassionate tool that allows for error assuming good intentions.
In my sketches, I have been fascinated lately with how we show emotion on our face, and how that changes as we age. Children, in pictures, often look happy. Adults usually don’t. Have you noticed that? Sure, they might be smiling, but look at their eyes. The eyes usually hold something deeper. Masked satisfaction over awe on what curve balls life brings us. This fascinates me.
Suggested Topic: Who did you idolize when you were a kid?
No one. I always thought it felt silly to idolize someone on T.V. I wasn’t into sports, so why would I have a sports hero? In a class assignment, once, I chose my Aunt because she pushed herself through school as an adult. I guess that answer still remains, but I still like the idea of no one.
The no-one idea was given more credibility when I was in my early twenties. I was working at a not-for-profit (aka, non-profit) Health Maintenance Organization (aka Medicaid HMO) in Michigan. It would be considered a medium sized non-profit since there was over 50 employees. I smoked at the time, so I always got my federally-okay-ed breaks. Had to get my nic fix in. There was one gal who would often go outside for breaks, but not smoke. We’ll call her Suzette. Suzette was a saucy middle-aged woman who’s husband worked for another non-profit. My brain is telling me Red Cross, but it was more like a local Food Bank. His job was to pick up near-expiring produce from the local grocery stores.They were both very active, involved, citizens.
Suzette and I would regularly chat about family, life, work. One day, she told me how her eldest daughter got into trouble at school because she didn’t do a homework assignment to the teachers liking. The assignment was to pick a hero and write about the hero. Her daughter, who was maybe 15, picked herself. Suzette explained that her daughter wrote a very thoughtful essay on why idolizing others was silly and she’d rather look to herself to build herself up. The way it was explained, I thought it was fantastic. I find it ironic that our society, which sometimes claims Christian Morality – a tenant being there should be no idols (before God) – asks its youngsters to routinely identify and praise other idols! And here, this spunky teenager said NO and defended her claim – but she was chastised and punished for it.
Okay, so, whatever, learning curve for the kid. But, in answer to this question. The only hero I claimed as a child was my Aunt because someone born after me was able to articulate better why I don’t believe in idols. We all have good things we can bring to the table, so instead of idolizing one another, why don’t we simply learn from one another?
It was the year 2000. I was chatting with my favorite professor (or soon to be) after the MSU class. We did this occasionally. Since, I love idea swapping and learning all that I can, and my friend enjoyed sharing all the various things he knows, it was a good combination. We’d go to Crunchy’s. He’d have 2 or 3 beers. I’d struggle with one and a half. We’d talk all sorts of ponderings and meanderings in modern philosophy. Utah Phillips, Politics, the length of a cold, extra education from the class I took. The recurring themes: religion, environment, and how it all meshes with politics.
These conversations had a large influence on what I believe or choose to believe of religion and how I justify my understanding of it and especially the words within. These conversations also helped shape or give ideas and momentum to my environmental passions.
One of these conversations centered, albeit briefly, on the difference between allergy and asthma in city kids compared to kids who live in the country. Six or seven years later, I wrote about it for one of my final Sustainable Urban Development classes. The idea that we are building up our immune system by subjecting ourselves to “untidy” animals was and is fascinating to me.
My mother grew up with nine other siblings. They lived on a 160 acre farm (80 acres on one side of the highway, 80 on another) with their parents, my grandparents. My grandfather worked at the MunisingPaper Mill (until he retired), planted and sold potatoes “on the side”, and my grandmother tended the garden (although she hated it) all the while my grandfather was at work. Their garden preserved the family through winter with most essentials. My grandmother made 16 loaves of bread weekly. They milked their own cows and pasteurized the milk on the counter. They’d make their own butter, slaughter their own meat, preserve their own food. They farmed. One year, they shelled so many beans not only was the kitchen sink full but so was the claw-foot bathtub. There was always an assortment of cows, dogs, cats, and pigs. Less common in my growing up years were horses, poultry, and rabbits. All said, this is The Farm. The Farm is what I consider home.
When I was in fifth grade, I started to itch and loose my breath around cats. I had been 3 years away from my constant Home. Although we didn’t live with my grandparents, we were there nearly every weekend until we moved downstate when I was in 2nd grade. Someone told me along the way that body chemistry can change (dramatically) every 7 years. So, the question, always on my brain, was how can my limited farm experience lend itself to moderate to severe cat allergies. Now, this past summer (of 2010), I was tested for allergies. The doctor did a scratch test of over 40 common allergens to the Pacific Northwest and the Midwest. I scored a significant reaction on more than half. I have year-round allergies.
So, again, the question begs: what’s the connection? How much of an affect to our sanitized cities have on our reaction to the environment? Am I just an allergic person, written into my DNA? I always thought I came from stout, healthy people – but now I’m not so sure. I have two considerable immune issues that require constant handling. I think that’s fairly significant, even if I’m not overtly bothered on a daily basis.
I think I need a couple of more beers at Crunchy’s washed down with one of their burgers and my friend to ponder this one out.
Note: The second writing tip in this top ten suggests writing different styles. I’ve got a pretty good groove with my daily ponderings, but I always get fiction bits floating through my head. So, why not start something? Nothing says I have to finish, but starting is something. (I have started various fictions in various forms over the years (none really finished), but let’s let this start be a part of the challenge.)
The alarm went off. Billy rubbed his eyes. Morning wake up, always difficult. What happened to the days when he was a morning person? Where did they go? He could see the sun peeking through the break in the curtain. He sat up, half way, propped on his elbows, taking the daily-morning assessment of the room. The cat, Henry, had slept on the bed again. His glasses were still by the night stand. He reached over, plucked them on his face, and took a sip of water. Looking up, the alarm screen showed it was forecasted for 68 and sunny with a light breeze, 5-10mph. A nice day. Some old-school Classic Rock (Cheap Trick), was getting louder, reminding him he needed to wake.
Rolling off the covers, he threw his feet over the edge of the bed, stretching out the last remnants of sleep. Tucking his feet into his red, corduroy slippers, he started to plan his day. There was an early coffee with the volunteer captain, a mid-morning meeting with Councilman Skinner, lunch with the Dean of Environmental Education, and an afternoon in the office. Given the forecast, the office might have to be by the waterfront today.
One last stretch, and Billy waved off the alarm screen. He could hear the coffee peculating, on schedule. Stepping into the bathroom, he set his shower for 101 degrees, pondering how far water-on-demand, or InstaH2O, has come. At 4 minutes, 30 seconds, the pressure started to wane, warning Billy his time is about up.
Over breakfast, Billy caught up on the days’ news, browsing through various news-sources. The Guardian, Washington Post, New York Times, Globe & Mail, and various Asian reports. He still preferred his news screen to be embedded in the glass of his dining table, whereas many he knew simply opted for the standing kinetic screens. The markets were down, again. The Dow hit another record low, this time 15,000. He couldn’t believe it was 35,000 just five years ago. Although there hasn’t been another housing crash like the one in ’08 (banking regulations continue to get more stringent), the encroaching desert in much of the world has put markets in a tail spin.
Billy was excited to chat with Mark, his top volunteer-captain. Mark had great ideas on steering the education-stewardship piece of policy. This would serve as a good primer for his meeting with Councilman Skinner who, despite all the things Billy’s group has done, still has resistance to volunteer-driven stewardship. Billy was looking for more secure funding in the Pre-K-to-clean-rivers programs where groups hosted 5 year olds to do litter clean up and native plantings. After all these years, even though stewardship was a common goal and no longer argued about, he was surprised it was still a struggle for policy makers to make the link. They were able to keep the desert back in so many areas with the stewardship approach, he often forgot it’s not a “no-brainer” to those saying how the money should be spent.
On the mag-train into the city center, Billy glanced over his next week’s appointments. Next week marked the 50th anniversary of the Amazon Burn. Sarah’s NGO had been a part of the organizing effort for his neighborhood. 20 years ago, A Swiss gentleman, founded the first world-wide event to summarize these world-wide atrocities in a day of education, so we could continue to learn from history instead of pretending it didn’t happen. Even though they haven’t been able to turn around the encroaching desert, there hadn’t been oil spill in 13 years. Coal mines closed down 17 years ago. And most countries had a variety of natural power sources.
Billy was glad he found his place in plants and volunteers. It was that ground-up fixing that motivated him, literally building strong roots. But he never ceased to be surprised at how far humanity had come in such a short amount of time.
It was either 2005 or 2006. I was taking my first Urban Studies & Planning course, Film and the City. It was a sort of introductory course to Urban Planning through the eyes of film. The first movie we viewed was a Chinese film called Shower. This film introduced the concept of community and how design works with community and how community changes as design changes. There were many other levels to the film, but it was first, for our class, an introduction to this concept of community.
As a film class, one-page write ups and group discussion were par (for the course, ha ha). I was either 27 or 28 at the time of this discussion. My other classmates, or the ones in the discussion group, were in their early twenties. (It’s amazing to me how the difference of 5 years in your twenties means a lot.) We were asked, after having viewed the movie, how we would define community.
I suddenly found myself in a disagreement with my discussion group on what community is. I feel that we have many different communities. We have communities in which we select: church, certain social groups, classes we take, work place communities, and so on. Then, we have broader groups, our neighborhoods, cities, states, nations. When I was arguing for these micro communities, my classmates disagreed with me. They suggested that this idea of community was too narrow and didn’t allow for diversity. For example, I could have chosen to live in an all-white neighborhood and that would have been too singular in what I heard them arguing to actually be defined as community.
I cannot remember their exact words now, four or five years later. But, if that was truly their argument, I still, to this day have to vehemently disagree with their concept of community.
What is community then? I still believe a community is simply the circle of people with whom we surround ourselves. Whether it be our street, our neighborhood, our work place, our school, or our churches. All these places have different people, offer different things, and they serve as a community for us. A community of living, of economy, of knowledge, of spiritual growth – whatever. It’s still a form of community, and we sometimes turn to those in that community for assistance. We could look for neighborly assistance, as in, “Please, could you watch my house while we’re on vacation?” to study buddies to prayer circles. All forms offer some support if we choose to lean on them for that support. All forms can offer fun, learning moments, teaching moments, conflict and resolution.
Still, what is community? I am busy. I have a lot of interests. I cannot afford to spend my time randomly. While I appreciate random encounters for those teachable, fun moments, I have chosen to spend my time with certain people. Family and close friends. From there, I reach out to my church community, my food community, and a local mom’s group. With this local mom’s group, I subscribe to a daily email list, and have thus far attended one event. Many of the moms overlap with my food community.
What does community do? Community is there for you when you need them. Today, I hope I was there for a fellow mom. I’ve seen her name on this list a million times. I have met her exactly once, to the one event attended and organized by this mom’s group.
Today, 8 days before Christmas, she was in a car accident. No one was injured, but who’s to say how the family mini-van will fair. Although I had a front row seat, I actually didn’t see anything. I still can’t believe this happened. That I didn’t see anything. I had no helpful detail of information to share. It all happened so fast. SUV turning, me dazing, crash, call 911, tow truck pulling through, cop following, hanging up since 911 isn’t needed. Recognition. I know her. Parking the car, hazard lights on. Validation. Rolling window down, stating her name. Yes, I know her. So, I did the only thing I could think of to do. I got out of the car and gave her a hug. I only told her that I was a part of this mom’s group.
I got back in the car, went to a fellow mom’s house, she wasn’t home. She’s usually good at organizing these things, so I called her first. By “these things” I mean care packages. She was a little unsure of what to do, so I later phoned the Queen Bee of the mom’s group. She advised the other mom to call her insurance and began organizing an evening meal, while working.
I’ve written previously about my skepticism towards magazines that give advice. Given a magazine’s typical audience, I think this was sound advice. I’ve done enough research papers to want to see the studies behind a given claim or something attributed as fact. I may not understand the tables and techniques used to devise one study over another, but I have enough sense to be able to figure out the gist of what the panel of authors is trying to tell me.
As parents, we are given a lot of advice. It comes from non-parents, grandparents, our parents, pediatricians, general practitioners, OBs, chiropractors, teachers, clergy, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, friends, foes, strangers at the super market! Some days it’s enough to make me feel a little batty.
There seems to be one (set of) Doctor(s) who appears to be the leading sage on kiddos: Dr. Sears. He advocates attachment parenting, has an answer for everything, and goes against “mainstream” parenting ideas. Warning bells ring in my head.
OK. Many (many) of my friends like Dr. Sears. They find what he’s saying to fit their needs as a parent. I am glad they have found something that works for them. Please, if you are reading this, know that I am. I have seen your parenting style, and you are firm and affectionate, and I respect, appreciate, and admire that.
But, I am a skeptic. A self-identified Catholic, I don’t agree with the church on many things (Hello? Women? Priests should be defrocked for thinking of ordaining one of us? Seriously, get with the times). And, I get really skeptical when another human is held up on a pedestal where upon he cannot be struck down – well – I get really skeptical.
AttachmentParenting.org has my skepticism on their FAQ. Remember my frustration in Momma Bear? When parents don’t do anything to “teach” their children that a behavior is wrong? Attachment Parenting apparently advocates this approach when addressing toddlers who hit:
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you let him hit other kids. By remaining close by and engaged in his play, you will often be able to intervene before your son lashes out at another child. In the event that he does hit another child, you can model empathy and issue an apology to set the example for him. You can help your son put his feelings into words and continue to work with him on sharing (or “taking turns,” which is sometimes an easier concept to understand). By staying calm and comforting his distress, you help regulate his emotions and model empathetic behavior.
As an adult, I have difficulty expressing how I feel to many, including my closest loved ones. I have always been this way, although I am closest to my mother and my sister whereby my difficulties are lessened dramatically. I trust them, implicitly, even if I don’t agree with their decisions or advices for me. For others, I generally start off guarded and slowly get to know folks, treading carefully to see if I can fully trust someone. My mother was an authoritative parent. She was raised by authoritative parents. My husband is an authoritative parent who was also raised by authoritative parents. Part and parcel of being authoritative, from how we were raised, was being shown consequences for our actions. The simple idea behind this philosophy was to get us to think before we acted. If we pushed our siblings we likely would have been spanked and/or had something taken away, a favorite toy, to show there is a consequence for our action. Again, the idea being that repeated demonstrations of actions and their consequences would lead us to think before speeding, for example, as a young teenage driver. We would have been told as we got older that speeding could lead to reckless driving which could lead to death. Our deaths would cause sadness and grief for our families, so please think before putting the pedal to the metal.
The above example is a demonstration of articulating feelings. While I appreciate the attempt, it is short sighted and one sided. It only asks the hitter, the child acting out, to display his feelings. It says nothing of the child being hit. The child being hit only receives a half hearted apology because how sensitive are those 2 year olds (yes, I have met some who have genuine, real feelings, but many seem quite underdeveloped).
This half-hearted parenting actually does a disservice to our children. This type of parenting is the type of parenting teachers complain about when they get into schools. First, the parent modeled the apology but didn’t ask the child to respond. This would only teach the child that their parents will fix their problems for them, which is the problem many of my teacher friends complain about. The child received a poor grade, for example, on a test because they goofed off in class and didn’t pay attention. The consequence for their action was the poor grade. The angry parent demands the grade be fixed because their child couldn’t possibly have received a poor grade.
This example highlights my skepticism of attachment parentings. It sounds like cuddling without the consequences. If we just cuddle, everything will be all right. Well, you may have a nice time cuddling with your child, but my kiddo was just pushed by your attached child.