There was a TV show in the UK during the 1970s called Good Neighbors about a corporate drone type and his wife (the Good’s) living in the suburbs outside London. Mr. Good finds that a life just chasing the coin of the realm is drudgery, so he quits his job and settles down to live the good life as a suburban homesteader complete with livestock and a manure digester in the basement. Being a bit of an Anglophile and also someone with a long-standing, very keen desire to homestead I enjoyed the show very much on PBS. There is something funny about the juxtaposition of people following the conventional path side by side with those of us on a more divergent one. I’ve always been an ovine of darkest hue and this is where I find myself now, albeit on a slightly different scale than the Good’s of suburban London.
In permaculture circles the concept of right livelihood is an important one. It simply means that one’s livelihood should meet one’s needs in a holistic sense, beyond just paying the bills, and affording one the ability to buy stuff. Livelihood should meet one’s needs and be in alignment with one’s talents, ethics, spirituality, and with the ecological status of one’s bioregion. Finding a right livelihood since taking my Permaculture Design Course (PDC) in 2007 has been somewhat challenging at times–the ethics of permaculture, at least for me, preclude me from doing almost very job advertised in the paper or on the internet. What’s a permie to do? The same as wise ones say we can. Go with the flow.
File this under the following maxims–“be here now”, “get there by being there”, or “stop waiting and start living”–all of which are appropriate and all of which I have had to relentlessly remind myself of over an over again. For me, going with the flow at this time, means creating a right livelihood for myself as a permaculturist homesteader. By being here now, I take charge of the current situation which I find myself in. My darling wife Christina has a wonderful right livelihood which she enjoys immensely. It affords us the opportunity to live in a nice neighborhood in a place that has a yard, some trees, and natural beauty nearby on one income. For a while, the stubborn parts of me wanted to point out that “this is definitely not the wild setting I’m looking for” and wanted to grab the oars and muscle “my canoe” upstream instead of going with the flow. Fortunately I have great friends, a loving wife, and family who all help me put things in perspective, even if I am slow on the uptake at times. To be here now, I have decided to go with what is here, now– a place to live, the time and freedom to experiment with some of the skills and permaculture ideas that are important to me. I can observe and interact with nature right here. I can design gardens and provide food for us, right here. I can take the opportunities to teach people permaculture/ecologically sound living, right here, right now. What a wonderful opportunity.
This new blog series will be dedicated to writing about domestic life from a permaculture angle. I’ll be sharing my experiences here in Branford of trying to create a working model of a permaculture site in a rented suburban home. I’ll share tips about creative reuse of items, gardening, cooking, cleaning, and general permaculture information. I’ll share failures too. One thing is clear to me early on in this experiment–there is plenty to do as a permaculture homemaker. Plenty.