A New American Dream
Jeremiah (my partner) and I don’t dream of getting rich, or owning a big house with a white picket fence and a two-car garage, or driving a fancy car.
Rather, we dream of a world where our children will have a decent chance of survival and good quality of life – a world with drinkable water and breathable air, a world where food is nourishing and our food system isn’t controlled by profiteers, a world without debt slavery, extreme violence, or pervasive depression. The current state of world affairs is just a glimpse of what’s to come if we continue down this trajectory of endless exploitation and extraction, and it makes Jeremiah and I question whether it’s fair and responsible for us to bring another life onto this planet.
And for ourselves, we desire to live simply, connected to nature and loved ones, with enough time and energy to live a regenerative lifestyle, taking good care of our bodies and the land that nourishes us. We know that a healthy, balanced lifestyle brings us peace, joy, and fulfillment.
But for us and for many, the pressures of living in our society result in unhealthy, disconnected lifestyles. I spend much of my time working to pay off debt and rent. Even though I am fortunate enough to be passionate about my paid work, I notice it taking a toll on my body. I don’t have the time or energy to get enough exercise or consistently feed myself as well as I would like to. And financial insecurity is a source of stress for both of us. Between student loans and the high cost of living in the Bay Area, it seems highly unlikely that we can afford to “settle down”—at least not in the traditional sense—here in Sebastopol, the small town in Northern California where we met.
Sure, it’s probably safe to say that in our culture it’s normal to be chronically stressed and unhealthy, but that doesn’t mean we’re willing to accept the status quo as absolute. After all, we only get one chance at this human experience, and we’re committed to living it to the fullest.
Fortunately, we are both pretty unconventional—one of the qualities that has attracted us to each other—and willing to try new things. So, after much talking and dreaming and researching and planning, and a bit of divine intervention, we decided to try something radically different in hopes of cultivating a lifestyle that really works for us, a lifestyle that is aligned with our values and will help create the kind of world we will feel good about bringing children into.
Like countless others who are pursuing the New American Dream, our intention is to live in community, grow our own food, and reduce our reliance on the fossil fuel-powered mainstream economy as much as possible. We seek to build equity in the land we cultivate: understanding the fragility of our financial system, our retirement plan is to literally harvest the fruits of the trees we plant in our youth rather than invest in a 401K (more on this in a future blog post).
Because land in Sonoma County, CA is ridiculously expensive (though we’re still hopeful about the potential of a community land trust), we are beginning our farming/homesteading endeavors this summer in Wisconsin, on some land my parents own near my hometown. We will grow as much of our own food as possible, and make many of the other products we consume (toiletries, cleaning products, candles, etc.), little by little extracting ourselves from the exploitative global consumer economy, and creating opportunities for others to join us.
To free up enough of our time to be able to launch our regenerative agriculture project—without going into debt—we are eliminating the cost of rent from our expenses. Instead, we are converting a 6’ x 12’ enclosed cargo trailer into a Tiny House on wheels. We will park our very tiny house in Wisconsin during growing season, and bring it with us next winter as we look for seasonal opportunities in warmer climates.
We anticipate our fair share of challenges—and indeed, are already encountering some as we attempt to make an aluminum box into cozy living quarters—but it seems a small price to pay for freedom, good health, and the knowledge that we are doing our best to leave behind a livable planet for future generations.
We’ll be blogging regularly about our homesteading endeavors, so stay tuned! We’re looking for collaborators and are happy to share what we learn.
AND if you’d like to support this worthy undertaking, we are currently fundraising to purchase a work truck that will be vital to our operation. To make a contribution, please visit: http://www.plumfund.com/fundraising/mobilize-a-regenerative-lifestyle
Images (from top): 1) a snapshot of our most recent garden at the Big Red Barn in Sebastopol, CA – this is the kind of regenerative footprint we want to leave behind us wherever we go!; 2) my sister Brittany and friend Zach (both will be part of our regenerative agriculture project in WI) double digging beds on a permaculture farm in Ukiah, CA 3) Jeremiah & I with our dog Twindi and our new home – a 6′ x 12′ cargo trailer!
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