A while back I came across a book I thought looked very interesting - see here. It was called Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture and it's author, Shannon Hayes. A farmer, an academic, a wife, a mother, a writer, a teacher, and a feminist (I hope!) - Shannon illuminates how particular people (both men and women) in the United States are engaging with and resisting not only the corporate food chain, but consumer culture in general.
She (in a rather remarkable and accessible way) begins with a little background, a little theory, and a little thought and then balloons those ideas to include her interviews and experiences with 20 different people/families/homes/communities to explicate, in very real steps, how we can live more holistically and communally.
I really think we've fallen off the community train - and as she explains in the book - much of that loss can explain our alienated and often painful experiences around money, child rearing, access to food, and general quality of life within a consumer culture. We no longer engage with each other (even within the same home) - instead we consume material goods, images and sounds from separate television screens in separate rooms, mass produced food with whom we have no relationship with the producer who grew it... In essence, we've completely bought into the individualized model of identity that corporations have laid out for us. What do we do to "create" ourselves, outside our purchasing habits? How are we individually and collectively:
Brilliantly, Shannon brings these ideas to light and actually provides real life examples and directions on a variety of levels that reveal how we can re-engage with our selves, each other, and the planet.
|via Craig Sillitoe|
Honestly, I think it's a great read. Even if you don't change one thing about your life and how you live it - it's a very interesting take on how we began from a place of connection, gradually (and then violently) moved to a place of estrangement and separation from our real truths and needs, and how we might escape that condition and return to a place of community. It rings true, to me. And in no way does she demand we all move to rural communes, strap on an apron, give our vaginas and breasts up to screaming babies, start growing all our own food, milk our own cows, haul our own hay, and never pick up an i-pod again - instead she suggests we each make changes that will not only make our own lives better, but those around us, in stages and pieces - doing what we can, when and where we can.
I can't think of a better or more socially just request, than that.
To demonstrate a little of what the book has to offer, I've included some of my favorite quotes below... It's really just a sampling and hopefully a little inspiration to get you to go pick up a copy... If you do, lemme know what you think.
"Radical homemakers are men and women who have chosen to make family, community, social justice, and the health of the planet the governing principles of their lives...[they] use life skills and relationships as a replacement for gold, on the premise that he or she who doesn't need the gold can change the rules" (p. 13).
"Living in a culture of greed has been distracting Americans from a growing sense of anxiety and insecurity" (p. 49).
"Reclaiming the lost knowledge of health maintenance and self-healing is central to those who must life without a health insurance plan...no amount of medical technology will enable us to have healthy humans on a sick planet...The ability to provide ourselves and our loved ones with quality, earth-sustaining, nourishing foods drives many [radical] homemakers to garden extensively, raise grass-fed livestock or pastured poultry where space allows, and to learn ways of preparing and preserving their harvests...Locally produced, organic and nutrient-dense foods are a more reliable [and cheap] guarantee for health than medical insurance" (p. 147).
"We are accustomed to functioning within the extractive economy, whereby all the basic necessities of life are presumed to be exchanged for money...only those people with money are able to have their needs met...In a life serving economy, money is simply a tool to draw upon when another direct exchange [i.e. barter] for something of actual value cannot be worked out" (p. 201).
"The defining principles [of live serving economy behavior] are: including everyone in the economic picture; capitalizing on available resources; minimizing waste; becoming net producers of goods rather than net consumers; bartering; spending money where it matters most; and understanding the concept of 'enough'" (p. 203).
"When I walk into a grocery store, I am so offended by what they're representing...as choices I should make...A food culture is not something that gets sold to people...It arises out of a place, a soil, a climate, a history, a temperament, a collective sense of belonging" (p. 237).
"It all starts with setting aside our fears and mustering our courage to live a life we truly believe in that will help to create a world we can all live in" (p. 248).