Earlier this year, a good friend of mine living in Portland, Oregon posted this article on Facebook, in which the author interviews Shannon Hayes about her book Radical Homemakers. This friend knew the content of the article would be right up my alley, and said as much when she posted it. I fear I shall never be able to repay this awesomeness. I haven’t had many of those life-changing, illuminated lightbulb moments in my life, where ideas and intentions instantly coalesce into a profound insight you didn’t even realize you had been seeking – but reading that article certainly qualifies as one of those rare occasions for me. I immediately announced that I had found my true calling in the Radical Homemaking movement, and once my sister purchased the book for me shortly afterwards, my radical fate was sealed.
And what exactly is Radical Homemaking, you ask? As an introduction, here is a blurb from the Radical Homemakers website linked above:
“Radical Homemakers uncovers a hidden revolution quietly taking hold across the United States. It is the story of pioneering men and women who are redefining feminism and the good life by adhering to simple principles of ecological sustainability, social justice, community engagement and family well-being. It explores the values, skills, motivations, accomplishments, power, challenges, joy and creative fulfillment of Americans who are endeavoring to change the world by first reclaiming control of home and hearth.”
To say this idea speaks to me is a gross understatement. I have often said that I was born in the wrong century, and would have been far better off and at home in days past when our ancestors actually lived for a living. The Industrial Revolution and subsequent rise of a consumer culture left the sphere of domesticity under-valued, under-appreciated, and under-respected – except where it provided a large consumer base made up of bored, isolated, disenfranchised housewives for corporations to exploit via aggressive marketing campaigns for the ever-increasing collection of “must have” household items. The home eventually transitioned from producing what it needed and living within its means to consuming anything and everything available. In the name of “progress,” we began relying on others to make our clothes and grow our food and educate our children and make our lives “easier” and more “glamorous” by providing cheap, low-quality, mass-produced items we were told we needed in order to be happy and live the lives we imagined those people in the commercials and print ads lived. But this lifestyle didn’t turn out to be as fulfilling as we were led to believe, and its negative impact and consequences, such as pollution, overflowing landfills, and priding ourselves on what we have instead of who we are, are things we are now struggling to reverse and find solutions for. As many families across the country have already found, Radical Homemaking can and should be a solution we all seriously consider.
After reading Shannon Hayes’ inspiring book chronicling the lives of families currently living this lifestyle and making it work, my husband and I decided that we would take the plunge and begin reclaiming the lost skills our ancestors possessed so that we’re able to consume less in order to live more. And I recently found myself fortunate enough to have this outlet in which to share our journey with you and spread the word about the possibilities of living a sustainable, locally-centered, respectful, creative, community-oriented, fulfilling life. From making cheese and bread to sewing quilts and curtains, from keeping a backyard garden to making bookshelves, from seeking out local sources of food and other items to reducing our carbon footprint by driving less, I will be documenting and sharing our experiences, insight, and ideas here.
So, then, welcome to my journey! I hope you’ll be back!