My feet will wander in distant lands, my heart drink its fill at strange fountains, until I forget all desires but the longing for home.
Keep in touch.
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2011-04-21 12:35 PM
I used to wish I could be involved in some kind of multi-generational land management. Not to own the land, but to live on and help caretake an ecological, food-producing landscape.
I also used to daydream about a 'handmade life', where everything in my day-to-day household was something I'd either made myself, or received as a gift.
Well, in a sense, I'm living the dream. Be careful what you wish for!
The main challenges are, not surprisingly, people issues:
1) Coming to terms with the other caretakers/owners about what actually needs to be done, and what constitute 'improvements.' Turns out 'ecological' covers a whole lot of ground, from native plants, to thriving biodiversity, to pick-and-choose caretaking of charismatic fauna and flora. And having experienced the inner workings of other intentional communities and benevolent organizations, I now recognise that the social dynamics of shared work are a huge part of the burden of any collaborative enterprise.
2) The amount of work involved in actually trying to clean up other people's mess who are ostensibly NOT involved in your landscape. Invasive species removal is a constant issue; we've had a little help from AmeriCorps, and the sponsored wetland mitigation, but most of the onus is on us since this is private land.
3) My own goals and time management: I envisioned a 'food forest' as a lifestyle that would support my needs more naturally, with seasonal variety. But I'm realising that if I want a lifestyle that allows me to keep building toward a comfortable retirement, or a safety net in case of additional medical emergencies, I still need to work at least that many hours. And I need to be even more coherent in my priorities and planning, than I would if I was working for someone else. 'Doing what I love' is marvelous, but it isn't a job description.
I had an insight this year while working on my taxes. Or maybe it was when the state bumped me off the Oregon Health Plan for having a piddling little four-figure retirement account. Anyway, it was all coming together, and I had a watershed moment. I was struggling with feeling sorry for myself over our low income and uncertain lifestyle.
So what is my business?
I've gotten some income recently from freelance art and writing projects, which reminds me how much I enjoy doing that kind of work. My business card says 'writing, illustration, and hands-on education,' but that's partly because it rhymes. It does seem to capture the essence though.
I know, I told you I was taking responsibility for more coherent planning. Does it sound like I'm getting closer?
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