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Millennial Permies

 
pollinator
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i find it pretty interesting how GenX almost always gets left out of these sorts of conversations...being the small wedge between the boomers and millenials.  also being the generation i was born into (1973).

maybe it's fitting, X as in unknown value? X as in crossed out -do we even count??!!??
i know that many in my generation do feel that we don't have the representation we should, no one seems to count us, we are actively discounted, undervalued...
and caught in the middle of the huge boomer group and the millennials.

I also know most of those whom i know/knew in my generation felt similarly to the millennials now...in that it was so so so so much harder for us to start off than it was for our parents, and there was a complete lack of recognition for that.. more like....that it was our fault if we couldnt just get it together....or come back with snark about we were "slackers"...

and it was very big difference...our parents grew up in a time of one wage earner in the household was enough to have at least a decent place to lay your head and the neccessities....even unskilled, begining type work, min wage slavery...was at least a decent trade off for one earner...and could buy land cheap cheap if you were willing to hunt for it or be in rural place, start small......there were just so many more possibilities and opportunities for the boomers...and especially with equity, land inflation...and flipping houses etc...is the way a lot of the boomers got their wealth...off of Gen X paying their mortgages in rent and buying their overinflated priced homes...

somewhat less like that now...but then that was the way it felt then...and was then. things had gotten so much harder, and it felt like this invisible priveledge that the boomers didnt see...just being young at a time when life was a good deal easier. now not easy, i dont think theres even been a time of that...but it was started to be the way it is now.


and then i think too...its becoming much much much harder in those same ways...now it is really getting to be like...even 2 people working and saving and making good choices...can hardly buy land or have decent housing.

i think the plain truth is that most of the Gen X ers and Millennials who are doing ok have LOTS of help from parents and family/inheritance/gifted down payments. i think...well i think maybe people are a bit shy about disclosing things like that, just how much help does a person get from the 'rents, like there should be shame or people are a bit defensive about disclosing such....but i guess i feel that it should be out there more...actually admittedly i could even say for many people i have known...this is the big factor in how well their hand played...how much help from their parents and family did they get...which you know thats ok, good for them...but then dont snub your nose at those who have never had that help or much luck...or turn around and act like it should be easy...or to perpetuate the dying myths that if you just work hard you can make it...so if someone's not making it they are losers, not trying hard enough.....

and who also maybe dont have the bravery to go for the life they really want...

well i sat down to write something completely different, but ah sigh...here's my 2 cents anyway
 
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I don't think there's much point in putting a lot of energy into figuring out how other people got to where they are. I know some who have inherited some money and I know many more who earned their own.

When I look at the cohort that came through school with my older daughter, most started out at about the same point financially. Some put their nose to the grindstone and got to work and some had a few party years. A few of them had children quite young. There is corresponding disparity in income and their ability to save.

We are constantly bombarded with the idea that we need to upgrade. Get better housing, a better vehicle, better clothing and better electronics. Most of us, will see an increase in income over time. If we can just resist the temptation to upgrade prematurely, money can be saved.

There's a joke that was going around a few years ago. What do almost all broke people have in common? ...They have spent all of their money.... Of course a few people have their money stolen or they have some other calamity that takes it all. In the US that is often to do with failing health. But if a person is healthy and hasn't been robbed, then that sort of narrows down the causes of brokenness.

When we do something that is wildly successful, most of us are very willing to take credit for that. When things don't go so well, there's a tendency to look for causes beyond our control.
 
gardener
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It often feels to me that there is a goal to always frame society in the "us vs. them" mindset. Perhaps it feels better to be part of a team, even if that means you're against other teams that are your family, friends, and neighbors. Or perhaps it's a way to frame whatever message is being promoted by those trying to shape social conversations. I see lots of articles referenced online about "how millenials are ruining XYZ industry" because they have different shopping habits than baby boomers. Or how some group has it / had it easier. I believe every generation has a different experience due to population change, technology change, social change, and current events like war and economics.

Certainly housing prices have risen over the decades, and continue to rise. When the population doubles and gravitates to the coasts, demand will soar for the same amount of land so prices soar too. Then you get the investor buyers going after that increasing capital value that can be rented on top. There are lots of affordable houses in the midwest, but lots of people want to be in the big cities so they either pay high prices or commute hours each way. I see my home town still has houses for the price I paid in the '90s or not much more, and the pay has gone up since then. What I made back then when I bought my first place is now below the poverty line today. I make twice as much where I live now than I would in the midwest, but my house in a decent part of town is about 4 times more than it would be in the midwest due to the demand here near the coast.

As a Gen-X I don't think my parents had anything easier, they are "the silent generation" just before baby boomers and they both worked hard to provide and didn't live extravagant lives. They helped me as much as they could so I could go to college without too much student loan debt, and I worked hard after college to get myself "on the front of the wave" as I'd put it- working 2 or 3 jobs 60-80 hours a week total to pay off the student loans, car payment, and credit card, and save up enough so that I had a couple months worth of expenses available. Then everything can be put on cruise control as far as auto paying bills and maintaining the car, and not being 1 unforseen expense away from disaster. I  was able to pay off a lot when my phone was attached to a wall and base service was $10/month, and had no cable TV and the internet was still a BBS system over dialup (grin). I had about $10/week disposable income for a year as I paid off and saved, and it helped not having any free time between working and sleeping-no time to spend money!

I know millenials and Gen Z/iGen young people who are going to be hard-pressed to get their own place right out of school in this area (SoCal has one of the worst ratios of income vs housing costs when you are in the big cities) but I was renting a little 1 bedroom place near "the ghetto" area of town right out of school to save. The biggest question I have is whether they get trained in a field that has the demand to pay well. I know one young man who was training and getting certified as a welder but he quit at 80% through for an easier option doing odd jobs that appears to be part time and he's back at home waiting for something better to come along. His sister has been working hard going to school full time while working and just graduated in IT, and her employment options are looking pretty good. I see a definite difference in their outlooks, he tends to frame life as being a victim of circumstance and she is more pragmatic and puts in the work to "be lucky". Everyone's situation differs, but I see a definite shift into a much more consumer society at least in the USA, where everything is framed around the product, which in many cases is the customer (looking at you, Facebook!). Young people are definitely targeted by questionable business practices like no-credit credit card offers that are expected to be paid off by parents, and the hard push for a 4 year college degree when a 1-2 year technical/trade degree would actually be far more lucrative but doesn't make the schools and lenders as much money so it's not marketed or even put in a bad light.

Unemployment is at the lowest it's been for a long time, but there are a lot of underemployed people working retail/food jobs because they can't find a job in their field of study and/or they aren't able or willing to move to another city to make that happen. My first move was around 700 miles, and the next was maybe 1000+ further. Moving sucks, especially across the country but it opened more doors and sometimes that's what is needed. Or you find a lot of young people who are disenfranchised by the whole system and don't want to participate, but there's not as many options for sufficient income to save up and buy your own land. Honestly, to assume someone is going to get out of highschool and buy enough land to farm it successfully feels a bit naive. I say that because it's not just growing enough food to eat, assuming you preserve enough to last all year and you grow enough extra to account for the inevitable failed crops due to weather and animals/bugs/disease/etc. You also have to grow enough to buy all the other things like clothes and transportation and phone/internet/youNameIt that you aren't growing. So now there's the need for a business plan and getting product to market in enough quantity and quality, or with enough niche, to generate a profit. It's a lot of work, and perhaps that's why it's easier to just focus of growing 50,000 bushels of soy or corn with massive machines, so you can drop it off at the 1 buyer that is always there. Those farmers tend to have a second job as well, to pay the bills because farming isn't profitable even on larger scales. My uncle has several hundred acres on a couple properties, but it's my understanding the farm breaks even after the tax write-offs and expenses, and my aunt's accounting career is what paid most of the bills.

Ideally a plan or roadmap could be developed for working towards a different social/cultural system that makes people the owners and not the product, that focuses on industry that regenerates natural resources instead of exploiting it, and creates a net gain overall. I think that it will be extremely tough considering it will go counter to the current system which has a lot of financial momentum behind it. But I see some good starts, like taking back food production rights such as raising and selling raw milk in more counties/states, despite push back at the federal level. I think the midwest has the best balance of cost and favorable climate, and if enough people pool their resources maybe they can get their own financial momentum going. It will certainly take a village, if everyone tries to go it alone without already having plenty of money for everything it will be frustrating. Getting those 20 people to all work together and get along well enough to make it work long term is also tough. Actual isolated villages have the benefit of consisting of extended families and enough people who can't just pack up and leave so they can survive, but many small towns go into an economic death spiral and everyone leaves. It's a matter of rebuilding society and not a simple fix. Not many of us are taught a skill or trade that we enjoy, that is also needed by society. And the average 18 year old rarely knows what their passions are, besides other naked 18 year olds!
 
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I think the biggest struggle in breaking away from the main stream is finding your people.  My experience tells me that you just have to trust yourself and follow your desire and the people aligned with what you're after will show up. Same goes for a "job" or land or a partner or anything you feel strongly about
 
Dale Hodgins
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I think it's pretty easy to find people of like mind, when you're looking. Money is always the most difficult thing to find. Once you get the money under control, that's when everything else falls into place. And I think that's true whether you want to be a farmer, landlord or a manufacturer.

I don't have any emotional problems or problems with my health. So, for me, money is the solution to every problem I can think of. Which is handy, because I know exactly what to do about that
 
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I'm a 24 year old millennial permie from the capital city of my little country and all but 7 permies that I know in real life are millennials. Only a few people I know own land but the rest of us are using urban plots, gurilla gardening and allotments to grow food. All of us who don't own land are in (mostly poor quality) rented accommodation and many are in  minimum wage jobs or unemployed.
I'm in Ireland and the UK though (I split my time) but I'd say there are more millennial permies here than older or younger ones
 
gardener
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natasha todd wrote:I'm a 24 year old millennial permie from the capital city of my little country and all but 7 permies that I know in real life are millennials. Only a few people I know own land but the rest of us are using urban plots, gurilla gardening and allotments to grow food. All of us who don't own land are in (mostly poor quality) rented accommodation and many are in  minimum wage jobs or unemployed.
I'm in Ireland and the UK though (I split my time) but I'd say there are more millennial permies here than older or younger ones




That's great to hear! And very different from my experience in the US! I'm glad to hear you're all taking advantage of whatever resources you have available
 
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Jenn Bertrand wrote:I think the biggest struggle in breaking away from the main stream is finding your people.  My experience tells me that you just have to trust yourself and follow your desire and the people aligned with what you're after will show up. Same goes for a "job" or land or a partner or anything you feel strongly about



Definitely.  It takes patience.


In south FL there are definitely more younger permies than I'd imagine there are in the temperate regions.  I think being in a tropical climate makes it more obvious or appealing as a lifestyle.  People just love fruit in places where it's really hot.
 
pollinator
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Mark Brunnr wrote:The biggest question I have is whether they get trained in a field that has the demand to pay well.



This is easier said than done these days with the pace that the employment market moves at. When I was graduating high school 10 years ago, I was repeatedly being told not to go into programming because demand was low and my job was easily outsourced. I went into it anyway because I enjoyed it, and the outsourcing thing didn't pan out so I turned out okay. One of the other fields that was being pushed hard by adult authority figures (parents, teachers, government, etc) was pharmacology. There was supposed to be this huge oncoming shortage of pharmacists due mostly to the Baby Boomers getting old; not only would old pharmacists be retiring but there would be an increase in the amount of prescriptions being made in an aging population. A lot of the predicted demand hasn't materialized but the number of graduates from pharmacy school has almost doubled, because students were trying to get into this supposed in-demand field. A lot of them won't find jobs when they graduate. Most engineering fields were the same way, supposedly you couldn't go wrong with any of them when I was in high school, but if you look at the job market now, you better hope you picked the right specialty.

It takes 2-4 years to train into an entry-level position for most well-paying jobs, longer than that to get your foothold in a real career, and in that time the market landscape can change significantly, especially for those hot jobs that everyone is being encouraged to go into. Beyond that, if there is a shortage, companies are no longer willing to wait around 2-4 years for entry-level workers to materialize, nor are they willing to hire as-is and train their own. Instead they import workers from elsewhere or find ways to do without, and by the time those students graduate, a lot of that demand has disappeared. Then, these graduates get scolded for not having had the foresight to train into what is currently the new hotness field, as if they intentionally trained into things like pharmacology and engineering because they were flighty and didn't care about getting a job.
 
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I started to read the entire thread, but decided I wanted to put in my $2 worth (2 cents + inflation + school of hard knocks tuition).

In regards to James's initial question - I found the 'work = menial' comment dead on. While agriculture is what got humans out of caves and hunter-gather mode, the fact that agriculture continues to be one of the basic foundations of human life is soooo taken for granted I'm rather amazed there is food in stores. Sadly agriculture seems to be associated with cow dung and living in the sticks. Yet urban 'farmers' have been disproving that for quite some time now. (We visited the Integral Urban House[stead] in Berkeley CA in 1970s - 80% food grown on 1/8 acre)

Rather than muse about Millenials/Gen ??-ers, Babyboomers etc., why not discuss the universal elements - #1 attitude, do YOU want to DO ??? #2 support, find your hero in the mirror! # 3 education, reference - books, people who DO. #4 economics, not degrees, but max. usage of skills/surpluses/thrift & WHAT 'savings' are most valuable for YOU.

If you find yourself in a hamster wheel existence - what can you do to step off? Learn and KNOW your beliefs and the basis for those. The best gift a parent can give their kid is NOTHING that isn't necessary for that child to develop into the being s/he will be. Do as you say and don't expect others to do the same. Do expect and provide mutual respect, including live and let live. Make maximum use of the resource located above your neck and at the end of your arms. Direct is a zillion times better than indirect.
 
master pollinator
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James Landreth wrote:I’m not sure how to go about phrasing this.

Lately I’ve been thinking about how rare it is for someone as young as me to be as settled as I am, or to be heavily involved in a farm or business. I’ve always had a hard time connecting with people my own age, and since moving out here it’s gotten worse. I love my life and my farm and I wouldn’t want things to be any different, but I would love to hear from other millennials regardless of what you’re up to--traveling, studying, working in a city, running a farm, interning, etc. :) We’re in this together, after all



I'm 28 years old and I've started my own composting business, raise poultry, and I'm currently starting a market garden.

It's been really hard. I do not come from a farming background. I live in the Canadian Rocky Mountains in a small town. I don't have a lot of income and I've put everything into getting this business up and running... but it's working!

- I went from raising chickens illegally in a tiny trailer park to owning my own half acre of land which I share with lots of happy hens.
- I use borrowed land to compost over 40,000 pounds of food scraps a year in which I used 150 broilers to help "process the compost".
- I pick up the compost from local restaurants. They pay me a monthly rate to pick it up.
- I learned how to process the meat birds myself. I got my poultry licence so I can legally sell them to individuals.
- I'm creating raised beds and a green house in order to have a market garden for Spring 2020 and I partnered with a new land owner to do this.

It's scary, I've done so many thing wrong, but I've gone from completely dependant on others to raising hundreds of free range chickens, producing thousands of eggs a year, having land with over 20 fruit trees.

I was thinking of posting a thread on my little business for feedback. It doesn't really meet permaculture standards... but that the long term goal!

36161207_196730657712209_1877702114889695232_n.jpg
[Thumbnail for 36161207_196730657712209_1877702114889695232_n.jpg]
 
Jain Anderson
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Allazandrea Cottonwood I am glad you are the 'exception to the rule' I only wish there were many more like you! (and even ONE in my area!) Following your passion is a wonderful way to live and enriches all that is around you too.

A neighbor here tells me of her 'story' - even as a very young girl she wanted to live on a 'ranch/farm'. Her ranching aunt smiled and said Yeah, sure' but she DID find a man who likewise enjoyed gardening, raising stock and living a la natural. She is now in her late 70s and lives on acreage with some hens & fruit trees only wishing they could find a young couple who wanted to co-habitat their land and carry on this passion.
 
Ashley Cottonwood
master pollinator
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Jain Anderson wrote:Allazandrea Cottonwood I am glad you are the 'exception to the rule' I only wish there were many more like you! (and even ONE in my area!) Following your passion is a wonderful way to live and enriches all that is around you too.

A neighbor here tells me of her 'story' - even as a very young girl she wanted to live on a 'ranch/farm'. Her ranching aunt smiled and said Yeah, sure' but she DID find a man who likewise enjoyed gardening, raising stock and living a la natural. She is now in her late 70s and lives on acreage with some hens & fruit trees only wishing they could find a young couple who wanted to co-habitat their land and carry on this passion.



Hi @Jain Anderson

I find it very hard to be the exception to the rule. You have to take a lot of risks and do things that many people see as 'irresponsible'. As a 'millennial' I get FOMO and I wondering if all my efforts will be worth it in the long run when all my friends are ski bums that aren't interested in staring families or owning property.

So some personal background. I live in a small mountain town. I grew up in this town, i left to go to school, but even with my travels I never found I place I loved more than my home town. Lucky for me to grow up in such a special place!

For the town and surrounding area you either work for the coal mines or the tourism industry. The tourism industry is 'fun' but pays peanuts. The mining industry pays well but is soul crushing. It's a very expensive place to live. I would estimate the cost of living at $20/hour CAD. Anything job in the tourism industry will pay you minimum wage or close to despite being a skilled worker. My boyfriend is a ski patroller and throws explosives, manages avalanche terrain, and evacuates injured people out of crazy exposed places... he makes $16/hour with no benefits. He is one of the more experienced members on staff. Minimum wage here is about $15/hour for reference (since the new minimum wage increase).

I've watched the housing prices nearly double in the last 5 years because of the increased tourism. I moved 20 minutes out of town to be able to afford a small chunk of land (under a half acre) in an "undesirable area". The same property in town would be worth easily $500,000. I live in a glorified mobile home.... People told me I was insane moving here. I was scared I was making a stupid investment. I adore where I live now! Mostly because I can have chickens here. Totally different zoning and type of people. People here are more relaxed. No need for perfectly manicured lawns and million dollar homes. You can park as many dilapidate vehicles on your property as you want and no one will say a peep. I have noisy chickens, you have yappy dogs, but we're all good!

That being said, in town there are so many people with acreages that can't manage them. They have to work a 60/hour week just to pay their mortgage so the are lot's off people would would welcome help in this area. They want to have the dream life but had no idea how hard it is to keep a chicken alive in bear, fox, coyote, eagle, hawk, skunk country.

The market is wide open.There are very few people in this area growing food, for a few reasons:
- Climate (Our snow pack is about 15 feet with annual snowfall of near 30ft)
- Cost of Living
- Market: People are just starting to learn the value of real food. Before the word 'Organic' was pretentious rich people shit. Not anymore! The rednecks are being converted to 'rippies' (redneck + hippy) and the foodies are coming in full force!

The problem where I live is that people value recreation over anything else. Although there is a strong sense of connection to nature, in order to be able to afford the recreational activities people have an odd sense of values. People will pay $7,000 for a mountain bike and eat Kraft dinner every night to afford it. Most people only started to care about the logging in the area after it took out their trail network. When I'm stressed out about my business or my homesteading pursuits they ask my "have I been kayaking enough?" or "have I been biking recently?". Apparently I work too hard on reducing food scarcity and not enough on making enough money to take rad adventure vacations.

It's a split community these days. Wealthy newcomers and old school locals; the lower income families getting continuously marginalized.

To live here and invest in my business I've had to be creative for income. I kid you not, that's how people confirm my identity.

Doctor: Is you daughter so-and-so?
My Dad: She sure is!
Doctor: Oh, so you're the Father of the 'Girl with 5 jobs'.

This year I've work as a ski coach, retail staff, project manager, white water photographer, outdoor educator, cleaning staff, book keeper, social media aid, seed collector ... all on top of running my small business essentially solo. I hope to earn enough this winter that I can work on just my market garden and composting services next year.

I've put so much money and time into the business without making anything back... but this season I will break even (Not including my time yet). I'm pretty stocked about that so I'm going full force for next summer.

This being said I feel like I had it easy. I came from a middle class family, escaped university without student debt, and my friends, family, and community have been SUPER supportive of my initiates. I lucked out as there is now a demand of local, organic food where before the farmer's markets where for plastic trinkets and mini donuts. That and the surge in tourism has also increased the demand for restaurants to seek out local suppliers. My status as a 'local girl' has been endlessly helpful. My community WANTS me to succeed.

I'll have to make a thread about how my business runs (or aims to). I'd love to hear people's feedback and maybe it will inspire someone else. What do you think?





 
Jain Anderson
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Hi @Jain Anderson

I find it very hard to be the exception to the rule. You have to take a lot of risks and do things that many people see as 'irresponsible'.
Life is risky why sweat taking risks - especially calculated risks! What's risky about growing food? I'd say it riskier to drive on roads to and from a job each day. And how is growing food 'irresponsible'??? Sound like others are being (jealously) judgemental.  

As a 'millennial' I get FOMO and I wondering if all my efforts will be worth it in the long run when all my friends are ski bums that aren't interested in staring families or owning property.
Your friends sound like they are the irresponsible ones ;-)

So some personal background. I live in a small mountain town. I grew up in this town, i left to go to school, but even with my travels I never found I place I loved more than my home town. Lucky for me to grow up in such a special place! That being said, in town there are so many people with acreages that can't manage them. They have to work a 60/hour week just to pay their mortgage so the are lot's off people would would welcome help in this area. They want to have the dream life but had no idea how hard it is to keep a chicken alive in bear, fox, coyote, eagle, hawk, skunk country.
The last job I had before I chucked the work-day routine paid $20/hr. - in 1983!! Hubby and I have been 'retired' since then living our lives by doing what we both wanted - build own (paid for) home and slowly reclaim some abused land. Sure it was hard work, but the physical labor paid us back more than any gym membership ever could.


To live here and invest in my business I've had to be creative for income. I kid you not, that's how people confirm my identity. This year I've work as a ski coach, retail staff, project manager, white water photographer, outdoor educator, cleaning staff, book keeper, social media aid, seed collector ... all on top of running my small business essentially solo. I hope to earn enough this winter that I can work on just my market garden and composting services next year.

I've put so much money and time into the business without making anything back... but this season I will break even (Not including my time yet). I'm pretty stocked about that so I'm going full force for next summer.
While its fabulous that you are willing to work so much, the trick is to work as much as you can FOR YOURSELF. You don't get taxed for the 'work' of making your bed, washing dishes/clothes or digging in your garden. The more you can generate by your own efforts, the less you 'lose' to costs of working a job. (taxes, time away from home, capital gains vs. regular income etc.) Living 'cheap' = le$$ needed to be 'earned'.

This being said I feel like I had it easy. I came from a middle class family, escaped university without student debt, and my friends, family, and community have been SUPER supportive of my initiates. I lucked out as there is now a demand of local, organic food where before the farmer's markets where for plastic trinkets and mini donuts. That and the surge in tourism has also increased the demand for restaurants to seek out local suppliers. My status as a 'local girl' has been endlessly helpful. My community WANTS me to succeed.
I'm sure this is what Joel Salatin and others like him came to realize and continue based on.







 
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Hey James,

I'm a millenial permie, 1981- and I attribute my want to live this way with being raised a second and first generation american. It seems to make a difference I've found.
 
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Hi James,

I'm a very young millennial (born '96) and do not know anyone my age interested in permaculture. I joined a local permaculture group composed of some of the loveliest middle-aged and older men and women, though, and I do feel very welcome amongst older people. However, I do long for companionship and shared interests from people my age.

I believe my interest in permaculture was fostered because I was incredibly lucky to be born and raised on a sustainable farm. I kick myself for thinking it was so uncool as a teen, and moving to a hip city at age 17 to go to college. I'm happy with my engineering degree, but I know for a fact that I do not belong in the corporate world or in a city, I would be much happier doing freelance work. Most of my friends my age disagree, and are perfectly happy/strive to work in large corporate environments with hip cultures or for large research/academic institutions, and prefer to live in a large city. We're lucky to be part of the generation that is more environmentally conscious, but most of them have no interest in living on a farm.

I'm currently working in a corporate engineering job and living in a large US city, the millennial dream, so I'm unfortunately nowhere near as successful as you! But, I do have a plan that I'm working on putting into action. I designed some off-grid and efficiency solutions in undergrad, and had the time of my life doing so. I'd love to do that professionally, I'm just figuring out how. As for permaculture itself...there seems to be nothing more meaningful than hard work and the community/relationships that come with it. That is what I am after.
 
So there I was, trapped in the jungle. And at the last minute, I was saved by this tiny ad:
Greenhouse of the Future ebook - now free for a while
https://permies.com/t/138620/Greenhouse-Future-ebook-free
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