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is gert a minimalist?

 
pioneer
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Paul said "[y]ou can be working on some crappy job somewhere, carefully getting yourself out of debt and your garage is filling up with the things that you will take to your new gert-i-tude plot."
At first one thinks to simply ask Paul, since Gert is a figment of his imagination. My hope, however, is to start a conversation on the various minimalist definitions/philosophies and work toward some idea of the ways they may or may not apply to designing our lifestyle in our own personal Gert-topia.

In addition to the above, the quote continues, saying "[a]nd, more importantly, you have the foundational skills to really pull it off."

It seems that the skillsets allow for minimalism, while the artifacts of the skillset are a by product of the lifestyle.

Where is the balance? I will start you off by saying  "it depends, but ..."
 
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If I understand your question, I would start the conversation with the observation that minimalism (by Gert or anyone else) cannot be focused on how much stuff Gert acquires.  It must start with an assumption that debt is bad, simplicity is good, and satisfaction cannot be measured with a long list of stuff I own.  

If Gert derives her sense of worth from the size of her house, or bank account, or land holdings, she will never be satisfied.  Her little inner worth tank will always have a leak in it.  

We all want to feel significant.  We all deeply desire to be told that we are important.  Our culture as a whole gives us a short-cut; acquire lots of nice and expensive stuff, and then people will know you are valuable and significant.  Like a BMW convertible --- zoom.  But our fictional Gert should know better than that.  BMW's are a lousy way to fill the inner worth tank.  

So foundational to a minimalism that will allow Gert to thrive is a deeply embedded sense of self that says "I am not the sum total of my stuff, and my value is based upon something far more significant than that".

THEN . . . she can begin acquiring the tools, technologies, experiences, and relationships to build her permaculture life.
 
master pollinator
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I am a real life Gert, and I happen to be a minimalist...

I do not think a person has to be a minamilist to be a Gert, but I think it really helps.

I mean consider this, without tools, man can barely stand on its two feet and balance, but with tools, he is the top of the food chain. So obviously, there is a happy medium of acquiring tools. In that realm, I am pretty typical, I went from having few tools and struggling, to having a whole lot of tools in my mid-30's, to now retreating back to having less. But in those years, I have also acquired skills, so where as I used to need the accuracy of a tablesaw to make a cut, 95% of the time, my woodworking cuts are now made with a skillsaw, and I get done what I need too.

It is the same with a tractor, I have one...a small 25 HP Kubota, but much of the time I build my own implements for it so that what I do have, works better, at a minimal cost.

The example of Gert is a fairly simple one: a person does not have to write checks to be a successful homesteader, they just have to be deliberately skillful.
 
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I envision Gert reusing things, and that makes minimalism a challenge when you're hanging on to those one gallon glass jars to make kraut and pickles, for example.

(I see Gert not really caring too much about what Mari Kondo has in her garage.)
 
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Over my homesteading journey, I've become a Gert. In some ways I'm a minimalist, in others I'm not. If it has to do with self reliant homesteading, then I tend to accumulate "stuff", especially items for repurposing. And I have a variety of equipment.....chainsaws, brush cutters, weedwackers, generators, tillers, atv's, building tools....with a redundancy factor so that if one breaks down I have others to use during the repair period. And I use my pick up truck and trailers almost daily. So I'm not completely Paul's vision of Gert.

Developing minimalistic habits did not happen before my becoming a Gert. It didn't pave the way for me. Instead, becoming Gert-ish and minimalistic happened jointly, one supporting the other. As I switched over to self reliancy and strengthen my connection with nature, many previous values that ruled my life simply became less important or totally disappeared.
 
Michael Holtman
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Tereza Okava wrote:I envision Gert reusing things, and that makes minimalism a challenge when you're hanging on to those one gallon glass jars to make kraut and pickles, for example.

(I see Gert not really caring too much about what Mari Kondo has in her garage.)



I think I see where you are coming from, but I think we could approach such things in a more minimalistic mindset. For example, maybe Gert builds a shed. Instead of throwing piles of junk in it like is so common, she is more selective and choses the better quality things to store, has a specific place for them and shelves that are the correct size for what they hold. In this way she can have a well stocked and well organized personal warehouse.
 
Tereza Okava
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That makes sense. There is a big difference between hoarding crap and forward planning.
Gert's got the mission in mind!
 
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When I think of a minimalist I think of someone who doesn't own a vacuum cleaner because they get someone else in to clean, or doesn't own any kitchen tools because they buy everything premade or eat out all the time. Not unnecessarily buying things you don't need is good but I don't think that sleek white minimalist aesthetic is very practical if you're aiming to be self sufficient. I think Gert owns as much as she needs to be self sufficient but not much more than that. She may own about the same amount of stuff or even more stuff than her neighbor living a standard western lifestyle, but it's going to be much different type of stuff. She also takes better care of the stuff and has things that are reusable, repairable, and useful for multiple tasks.
 
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Minimalism for is own sake doesn't make sense to me. I don't see it as a contest to see who can own the least as some people do, and there are creature comforts I really enjoy. Like Su Ba, I have tools. I have lots of tools. I have some tools that have only one purpose. I'm okay with that and I really like having the right tool for the job. I may be able to pound a nail with the handle of my machete, but I'll do it faster, cleaner, and more safely with a hammer.

I personally don't enjoy having lots of things sitting around that are purely decorative, and the ones I do have are generally natural things I found somewhere. I have petrified wood I picked up on a friend's land.  I have a really cool petrified tree-looking thing I found on the beach. I have some great rocks I have picked up over the years. I guess no one would ever call me a minimalist, but I'm okay with that.

The other side of the coin, and one I am totally on board with, is the idea of not buying crap you don't need, don't use, and might not even remember you have. I will never have an $800 phone, I'll never drive a Ferrari, I'll never spend $500 on a pair of shoes.  I don't care about keeping up with the Joneses. I don't care about appearances.  I want to live a quiet peaceful life as close to nature as I can, on my terms, and do my best not to interfere with other creatures' ability to live their lives as they see fit.  I don't think a minimalist lifestyle is a requirement to do that.
 
Travis Johnson
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Meg Mitchell wrote:When I think of a minimalist I think of someone who doesn't own a vacuum cleaner because they get someone else in to clean, or doesn't own any kitchen tools because they buy everything premade or eat out all the time. Not unnecessarily buying things you don't need is good but I don't think that sleek white minimalist aesthetic is very practical if you're aiming to be self sufficient. I think Gert owns as much as she needs to be self sufficient but not much more than that. She may own about the same amount of stuff or even more stuff than her neighbor living a standard western lifestyle, but it's going to be much different type of stuff. She also takes better care of the stuff and has things that are reusable, repairable, and useful for multiple tasks.



I consider myself a minimalist, but you bring up a great topic to kind of show that.

I do my own cleaning, but what I have found is, to clean out my stove, I need a fine-filtered vacuum, so I have to have an Ash Vac. But because I am a "minimalist", that ash vac also serves as a general purpose vacuum to clean some carpets and whatnot, and a shop vac, because it can pick up water and sawdust and that sort of thing too, if the fine-filters are taken off first. So for me, it means getting the most out of something, not sub-contracting out the work to someone else.

In fact I firmly believe in "doing as much for yourself as you can." If I cannot go without, then I look into making it myself.
 
Travis Johnson
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I think being a Gert also means recognizing opportunities, and then taking them.

Five years ago I had the chance to buy 161 additional acres, a house, a trailer lot, a sawmill, and an 8 acre gravel pit for $150,000. I immediately jumped on it. It did like going into debt, as I did not have $150,000 in cash at the time, but in this town, a 2 acre lot with a new double-wide will cost you $130,000, so it was a pretty good deal.

I think it is amiss to think that "Gert's" are sticks-in-the-mud, but I do not think that is the case. We have not got to where we are by being inflexible. I know with Katie and I, we are just unassuming. What we have has a lot of inherent value, but you would take a look at our humble cars/houses/living/income and deduce we are not so well off. I just do not care what people think of us.

I look at my situation like having a used car that is worth $2000, but if I parted it out, and sold each part individually on Craig's List, that same car would be worth $4000. The difference between a "Gert" type of person, is that they are WILLING to part out that car and make the extra money on what they got. A typical person would just sell that car for $2000 because they were unwilling to do the extra work.
 
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I would like to start by 1st giving my definition of minimalism.
Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.

So yes most of us homesteaders/permies/gert is about local onsite production vs consumerism.

As to how I define Gert. Onsite production of food and household products. Hobbies that skew towards production vs consumerism.
1-2acres of land for a family of 4, to produce eggs/chicken/fish/honey, fruits/nuts/oil/herbs/mushroom/vegetables.
Modest 3 or 4 bedroom house (1000sqft), passive house standard HAVC, greywater reused, low flow/reduced water needs, solar onsite energy production
Workshop/garage/shed for hobbies, onsite production of simple stuff.
On-site preservation/production of food.
Reduce transportation needs, low energy transportation(walk/cycle/bike/etc).
Passing on the above norms to desendants/family/family/friends and others in general.

 
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