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Survey: Re-wilding the workspace

 
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Hello!
My name is Lily and I am a design student in my final year of university and I am currently writing my thesis about traditional homesteading. Specifically how the pandemic is blurring the boundaries of the domestic and the professional. Remote working is transforming the home into a multifunctional space. One that is both complex and multifaceted, home and work coexist. Following social sculptures belief that art includes the entire process of living, from thoughts, actions, and objects, domestic routines, nesting and the concept of home can transform where we live, how we live and the homes we live in.

I’m investigating whether slow living, self sufficiency, and permaculture can be a regenerative force for designers in all fields. Following the deep ecology movements belief that nature is not a separate or external entity to humans, but is a living network that should be entangled with human life. Designers should create within the flux of nature rather than mastering its course from the outside. Becoming producers rather than simply consumers fosters a deeper appreciation for the basic human needs that todays highly industrialised consumer culture takes for granted. From crisis comes reassessment and the catalyst that is the pandemic has thrust the world into a novel situation that demands action, resilience and ultimately a radical recalibration of society as we know it. Homesteading teaches ecological literacy, care taking, and purpose. This slow living and dependency on nature can teach creative practices to not only be purposeful but also provide sustainable design solutions rooted in craft and tradition.

I acknowledge homesteading has become romanticised within the media. Escaping the urban rat race for the countryside and a simpler life is portrayed as an easy process. However I know the logistics of truly living self sufficiently and/or off grid is often met with hardships. I wanted to find individuals that are not only passionate about this alternative way of living but who will also give an authentic representation of it. If any are willing I’d really appreciate some insight into being a homesteader as well as any thoughts on this topic. All discussion is welcome!

Additionally some of the questions I have are:

What drew you to homesteading?

Is it what you expected?

How has homesteading impacted your overall quality of life and wellbeing?

Do you currently have a profession aside from homesteading? (Freelancing, artist, consulting, etc.)  

If so, how has eco conscious living influenced your work?

How has the pandemic impacted your way of living?

All the best,
Lily
 
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Location: 5,000' 35.24N zone 7b Albuquerque, NM
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Very interesting summary Lily. To help us know how to focus our responses, would you be willing to share more about your program? For example, what university do you attend? Are you studying landscape design, graphic design, product design, or some other kind of design program? Is this an undergraduate design thesis or masters? Who are some of the key authors are you citing in your bibliography or literature review? How do you define homesteading?
Good luck with this fascinating topic.
 
Lily Scott
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Amy Gardener wrote:Very interesting summary Lily. To help us know how to focus our responses, would you be willing to share more about your program? For example, what university do you attend? Are you studying landscape design, graphic design, product design, or some other kind of design program? Is this an undergraduate design thesis or masters? Who are some of the key authors are you citing in your bibliography or literature review? How do you define homesteading?
Good luck with this fascinating topic.



Hi Amy! Thank you so much for helping! I am currently an undergraduate student at the university of the arts London studying creative direction for fashion. Creative direction falls under media and communications and focuses on concept generation and ideation, iterative design and proposing ideas that are globally informed and future focussed. This is for my final year thesis project, phase 1 is an enquiry document of a specific area of interest that gathers insights from primary research and using secondary sources to contextualise findings. After collecting research and analysing this will be used to guide phase 2 which is an actual design proposal. For the purpose of my research I define homesteading as living within our means both in our households and on our planet. An alternative to mainstream consumer culture via a more connected and localised lifestyle. Practicing self-reliance, ecological stewardship and coincides with a back to the land desire.  

Thank you again for responding!
All the best,
Lily
 
pollinator
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Well lets give you some answers, I'm British but live in Denmark.

Lily Scott wrote:
What drew you to homesteading?
I did not want to work 40hr weeks anymore where most of the value I created went to invensment companies

Is it what you expected?
yes

How has homesteading impacted your overall quality of life and wellbeing?
Less stress, less money, more physical injuries/strain

Do you currently have a profession aside from homesteading? (Freelancing, artist, consulting, etc.)  
No I sell vegetables from the farm.

If so, how has eco conscious living influenced your work?
N/A

How has the pandemic impacted your way of living?
Made me very glad not to be in the UK! Seriously hardly at all, reduced some tourist custom, but there isn't any lockdown here and we don't use restaurants etc that have had restrictions.

All the best,
Lily




 
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Hi Lily, welcome to Permies! You have certainly chosen an interesting path for yourself! Hopefully, my answers to your questions will help with your research.

Lily Scott wrote:What drew you to homesteading?


Actually, it wasn't homesteading that drew me, it was agrarianism, i.e. the philosophy that culture, community, and economy should be based on the land and what it produces, rather than on industrialism. This idea is because my roots go back to the back-to-the-land movement, before the term "homesteading" came to its popular meaning. Then, we thought in terms of self-sufficiency. We didn't try to be "sustainable," we just used what the land provided and put back the results. We didn't live "off-grid," we just didn't have electricity.

My life took various twists and turns, however, and I only discovered the term "homesteading" about 13 or 14 years ago when my husband and I started looking for the place we now live. Our idea then, was on working toward finding a piece of land where we could work toward a simpler, less-complicated, more self-reliant life. Thanks to the internet, I discovered that others were seeking to do the same thing and calling it homesteading.

Is it what you expected?


Yes, actually better than I expected. Your statement from your introduction catches a glimpse of it.

Following the deep ecology movements belief that nature is not a separate or external entity to humans, but is a living network that should be entangled with human life.


In the beginning, I thought that being a part of nature meant partnering with our livestock and our land. That it was the humans' job to devise a plan to take care of our animals and our land and to implement that plan in accordance with nature. Now, I understand that nature's plan is already in place. It always has been. Our job as humans is to live in accordance with that, by discerning the needs of our animals and land and serving them.

How has homesteading impacted your overall quality of life and wellbeing?


100% positive. Homesteading gives my life meaning and purpose. I love the physical work. I love the problem solving, and I love learning traditional life skills. I love being on intimate terms with the natural world around me. I love not being dependent on some system to provide for needs I can meet myself. If I make mistakes, they are my own, and I can live with that. Plus, there is a profound sense of satisfaction in learning how to live simply and be content with less.

Do you currently have a profession aside from homesteading? (Freelancing, artist, consulting, etc.)  


Yes. I write non-fiction books about homesteading.

If so, how has eco conscious living influenced your work?


It's my motivator. I write because I have experience to offer, not just romanticized theory and head knowledge. So, I don't just write about what worked, I write about what didn't work, how we faced the challeges, and how it changed us. I want to see others succeed, so I think they need to know what they're getting in to, so to speak. That the challenges, obstacles, and difficulties are all worth it. The key is in learning how to change one's mindset. So, one thing I try to do in my writing, is to encourage people to see things differently.

How has the pandemic impacted your way of living?


Basically, it hasn't. At most, there have been some inconveniences, such as when the public library closed during the early stages of the pandemic. In a positive sense, it has affirmed that I absolutely made the right choice in choosing and pursuing this lifestyle.
 
steward
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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I consider myself to be a subsistence farmer. Not a homesteader, because to me, homesteading seems like something that people do who are tired of the city, and want to live in the country. I have lived a country life, like all of my ancestors for as long as anyone can remember. When I was growing up, we ate what we could grow on the farm, and harvest from the mountains or rivers. While we grew grain and made bread, we didn't eat the grain that we grew, we sold it to the mill for cleaning, and milling. And then bought clean grain, flour, or bread from the mill or bakery.

My homes have always been multi-functional spaces. Kitchen. Workshop. Office. Pantry. Kitchens are huge with lots of storage space to accommodate the tools of production. A pantry (or two) just off the kitchen holds prepared and raw foods. A couple of freezers allow easy storage of meat and vegetables.

I do not consider myself to be a permaculturalist, because again, that seems like something that city folks do when they are tired of living in the city, and want to live in the country. Then they start mimicking what country folks have been doing for millennia.

I do not consider myself to be self-sufficient. I live in a community, and I'm perfectly happy trading vegetables for milk, meat, or services.

I have always been entangled with nature. I kill meat with my own hands, and rub an animals blood on my forehead and arms in token of our connection, and in remembrance of my violence. I am also violent when I eat vegetables. It's my natural state as part of nature.

I haven't had a TV in my adult life, and don't watch movies or media. That frees up like 5 hours a day for me to play, think, and write. Other people spend that much time nearly comatose in front of a flashing screen. I don't worry about the current crisis of the day, because I don't know what it is, and I wouldn't care if I did. Disease is always with us. Politicians have always acted like politicians. Nothing to worry about on either front.

If homesteading requires someone to live off grid, then I'm really not a homesteader. I like hot and cold running water, and heat during the winter. The grid is ubiquitous and reliable, even in the boonies.

The alleged pandemic has not affected my life in rural areas. My rural community lives like we always have. Hugging, touching, smiling, breathing freely. I stopped going to the city, cause people in the city have adopted all sorts of weird rituals. I miss my city friends, but they get to choose how they want to live, just as my people do.


 
gardener
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Hi Lily! Welcome to Permies.  This is an interesting survey, and I'm curious to read other people's answers, too.  Something you might consider is changing the title to make it more clear that it's a survey.  I suspect you will get more responses this way.  In the meantime, here are my answers.

Lily Scott wrote:What drew you to homesteading?



I was fortunate to grow up in the country and feel a deep connection with nature.  Of course, that alone doesn't draw a person to a homesteading-type lifestyle (ie. my sister and most of the kids we grew up with moved to cities).  I wanted to be in and live with nature as much as possible, and that drew me to information and people who were living in ways that I liked.  

It wasn't necessarily homesteading, as there were already a fair amount of homesteaders in our rural community and most of them did not live with the land.  Rather, they seem to have an adversarial relationship with it -  dealing with loss of livestock or crops by poisoning or shooting animals, ie, coyotes, hawks, jays, crows and any other animals that threatened their livestock or gardens, spraying fencelines with herbicides to keep the electric fences free of grass and working, spraying gardens to prevent bug problems, installing culverts and rock banks to control the streams, and getting mad at legislation that required things like fencing off streams to cattle don't wreck the banks... that's the sort of small farming I grew up around for the most part.  It didn't make farming sound like any fun at all.  I felt like there had to be ways do do those things differently, and that led me to read about other methods of homesteading, and that eventually led me to permaculture.

I wanted to live with nature, rather than against her.  And I really liked gardening and watching food, flowers and herbs grow. So I worked to create a life where I could be surrounded by that each day.  And I like learning how to fix and make all sorts of things, which is really useful when you live in rural areas. I was attracted to learning how to rely on one's self and nature more, and develop greater understanding of both.



Lily Scott wrote:Is it what you expected?



My process was a long, slow one because I already grew up in the country and already was accustomed to many aspects of the lifestyle.  I don't recall having many expectations.  I did learn that working with bees in the summer is more miserable than I had envisioned, but other than that, this life is about as much work as I expect it to be.

Lily Scott wrote:How has homesteading impacted your overall quality of life and wellbeing?



I've had to live in a small town once in my life, for three years.  That was miserable.  I loathed the noise and lack of privacy, and terribly missed having a garden.  So, if I hadn't done that, I could only imagine the answer to your question.... but my previous imagination was on target.  Living in the country, growing any amount of our own food, and having peace, space and nature around me is incredibly valuable to me.

Lily Scott wrote:Do you currently have a profession aside from homesteading? (Freelancing, artist, consulting, etc.)  



Yes. Landlord.

Lily Scott wrote:If so, how has eco conscious living influenced your work?



We use much better building materials for house remodeling than most people.  Better as in lower toxicity and longer lasting materials.  Also, we use organic and permaculture principles when landscaping properties.

Lily Scott wrote:How has the pandemic impacted your way of living?



Not much at all, but that doesn't have a lot to do with homesteading per se.  My and my husband's life was already well suited to the current scenario, from working at home; to ordering a lot of our food from online or other sources; buying vegetables, meat and milk locally whenever possible; using books online; and we socialize rarely.
 
Kim Goodwin
gardener
Posts: 438
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Here are my husband's answers. The last few are the same as mine. He was introduced to rural living by moving in with me.  :-) So he came to it later in life, but it was something he had imagined doing since he was young.

Lily Scott wrote:What drew you to homesteading?



Wanting to break away from society to a certain extent, loving being in nature and having space around me, developing more self-reliance and having a system of living that doesn't rely on as much (services, things, and activities) as most people are accustomed to.

Lily Scott wrote:Is it what you expected?



Yes.

Lily Scott wrote:How has homesteading impacted your overall quality of life and wellbeing?



I'm happier and healthier for doing it.  I've lived in big cities most of my life, and I love the peace and quiet and privacy of a very rural life immensely.  It bring me great joy to wake up to nature everyday and learn the habits and personalities of new creatures.  And I like physical work and helping create things, like landscapes, water harvesting and gardens, buildings, and caring for animals.

Lily Scott wrote:Do you currently have a profession aside from homesteading? (Freelancing, artist, consulting, etc.)  



Yes. Landlord.

Lily Scott wrote:If so, how has eco conscious living influenced your work?



We use much better building materials for house remodeling than most people.  Better as in lower toxicity and longer lasting materials.  Also, we use organic and permaculture principles when landscaping properties.

Lily Scott wrote:How has the pandemic impacted your way of living?



Not much at all, but that doesn't have a lot to do with homesteading per se. Our lives were already well suited to the current scenario from working primarily at home; to ordering a lot of our food from online or other sources; buying vegetables, meat and milk locally whenever possible; using books online; and we socialize rarely.
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