My husband and I have been transitioning in to more of a homestead-ish lifestyle for the past two years and it seems as if our family/friends/clients are super interested in hearing about it, so we openly talk to them about it. We are studying permaculture, raising and processing our own livestock, raising our children in a much more simple environment. I am passionate about our lifestyle. I plan to keep getting less and less involved with man made problems and social bullshit as fast as time allows...
Having said all this, my issue is dealing with people's responses to what I tell them about. I feel that talking about your lifestyle can be personal and opens us up to hearing opinions whether we ask or not. I've heard how mean we are for processing our own chickens. How can we eat something we raise?! Why grow it when you can buy it ?! That's gross! That's seems like a lot of work for nothing! I don't have time for that, blah blah blah.
I get super defensive because I feel like it's nuts how disconnected people are from their food and what goes in to it. How disgusting food companies are and how corrupt the system is. How can I politely explain where I'm coming from without sounding like I'm on a soap box (which I sometimes feel I should be) or just super pissed? Does anyone have good examples of a polite delivery of an explanation of the permaculture lifestyle to people that are just totally ignorant to it? And does anyone have wise words for my husband and I on how to just rise above and keep on our own business.
I get down on people sometimes when I try to "enlighten" some and spread the word on permaculture or permaculture-ish ideas and people are (unintentionally) rude about it. I don't expect to change everyone or make them live like I do, but I'm sure most of you can relate to what I'm talking about... Yes?
I make it a point NOT to be polite when explaining why I do what it is that I do. I'm doing nothing wrong and don't answer to them to begin with. If they are so blinded by their ignorance that I come across as some sort of unacceptable hippy throwback, then there is not much I can say or do to sway their opinion without being hostile. They are the fools who have bought into buy and discard, keep up with the Jones', my kids are well fed not fat, McMansion with a perfect lawn, gotta have the right designer socks lifestyle. They have totally missed the point of what life is about and have fallen victim to a society that judges people according to possessions, fashion, the latest iGadget, and if you've been seen in whatever spot is the most trendy. In this day and age, with information at their fingertips, they have found it easier to let someone else do their thinking, settling for what the 120 inch, flat screen, LED, satellite fed, HD with Blueray talking head is telling them to think so they can focus their attention on how well someone performed on last nights Real Housewives of XFactor's Got Talent. They spend their days hurriedly traveling in their leased vehicles from home to work to the mall than back home behind a locked door to keep the wolves of reality at bay. When in public, 100 people will be sitting together talking to or texting someone who is not there. I'm the one doing it wrong?
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I do not owe these people an explanation. In fact, they might want to do some explaining to me as to why they have surrendered their well being to a food system that is looking out for stock value at the expense of nutrition. Why do they depend on drinking water provided by gubmint or electricity for heat when it has been proven repeatedly to be unreliable when it is needed most. How is it they complain about losing their job when they drive a Honda and all their clothes have a tag that says Made in China? If they care about the environment, and recycling, and saving the world, then why does their family of 4 haul out 8 barrels of trash every week? They think harvesting a chicken is gross, but have they seen battery hens, CAFO operations, and slaughterhouses? Their lawns are tidy and the landscaping is picture perfect, but are they even vaguely awarw of the existence of the strip mines and chemical plants that produce the fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides that make it possible to grow those pretty rose bushes or the downstream effects of the runoff?
It is so easy to fall into the modern lifestyle. I'm making supper, it'll be here in 10 minutes. No need to save leftovers, just throw them away. Press a button, the dishes are done. Take out the trash, go watch TV. Having grown up with such a care free lifestyle they do not realize the cost is much higher than the VISA bill. They have sacrificed quality, flavor, nutrition, and richness in favor of expediency and convenience. They have given up on the process and the skills in order to gain a standardized, albeit bland, finished product. Who needs muscles and a tan when their flab can be covered over by Mary Kay. Order it online, have your entire life dropped off by UPS, but it's the same dull grey box being dropped off at every house along the road.
No, you are not alone. We're out there. There is still hope for humanity. We've got to recover the knowledge lost, reinvent ourselves, rediscover our world, reintroduce ourselves to our neighbors and communities, even when they are shuttered inside their stucco designer homes. We took a wrong turn, but are slowly opening our eyes, looking for the right direction.
Seed the Mind, Harvest Ideas.
Thank you both for your response. I just feel like every time the topic comes up, which I'm happy to talk about it because I want to "awaken" people, I end up defending my life style. I feel like I'm defending being healthy over being completely manufactured in all aspects of life.
The last woman I had to hold back from punching told me she hated farm eggs because the yolk was so dark yellow and didn't ooze when she cracked the egg. My mouth fell open in disbelief. I told her (knowing she has small children as well) that store bought eggs were essentially riddled with disease and as a loving mother I can't imagine feeding poison to my children. I told her that we would all see the effects of what we feed ourselves and our families in years to come and I can't, with the knowledge I have, put disease and cancer in the mouths of my loved ones. This person talks about center peices she made for her kid's classroom party like it's fixing hunger around the world. I just can't wrap my mind around relating to people like this and I definitely know I don't have to, but the sad thing is that people like US are the minority. While I do see that there are open people that want to change and that fills me with optimism. It is sincerely refreshing to hear back from like minded people. So thank you again!
I'll chime in with Ken here and say that it is more important to "walk the walk" than "talk the talk" when it comes to permaculture. Yes, at first you will be the oddball, someone that doesn't do things the right way. But then your wrong way starts to get better results. How can that be?
That is the time when you have people's attention and can turn them in a different direction.
And also giving stuff away. When I give away wholesome pastured eggs or unusual, but very tasty vegetables, it is always a conversation starter. And that's when I can talk about permaculture.
Actually when I tell folks I grow (some of) my own veg and my lovely chickens produce lovely eggs, they're usually highly impressed and want hints on what to do (simple - get some chickens, plant some veg, duh). The main objections come from folks who think that we can't possibly supply *all* of the needs of humanity this way. Ask them to define what those needs actually are, and you'll get some interesting responses. Turns out that we have some weird ideas about what we "need", and that Big Ag is taken as being necessary for civilisational survival.
For some, the conceptual leap is a little too much - all or nothing. In these cases, perhaps they just need to know that there is an easy way - start small, observe, think, make changes where possible. Even growing a few spuds is a worthwhile start. This can turn the conversation into something productive, until someday further down the road, the lightbulb comes on.
Rachel and I both work in the city and have a lot of contact with our clients for prolonged periods of time so our lifestyle often comes up in the conversation. I think most people are really open about it and love to hear it and genuinely interested. Some days when we are driving into the city, getting cut off and flipped off, watching our beautiful mountains disappear into our rear view mirror, it gets hard. I had a client who was calling me evil for processing a chicken and couldn't understand how the chicken she eats is processed by someone else and not treated anywhere near as good as ours are. We know though that that person is becoming more and more rare, but sometimes, especially when you want to help so much, it's seems too daunting. Then though we can log on here and start to feel uplifted again. We have also had a lot of neighbors interested in what we are doing so we know we must be doing something right!
and, then I logged onto facebook and got this message from an old friend
"Hey guys! I keep showing Rebecca all your posts about what you guys got going on up there and we are very inspired! We would love to come up there sometime and hear about the permaculture convention and check out what you've got goin on. It would also be great to say hi and see the kids. Let me know how this sounds to you! Hope you guys are doing great"
You can't save them all, so save the ones you can.
There may be an opportunity to hold a workshop some weekend. Tour the place, make some tea with the sun, perhaps enjoy a light lunch from the garden, show them how to propagate plants from cuttings and take them home.
Seed the Mind, Harvest Ideas.
I've run into this sort of thing with homeschooling and not having a tv. People get defensive. My policy is to deflect as much negative attention with questions as possible. As in "what do you think would be ideal/what is your garden like/did you help anyone in the garden when you were a kid?" Anything I can be sincere about.
Some people sincerely want to know what I'm doing, those people I talk to. Some people just want to talk, those I listen to. So many people are too scared and angry to take in any information.
They key with this kind of stuff is to depersonalize it. Yes you are talking about your life and your children which is very personal. We do too. It is possible to have something to share with nothing to prove even when the conversation happens outside of your "tribe" on occasion. The talk can be personal in nature but depersonalized in delivery.
You could start by responding, "That's interesting, so if I'm hearing you right, you're saying ..." When you interpret what was said talk about it in terms of "approaches" "perspectives" "philosophies", etc a deep conversation can proceed with no hurt feelings and possibilities for learning on both sides. Often you have to lead this style of conversation and make the space as a leader. Pop culture and mass media often does not dialogue in this way, so you may have to lead by example here.
Thank you everyone for all the different ideas, it really makes me feel relieved to have new avenues to go down with people.
On a RAD note, my neighbor came over today and was feeling inspired from seeing how we have our chickens so she is buying a coop tomorrow and going in on our next order of chicks )) woo hoo!
She plans on making a small business by selling eggs and processing chickens. I'm happy we get to help and have another common bond with a new neighbor!