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Millennial Permies

 
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We have never been to Idaho! It seems like an underrated state with tons of natural beauty, and it is much more affordable than CA, although most places are. It is also because I like the look of University of Idaho and the Sustainable Food Systems B.S. Also since it is a college town there will be jobs my BF and I can get. Just branching out! We were also considering Texas, but it sounded too populated for us, we want to try to be a little more rural. Also, whenever we tell people that we are going to Idaho they seem kind of horrified... so that makes it more intriguing!

If anyone knows of any PDC's near or in Idaho I'd love to know about it!
 
Posts: 2
Location: New mexico
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Another early 80's millennial. I'm a graduate student pursuing an advanced degree in American literature. My dad is now retired but he was an electrician with a union job and, as a hobby, really great at woodworking. He made decent enough money that while me and my sister were growing up, my mom could stay home and raise us. They wanted "smart" kids - didn't teach us to cook, didn't  teach us to do laundry, didn't teach us to do woodworking or gardening. They taught us how to shop and that "your home is your best investment." I can't tell you how many times I heard that phrase come out of my mom's mouth. We lived in California. As a California resident, college tuition was super cheap. I graduated high school in 2001, and I can remember when tuition prices first started to creep up. Everyone was shocked when the local community college started offering courses for $10/credit.

$10/credit.

I can't even imagine that now, just over 10 years later.

I graduated with my Bachelor's degree with zero debt because my mom went back to work when I started college. They paid for all of it. Even when I dropped out to "find myself," the confused and directionless brat that I was, and came back after another year, they just went on paying my tuition. I got a BA in Creative Writing. I wanted to be a history teacher but then remembered how desperately I hated attending public high school - why go back? I went to Minnesota, did some political activism, got involved on an organic, permaculture farm. But it was a long drive from the Twin Cities out to the one lone permaculture farm I knew of.

As much as I enjoyed the farm, there came a time when I had to decide what to do with my life. I was working in the security industry, which was unethical in a variety of ways, and I had a little stash of money set aside. I decided to go back to school. It was the only thing I knew I was good at. It was awkward being on the farm; the farmer didn't have a lot of patience and I was kind of this bumbly intellectual trying to help out and doing almost as much harm as good. He finally just put me on the woodsplitter machine. I was good at that.

Seven years later, I'm almost $100,000 in debt. I could have bought houses, plural. I could have bought farms several times over. I'm up to my eyebrows in work, unpaid labor actually, graduate students are exploited to teach bottom-rung classes and universities are being run like businesses until they'll be run into the ground. The next big recession will be that education debt bubble.

I have a lot of regrets. And if we're being honest, a lot of anger. Anger at my parents (love em, of course, but in this topic, anger), anger at my teachers, anger at politicians who let the university model turn into an education industry, even a little resentment at the farmer who didn't have the patience for me. I have read so much about permaculture now. But I can't afford a PDC; I can barely afford my rent month-to-month, especially in the summer while I'm planning courses and not getting paid at all. All I can do is browse the hell out of the internet and stay in the one sensible apartment I've found in my whole life where a little piece of yard (shared with three other neighbors) is mine to do with as I please.

So: urban gardening. Small living. Trying my damnedest to eke out a bit of permie principles while my finances are in utter disarray. Better little by little every month. I have some student loan money socked away in a high-yield savings account and I use the interest for micro-loans to renewable energy companies and my plan will be to use those divdends to keep down the student loans.

And most importantly: I'm a teacher. With a lot of mistakes to share. I love the upcoming generation. Gen Z really has its stuff together. They want to be farmers and live zero-waste. I teach my business students about the cooperative business model and my scientists about trade unions and my farmers about permaculture and just cross my fingers hoping it won't be too little, too late.
 
Posts: 46
Location: Central Virginia
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I'm glad to see that some millennials are getting into sustainable food production. I'm 68 born 1950. My generation was into "back to the land" though few did it successfully. I have been farming wherever I've lived (CA, NM, WV and now VA) for decades. Always had to finagle for land, as I was teaching and farming for money, and so surprise! I did not have a lot of capital.

I was glad to see around here (Piedmont) that some millennials are developing food production. Their food is now "artesanal" rather than "organic" in concept (we used to eat brown rice with Tamari and so on). I wish more were doing it.

If you want to be able to afford land, try New Mexico. There are a lot of properties for sale which were developed by back-to-the-land hippies like me, some of them "earth ships", and in any case in NM land is cheap. Also WV but things are more difficult in WV for various reasons.

My complaint about my generation is that we didn't do as much as we could have... too many got caught up in the wages-mortgages-raising kids cycles, and the dreams of the young are often dissipated by harsh realities over the years. Now the system is rigged so that it is very difficult for you to make it. We had it easy, relatively. Rents were low, relative wages much higher, college was free or cheap, etc. We also didn't have climate change messing up the weather. They really stacked the deck against y'all.

I continue to crow crops, mostly herbs, which I sell in the local farmers market, and I'm intending to expand my production if we could have a year of amenable climate rather than constant rain and clouds like in 2018. At this point i think that "the revolution is in the garden" and I'll keep doing that until I can no longer walk.
 
gardener
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Chris Kott wrote:Sorry, I call bullshit.........The job market is difficult, mostly because boomers don't want to retire, because they haven't saved sufficiently to support themselves afterwards. They've been so busy blowing their cashflow on luxuries, they forgot that they now have a couple of decades, rather than a couple of years, to pay for after they stop working.

Also, it used to be that a high school diploma would be enough to get you a well-paying job, or at least one where you could advance with time and effort. Now it's apparently an Undergraduate degree, or a Bachelor's, that you need to even be considered. So millenials need to shell out more for education that nets them less. We go into debt for education that is increasingly less-effective at helping us to land jobs to pay off the debt we incur just to stay competitive.

-CK



I am on the cusp of boomer/gen x.

The Boomers I know spend way less than Millenials.  We cook dinner, grow food, forage etc.   We shop at thrift stores, have cars older than our kids, haven't bought new clothes for a decade, don't go out to dinner, etc.  The reason that most Boomers have to work is because the medical system is so much more expensive than it was before.  You can't retire because you couldn't afford health insurance.  Almost everyone I know has been moved out of a job so the company can hire a younger, cheaper person.  Most boomers have to take care of themselves, their parents, whose care is extremely expensive, and their kids, who just want to stay in the basement and play video games all day long. We are deeply frightened about the prospect of our kids surviving.  When I was young, I lived in my car/tent and took minimum wage jobs in the recession of 1983  until I could afford a weekly flop house. A high school degree was never enough for us either.

When you get old, your body just doesn't work as well.  You need more health care and you have to spend more money on it.  You buy and cook vegetables because you know how bad your body would feel if you ate what your kids did.  You know many people who have already died, have cancer, have diabetes, are obese, are in wheelchairs, etc, and you don't want to join them.  You have had dreams of traveling, etc., but you see those dreams slowly fading away.  

One thing that is true is that college is way more expensive in the US than it was when we were younger.  They gave all the tax breaks to the zillionaires so they didn't have to pay for college anymore. I think more people are becoming practical and going to community college, learning a skill, and learning about liberal arts on their own.

John S
PDX OR
 
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Location: Tecate, Baja California
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Hi there, 1990 millenial here, live a little farther down south but I wanted to say that its all mostly the same everywhere. Education here is relatively cheap but the problem is that employers are paying the same or a little bit more than what you would get without a university degree. Wages here are pretty bad compared to the cost of living. Its hard to find something that pays well and so a lot of grads we know are either working their butts off or starting their own business, mainly virtual ones. Of course, most of them live with their parents or family. Getting your own home or land is something that is extremely difficult, you either get in debt for 15 to 20 years or save money on your own for that amount of time.

In our case I can definitely say that weve been lucky and it has also been a LOT of hard work. I dropped out of university when I realized I didnt want to be a cog in some big business and I wanted to spend more time with my family. After dropping out I realized that I wanted to be a permie, it all became clear to me and I started working full time so we could have any chance at getting land or even a house at least. Thanks to a contact of ours we managed to hear that there was a sort of a family farm project starting around an hour's drive away with small 1/3 of an acre plots being sold at a pretty good price. Although it was at a good price we had no money saved at all and we decided to ask for loans and we got into a lot of debt. We hunkered down and for 2 years we paid it off, we tried to reduced all expenses to a minimum, we didnt go out much and basically stuck to the essentials. Just now we're almost going to pay it off and it just seemed so impossible in the beginning but here we are. I dedicated most of this time to a lot of research and put as many things as I could into practice, basically composting in a closed bin, planting wherever possible, making my own filters and so on in our small apartment.

Once we are done paying it off, we have a pretty good idea of what we want to build and design on this small plot of land. We're going to build a tiny 5m diameter adobe dome while we start a food forest and build a bigger home. We're going to do this paralel to buying a decently priced home close to the city with our government sponsored mortgage.
 
Posts: 97
Location: Central Indiana
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Hey, another Millennial here (1985).  I will say with the crowd i run with it's kinda split.  I've one guy who complains about everything but when push comes to shove he has no interest in changing.  I have a few buddies that love the city life and wouldn't trade it for anything.  I also have a few that are older (maybe 10yrs my sr.) and are looking for something out away from the city.  It has been stated that land prices are crazy.  10 acres near me can go anywhere from 180K on the low end to 1.5m on the upper.  There is no way someone my age could afford that.  To get land i can afford i'm llooking at....2-3 hrs away from my office.  Also, the schools for my kids are some of the best in the nation right now so i can't really leave until after they've gotten their basic education.  I do garden and we're trying to do more of a permaculture home here in the suburbs but most permie ideas seem so crazy to people the looks i get sometimes are FANTASTIC :).  My wife an i plan on getting some land in the 2.5-5k per acre price around an area where we've visited several times and use it as a vacation/camping spot.  Then when the kids all graduate High School we'll leave the rat race and build and do it more on our own.  We have four...13, 10, 7, 8mos.  I'm here for another 18yrs....have 16yrs left on paying the house (less if i have my druthers).  We'll be ready and set by the time our youngest gets out :).  
 
pollinator
Posts: 197
Location: Illinois USA - USDA Zone 5b
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I’m not a millennial. I’m a “young” boomer. I started homesteading as an adult in my 20’s, though, and back then it wasn’t very common either. Everyone around me was older, it seemed. So, I know how you are feeling.

I am thrilled to see that there are millennials who are into this life, who are passionate about living lighter on the planet, about restoring our planet. Our kids, thus far, have not followed our lead. These things seem to skip generations. While I grew up canning and gardening, etc., we did so in a suburban setting. My grandparents were the farmers. I have hopes for our grandkids. 😸

Anyway, thank you for carrying the torch forward. 😻
 
pollinator
Posts: 593
Location: Western Washington
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Myrth Montana wrote:I’m not a millennial. I’m a “young” boomer. I started homesteading as an adult in my 20’s, though, and back then it wasn’t very common either. Everyone around me was older, it seemed. So, I know how you are feeling.

I am thrilled to see that there are millennials who are into this life, who are passionate about living lighter on the planet, about restoring our planet. Our kids, thus far, have not followed our lead. These things seem to skip generations. While I grew up canning and gardening, etc., we did so in a suburban setting. My grandparents were the farmers. I have hopes for our grandkids. 😸

Anyway, thank you for carrying the torch forward. 😻




Thanks Myrth. Lately I've been thinking a lot about both past and future generations. It's nice to be appreciated. The continuity is nice, even if it's not generation to generation within one family. I think you're right about it skipping generations though. My grandparents gardened and such, but my parents have absolutely no such skills. It's my passion though (obviously haha).


There are two apple trees here that were planted in 1926. I've mentioned in another post, that I often think about and say a prayer of thanks for those who planted them. I in turn am planting a lot of extra trees, including standard fruit and nut trees, that I know will outlive me. It's a thought that made me come to terms this last year with my own life and death, and what I'm doing with it. I hope that these trees will be here a hundred years from now, and that whatever happens (climate change, instability, whatever) they do future generations some good. Maybe they'll say thanks to me too.  
 
James Landreth
pollinator
Posts: 593
Location: Western Washington
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Victor Skaggs wrote:I'm glad to see that some millennials are getting into sustainable food production. I'm 68 born 1950. My generation was into "back to the land" though few did it successfully. I have been farming wherever I've lived (CA, NM, WV and now VA) for decades. Always had to finagle for land, as I was teaching and farming for money, and so surprise! I did not have a lot of capital.

I was glad to see around here (Piedmont) that some millennials are developing food production. Their food is now "artesanal" rather than "organic" in concept (we used to eat brown rice with Tamari and so on). I wish more were doing it.

If you want to be able to afford land, try New Mexico. There are a lot of properties for sale which were developed by back-to-the-land hippies like me, some of them "earth ships", and in any case in NM land is cheap. Also WV but things are more difficult in WV for various reasons.

My complaint about my generation is that we didn't do as much as we could have... too many got caught up in the wages-mortgages-raising kids cycles, and the dreams of the young are often dissipated by harsh realities over the years. Now the system is rigged so that it is very difficult for you to make it. We had it easy, relatively. Rents were low, relative wages much higher, college was free or cheap, etc. We also didn't have climate change messing up the weather. They really stacked the deck against y'all.

I continue to crow crops, mostly herbs, which I sell in the local farmers market, and I'm intending to expand my production if we could have a year of amenable climate rather than constant rain and clouds like in 2018. At this point i think that "the revolution is in the garden" and I'll keep doing that until I can no longer walk.



Thank you Victor, for the work you've done over the years. In a lot of ways it lays the foundation for my generation to have something to build on. Thank you for the all the soil you've built, all the trees you've planted, and all the experimenting you've invariably done over the years
 
James Landreth
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Mle Power wrote:We have never been to Idaho! It seems like an underrated state with tons of natural beauty, and it is much more affordable than CA, although most places are. It is also because I like the look of University of Idaho and the Sustainable Food Systems B.S. Also since it is a college town there will be jobs my BF and I can get. Just branching out! We were also considering Texas, but it sounded too populated for us, we want to try to be a little more rural. Also, whenever we tell people that we are going to Idaho they seem kind of horrified... so that makes it more intriguing!

If anyone knows of any PDC's near or in Idaho I'd love to know about it!



If you have a hard time in Idaho, I hope you'll give western Washington and Oregon some thought. They're more expensive but an easier place to live and farm generally (my grandmother farmed out in eastern Washington, another tough area)
 
Jonathan Ward
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To speak to the skipping a generation, i'm trying to teach my kids what i learn.  Canning, Jams, Growing, planting trees from seeds.  This year we're working on apple seed starts and talking about how to get them to grow and what we'll do as they get older.  My hope is that one day they'll return to this life.  I left it to join the grind of the city and now i'm coming back...i hope they do the same.
 
Myrth Gardener
pollinator
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James Landreth wrote:

Myrth Montana wrote:I’m not a millennial. I’m a “young” boomer. I started homesteading as an adult in my 20’s, though, and back then it wasn’t very common either. Everyone around me was older, it seemed. So, I know how you are feeling.

I am thrilled to see that there are millennials who are into this life, who are passionate about living lighter on the planet, about restoring our planet. Our kids, thus far, have not followed our lead. These things seem to skip generations. While I grew up canning and gardening, etc., we did so in a suburban setting. My grandparents were the farmers. I have hopes for our grandkids. 😸

Anyway, thank you for carrying the torch forward. 😻




Thanks Myrth. Lately I've been thinking a lot about both past and future generations. It's nice to be appreciated. The continuity is nice, even if it's not generation to generation within one family. I think you're right about it skipping generations though. My grandparents gardened and such, but my parents have absolutely no such skills. It's my passion though (obviously haha).


There are two apple trees here that were planted in 1926. I've mentioned in another post, that I often think about and say a prayer of thanks for those who planted them. I in turn am planting a lot of extra trees, including standard fruit and nut trees, that I know will outlive me. It's a thought that made me come to terms this last year with my own life and death, and what I'm doing with it. I hope that these trees will be here a hundred years from now, and that whatever happens (climate change, instability, whatever) they do future generations some good. Maybe they'll say thanks to me too.  



To plant a tree is to believe in the future. When we started our pecan yard, we knew that at our age, we might not live to see them productive (we might, but who knows?). Further, if the trees are lucky, they could outlive us, our kids, our grandkids. But each year at this place we plant more trees. We have a vision for this place, a decades-long vision that we are unlikely to see. But we do it because it feels right for this piece of Mother Earth. Perhaps someday someone will be thankful for it. Meanwhile, the pollinators are flourishing, the soil is improving, the wild birds are nesting and feeding, we find box turtles, etc. ... and the life of this place has improved. For as long as we are here, we do our small part.
 
pollinator
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Chris Kott wrote:Incidentally, I neglected the trades. I don't know about anyone else, but I wish that, in the absence of anything else, I had picked up a skilled trade. It's the only exception to my earlier statement about property ownership.

A huge injustice was perpetrated against us, where I grew up, in that the expectation was, from the school I went to and all our parents, that we would all attend university. Trades were for menials.

I remember not five years out of university, I had found my current line of work at a print and bindery, working a blue-collar trade, and my electrician friend was driving a new jeep around as his primary work vehicle, living in a loft he'd been about to pay off, just married and talking about moving back home to New Brunswick with his pregnant wife.

I think that a lot of us university-educated fools would have been much happier in one of the trades. Not only would the work have been steadier, the skills gained would have applied on the homestead.

-CK



Chris, this is so sad and so true. I'm ten years to old to be a milennial, but I am so sorry this lie was sold. I live in an area with good size lots (generally 2-10 acres). The majority are people working in trades. Not only did they not put off families until they were nearly too old, but they never accumulated debt, chased years of university programs with no payoff, and had self-determination the whole time. One up and moved to Asia, one is retired in his early 60s, and they mostly are very content not to chase the brass ring.

I would highly recommend Joel Salatin's approach on this.
Get your debt paid off, save and suffer. Buy your freedom. He has another video about how to make your whole operation mobile which is genius. Your lease runs out? Move the operation. I'm trying to find the video but you get the idea. Until you can afford the land, make someone else carry the mortgage. It goes against our impulse and dream to live where we work, but it is a unique way of getting there.

Make sure you talk to the kids thinking about taking on a mountain of debt for a formal education. I have no credibility at my age sadly, but I do wholeheartedly agree your generation got a raw deal, sold as an imperative. Anything we can do to prevent another generation carrying that burden would be huge.
 
Victor Skaggs
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Chris Kott wrote:Sorry, I call bullshit.

I am also an old millenial, born in '83. It used to be that one income could keep a couple or a young family quite comfortably. Not so, now. My much better half and I are busy paying off debt rather than saving, because our debt costs more than our savings could net.

Saving is a luxury many of us can't afford. We need to eat, and to be able to buy gas and pay for insurance and maintenance on the car that gets us to the job that pays us not enough money. Oh, and heat and electricity is nice, too.


It's not that millenials are unable to properly prioritise their finances. That suggestion is insulting. The job market is difficult, mostly because boomers don't want to retire, because they haven't saved sufficiently to support themselves afterwards. They've been so busy blowing their cashflow on luxuries, they forgot that they now have a couple of decades, rather than a couple of years, to pay for after they stop working.

And $10 000 for an acre or two? I wish. Not with anything on it that would qualify for a mortgage, and not anywhere near anything that would make it useful.

-CK



You don't want millennials to be criticized but then you pass the blame on to us! Many of us have faced these same dilemmas. I did not blow any cash flow on luxuries; I've been wearing old clothes and driving old vehicles for decades while work work working to make the farming thing succeed.

The system was rigged against generations after ours in large part to prevent you from having the luxury of taking off time to protest, live alternatively, etc. They want you firmly in serfdom and that's where they have you.

Remember that no generation is a unit... among us from the 60's there are radicals and hippies and back-to-the-land people, and there are also alt-right, ultra-conservatives and money-grubbing yuppies. The same is true of every generation, and I'm convinced most of our fate is not in our hands. We're all being severely manipulated. Hang in there... it is possible to do the right thing despite the forces arrayed against us all.
 
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I am an old Boomer so pass on me if you wish.

Chris Kott laid out a pretty convincing 'why he can't' and considering the bad advise many of the younger generation have received I do have sympathy. So let me instead offer what is probably some reasonable advice for any 18yo.

* Go to the BLS website. They have a section that details payroll data by occupation. (eg system engineer, etc) Review what you reasonably have an aptitude for, eg. if you hate math don't consider actuarial science as a career.
* Note where these occupations are located. Yes actuarial science is probably going to be located in a major city. Not the direction you want to go if you want to get back to the land.
* Figure the number of years that it takes a person in that occupation by gross income to pay off the college debt. If it takes more than 5 years its probably not a good choice.
* If you are looking at college do ask for numbers as to how many semesters it takes for 75% of the entrants to finish a degree taking a normal course load. You might be shocked.

These days the trades are probably a better choice. There are welders making $100k on oil rigs. High voltage electrical techs making the same or more. An HVAC tech can make $60k if they have the hustle. More if they get qualifed for servicing commercial systems. The plus is they are highly portable skills.

Next, there ARE towns that are willing to pay you to move there. (eg: https://www.thrillist.com/travel/nation/american-states-cities-will-pay-you-to-move)

Hope it helps someone.
 
john mcginnis
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Victor Skaggs wrote:
Remember that no generation is a unit... among us from the 60's there are radicals and hippies and back-to-the-land people, and there are also alt-right, ultra-conservatives and money-grubbing yuppies. The same is true of every generation, and I'm convinced most of our fate is not in our hands. We're all being severely manipulated. Hang in there... it is possible to do the right thing despite the forces arrayed against us all.



I bought into the  'were manipulated....' line for quite some time till I realized the only person who manipulates me is ME. Every other form of manipulation is in reality a trade. You take the 'free college money' as the asset. The liability is there is strings attached and interest to pay. Someone has already mentioned they spent $16k for a car and has payments. That too is a trade.

Sorry but way too many people buy into the new and shiny and the urge of convenience. They are trading their future for now!
 
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I was born 1982 , I grew up with everyone telling me how smart I was and how important it is to go to college, how successful I could be etc. I rejected everything. I left school at 14 and started working shit jobs. By 15 I moved out, by 21 I quit working for other people.  The whole consumer culture disgusted me.  I had no desire to be rich what I wanted was time, my life day in day out on my terms. I work for people directly,  I clean, garden, fix things, build things, haul stuff whatever needs done that im capable of and I build relationships of trust and respect. I never work for someone i cant stand more than once never do a job i hate more than once (like hanging sheetrock on the ceiling ugh!). Ive never paid to learn something unless you count some late fees at the library.  I've learned skills from working with others, books and youtube.  People I've worked for tell people they know who need help. I've never advertised this has worked for me. I keep my expenses low, drive an old car, fix it myself,  scrounge for free building materials,  buy second hand stuff, eat at home. I knew there was no chance for me to get a conventional mortgage because of my unconventional "job" but I wanted out of the city so bad I looked for land anyway constantly.  I thought about just living in the woods but with a kid that's frowned upon to say the least. So I kept paying rent browsing Craigslist and classifieds and eventually I came across an old guy that wanted to rent an rv spot on his land cheap. I jumped at the chance and long story short he decided he wanted to sell me 13 acres he had on a river. I told him I had no idea how I could buy it but he just said we would figure something out and we did. It was hard I ate a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and beans and rice but with extreme skimping on expenses and taking every side  job I could find I came up with the down payment and he helped carry the loan. I was 27 none of the people I grew up with owned their own place and they all had student loan debt. Now 9 years later I only work an average of 2 days a week and will have my place paid off in 6 years. I could work more, have more, pay my place off sooner, have a fancier car but I value my time way more than money so I work the bare minimum to get by. I love my life! I get to wake up in the morning whenever I want and choose what I do with my day for the most part. In some ways my life is harder its definitely dirtier and less predictable but for me very satisfying.
 
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I was born in 86, went to college and have about 10 grand left in student loan debt. I think my parents were so scared that I would turn out so ordinary and unfulfilled that they pressured me into going to college, I had to choose a major and ended up with Anthropology and worked as an archaeologist for a bit. I did not enjoy the work much at all. There is a definite problem with pressuring young people into deciding the direction of their life at such a young age, especially given the consequences... debt, as many of the previous posts have touched on. I have it much easier than others and I am extremely grateful that I have access to the 5 acres of land me and my three other siblings grew up on. It is hard to say whether I regret going to college or not because I did learn a great deal about people and technically I use my degree everyday just not in the sense that I anticipated... it did not count as one of the qualifications for the job I have now which is a line cook. The truth is I didn't realize what was most important to me, my time. I as well do not want money, or possessions or anything that we are told a career is supposed to give us, I want relationships. Relationships with my home, with my food, with my resources and my inspiration, and of course people, but have had terrible luck with that. I decided to dive into the study of permaculture a couple years ago after my divorce, and began working on a slipstraw cabin. Im first working on my shelter, and as I have a regular job I a slowly building my life outside of the consumerist society in order to have a closer relationship with the world I interact with. All I want out of the whole deal is a sense of meaning, a purpose that is sustainable, that has integrity and might serve as an example for others searching to do the same. I know perhaps a handful of millennial permies so I feel quite alone in my pursuits but I am trying my hardest to take advantage of the blessing that I have been given, which is workable land. I do carry a bit of guilt in writing this because I know that many of you carry the same passion for this lifestyle as I do but do not have the land to work on. Still, forums like these are where people have a chance to build relationships with each other and the result can be a way out of the no-land problem. I might even go so far as to say that becoming friends with people who do have land is the more achievable route to being able to practice permaculture.
 
Myrth Gardener
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john mcginnis wrote:I am an old Boomer so pass on me if you wish.

Chris Kott laid out a pretty convincing 'why he can't' and considering the bad advise many of the younger generation have received I do have sympathy. So let me instead offer what is probably some reasonable advice for any 18yo.

* Go to the BLS website. They have a section that details payroll data by occupation. (eg system engineer, etc) Review what you reasonably have an aptitude for, eg. if you hate math don't consider actuarial science as a career.
* Note where these occupations are located. Yes actuarial science is probably going to be located in a major city. Not the direction you want to go if you want to get back to the land.
* Figure the number of years that it takes a person in that occupation by gross income to pay off the college debt. If it takes more than 5 years its probably not a good choice.
* If you are looking at college do ask for numbers as to how many semesters it takes for 75% of the entrants to finish a degree taking a normal course load. You might be shocked.

These days the trades are probably a better choice. There are welders making $100k on oil rigs. High voltage electrical techs making the same or more. An HVAC tech can make $60k if they have the hustle. More if they get qualifed for servicing commercial systems. The plus is they are highly portable skills.

Next, there ARE towns that are willing to pay you to move there. (eg: https://www.thrillist.com/travel/nation/american-states-cities-will-pay-you-to-move)

Hope it helps someone.



Very excellent advice. I went to college. Got an advanced degree. It was expected in my family. But I was careful to avoid debt as much as possible and managed to get scholarships and assistantships and lived frugally. And then, the day after I graduated I headed back to a rural area. One cannot generally afford rural living in the vicinity of an urban area. Avoid debt. And then avoid urban areas if what you really want is a permie life.
 
John Suavecito
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I would say that a suburban or urban permie life is just a different permie life.

I have had a food forest for almost 20 years and eat food from my standard suburban lot every day.  

I switched to a less demanding, lower paying job so I could ride my bike to work and spend more time in the garden, playing music and doing things I like, such as skateboarding with my dog.

I don't aspire to grow 100% of my food, but I have great control of many parts of my food supply.

I can ride my bike to several different kinds of Asian, organic, and specialty grocery stores such as Trader Joe's.  I ride my bike to the library every week and read many books for free.

It's easy to meet up with other kaykers, baseball players and hang glider pilots.

It's easy to meet people to listen to or play music.

I can go to presentations on sustainable living and also make presentations on them, such as the Home ORchard Society in town.

There are as many advantages to suburban permaculture as there are to rural, but you need to pick the one that fits you best.

John S
PDX OR
 
James Landreth
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It does depend a lot on the individual, their needs, and their goals. I find having community can be difficult out in the country. Certainly I have to make more of an effort to find and go to events.

But, from a perspective of affordability, I find rural life to be easier. I've been poor in the country and I've been poor in the city. I'm sure it varies from place to place but the country was so much easier for me. Even not owning land and being poor in rural areas I was always able to figure out some sort of living arrangement, and there were things I could forage for food to supplement my diet. That went a long way in stretching my food budget. In town the rent was really expensive and the process so formal and full of tape (like credit scores) and fees. Out here it's all word of mouth. There's less to forage in cities (though there is some) but I was always afraid it had been sprayed or had airborne pollutants of some kind. I also felt like I never had any control in town; my water had chemicals in it, people were always very nosy about things like my meat rabbits, and there were plenty of patches of unused ground but almost nowhere that I could garden. Out in the country, there was always a sympathetic soul who would let me plant a garden if I asked nicely, especially at church. Here my water is from a well that I know is not contaminated.

But, some people do make cities work, I'll definitely admit that. They dumpster dive and are creative at finding other waste resources like woodchips, thrown out food they use for livestock, and cardboard. I also have come to realize that people like John can be very good examples and representatives of this mindset and way of living for a large swath of the population. People like him make other people realize what is possible, and planting those seeds is very important. I think that overall cities don't have enough productive space to grow all their calories (especially if including animal feed) but at this point, any organic food production and diversification of plantings in cities is a huge win.

It is also much easier to have a business if you're closer to a city. A big problem here is that you can grow literally tons of food very easily, but in order to get the best price you'd have to sell it in Seattle or Portland, which are prohibitively far away. Yet their food prices, especially for organic, are often pretty high. Owning productive farmland near a city could be a huge win, but it's difficult to achieve
 
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Victor Skaggs wrote:
Remember that no generation is a unit... among us from the 60's there are radicals and hippies and back-to-the-land people, and there are also alt-right, ultra-conservatives and money-grubbing yuppies. The same is true of every generation, and I'm convinced most of our fate is not in our hands. We're all being severely manipulated. Hang in there... it is possible to do the right thing despite the forces arrayed against us all.



Generations are subject to similar environments. Apart from a few exceptional people like David Duke I don't think there are many boomers who are 'alt-right'. Boomers were the first generation to be exposed to extremely subversive mass media.

Short version


Long version
 
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I guess I fall into this category too...1984.

I see the usual debate of 'who to blame' is well under way!

The deck is stacked, but there's nobody else to call the dealer on it. Why are we so quiet?

And on an individual basis, there are a lot of people who bitch, but aren't willing to sacrifice to get free. They hate their job, and their mortgage, and living in the city, but they aren't willing to give up their shiny distractions..


It seems like the new consensus is that for our generation, Trades were a better call by far, in hindsight. This opinion, which I certainly share, seems so widespread I wonder if there will be an overcompensating swing back the other way...

 
Dillon Nichols
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Ed Martinaise wrote:Regarding the high cost of land everywhere, I just don't get it when spending $10,000 to purchase 1 or 2 acres is considered out of reach, but many young urban folks spend $200/month on coffee, streaming and cell phones. It's really a matter of financial priorities, you have to SAVE to get there and that might mean giving up some small things over the course of some years. If you can find $200/month, you'll have your $10,000 in less than 5 years. It's such a shame that so much of our disposable income is now consumed by debt and mindless expenditures.


I mean, I largely agree with the sentiment... buut..
I considered buying 5 acres with no house or amenities an hour from Victoria for about 400k, 10+ years ago. Thank FSM I thought better of it.
 
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Dillon, I also wonder if there will be an overcompensating swing the other way against higher education. I mentioned it in a post way up near the top of the thread, but I recently left teaching at a university for many reasons, mostly that the university was being run as a business. Students and instructors were seen as commodities and treated as such. Actual learning was not the goal of the administration nor many of the students who just wanted their degree. I see a lot of people in our age group (millennials) and younger harboring feelings of resentment and bitterness toward college, which I completely understand as I share some of those feelings, but it also makes me sad. Higher education has its place in any society. I'm afraid we will throw the baby out with the bathwater and lose many of the good attributes of higher education as people turn away from it.

David up above mentioned that he loves Gen Z and that they have their act together. I have to agree. I started teaching at a university when I was 24, so basically I was teaching my fellow millennials. I stopped teaching at age 36, when I had reached the age of a fossilized dinosaur in my students' eyes. The shift I saw from millennials to Gen Z was the following: Gen Z is much more tolerant of people with differences. If you have blue hair, depression, and three gender categories, it's all good. They have much more realistic expectations of how little money they will earn and how hard it will be to eke out a living. Their low expectations border on pessimistic and self-defeating, but I think it's better to start out with low expectations and surpass them than to do the opposite, which is what many millennials have done. Gen Z does things on their own terms, like showing up late for class or turning in an assignment two weeks late and just expecting to get credit for it. This is absolutely maddening from the teacher's perspective, but I have to admit, they are laid back and lovable. I could go on, but I'll stop there. Obviously, as others have pointed out, there is much variation among individuals within a generation. I'm giving my own personal observations of the generation stereotypes.

I have enjoyed reading everyone's experiences, young and old. They give me hope. I think we will see a cultural shift toward a more sustainable lifestyle for the majority of people over the next generation. It will be painful, and I certainly don't expect folks to flood out of the city and live 100% self-sustainable, off-grid lifestyles, but there will be urban, suburban, and rural versions of positive changes.

Finally, James (the person who started this thread), it sounds like you have a very good head on your shoulders for being 23. I think you will be able to do the great things you wish to do.
 
John Suavecito
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So it looks to me like James and I are pretty much in agreement:
easier to find super low cost housing and grow lots of food in the country.
Wider variety of jobs and economic prospects in a suburb or city.
Some people don't realize that the prices vary tremendously from say,
downtown of a city like Portland, to the suburb where I live,
to further out in a country suburb, to the country.
It's almost like a cost/price/stress ladder, where you can find your preferred level
of type of work you like enough, for how much you get paid, for
what else you can do in that situation.  There are lots of variables.

Will Allen is doing amazing urban permaculture in Milwaukee, WI.
Ron Finley (sp?) is doing great stuff in Los Angeles.  I don't want to live
in the middle of a big city, but it is really possible.   We need everybody
to wake up to what is possible to save our planet.

John S
PDX OR
 
Dillon Nichols
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Audrey, your observ/generalizations on Gen Z resonate with me, I find that younger millenials have a lot of those traits as well. Some are definite improvements. I have the impression that in at least some places for some people, high-school is a less horrific environment than it was.

On the other hand.. Well. Resignation as a generational trait is frankly horrifying to me, and I don't feel like the world needs a generation of acceptance as much as it does a generation of determination...


In hindsight I should have spent less time around college/uni. It wasn't fun, and most of it wasn't useful. Hands on education has proven far more practical, affordable, enjoyable, and educational for me. I am very fortunate that I tumbled into a moderately grueling entry level manual labor job and found that I liked it much better than university.

 
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One thing I've noticed about parents in general, is that if there was something lacking in their childhood, or they didn't like how their parents did something, they tend to swing the opposite way:

Their parents put them in piano lessons and they didn't like it? No piano lessons for their own kids!
Parent always wanted to play soccer, but their parents didn't let them? Put their own kids in soccer!
Their parents were horders and scrimped and saved and they had to work hard for everything? They want things easier for their own kids!
Their parents were more absent/always busy? They helicopter-parent their own kids!
They never got to learn how to useful things and wanted to? Make sure their kids learn how to garden and change oil!
They wanted to go to school and have prestige, but ended up working blue collar jobs? Make sure their kids go to college!

And so forth and so on. And, since they're so focused on the things that their own parents did WRONG and doing it better, they neglect (or even despise) the things their parents might have gotten right. There's not much balance.

I think the same thing happens with generations. The boomer generation was encouraged to go into secure blue collar work...and then those big auto factories and coal mines shut down, or they got lots of injuries doing those things. So, they wanted better for their kids... And encouraged their kids to go to college and get degrees so they could have stable employment...only to have THAT not be stable anymore. So, many millennial are trying to learn basic skills and teach them to their own kids, because those skills are things they themselves don't have and wished they did.

Thankfully, my parents are pretty reasonable people, and they encouraged my brother and I to go to school for stable jobs...of course, my brother went into graphic design just as the tech bubble crashed and no one was hiring anyone with less than 5 years of experience. I went to school to be a teacher (of course, like someone else mentioned, I was really good at studying and doing well in school...and the things one does in school to succeed are largely NOT what one should do in a workplace--at least they weren't in my workplaces!)

And, I very much feel for my parents' generation. They're stuck supporting both their parents and their kids. My grandparent's care is $12,000/month, not counting medical bills! And, they put money into a nursing home insurance...only to have it not cover most care facilities. Thankfully, they owned their home outright, so my parents sold it and that should hopefully pay for my grandparent's expenses for 5 years. But what happens after 5 years? As for my genration, my parents have spent the past 3 years being at either my brother's or my  house helping us do things we have no idea how to do. They've been putting out one family fire or another for all three years of their retirement. For a year they were constantly doing things we couldn't do because my husband got Crohn's and was unable to work. It's a sad thing when the younger generation is sicker than the older one. But, that's often the case these days, too.

Thankfully, my parents were always very frugal and saved, and so they're at least retired and have time to help everyone, and because my grandparents were extremely frugal, that burden isn't on my parents yet. And both my brother and I are frugal so we're not as needy as most other millennials. But, how rare is it that there's THREE generations in a row of frugal people? Any one generation deviates, and the other ones really end up paying for it...
 
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I had an interesting conversation with my god daughter tonight. She's at the old end of the millennial age group with a good head on her shoulders & has traveled the world many times over. She knows first hand what is going on in the world. She is rather active politically & with social matters especially as it relates to women & the environment & millennials. I value her opinion highly so had a list of questions prepared for her. Trying to gather my own thoughts for a more thorough & useful post for this thread. That will come later but for now the Cliff note version is she & I both see things pretty much the same as the others here have already stated.

We talked about possible solutions &/or things that my generation could do to help the millennials. She immediately brought up something that I have wondered about too. How did we get from tree hugging peace loving hippies to the situation your generation was born into? I'll leave it at that for now but might start a new thread about how my generation can help. I already had that thread in mind & our conversation today kicked it up a notch. It's a worthy cause. Be patient please.

Another interesting twist of the conversation ... she mentioned that the generation after hers/yours is much more determined that the permie way is the right way. A ray of sunshine at the end of the tunnel! That is awesome!!! Makes all the tree hugging flower power baby seal saving worthwhile:)
 
Dillon Nichols
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Nicole, exactly. It's like both families and generations are being steered by a bad helmsman who doesn't know to 'steer small, damn you!'... or a driver who has never handled ice before.


Three generations of frugality was probably pretty normal, once you subtract the last 80 years from the record. All we can hope is that in another century, this one is seen as a historical aberration which society self-corrected against, rather than the crowning final stupidity that brought on a global Pox...
 
James Landreth
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Nicole, that is an interesting insight. Thank you for pointing out the part about supporting three generations at once.

Mike, I think that's an excellent idea for a post. Take your time in crafting it, and feel free to reach out with ideas and such.

I think one thing we need to return to is the idea of mentorship and apprenticeship. It's something I really sought in college and after, and found with mixed success.



I've been thinking a lot about life's work, callings, time passing, and other big picture issues lately. Something that threw this into even sharper focus for me is that recently I asked a mentor of mine if she would present at a few permaculture events that are upcoming. She specializes in what is (to me) a very important line of beekeeping, one which is critical for keeping pockets of pollinators alive so that they can spread and repopulate once more destructive forms of agriculture have receded.

She basically told me that it was time to pass the torch to me, that I'm ready to take over the responsibility of teaching those workshops on my own. She's in her late sixties and is looking seriously at scaling down and retiring even more radically. I saw this coming, but I thought that I had more time (seems to be a big theme with human beings). I'm not ready. But I need to be. We really need to focus on giving the younger generations the tools and knowledge to live this lifestyle and realize these dreams of ours. If we don't, I worry that the population of permaculturists and homesteaders will shrink, not grow. And the world desperately needs it to grow.
 
Mike Barkley
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Well put Nicole. Being a parent is hard. Really hard. Same for just starting a new life as a young adult even under the best of circumstances.  

oh ... the hippie generation obtained the right to vote for 18 years old here in the USA. At great cost. For your benefit. I strongly suggest using it wisely.
 
Mike Barkley
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Take your time in crafting it, and feel free to reach out with ideas and such.



For now I'd just like to hear other opinions about  ---> How did we get from tree hugging peace loving hippies to the situation your generation was born into?

 
James Landreth
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I guess for now I'll say that

a) A lot of that generation (from what I hear) weren't hippies. Hippies were the exception from what I was told, not the overwhelming norm.
b) I think that just enough reform was allowed to placate the countercultural movement, but not affect a change that would undermine the industrial economy. It was a compromise on both sides I imagine, as a lot of hippies probably desired to live a semi normative life (and ended up sucked into a very typical life over time). On the other side of that compromise, it was definitely in the interest of "the system" to give enough ground to preserve itself and continue.
c) People were promised that the industrial, resource intensive economy would provide them prosperity in certain ways, and for a time, it did. It was easy to forgive original misgivings because it met those promises. It met those promises because resources will still cheap and climate change was far off. There was enough surplus in the developed countries (and some developing ones) for growth to be strong. In Europe, socialized medicine, transit, and general prosperity were able to grow, and in the US, people were able to afford cars, houses, educations, private healthcare, etc, just to name two examples
 
James Landreth
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Audrey Lewis wrote:

I have enjoyed reading everyone's experiences, young and old. They give me hope. I think we will see a cultural shift toward a more sustainable lifestyle for the majority of people over the next generation. It will be painful, and I certainly don't expect folks to flood out of the city and live 100% self-sustainable, off-grid lifestyles, but there will be urban, suburban, and rural versions of positive changes.

Finally, James (the person who started this thread), it sounds like you have a very good head on your shoulders for being 23. I think you will be able to do the great things you wish to do.



Thanks Audrey. I've really enjoyed your comments on this thread, and I appreciate the compliment a lot :) There's always more I wish I were doing, but it's nice to step back sometimes and reflect on what I've already done. So thank you, for reminding me to do that.
 
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