Audrey Lewis wrote:
This thread is about millennials who are involved in permaculture. I think we've already established that there are some, but not many. We've established that many millennials were sold the lie that they had to go deeply in debt to get a college degree. So where are they now? I think a huge proportion of them are living their lives, mostly unfulfilled, in suburbia, working at meaningless office jobs that they got with their college degrees. They are driving their SUVs to Costco on the weekend to buy crap for their kids' lunch boxes in bulk. They are standing around with other miserable parents at a Chuck E Cheese birthday party making mindless chatter about whether their kids should take piano lessons or do gymnastics. They're buying the crappy overpriced plastic toys that their kids see advertised on YouTube. They think about wanting to eat healthier and live a more balanced lifestyle, but they don't know how to escape the consumerist hamster wheel they're running on. How do I know this? Because I work with these people, my kids go to school with their kids, and I kind of am one of these people (not 100%, but more than I'd like to admit). To me, these unfulfilled suburban millennials are a huge source of untapped potential. We just need permaculture enthusiasts to infiltrate their inner rings and gently show them another way of thinking and living (i.e. - not by preaching, but by sharing some delicious peaches or tomatoes and starting a conversation).
I resonate so much with this last paragraph of your post.
I was born in '96, felt the pressure to go to college, but thankfully graduated without debt thanks to a hefty scholarship award. I won't elaborate here on whether I feel that was worthwhile or not, except to say it ultimately brought me to the awareness of permaculture that I have today, which I am most glad for. Post-college, I knew a desk job would not satisfy me, would not feed my soul or nurture a passion. In fact, I had no idea what my passion was. So I went to an intentional community in Costa Rica and spent 3 months learning about permaculture and alternative living and discovered a passion for all things earthly. Now I'm back at home (VA) and living with my mom. Still unsure of what path to follow because of the reality of money. While I have dreamed of reenacting a scene from "Into The Wild" where I would hitchhike my way to Alaska and live unbothered in the wilderness, I feel that I would be doing an injustice to the rest of the young adults in my generation and today's youngsters who are unaware of permaculture, or where our vegetables grow on, or the difference between "annual" and "perennial". I desire to spread the word, be a missionary of the Earth, and create the sparks for the permaculture fire to come. However, knowing where to start and not having any hands on skills is also my reality.
So, I decided to practice on my mother's suburban lot. I'm starting up a garden covering the 0.12 acres she has (that's including the space the house takes up...) and experimenting with natives and edibles.
I've dived into intensive research on plants, reading the permie classics like One Straw Revolution, The Carbon Farming Solution, Gaia's Garden, etc. Meanwhile, I landed on Rosemary Gladstar's Medicinal guide to Herbalism, and found a desire to spread awareness on the healing abilities of natural plants. So that native/edible garden plan for my mother's yard is evolving to include a lot of medicinal herbs.
Hopefully I can make an income selling dried herbs, seedlings, root cuttings, etc on platforms such as Etsy or Amazon.
To supplement that income I am considering substitute teaching or looking for a part time job elsewhere.
As others have said in the thread, living in the city is important for finding jobs and having a market base to sell your produce/cuttings/etc at higher prices and to more people. Therefore, while I now dream of homesteading the countryside, I am trying to make the most of my suburban immediate reality.
I would also like to begin involving school children in the cultivation of food gardens within school courtyards. If anybody has any advice/experience with this, I would love to hear.
I'm assuming I would need a lot of supplies, a team of workers, and approval from the school system. Maybe a kickstarter to get the initial funds? Any ideas?