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You Made It

I’m considering a review on GoodReads for a peak oil book I’m thinking of buying. I’ve read it before, from the library, but I’m thinking it’s worth adding to my personal library. It’s by Sharon Astyk, one of my favourite Futurists. I like her practicality. Her socio-historical contexts where she talks about domestic labour and the industrial revolution, of formal and informal economies, of the gendered nature to work.

I also like that she is a female writer in a pre-dominantly male domain. For most peak oil and climate change writers are men.

This male—as-expert focus surrounding the writing and thinking about certain global issues is an interesting phenomenon and not one I plan to try to answer here. It is too large. Too complicated. What I do want to do is explore a little of what Astyk writes about from her female point of view. That is, its nuances and focuses of small-scale actions on the domestic stage.

Pouring tea

Astyk was an academic. She was studying towards a literary PhD. Then got concerned about The State of The World and with her husband left graduate school, moved to live in rural upstate New York and became a farmer, stay-at-home mother and writer. She now grows and puts up vegetables. Sells meat and eggs. Raises kids who know the names of plants as well as Pokemon.

She lives a Good life. She certainly thinks so. It’s not an easy life by her own admission, but it is a good one. There are few sleep ins. Not a lot of extra cash. Patience, I imagine, is tested daily. But there is also an incredible sense of security. She knows how to be nearly fully self-sufficient in food. How to heat and cool her house according to the seasons in a low energy manner. She can survive without electricity for more than a few hours. She’s done so. Tested it for a whole week. She made do.

The book she has authored that I am considering buying is called ‘Making Home.’ This phrase seems to me to be at the heart of the much-needed attitudinal shift from ‘buying all’ to ‘making do.’ Home making in this sense serves as a way of living where there is a sharp change from habitual consumption patterns to a more dynamic and creative approach.

Living with less does not need to only be about doing without. It can also be about living more creatively and using what you already have in a different and more imaginative way. This, to me, is not only hopeful regarding the sheer mass of stuff produced by our current industrial capitalist world but it also heralds a more fulfilling way of living. I really do believe that we can change the world for the better through the things we make.

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