Urban home, tranformed to urban homestead (note: no aritificial photo manipulation)
The seeds of living off the land and homesteading for Jules Dervaes started back in the late 1960s. When he found the Mother Earth News in 1972 he then had an instruction book to follow along with the Nearings’ book The Good Life . Over the years here in Pasadena Jules Dervaes has incorporated those former ideas into the modern, urban flavor in what is now known as the modern urban homestead movement. I can remember back in 2001, we decided to put an online chronicle showing how we live and strive towards a self sufficient, low impact as a form of living protest against consumerism, Frankenfoods, corporations and more.
What better way to protest than to live the revolution – every day?
Not knowing what to call “it”, we knew “it” was homesteading (a few of us had that rural experience already – New Zealand and Florida). But we were trying to do the same thing in a smaller, scaled down model and in the middle of the city. We were, because of circumstances, urban dwellers bent on living a self sufficient life by taking small steps which would eventually have a deep impact. These steps included: growing our own food, producing our own energy, fuel; incorporating alternative energy and transportation practices; raising farm animals; composting, energy and waste conservation practices; water and waste recovery; running a homebased business; back to basics skills; simple living; powering down, unplugged; homegrown diet; greywater and rainwater practices and much, much more.
It was not just about incorporating one or a few steps – it was living the whole journey and taking all the steps necessary to reduce our dependence on outside sources. Food, fuel, energy, water, waste, income, schooling — all needed to be contained on this one property.
Urban homesteading is your whole life – life revolves around the center of your world which is your home and garden. This modern form of agrarianism means that you spent every waking hour tied to the land as you slowly cut off ties from the “outside world”. Of course, such a path is scary and daunting at first, but done in small increments it is the path to freedom. You are able to stand on your own two feet and know that your hands are a powerful tool – a “weapon of mass creation.” You are creating a world – a sustainable world. It’s not just survival we are talking about, it’s about becoming truly free. A truly free man or woman that can stand on his/her own two feet, making a living and life with his/her hands. That’s what true urban homesteading is all about. You eat, breathe, sleep, play, sweat, work, laugh, cry, learn, love on on this tiny piece of land we call home… the urban homestead.
It’s about improving the place where you are. Due to circumstances, not everyone can leave the city and move (back to) to a place with land, clean air and even community (lucky are those few). Let’s face it, most folks live in cities and it’s about giving the urbanites hope for the future. If we can do it, so can you. It’s about doing what you can, with what you have, where you are – right now. If we wait for the right situation, time or place or the opportunity to start the sustainable journey, it will pass us by. Small steps now have deep, lasting impact.
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
As another year wraps up here on the urban homestead, we are coming face to face with some difficult choices. Choices and decisions that will determine the outcome of life here on the urban homestead. At one of the family meetings held after the midday meal, chief urban homesteader basically laid it on the line when he asked what we all had planned for 2008. Me? Planned for next year? Sheesh, I can’t even plan what needs to be done tomorrow. I kinda know what I want to do, but going out and doing it is another story.
We discussed what would be our challenges and projects that we would face and, if so, what path should we take. And that’s really hard at the moment because there are hundreds of tiny little paths leading every which way. We are going to need a lot of guidance on which path is the one we should journey down in 2008.
There’s also the new website to consider that’s taking longer than anticipated because of the limited time Jordanne & I have to work on it. The website project weighs on our shoulders because we’d really, really like to finally finish. Why? Well, if completed it could possibly be used to launch the future work of PTF. As you may know from reading the PTF journal, this past year has been a time of extreme growth and change. This is exciting for our family but has also been challenging as we grapple with how to give priority to PTF’s needs with respect to the many outside opportunities and requests we receive.
The talk around the table was some pretty heavy stuff, especially when it came to ideas of what PTF should do next. I’d like to go into details, but for the time being, must remain silent. Besides, any such announcement would call for some huge fanfare and a new website to launch the endeavor.
I can just imagine PTF readers sleepy morning eyelids perk up over their cup of herbal tea. Peaked your curiosity, didn’t I? Hang onto your hats, folks, because January 2008 is less than a month away and we are all working our butts off to get all loose ends tied up.
That’s what we are all feeling like these days with the web work that’s outstanding. It’s a pretty neat word, too. Fits so perfectly what our life is like nowadays.
I don’t think some folks understand, or wouldn’t believe all that goes on behind the scenes here on the urban homestead. Some days it’s absolutely insane. We are juggling so many projects at the moment that I can’t even think straight. There’s never, never a dull moment, believe me. At the end of the day I collapse in bed and before I have time to even count to 10 sheep, or even 5 sheep noless, and “lights out”. I wonder to myself “what the heck did I even do/complete today?” Some days there’s progress even it’s slow (heck, I’m not picky, I’ll take it), while some days it’s as if we are going round in circles.
Isn’t life a wonderful journey?
Answers from the Urban Homestead
Q. Can you recommend a good non electric coffee grinder. The last one I bought broke the second time I used it.Thank you!!! – Val