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Living in Community

One of the reasons I wrote the book, "Prosperous Homesteading" and my upcoming "Homesteading With Workhorses," was an effort to get our ideas of "community" and the successful socio-economic framework for homesteading that we have been privileged to learn and to live from the people who have succeeded at this for generations out into (what we thought was a self-reliance/self-sufficiency/debt-free living/home-based production movement/paradigm outside of the suburban mortgage/car payment/commute-two-hours-per-day life of endless hurry and fear of inconvenience and discomfort) the the purview of people who might be interested in homesteading. The book continues to sell far beyond my or my publisher's expectation. But we didn't produce that book to sell books. I am a novelist, and I want to sell novels, and my life on my very real homestead and in my community is a labor of love. We hoped to reach out to people who might like to live this way. After all, there are hundreds of homesteading books, dozens of youtube channels dedicated to the subject, and hundreds of thousands of members of homesteading groups on FaceBook! Surely there are thousands of people yearning to be free of the debt/wage slave trade, right? Surely there are hundreds of people living the life in dozens of communities across the country, all with generations of success in the rearview mirror to point to!

Well, there are. But none of them use social media. They are all Anabaptist groups—the Amish and the Mennonites. Well, and a sprinkling of Quakers. Almost  (I have met a few people struggling away, with one foot in the homestead graveyard and the other on a banana peel) everyone else on these forums and sites, let's call them the "English," are virtual homesteaders. They have a garden. Or maybe a wood stove. Maybe they do a bit of canning. But the totality of their efforts is what I have come to call a "poverty trap." And these are the best of the bunch. The real and committed unusual individuals who are actually trying to make a go of it. These are the people who, with a little bit of direction and a few adjustments, might actually go on to succeed.

The problem, as I see it, is getting through the noise. There appear to me to be thousands upon thousands of people on the margins screaming into the winds of the internet demanding to be heard—even though they have absolutely nothing worthwhile to say. Solar Obsessive/Compulsives. Doomers praying that the world comes to an end. Sociopaths posting photos of guns and knives and dreaming of Armageddon. Aging political activists and gender warriors who squandered their youth on rage at the unfairness of the world—and are now poverty-stricken in their middle age or elderly years. And I am just beginning to scratch the surface of the insanity on the web. I feel terribly for all them. I wish I could reach out and turn back the hands of time and give the others the direction they so desperately needed in their young adult years but obviously didn't get. Or didn't take. Life can be harsh. What's done is past. I hope to reach people who still have time, resources, and the motivation to make a life of this.

When community member's share my blogs and post them on social media that we live in one of the largest off-grid communities in the country, and wish to invite young families (we are not interested in living in community with aging, childless and familyless, political activists and gender/social justice warriors) to come and see our community and our way of life, many of the responses are to the tune of, "well, if you are off-grid what are you doing using Facebook? Huh? HUH??!!" Well, we are using Facebook because we want to meet and engage with people who might want to live in this manner and who have the youth and the intellectual and financial capacity to do something that requires fairly significant financial and cognitive resources and is physically challenging.

 We don't wish to argue with everyone else. Well, that and we are not a commune.

We had some young men visit us in two RV's a couple years ago. They heard we had a "homesteading community," and they wanted to park their RV's "in the community" and see if they liked the lifestyle. I am giving you the short version... but somehow these young fellows came to the idea that a community meant a commune. You know, communal living. They had no money, no equipment, no tools, accessories or appliances. I guess they figured that they would show up, work an hour or two a day—with someone else's horses, implements, equipment, and tools—with strains of the Grateful Dead in the background—"We can share the women, we can share the wine... We can share what we got of yours 'cause we done shared all of mine"—and be fed, housed, and paid. So now we are very direct and pointed in our conversations with people interested in "homesteading" and living in "community."

If you have any interest whatsoever in homesteading or living in a self-reinforcing, cooperative, and interdependent community, by all means! Reach out to us and arrange a visit! But first, before you spend any money on gas or take time off from work, read our book! "Prosperous Homesteading." It will either inspire you to move forward with your plans, or it will frighten you away. But at least you will have an idea of what it takes. Then get in your car and make the pilgrimage here and see for yourself.

And have something to offer the community. We have a great deal to offer. What we hope to see in newcomers is an offer of a future for the community. We will all be returning to the soil that we till and work in the near future. What will we leave behind?


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