Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Time to Find a Dance Partner

     Welcome to Embracing Collapse and our first post.  We hope you will follow us on the path to a new life.  We live on five acres in the Pacific Northwest and are currently growing about 60% of what we eat and the rest we buy from local farms or markets.  We have always lived differently than most and more out of the system than in.  Every day we learn new dance steps together and we usually know which way to go. 
     In our 34 years together we have never been in debt and have counted our riches by the relationship we share together with the planet.  For more than eight years we have been searching for those who embrace living simply and are concerned about peak resources and preparing for a much different future. 
     We would like others to join us in sharing living expenses that will help keep our footprint small.  Seems silly to us for everyone to own their own vehicles, equipment and tools, not to mention land to grow their food and/or raise livestock.  We are also aware of the great amount of effort it takes to grow your own food, process it for later use and maintain the property in general.  With not many aware of where their food comes from we risk our own food security by not learning the skills needed to sustain ourselves.   
     Our blog name, Embracing Collapse shares a history of how we have lived our lives in the past and present and tells a little of whom we are.  We both agreed to this name though we realize some won’t understand and we hope to raise their curiosity enough to try.  One may ask how you can you embrace something so horrific, right?  Well the fact is you may as well embrace it before it embraces you because when it does, it might not let you go.  We are living in collapse whether you like it or not and the sooner we all agree that our future will be different, the sooner we can get to work living the way we were meant to live, which isn’t all bad.
     These days when so much work needs to be done training others to prepare and helping them to learn the skills that will be necessary as well as continuing to learn ourselves, we see little action and hear lots of talk.  People live in denial and are stifled to proceed in the opposite direction where once your life is reclaimed, you are free to make choices that will help you and your loved ones.  Frightened by the idea of not being able to live the way they’re use to living, they’re prevented from exploring any other way.
     I can't say that I’ve always embraced collapse and I may have been forced to in some ways because of the learning I've done in the last few years.  I know the more I fail to see what is in front of me, the bigger it gets until it's the only thing I see.  I now look forward to the day when cars are few and planes are less.  I welcome simplicity with all its quirks and enjoy less technology and more spirituality.  Nature has picked me up from the concrete and planted me to bloom in a new rich soil where my roots run deep.
     That said I have yet to find a network that aligns the likes of us who do embrace collapse.  Lots of buzzing about community living but I don’t read much about small groups of people who want to pull their resources together in order to avoid living in the mainstream.  People like us who know of the opportunities to live an enriched life where working towards something takes the place of any holiday bonus.  Reaping what we sow is an option for all of us, one that awards us the time to have fun and explore other ways of doing business.
     As we struggle to accept what is, we find ourselves in the past or future worrying about what’s already happened or what’s to come.  I work with what I know are the facts and live accordingly.  As a hospice volunteer I try to live each day as my last and feel blessed to have right now to do it.  We live on a planet with finite resources, where we want to continue to have everything and still produce more people.  And while we continue to grow, we are destroying the very place that sustains us.  It’s like planting a tree that you know will get big next to your house then having to cut it down in a few years, or planting my starts close together as if they’re never going to grow.
     I started reading some good history about five years ago.  Books such as, The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins, and Carolyn Baker’s, US History Uncensored which opened my eyes to our horrific past and present and got me thinking about what we as humans have done to ourselves as well as all living things.
     At the time my husband and I still watched a little television, mostly Link TV, Free Speech TV, and I.N.N World Report.  Programs like, Democracy Now taught me more than I wanted to know about torture, and I couldn’t help to cry on the way to work each morning after forcing myself to watch.  I had to, in order to accept it.  I needed acceptance to move on and now for me the hard part is over. 
     Though I realize embracing collapse will also mean embracing the death that will come with it, I knew coming into this world that I wasn’t immortal.  The past several years have not been easy for me, as I’ve lost friends and family because of the different lives we lead.  We are all the same people just some of us have taken the step forward in embracing what is inevitable.  Instead of wondering how I can keep things the same in my life, I look for ways to be different.  Turning off the television and turning on my mind has awarded me creativity that I never knew I had.  Instead of feeling like I have no choice but to be a part of the problem, I find ways to be a part of the solution.
     After giving 30 years of my life to the telecommunications industry, I now spend most of my days on our five-acre parcel where little noise exists.  More frequently than the distant gunshots from hunters or small planes flying overhead are the sounds of flickers and woodpeckers as they prepare to mate.  I wake to the sounds of the rooster next door instead of sirens or car alarms.  Our voice mailbox attached to our one phone line takes messages while I’m away and our email is answered within 24 hours unless we’re away from the computer.  Our library of books and DVD’s fill the shelves that are no longer dusty and we enjoy dancing to the music. 
     My home is decorated with eclectic art and my cupboards are stacked full of colorful glass jars that are filled with food for the soul and actually resemble what real food should look like.  I only have to peer out my windows different times of the year to know what month it is.  Nature has a way of telling us without boxes of numbers on paper and perfect pictures to show us.  Holidays are the ones we choose to celebrate not the ones predated on the calendar.
     Our property is one of great beauty as it gently slopes down towards our home.  A walk up the driveway each day to get the mail, energizes me as I stop on the way back to look at the tall fir and cedar trees that surround it.  The fall displays a colorful picture dappled with alders, madrone and oak trees and the winter snow is majestic.  Star gazing while listening to the barred or spotted owls and sitting under the light of the full moons offer a sense of belonging that creates its own energy.
     When we moved here in 2001 from the city we knew once again we belonged.  I was thrilled to hear crickets and toads rather than neighbors on cell phones talking on their steps all hours of the night where having a window open to sleep was not an option.  We embraced the property and welcomed the work to be done.  Where once lived nothing but scotch broom and weeds we now have a garden big enough to feed others beside ourselves.  Our once small hobby garden has grown as we’ve taken it from seed to tree in ten years.
     All of our weeding is down by hand.  Our “no till” gardens include 50+ raised beds where the only thing between them is clover which helps to keep them raised and serves as food for the bees. 
     The amount of work that goes into gardening this way has us both weary of what's to come. Most people are unaware of their food source and certainly not up to the task of gardening without the use of implements that run on fuel.  Young farmers are ill prepared to offer any type of financial resources though some are pursuing lofty goals of earning skills that are necessary and will be welcomed by aging farmers in the future.
     Our homestead includes hens for fresh eggs and manure as well as a small orchard of pear and apple trees.  Berries grow immensely in all varieties including huckleberries, elderberries, raspberries, strawberries, Marion berries, blueberries, boysenberries and thorn less blackberries.  We have processed juice from our grapes, kraut from our cabbage and jams in all colors.  We hope to brew our first batch of hops into an interesting beer perhaps adding some mugwort.  Donated wine grapes allowed us to make wine for the first time and we hope to celebrate with our first bottle this June. 
     The basic class that I took at Mrs. Thompson’s sparked my interest to learn more about the medicinal properties of herbs.  I’ve enjoyed experimenting with infusions, decoctions, tinctures, salves and lotions.  This year I’m sowing the seeds of plants that will hopefully produce enough natural dye to color my white fleeces that I spin and knit into sweaters, vests, hats, scarves and slippers.    
     The time we have right now is precious and the opportunities are endless. We can choose to live a life filled with grace as we work side by side to grow our own food, share expenses, purchase together in bulk, and barter.
     We see the savings for all involved in sharing the costs of owning a home and property.  Taxes and insurance can be split, and vehicles shared.  Utility bills can be divided and individual ownership would not be needed for such things as: washing machines, tractors, processing equipment, tools, greenhouses or land.  Time saved in maintaining individual places to live would allow everyone to enjoy free time.
     Most people are caught up in a wheel that consumes not only every waking minute of their lives but affects their innermost spirit.  No wonder so many are taking anti depressants, what’s there to be happy about?
     Sharing our land with others who would typically spend time and money making it home makes sense to us.  We have the infrastructure in place to house at least six adults and with 12 working hands we can grow it into a small cottage industry that feeds us literally as well as metaphorically.  We are the ones that we’ve been searching for.  The rest is easy. 
     So have you found your dance partner?  Are you ready to dance to a different tune?  Would you like to blaze a new trail to ride your mule on?  Then join us in embracing collapse and getting to work to discover a new day with a new way.


  1. Great first post ya'll! I am so excited about this new outlet for your shared perspective.
    Embrace Collapse? Bring It! and I'll make out with the beast.

    1. So how are you both? Noticed your comments on Survival Acres Blog. We've been following his work for years. He is one of the few like Guy (NBL) that is actually making changes and not just pontificating about it.

      Hope you're both well and enjoying life.

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  4. Nice post. Where in the Pacific NW are you located?

    Thanks, Judy

    1. We're located in the beautiful Willamette Valley. Where are you located?

  5. Partner and I have been looking for dance partners also. For a couple of years, actually. Came close with one, but she just cannot wrap her mind around not being a consumer. Still feeling out another ... but it's not a natural "fit" either (some big pluses, but an unshakable desire to cut the living land down and install a lawn!).

    Planning to make a go at collapse-embracing life on our 13 acres in East Texas. We've reined in our consumer selves - now living on $10k a year beyond rent and gasoline but INcluding payments on the 13 acres. We needn't have much income to continue out there, assuming economics don't get all screwed up. Even so, we're not so unskilled that we wouldn't be able to manage.

    Thank you for starting this series of articles!

    1. Hi Petrea,

      By now you must be settled and pretty well established on your acreage. Hopefully still living that good life out of the system, isn't it grand?

      Weather seems to be getting more erratic every year and it's dictating more and more of what we can grow. How is the growing season in Texas? Let us know how the good life is going.