Radical homemaking – it sounds awesome doesn’t it. Straight away I have strong images of people wearing sequined capes while growing food, baking bread, making clothes, milking goats, building ‘stuff’ and raising children… All. At Once.
However, really – it looks something like this…
Basically, a lot of digging, building, fixing, inventing, creating, constant learning and problem solving, no sequined capes in site – however technically this wouldn’t be that hard to arrange. Don’t get me wrong, radical homemaking also looks like this…
It’s real, home-based life. A mixture of the good, bad, beautiful and ugly – all mashed together and bound tightly by hard work, commitment and those things we shape and base our lives on called values and ethics. Radical homemaking is a very hands on approach centred around taking responsibility for where your required resources come from (food, shelter, entertainment, clothing etc).
Shannon Hayes is the woman who coined this term, wrote a book about it and lives her life in this fashion. Her tag line to this term is “reclaiming domesticity from a consumer culture”. In a time when choosing a domestic lifestyle (housewife/husband, stay at home mum/dad etc) isn’t overly valued, it takes some gumption to embrace this lifestyle as your ‘career’.
“Radical Homemakers [the book] is about men and women across the U.S. who focus on home and hearth as a political and ecological act; who center their lives around family and community for personal fulfillment and cultural change. It explores what domesticity looks like in an era that has benefited from feminism; where domination and oppression are cast aside, where the choice to stay home is no longer equated with mind-numbing drudgery, economic insecurity, or relentless servitude.”
We read this book a few years ago and while there was nothing new in there for us to mull over, we were both completely captured by it. It articulates so well and so powerfully what we have been quietly working towards with no way to describe it (that does it real justice). It’s a way of life which helps change the world by moving towards what we love, instead of running away from what we fear. By needing less [consuming less], we are free to live our beliefs. To us, this seems ordinary. To someone else, a values-driven lifestyle might seem an extraordinary act of bravery – Shannon Hayes.
For us, radical homemaking is all about re-embracing the home and local economy. This doesn’t necessarily mean ONLY working from home, but that it is at the heart of activity and life. When you think that a full time worker will spend around 40 hours in their workplace, plus commuting time which can be as much as 2 hours a day (if not more) – that’s 50 hours away from home during the week. It means that ‘home’ is something you get to do on the weekends, which seems kind of backwards and perhaps even a little unhealthy in terms of ordering priorities.
To help people re-focus their lives, Shannon put together 10 easy steps for becoming a radical homemaker to support folk in living a values-based life….
- Commit to hanging your laundry out to dry (instead of using a dryer).
- Dedicate a portion of your lawn to a vegetable garden.
- Get to know your neighbors. Cooperate to save money and resources.
- Go to your local farmers’ market each week before you head to the
- Do some spring cleaning to identify everything in your home that you absolutely don’t need. Donate to help others save money and resources.
- Make a commitment to start carrying your own reusable bags and use them on all your shopping trips.
- Choose one local food item to learn how to preserve for yourself for the winter.
- Get your family to spend more evenings at home, preferably with the TV off.
- Cook for your family.
- Focus on enjoying what you have and who are with. Stop fixating on what you think you may need, or how things could be better “if only.”
At this point I should clearly state that we do not think that everyone should quit their jobs and cover themselves in dirt permanently in order to live a meaningful or worthy life. At the very heart of living radically lie values. I personally believe that if we can move towards living with/by them, then that is the most radical, wonderful, productive and happiness-creating thing we can possibly do. If nothing else, tap into what you hold most dear and live your life accordingly.
Love, Hannah and Anton – Radical Homemakers in progress… x
If you’re interested, you can find the book – Radical Homemakers here.
*Your blogger is Hannah Moloney, co-director of Good Life Permaculture and lover of all things fun and garden-esk.