Aspiring to the Working Class
Excerpted from Communities Magazine (Sept. 2012)
One-hundred-fifty years ago, 90 percent of people on earth were farmers. This meant that every person in every family knew how to survive. Men and women knew how to work a field, fix tools, build a house, feed themselves. They knew how to raise animals, tend a winter garden, preserve food, grind grain, bake bread, and sew.
We now live in a world where folks don’t quite know what to do when a light bulb burns out. Or where taking out the trash may be the only significant physical labor they do all day long. When we’re that disconnected from creating our built environment and our food sources, I believe it leaves us feeling helpless and full of anxiety. Our culture has come to value the intellect over physical work. Yet our animal selves know how far we are from the body knowledge that has kept us alive since time out of mind.
Some of us, living in ecovillages and other land-based situations, are on the long, steep road to figuring out how to live responsibly again—to reclaim some basic knowledge that used to be just “good, common, sense.” At Earthaven, we don’t have low-paid workers running around putting our water and waste systems in, maintaining overhead electric lines (we’re entirely off grid), or taking care of our lawns.
Part of the hope of ecovillages is to learn the skills that we’ve all lost through cultural amnesia—to regain strength in our muscles, brains, hands, and hearts to do what it takes to be responsible for our lives. And responsibility for our lives means not shipping out our waste for someone else to deal with, or importing food that someone else has grown, or being ignorant about where our water, heat, and power come from.
For the full article of the same title, see Communities Magazine’s September issue or read it online.