Monday, June 16, 2008

My Green Ideal to learn to do the best with what we have...naturally. The Dervaeses at Path To Freedom are my heros in this respect. They are my ideal of Being Green.

Remember this song?

No, it's not always easy being Green... :)

In my last post, I spoke of not labeling myself with particular labels. "Green" has come to mean many things in many different contexts. Our (my husband's and my) focus is to be gentle consumers within a natural framework, and to cut out the middle man between the ground and the table. We are lovers of nature. We feel a keen sense of responsibility in doing this sustainably, our ideal being that there would be no waste that's not converted back into a cycle of regeneration. Our goal is also simplicity.

We're spoiled to modern conveniences, but would rather innovate and find ways to retain some of those conveniences rather than do completely without, or do everything from scratch. This will allow us to focus on the things we most WANT to be hands-on with...because we can't be masters at every skill. We also see relying on others' skills in areas we're not gifted in, and doing the swapping of services, or bartering items for such.

Path to Freedom is one of the first sites I ever found when looking online for resources on sustainability, urban farming, and homesteading. They are still a daily read.

This recent post of theirs details many of the techniques they've been practicing and had success with for many years. For us, this family's success in using what they have and living gently...and abundantly...right where they live, is a high-water mark for us. Please check out the post, and their site, if you haven't already. It's always informative, as well as encouraging!

I didn't want to leave a false impression that my family is not concerned with being "green." It's a label that can be so broad, much like the term "health nut." If you hear someone is a health nut, it can mean anything from eating well, to being focused on running marathons, to fasting regularly, to going bra-less and living in a treehouse...heehee. There are some things perceived as being Green that I'm not on the same page as. I don't want to pay carbon taxes, ever. I don't want to give up any of my constitutional, or personal, freedoms because someone else determines they're don't serve a "green" agenda. I'm not ready to give up toilet paper. I love my ovaries and if they ever serve to grant my husband and myself other children, I do not feel irresponsible and like that is taxing the world population. I don't ride a horse to work, and can't afford to buy another vehicle that uses less gasoline. I eat meat...just less of it till the day when we can raise our own. I don't see cows as the bane of the world food balance...I see Big Ag as such. Grassfed animals are at the top of my preference list as far as agricultural systems, and I won't ascribe to the humble cow or sheep the crowding out of wildlife and the bane of overgrazing...I ascribe that to the people who mismanage them.

I could go on and on, but in some ways, I'm greener...or maybe could be called weirder...than most folks I know. Some of my green views come from sources other than back-to-the-earth movements. Our family follows the instructions in the Torah, and there are many instructions there that we're not used to embracing...but want to. There is a prohibition against mixing "types" in breeding a zebra with a camel. We find this an instruction of great import in a day in which pig DNA is being combined through genetic mutilation directly into broccoli or any other number of animal/plant combinations. That is a mixing of unlike types. How can we practice not eating those, if they're not labeled? We must grow our own pure DNA foods. This is ancient "green" principle that, for my family, is a command we must keep.

Another prohibition is against mixing types of clothing materials. Strands of unlike clothing materials are not supposed to be woven together and worn. A lot of synthetic materials are made from the fusing of unlike materials, such as plant based and petroleum based. That of necessity tends us towards using natural fiber materials. Since trying to rid my closet of the synthetic things, I've found I have mostly cotton and linen clothes now...which my body really appreciates! When I have to wear my work uniform, which is to a large degree polyester, my body feels like it's's not natural. To some, this is a really weird thing, and does it fall under the category "green"? I have no idea, but to me, it is.

In being green, I don't subscribe to a mob mentality. There is a lot of integrity within the category "green," but there are also politics and specific agendas in different arenas. I can see some things being abused in the name of Green, and one of the ones that most concerns me is eugenics. Eugenics, or the "selecting out" of those things that are weaker or diseased for the supposed survival of the masses or the "greater good," is something of great concern to me. I've heard these sometimes grouped under "green" agendas. That troubles me. Limiting the freedoms of families to determine for themselves how many children they have is another of my concerns. I understand the arguments for and against these issues, which have often been lumped under the greater category "green" when discussing worldwide issues...but those are where I exit the label. When Green becomes a religion, buh-bye. My voice is just as important in the green movement, and my concern is the preservation of individuality within our fragile yet resilient world. It's a revolution that's about returning to basic freedoms, not promoting the loss of them.

I see true "greenness" as being the earning of privilege. It's a privilege to live on this's not a throw-away resource that can be gobbled like a can of Pringles and then tossed to the curb. The domino-effect on our health and society has been rapid since the rise of Big Ag as "the answer", what was the question?? We believed the propaganda, and didn't remember that "Green" to Monsanto means greenbacks/dollars, not an Eden of plenty.

Watch out for "green" as a proganda trend for the mega-corporations. They are NOT driven by a heart change..they are driven to repackage those items from China in a more palatable-to-the-conscience way. It helps their bottom line to put just enough of these items in their stores to ease the conscience of the consumer who is still for the most part still unaware of exactly what their food contains and where it came from. Watch out for these corporations because they still are a law unto themselves. They still are under-the-table dealing with impunity. We need our justice systems to work for accountability beyond the walls of lawyers these big guys can afford. It is important to hold everyone to the same standards of justice...even the megalopolies and the that Green can be something not fringe, but a fundamental element of our society and its relationship to the earth that sustains its populations. It needs to be a living community as diverse as the community we find here online, where we can agree or disagree, but still work to better our world and our own square of dirt or cement. At that point, many of us who're on the fringes of an out-of-control mainstream society will not be the outsiders, but the leaders and teachers.

Green, if it was not already, is becoming a necessity for many of us, now. Hopefully, it will be an individual expression as well as a thriving community. We're in that muddle where Green is still being defined, and there are growing pains and still a lot of Goliaths for shepherd boys to face down. So, we embrace being Green. But don't pass us any Koolaid ;-)


Anonymous said...

I've really been enjoying your last few posts. Very thoughtful and thought provoking. Great stuff! :)

Wendy said...

Path to Freedom was the first urban homesteading site I found when I went looking, and because they're doing what they're doing on less than a quarter acre, I decided I could too, even though I have a quarter acre in Maine where the growing season is about six months shorter than theirs in California ;). Still, there are things I can do here, and it's because of finding them, that I started trying to figure it all out ;).

I don't like wearing the "green" label, either. I'm concerned about the environment, and I'm trying to be less of a consumer, but I believe there has to be a balance between giving it all up (which I would do, reluctantly) and living thoughtlessly and wastefully. I think there's still enough if we stop squandering it, and my hope is that enough people will see that everyone can have some, but we have to be willing to share.

What was it that Ghandi said, "Live simply so that others may simply live"? I think it's good advice - certainly what the Dervaes family is doing, and what a lot of us out here in the Blogosphere are trying to do, as well ;).

Kathie said...

I'm with you. I hate the label of being "green", I just rather think of it as doing what's right without having to follow the crowd. The way our grandparents lived was for the most part green, they just didn't know it. They called it caring for the land that provided for them and responsibile. For pete's sake chemical companies are calling themselves green these days... I just don't subscribe to the green label, but then again I don't seem to fit into most labels.

Miriam said...

First, I love your blog! I always save it for last in my reader so that I can take time to read it thoroughly without little hands interrupting.

Secondly, I have never really considered the mixing of fibers beyond shatnez (mixing wool and linen. We're Jewish so that is a huge no-no for us.) But it does make a lot of sense. You have definitely given me something to think about as the time to go through the closets here arrives.

Thank you!

Razor Family Farms said...

Indeed, it is NOT easy to be green. Case in point, I spent half an hour reading labels in the local Winn Dixie with my friend, Katie. We were trying to find cage-free chicken. This is difficult because "no hormones, fed only vegetables" does not mean that the poor critter got to peck at the grass and actually be a chicken. We finally found one that worked but it was not easy. Nope.

The key is not to buy something just because it says organic or natural -- it is to be aware of what you are buying. Focus and buying less so that you can use your spending power to cast a vote toward certain products (and how they came to be).

Another excellent post!

Mrs. K's Lemonade Stand said...

Aww Kermit… sing it dude. :)

I love your personal definition of being green and it echoes my own philosophy!

ilex said...

Not only are corporations a law unto themselves, but they have many thousands of lobbyists calling the shots and directing where the money goes in DC. Many of our congressmen and senators are bought and paid for- either beholden to large corporate doners or the big business lobbies in their state. Or for that matter, did anyone hear any of the presidential candidates go up against GMO issues with Monsanto/ ADM/ Cargill in Iowa or any other breadbasket state? Yeah, me neither. It's good old fashioned fascism, wrapped in the flag.

Carolyn said...

Great Post. I love Path to Freedom too.

Everyone one is going to have to be greener and more self sufficient in the years to come.

The major midwest flooding has me concerned. All those fields ruined.
Corn and Grain prices are going to be sky high!

Robbyn said...

Angie, thank you! I wish I lived close enough to you to lend a hand with your cleaning just about now...sorry to hear your little ones are so sick...nausea and vomiting are the worst sorts of "green" to be! I make a mean chicken soup, but I don't think it would make it through the mail :)

Wendy, how neat, and I bet you're finding plenty you CAN do in Maine right there. Yes, we all have a lot to learn from each other about finding our own ways to live simply.

Kathie, I agree. My grandparents were Depression ear folks, and that's more or less what keeps coming to my mind the more we journey backward and try to recover much of their wisdom and simplicity. I'm not much of a label gal, anyway, even on the best of days :)

Miriam, thank you for the encouragement...I'm humbled and honored :) What a blessing you have triplets with all those little hands to keep you so busy! About the shatnetz, I'm so new to Judaism that I'm fairly unaware of the rabbinic halakha on these things. Without a shul nearby, we do our readings from the Tanakh and surmise solely based on that. I'd love to know your insights anytime!

Lacy, yes, that label-reading can be the start to a whole new set of "problems," eh? It's one of the things that got us pinned in the corner as to what we were going to's looking more and more like we're going to have to raise and grow it ourselves if it's to go on our table, unless we want pig DNA in our broccoli, preservatives in everything, bovine growth hormone in our milk, fat substitutes, aspartame (made by Monsanto)i.e. Nutrasweet, and chemicals/hormones/antibiotics galore. Way more than we planned on bringing home for dinner, if you know what I mean :) Hey, I'm just looking for a tomato that can remember where it came from, and chickens with real beaks that got to eat some bugs and scratch around and BE a chicken during their lives.

Mrs K, love that Kerm :) Actually I loved the characters of the two old men who always sat around together quipping about the show...what a hoot...
I agree...I'm shy of labels.

Ilex, ok, I'm voting for you in 2012 !

Carolyn, thanks! Yes, I love the PTF. Looks like it's time for us to grow our own grain and corn, eh? You and your family are making great headway with your own awesome garden :)

JoyceAnn said...

WOW ~ Love your views about being green , so true. It's different for everyone , including big Corps which use the word as an advertising ploy.

I found your blog awhile back , I've enjoyed reading your posts.
Path to Freedom is a wonderful website. I signed up for their 100 Ft. Diet Challenge and the Back to Basics Challenge.

~ Blessings ~ JoyceAnn

Robbyn said...

Thank you so much! It's so neat that you've taken on both of those challenges...I'll check out your blog to see how it's going with them :)