Archive for the ‘Community’ Category
By day, I research and teach about digital thing – bits and bytes and their effects on how we live our lives and interact with each other.
By night, I read blogs on urban homesteading, avidly research about sheep breeds, make my own pickles, and grow basil in my apartment window.
It feels like there’s a divide here, a significant split, possibly even a rift, between the two. I’m trying to reconcile these things, trying to find tenuous links and possible projects and things that will let me stand not with my feet in two different worlds, but in one slightly messy combined one. I have virtually no idea how, though, although it’s something I find myself thinking about a lot more these days, especially after another session flipping through the hatchery catalogue that sits on the coffee table.
I certainly think there’s room in this digital age to have both. The Greenhorns blog recently posted about a course on using smartphones on farms. The Internet has provided the space to question trademarks, raise questions about organics, and connect with similar minded folks. I am endlessly impressed with the blogs and websites that I find that make hands-on, highly material work that is grounded in..well, the ground accessible to anyone, anywhere with Internet access. I use digital resources to work and plan and figure things out for myself, to connect with other people, to make a record of what I’m doing.
But in my own life, I still feel like there’s a divide. I suppose part of it is that I’m highly focused on finishing my dissertation, the one big project that needs to be completed and is about as far removed from any kind of material existence as can be imagined. My hope, though, is that when this is done, when the light at the end of the tunnel has proven itself to actually be the light at the end of the tunnel and not a train that’s barreling down on me, that I can start to work on combining some of these things that are near and dear to me into my research and my life, and building better, stronger links between this academic life that I lead and these other things that I very much want for myself now, and in the future.
As a result of the Take Back Urban Home-steading(s) efforts on Facebook, and the subsequent list of blogs that was circulating, I found a lot more blogs that I’ve started reading on a regular basis.
One of these blogs is Canadian Doomer, who’s running a great book giveaway (I covet all of those books, so I’m super excited about this). If you’re interested in entering or just reading a great blog (do read – I highly recommend, and her collapse fiction is especially great), the giveaway information is here.
While I think about this somewhat regularly, I’ve been thinking a lot recently about community, and friendship, and especially about sharing.
I realised awhile back that in some of my efforts to live a low-impact, low-energy, low-cost life, there are times when my friends loan me things, or do things for me, that get to be difficult to do on my own. Because I don’t have a car, sometimes I need rides to or from places, especially at night when the buses don’t run a lot. Since I’ve chosen not to have a cell phone, sometimes I need to borrow one if we’re out and about.
Realistically, I know there are things that they get from me in return. I spend a lot of time listening to people’s problems, and I offer advice. I cook and bake for people. I watch pets, water plants, collect mail, and return library books. I’ve read and edited an awful lot of papers and grant applications. On paper, these don’t feel like big things, and yet I know they matter to the people who they help. But sometimes, even though I do think I probably give back as much as I receive, I’m just so very, very grateful for the people in my life who help me out every now and again with the things that it gets to be difficult to do on my own.
I’d like to do more, though, and I see the world in its present state, and all of the things that need dealing with, I think we need these connections with other people more than ever. So I’m going to make a concerted effort to not only be a better friend, but to be a better friend to more people. I want to share more of what I have, especially in terms of time and energy, with those who could use it. I’d like to spend more time building community, and finding ways to connect with people, and fostering the sharing that I think we so desperately need.
But community and help goes both ways. It’s important for people to feel useful and needed. And so I’m also going to try to be better about asking for help when I need it, which is something that I am not always so good at. There’s lots I could use help with, though – everything from gardening advice to reading my papers as I work through them.
This could take awhile to work up to. I’m rather shy, and a homebody, and because of these things I sometimes find building community takes a lot of effort and time. But I think it’s worth it, and I’m looking forward to getting out there more. I’ve had an awful lot of good in my life, and I’d like to give some of that back.