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Making Home: Adapting Our Homes and Our Lives to Settle in Place (Mother Earth News Books for Wiser Living) Paperback – August 28, 2012
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Other books tell us how to live the good life-but you might have to win the lottery to do it. Making Home is about improving life with the real people around us and the resources we already have. While encouraging us to be more resilient in the face of hard times, author Sharon Astyk also points out the beauty, grace and elegance that result, because getting the most out of everything we use is a way of transforming our lives into something much more fulfilling.
Written from the perspective of a family who has already made this transition, Making Home show readers how to turn the challenge of living with less into settling for more-more happiness, more security and more peace of mind. Learn simple but effective strategies to:
- Save money on everything from heating and cooling to refrigeration, laundry, water, sanitation, cooking and cleaning
- Create a stronger, more resilient family
- Preserve more for future generations.
We must make fundamental changes to our way of life in the face of ongoing economic crisis and energy depletion. Making Home takes the fear out of this prospect, and invites us to embrace a simpler, more abundant reality.(2012-06-01)
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Making Home covers a wide range of skills that we'll all want to have if and when things get a little rougher around the edges. Unlike most TEOTWAWKI books (The End Of The World As We Know It - a common survivalist/prepper phrase), Sharon takes a much more nuanced approach to decline, and talks as much about a four day power outage from an ice storm or a hurricane than total economic and government collapse. She covers urban, suburban and rural living, though her own experience is rural so that gets the most play. And instead of talking entirely about "beans, bullets and band-aids" she covers topics that no one else has thought much about: keeping your family together; preparing yourself for the brother-in-law who was recently made homeless; connecting with your neighbors, no matter what their political beliefs; and caring for the elderly or infirm. Astyk has a 12 year old son with severe autism, and also cared for her grandparents in their final years, inviting them into their home. Her advice on humbly making do where you are, with what you have, makes this book a valued resource.
A brief overview of what Sharon Astyk considers the key skills for adapting in place:
1) How not to panic
2) How to learn skills and teach them
3) How to get along with everyone else
4) How to feed yourself
5) How to have a sense of humor
6) Extreme thrift
I was tempted to knock off a star for some minor defects. Some chapters are taken directly from her blog posts, so avid readers (and disclosure: I am one) will find much that's familiar. There's a telling sentence referring you to "the link above," as well as a few copy editing errors. I stuck with five stars because this book is ground breaking in terms of the other literature out there. If you're NOT a fit, military trained survivalist, ready to grab your bug out bag and head to your bunker in Idaho when the world ends, and you want to know how to respond to disasters large and small, this is a great book to start.
The biggest impact I got out of "Making Home: Adapting Our Homes and our lives to settle in place".. Is community, caring for others and relating when we don't all agree. How to prepare for a significant eruption. How to live our lives as an example.... I think many already know a lot of what Sharon Astyk writes, she encourages us to take her warning to heart and be prepared at home.
I especially like the part where she talks about "backup systems" being too expensive for a lot of poor people, unless the "backup" becomes the everyday way of doing things and produces a savings on routine expenses. That is practical and real. Canning would be far too expensive for us if we just purchased the equipment then watched it collect dust while continuing to pay the same for groceries. Instead, we saved up for a pressure canner and now can beans, which are very low cost purchased by the sack. We didn't get that volume discount before because we had no good way to store 13 pounds of pintos, nor did we have hours to let the pot simmer. Now we can beans, meat and vegetables when they are on sale and have "convenience" foods available for dinner that are more nutritious and shelf stable, as well as lower cost when using the reusable lids, than commercial canned food or frozen dinners. We had to pinch pennies to make the initial investment in canner, jars and lids, but now our grocery bill is lower. The equipment gets shared between friends; there are worse ways to spend a weekend than going out for low cost or free U-pick berries, then canning a year's worth of blackberry preserves in a massive 16-hour "jam session" with friends. Lowered grocery cost, increased nutrition, better social life. That is a solution that actually works.
I don't always mesh with Sharon Astyk's religious or philosophical views (which she doesn't go overboard with in the book) but in terms of supporting, encouraging and really helping lower or fixed income people live more sustainably, she gets it. This book is worth the purchase price, especially if you share it around. And I don't think the author would object to a few families getting together to purchase it, either. I am strongly tempted to buy another copy to donate to the library if they don't put it on their purchase list. I think it's that useful and important.