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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.
Astyk does not spend a lot of time in Making Home convincing us of the realities of Peak Oil, or that change, and perhaps even collapse, is going to come to our society sooner rather than later. Instead, she works on the assumption that the reader already has some knowledge of this, and is looking for ideas on what to do to get through whatever the future holds. After a brief first chapter discussing the inevitability of change, she gets down to the nitty gritty of planning and preparing for a future without many of the conveniences that many of us hold to be necessities, like electricity and flush toilets.
Astyk understands the need for people to make fundamental changes in their lives in order to adapt and be content in the places in which they choose to live. Making Home goes deeper than actions such as buying a certain type of light bulb or a hybrid car. Indeed, it settles into the very core and essence of our existence, an existence in which we must learn to celebrate simplicity and learn to live without many of the extras we take for granted. Instead of looking for different ways to do all of the things we are now capable of doing, we must instead question why we do those things and, in many cases, choose to not do them at all. An example of this is in her discussion of heating. Instead of coming up with an elaborate alternative energy scheme that makes it possible for every room in one's house to be 80 degrees all winter long, Astyk tells us that we have to learn to think of cold and heat differently, focusing instead on wearing layered clothing, drinking warm beverages, rising and sleeping with the sun, and utilizing localized heating in rooms as necessary.
In Making Home I find a kindred spirit. In Astyk's descriptions of the ways her family has already made so many changes and are living happy and fulfilled lives on their small farm, I see many of the same adaptations we made when we lived in a mountain village in Yemen with no power or running water. I once explained to someone that it was like cutting the static out of our lives so we could really live, really experience the world in a more immediate manner. Since returning to the States we have striven to retain and continue to practice what we learned there in as many ways as are possible, so that our family of nine has a carbon footprint that is less than that of most American couples. It is a conscious choice to do what is right for ourselves as individuals, as a family, and as a part of a larger community and society as a whole.
Making Home is full of practical, sound advice on how to live a better life and weather whatever storms the future may hold. Don't panic. Buy this book, take it to heart, and get to work making positive changes in your life--now.
by Khadijah Lacina
for Story Circle Book Reviews
reviewing books by, for, and about women
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.