Tag Archives: old-fashioned skills

The Great Unwashed

After a few weeks of writers block, I’m back!

If you’re  one of the few that have been following then you would have read a previous post where I mentioned that I’d seen a the noticeable shift and interest in self-reliance particularly within the urban environment. The number of reasons why people are turning to self-reliance is probably as variable as the number of self-reliant activities one can pursue and whether your reasons are financial, or relate to concern about a potential global crisis, or because you want to live a more simple, stressless life or simply out of necessity, it doesn’t really matter.

In the context of opting for self elected change, self-reliance is not just about growing your own food or financial independence. There’s a whole stack of other things you can do to increase your ability to be self-reliant including utilising a range of simple old fashioned homemaking skills like sewing, mending, budgeting, cooking and do-it-yourself projects. No matter what your reasons, any positive change you make will be strangely satisfying and the more you’re able to learn and do yourself, the more potential you’ll have for true self-reliance.

Now I want you to come with me for a minute while I step back to the post war industrial boom. It was a time when Australian families usually had one income earner and families back then were large by todays standards. Out of necessity there was always a homemaker who exercised a full range of skills to provide for the family, skills that were passed on through generations.

Then came the ’60′s with the miracle of economic growth that was supposed to make us all better off and aspire to free ourselves from domestic drudgery. A sign of affluence and progress and ‘getting somewhere’ was to have the economic freedom to be able to purchase things and it was after the economic revolution of the ’60s when those homemaker traditions largely came to a standstill.

Growing up in one of those typical families in the 60′s I was lucky to inherit a personality that made me take an interest in my mum’s homemaking skills. She taught me to knit when I was six and sew not long after and I was always interested in helping with the cooking when there was time. I also liked hanging out with Dad and dabbled in a bit of gardening, raked, swept and mowed the lawn and through osmosis I learnt to recycle bottles and papers, to not waste food, to accept what was given and available, to play outside and enjoy a simple life.

Even though those skills have stayed with me, I never aspired to be a full time homemaker and economic independence was much more enticing in the late 70′s. So off I went to work and rolled along with the masses and never gave a second thought to blissful consumerism.

Although I’ve never really been into ‘stuff’ I have my fair share of accumulated crap, some of which I find difficult to let go of but the members of our household have collectively decided to reduce the amount of stuff we have and more importantly will buy in the future. We’re also taking the time to scrutinise other things in our lives and have decided to grow food, reduce our overall spending, better utilise precious resources, reinvigorate those dormant homemaking skills and share our experiences with whoever will listen.

I follow a stack of favourite like-minded bloggers who are also taking the opportunity to tell their stories. It’s inspiring to see their ideas and to be reminded of how those simple good old-fashioned skills are very relevant if we want to make a difference to our lives and for those who are driven by future scenarios, help prepare for potential crisis.

The Greening of Gavin is a renowned convert and is one of my favourites. He’s just a ‘normal’ guy sharing his passion, stories and ideas with others which are mostly like-minded people. The quandary is not how to encourage the converted, but how on earth we get the ‘great unwashed’ to start thinking about changing theirs too. And while I’ve always operated on the principle of  ‘do what you can’ how do we make the bridge or connection with the vast numbers doing absolutely nothing.

The recent public outcry over the Carbon Tax legislation is ample demonstration that a large percentage of the population aren’t there yet and sadly may never be. So looking beyond that, perhaps the only way to make a real difference is through generational change, through our kids, through the education system and by way of demonstration at home. Perhaps by going direct to those that stand to inherit the earth as we leave it, to skill them up, to teach them how to live simple lives and why it is important is the only real way of  better preparing them for what may lie ahead.

In the meantime, keep on blogging and networking. Tell your stories and impart your invaluable knowledge and skills to whoever may listen. We may have lost some of the traditions passed on through the generations but I want to believe it will never be too late to claw them back.

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Here’s a links to just a few of the many local blogs about people thinking, caring, changing, shifting and sharing ideas:

Simple Green Frugal Co-opThe Greening of GavinThe Witches KitchenHappy Earth; Deep Green PermacultureZucchini IslandDown to EarthUnder the Choko TreePurple Pear OrganicsPermaculture PathwaysConsumption RebellionJust Like My Nan Made