I’ve been having a tough time focusing this winter. Spring seems to be coming sooner than expected, we decided to take a variety of continuing education classes this year, and, as usual, we have to run the day-to-day activities of an active homestead, house, and homeschooling children. Fortunately our kids are willing workers which significantly decreases the workload required from us. To add to all of that, we continue our podcast, blogging, hosting workshops and farm tours, and are creating online courses. Some days I feel a little discombobulated to say the least. However, this week I believe we hit our stride. We are honing in on our most important goals and activities and “gettin’ stuff done”. At this point some of those activities are not visible to onlookers, and that’s okay, we see the progress, we feel the momentum, and that’s what’s really important. But how can we keep this momentum going when we reach our mental and physical threshold? How can we keep working on the days everything seems overwhelming? There is a simple answer that we believe many people (especially homesteading/preparedness-minded independent-thinking people) overlook – get involved in building and creating a strong community.
Community isn’t a new concept
Man has been working and living cooperatively since the beginning. They understood that there was increased safety, skills, and help within a group. Unfortunately, with the advent of industry & technology we have grown complacent. These things have allowed us to stay in our homes and communicate with others on a very shallow level. We are living in a time that undervalues genuine, deep friendships and the importance of human interaction is declining. The Amish (and other communities like them) have continued the tradition, valuing the reciprocity that accompanies shared lives and similar lifestyle choices. Like many old time skills, we believe this is something that needs to be brought back and practiced. It may start small, but imagine if just a handful of people in each community decided to make the time, take the risk, and dedicate their effort to reviving the lost art of “building community”.
Share successes AND failures
The other day we met with an amazing group of individuals who are also “getting stuff done”. These couples and families aren’t simply settling into their comfort zone and embracing mediocrity, they are accomplishing more, expecting more, aiming for more, and inspiring others to do the same. They inspire us. They push us to keep going even when it gets tough. These are people we can share our successes and failures with because they understand the struggle and encourage us with stories of how they overcame adversity. These are people who are a wealth of knowledge. Seriously, a wealth of knowledge. We have people who are foresters, experts on wild mushroom collecting, wool collection/wool products, spinning, guard dog trainers, market gardeners, chocolatiers (you bet I’ve offered my taste-testing skills- anything to help a friend), there are seed collectors, permaculturists, and the list goes on. What a privilege to be counted among them!
Because homesteading is challenging
This is the lesson today…build community because homesteading/farmsteading/entrepreneurship and life are challenging. Put a little effort into creating friendships and giving to others, not for what you can get out of it, but what you can put into it. Create genuine connections and be yourself. Don’t be afraid to share your struggles, dreams, projects, personal ambitions, and the obstacles you are facing. If you take the time and make the investment you will reap a harvest worth one hundred fold. Never think you have it all together or you know everything you need to know, there is always more to learn; a little humility goes a long way. Lastly, if someone has helped you give them thanks, praise them in public, be genuinely grateful and then look for ways you can return the kindness.
Community is a gift
The community we are building is a gift to us. The people that comprise our group are talented, kind, hard-working, risk-taking, pioneer-spirits. We enjoy them immensely and are grateful they have included us. It’s such a comfort knowing that we have people we can call if we need them and that they will call us if they’re in need. To know we don’t have to pretend to have it all together, but can be ourselves “warts and all”, who could ask for more? – Mon