Cool Dad and I had a great conversation on our way home from the Old Sturbridge Village outdoor museum yesterday about urban homesteading, which is doing things the old-fashioned way and living simply. My fascination with this idea has increased since moving to NYC and learning to live in a small space without many modern conveniences. Heck, before we moved here I didn’t even know how to warm up leftovers on the stove without a microwave! We’re certainly not roughing it by any means, but after doing laundry, dishes, and all family haircuts personally by hand, I feel I can relate just a little bit to those 18th century New Englanders we learned about at OSV.
If it weren’t for Cool Dad, I’d probably be living in a tiny house lit by candle chandeliers, wearing a little brown dress, and living off of avocados and coconuts from my backyard. (Notice none of these are strenuous outdoor activities.) Okay, and maybe I’d have the internet too. Overall, the self-sufficiency of the early settlers is inspiring!
Meanwhile, my husband would much rather be composing a song or a story than cranking the handle of our Wonderwash. He also says he’d rather our kids do something creative instead of helping me do household tasks the time-consuming way (but think about the moral lessons they’d be learning about hard work!). According to CD, God has extended his grace to people through the invention of electric washers and dryers! By accepting this invention, CD says we can have more time for creative pursuits like music and art.
With the extra free time, I speculated that modern conveniences could also give us more time to serve people in our community. Instead of hours spent doing things myself, I could be (theoretically) doing something that helps our neighbors. But then again, the conveniences of factory-produced goods come at a cost–factory workers are often treated poorly, the environment suffers, and consumers have to pay financially and physically for over-processed food that endangers their health.
Perhaps modern homesteaders can serve their communities by making products for their neighbors so that it’s not just about serving themselves? Just like they did in the old days!
And maybe we can all be partial homesteaders in the realms of life that are particularly meaningful to us? In that case, we WONDER if we should retire the Wonderwash (hehe, couldn’t resist). My passion for healthy and real food is much stronger than my passion for clean laundry. My form of homesteading should probably be something like homeschooling and making healthy snacks for my family and our neighbors while Cool Dad does his literary and musical homesteading to change the world. Get out that quill and ink, CD!
What do you think? Is homesteading in modern times mostly about oneself, or can it be used for the common good? And the big question–would a bit of urban homesteading chores make Cool Baby and Cool Newbie more cool or less cool as adults?