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Fellow Toilers in the Field: DIY Educators

April 13, 2016

I recently visited family in LA. We have a friend there, Leyna Lightman, who is car-free and bikes around town in her sparkly gold helmet, teaching classes, working in gardens and bakeries, and helping people get together. She's a rockstar of DIY action!

So she immediately helped me find fun things to do and then told me about two other projects where people are doing things right along the lines of OYB. I checked them out. They're awesome! They are polished and pro and are really helping promote the local-style DIY way of life. Check 'em out!

www.rootsimple.com/ -- Yep, chickens, bees, bread-making, urban farming, biking -- right in downtown LA! They write books and teach classes.

kingsroost.com/ -- A DIY supplies shop in LA! Well, in the cool neighborhood of Silver Lake. Brewing, baking, pickling, bees -- classes, too.

Erik Knutzen from Root Simple also has a podcast about DIY lifestyles. He and I just recorded a Skype-chat yesterday for an upcoming podcast. I hope it turns out OK! Afterward all I do is think of the big things I forgot or the goofy things I emphasized. Oh well! We'll see! : )

It's so heartening to find folks out there pushing similar agendas. Share the lore, keep it alive, help people get more hands-on and out in the fresh-air. Doesn't every city and county need a few such projects? Sure, there are a lot out there but it's always fun encountering them. Especially when they're done well and are making a difference!

I recently had a friend say her goal was to someday get off the grid. We didn't discuss it any further but my imagining of that lifestyle is that it tends to be rural, and need a lot of high-tech. ...And to involve a TON of car driving. Basically, the opposite of walkability. Rural is cool and all but my friends and I have in recent years been thinking more long-term. We're getting older, of course! So what's a good way to live that you can do for your WHOLE life? What works as good for 20 as for 80? Neither a lot of driving nor a lot of stairs might be so hot. Having social life and services nearby, within a couple blocks -- what's not to love? City life has advantages. ...And downsides. Trying to crack the nut of getting the best of both is a nifty challenge. Cities that cherish greenspace, parks, waterways, and the preservation of wild areas within the city seem like a way to go.

Efforts like Root Simple and King's Roost show how self-sustainability can be achieved downtown!

The idea of subsistence within a city isn't so far-fetched after all. You don't need much space for urban-farming or neighborhood gardens. Eggs, honey, gardening, baking, raising meat-fish: all can readily be done in town.

These projects show that it's not so hard after all.

In recent years I've encountered quite a few CSA farmers. Their efforts can seem intimidating and youth-oriented. They're so tan, dirty and tired! : ) But, really, sustainability projects don't have to be exhausting. Sure, if it's the only thing you do and you're working acres to provide for a hundred people it's going to be a whole job and then some. But just adding a few DIY features to your own space is both fun and not a big deal. ...These folks show you how.

It's also interesting to me that this lifestyle has layers of heritage. It seems fresh to this generation because it seems to have been dropped for awhile. But "back to earth" was a huge theme of the 60's and 70's. And, of course, before the era of Baby Boom suburbia, it was how all rural folk lived. That would be my parents' generation: and to many of them it was a sign of poverty. Others of their generation kept parts of it, though, even as they moved closer to town, since parts of it reminded them of rural freedom more than drudgery, and it often tasted good!

Some parts of "roots living" have always been in our cities thanks to immigrants. America represented the New, Growth and Opportunity -- mostly via factories. ...But many new peoples didn't want to lose touch with Quality or Life itself along the way and kept their home-made food and other traditions by baking, pickling, growing things in sideyards and on balconies, etc.

It's good to keep all this in mind as we make these efforts to have fun, save money, get more quality, and live sustainably.

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