It takes a lifetime to learn how to live

I find myself already one month into 2013 and still mulling ideas usually attached to the calendar shift of a new year: new beginnings and fresh optimism for the future. So go ahead and call me a contrarian, but I need to pause for a moment and look back. Lets blame it on Janus, the Roman two headed god – always looking over one shoulder while moving into the future.

I have been thinking how often I hear conversations about  technology’s rapid progression- I personally wasn’t on a computer at home until 2007, that is late for a 40something- but the technology even in my household now far surpasses what was available just a decade ago for the cutting edge techies.

Even my Septuagenarian dad has an i-pad.

And then it strikes me as astounding how much we have forgotten.

We are all specialists now, we have learned to do some one thing very ,very well- and then we outsourced everything else.

We did it personally We have done it societally

So who makes your socks? And if they stopped, could you make them yourself? What about your shoes? Or a moisture cream to put on those dry hands when you come in from the garden where you are now growing your own produce?

Inspired by " the one Straw revolution" by M. Fukuoka I am  experimenting with composting bamboo leaves on the fresh harvested willow beds for weed suppression

Inspired by ” the one Straw revolution” by M. Fukuoka I am experimenting with composting bamboo leaves on the fresh harvested willow beds for weed suppression

From weaving and sewing the cloth on your back or blanket you want to snuggle up in at night to stay warm to building a good fire that will light well or making the wall that will give you shelter in a storm. These are life essentials for human survival and at some point we stopped teaching these skills to each other and our children and figured we could get a good job, and pay someone else to make all those things for us- we just needed a good education.

Now I think a good education is learning those skills that a 10 year old took for granted just a mere few hundred years ago. ( give me some leeway here- societal historic timelines are not my area- that is for another specialist)

So I am curious, what can you make? What would you like to know how to make for yourself? Your shoes? Your bike basket or your coffee cup perhaps? So here is the challenge- let me know what you want to learn how to make or do this year and I will keep posting as I work my way through my own list: many of these are things that are long term projects understand, not just a 2013 goal- so think big!

I am keen to re-embrace the notion of the jack (or jill) of all trades- the more skills we have in our community, the richer those communities become, and as I am learning- those skills can be traded like hard cold cash in your own community-  working with others that are also building their own tool kit of self know-how…

grandma always said a good education would take you far, and was the lightest thing you could possibly pack.


on some level JD knows the smelly bag of fur in the room is competition for my time- the new coat should be done for winter 2015….

I am working on socks, shoes, sorting the fleece that will be a new winter coat, I will be participating in growing flax and processing it into linen, and this spring will be planting my second summer veggie crop- knowing I would starve if I had to live on what I will grow!

Making hazelwood wattles, learning a bit about tree grafting and pushing my knowledge of natural dyes are also things on the slate for this year ahead and I feel privileged to be able to work out of both the Urban Weaver Studio and the Means Of  Production garden, the sites of much of these exchanges.

Volunteers at MOP garden  this past month assisting with bringing in the willow crops and learning about coppicing and  pollarding

Volunteers at MOP garden this past month assisting with bringing in the willow crops and learning about coppicing and pollarding

What has amazed me is how willing people are to sharing what they know; when you offer to share what you know. So why not start to think about the new skills you would like to acquire and maybe about what you know and can share- and see if you can find people in your own community to share with?

So I hereby declare 2013 the year of a Good Education!

Build your community; share what you know, ask others for help.

Wishing us all a great year of learning.

2 responses to “It takes a lifetime to learn how to live

  1. I would like to learn how to build a stone archway that will stay up! I’ve tried it in a casual way over the years but maybe this is the year to really learn.

    Flax too!

  2. Your grandma was a wise woman. I wonder how we will manage when it’s no longer possible (coming in your lifetime Milennials!) to use oil to send the fibre for a T shirt twice round the globe before sale, in search of the cheapest possible workers, the lowest possible safety standards, and the least restrictive pesticide regulations. Sure, we’ll have less clothes and most of them will be old, but our world will be a better place.

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