Some solutions take us years to find, then just seem obvious. We may be painfully slow to see how we can change the way we live for a better world, but we’ve got one thing going for us. Humans love to learn. We’re born collaborators, and when we share our discoveries widely we multiply our intelligence collectively.
After a good few years of experimentation and failure, we finally sorted out an intelligent spot to stack a barrow of firewood in easy reach of the wood stove. It sounds like a paltry thing, but really dry wood for easy clean-burning fires enables us to live differently.
The peg rail above draws on traditional designs that I could easily build with my own hands. It was one of our first projects. Pegs for all the coming and going, twice-daily chore-times, the overalls and aprons, egg baskets, market baskets, wool coats and rainpants, they are the stuff of a self-reliant life.
They enable our car-free bicycling, low-waste shopping, chicken-and-duck-keeping. They ease the flow of getting out the door to milk the goats, prune the orchard, tip the compost, tend the kitchen gardens.
We learned from friends about compost toilets and grey-water systems, so we had these installed within months of moving in. They’ve saved over a third of the water we might’ve used year on year.
We read stories of folks living primarily by bicycle – if perhaps not on a tiny farm – so when the design of a passenger electric bike allowed us to, we gave up our private car. Three years on, electric bikes are ubiquitous.
I came across a story, a dozen years ago, of a new yorker who determined not to produce any garbage. It inspired our efforts ever since.
Stories, shared knowledge, this is what we’re best at, humans. We can learn from others and create rapid change. We need this now.
In the face of ecological crisis, it doesn’t matter about my front entrance, no. But all of us lucky enough to have a front door, we live each day in impactful ways. We can share knowledge to shift into attunement with a living, thriving earth. Our designs, habits, actions, our stories matter when we share and learn from each other.
My new series of films, the journal of small work* is concerned with just that. Join the list to hear when the next journal* is out. This letter is one of many that informed this new project that looks at building a continuously improving, compounding repertoire of ways to live regeneratively. subscribe to the letters to support new writing on possible futures.