Thanks to Sarah and her strong recommendation, I've been reading a book that has provoked a great deal of thought and consideration the past few days. I've been reading Radical Homemakers, Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture. I can't say enough good things about this book. I don't agree with everything the author says, but it has sparked a fire in me, both encouraging me in the the efforts I'm already making and motivating me to be more mindful of what else I can do to live a life that shows,
1. Respect and care for the community of life
2. Ecological integrity
3. Social and economic justice
4. Democracy, non-violence, and peace
This is not a book that says that every woman must be a homemaker. Whether working inside the home or outside, it offers the four guidelines above as a "governing force for a life-serving economy". It is a book that asserts the value and necessity of those (men or women) who do follow this path. The book is primarily about the necessity of more people doing what it takes to create households that are not so dependent on an unsustainable consumer economy, households that produce something rather than merely consume. And the reality is, that for society to live in a more sustainable way, there is a need for those who can do more for their households- such as making home cooked meals from local foods and reclaiming other lost skills that allow independence from a consumer economy.
At the beginning of the book, I often found myself agreeing with the author but also bristling at my perception of an idea, that for me to be a "radical homemaker", I needed to move to the country, grow my own food (and preserve it), raise chickens,etc... I find that kind of life quite beautiful and admirable, but it's not for me....and it's most certainly not for my husband. We dream of moving out of the suburbs and into a more urban living situation, not to the country. But as I read more, I became more excited about how our dream could actually fit very well within those four tenets of sustainable living. Moving to a more urban setting would allow us to use our car much less (if at all). We would also be living in smaller quarters, requiring us to be more mindful about consumption. If I wanted to garden, I could get a plot in a community garden. Locally owned business (vs. chains) are in abundance in the city and so are farmer's markets. The opportunities for community involvement in the city are so exciting to me. There are perks to both country and city living, but done mindfully, I think that both offer ample opportunity to live according to those four tenets. I'm sure that with some creativity and the desire, so does suburban living. I'll do my best while I'm here. But for me, it's not something I want long term. The amount of time that I currently spend in my car as a suburban mom is not sustainable, not for the planet or for my personal satisfaction.
It might take a few years. My daughter starts high school in a little more than a year. We told her she could go to public high school- and a promise is a promise. Unfortunately, the lack of good public high schools downtown will probably keep us in the suburbs until either she changes her mind, she graduates, or we're able to afford a private high school. We'll see what happens.