The Radical Homemaker – Warning: Blending authenticity with joy may arouse contempt.
Wasting Girls' Time by Dena Attar Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes Radical homemaking is what happens when Your Money or Your Life meets. So says Shannon Hayes, the author of "Radical Homemakers," who chose domesticity over a university teaching career in upstate New York. I would become the radical homemaker. I thought it was just a sensible Shannon Hayes, The Radical Homemaker You can still eat good meat. This book.
Over time, industrialization supplied most of the products that, earlier, the household would have made by hand. And, domesticity became another cog in the consumer wheel.
You know the rest of the story. Over time, a second family income was no longer an option. It was a necessity. So, women left the households, too.
There was nobody home. And, homes morphed into houses — filled with consumer goods. Gone were the men and women of yesteryear who had generated genuine self-determination in their households. Gone was the sense of pride in bread well-baked; meaning in a sonata well-played; sustenance in a hog well-dressed; or confidence in an herbal medical tincture well-made.
Everything became purchased, not produced.
Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture
And, in more recent years, the quality of those purchased commodities declined, as well. But, I think that most American couples have come to see this as the exception, rather than the norm, unless they are committed for some reason to not believing it. What have you found are special factors that radical homemakers must consider in an urban setting?
We rural homemakers have it a lot easier. Many of us living out in the country have family and community traditional knowledge to draw from for support. This way of life also doesn't bear the stigma that "homemaking" in the city does.Shannon Hayes Acting Reel
Lots of rural folks get by using subsistence living skills. Nance, Kelly and Eric had to rediscover and reinvent technologies and methodologies for working in their unique urban ecosystems. They also have a culture around them that may not support or understand their values although I hope that is rapidly changing.
They must deal with ridiculous city ordinances that keep people dependent on a consumer culture, such as codes that forbid keeping poultry. That said, I think that this is where things are really exciting. Radical Homemakers in urban areas are coming up with phenomenal innovations, and are doing tremendous work to increase the sustainability of urban landscapes, without requiring that they over-tax the surrounding rural areas.
They also must be teachers, writers and spokespeople, active agents of change in our culture, helping urban folks to understand that soil is not dirty, that we all bear some responsibility for supplying some of our own sustenance, without relying on simply the dollar to buy everything.
What has feedback from readers been like? It has been from rural, urban and suburban folks, and it has come from all over the world. I am surprised by how many people have been living this life for a long time, guided by their ideals, but have felt ashamed or somewhat invisible in this culture, because they didn't bear a "job label" that enabled them to be counted and seen as contributing members of their society. From those folks, I receive a lot of thank yous. I get letters from couples who have used the book as a way to talk about their lifestyles and true sources of happiness, and as a starting point for changing their household dynamics.
Homemaking, like eating organic foods, seemed a luxury to be enjoyed only by those wives whose husbands garnered substantial earnings, enabling them to drive their children to school rather than put them on a bus, enroll them in endless enrichment activities, oversee their educational careers, and prepare them for entry into elite colleges in order to win a leg-up in a competitive workforce.
They cooked, cleaned, toiled, served and remained silent and powerless.
My husband and I fell into neither category, and I suspected there were more like us. Backyard chickens in downtown L. Shannon Hayes found that "radical homemaking" is transcending urban-rural divides.
I received hundreds of letters from rural, suburban, and city folks alike. Some ascribed to specific religious faiths, others did not. As long as the home showed no signs of domination or oppression, I was interested in learning more about them.
Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture by Shannon Hayes
I selected twenty households from my pile, plotted them on a map across the United States, and set about visiting each of them to see what homemaking could look like when men and women shared both power and responsibility. I spent time in families with and without children. By making use of locally available resources, they made the boycotts leading up to the American Revolution possible. They played a critical role in the foundational civic education required to launch a young democratic nation.
They were driving forces behind both the abolition and suffrage movements. Homemakers today could have a similar influence.
The Radical Homemakers I interviewed had chosen to make family, community, social justice, and the health of the planet the governing principles of their lives. They rejected any form of labor or the expenditure of any resource that did not honor these tenets. Preserving food at home lets "radical homemakers" eat local, organic food year-round—even on limited budgets. While all the families had some form of income that entered their lives, they were not a privileged set by any means.
Meet the Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes — YES! Magazine
Most of the families I interviewed were living with a sense of abundance at about percent of the federal poverty level. Some lived on considerably less, few had appreciably more.
Not surprisingly, those with the lowest incomes had mastered the most domestic skills and had developed the most innovative approaches to living. Each home was the center for social change, the starting point from which a better life would ripple out for everyone. As for domestic skills, the range of talents held by these households was as varied as the day is long. Many kept gardens, but not all.