By Rebecca Kneale Gould
Prompted variously by means of the will to reject consumerism, to reside towards the earth, to include voluntary simplicity, or to find a extra non secular direction, homesteaders have made the unconventional determination to head "back to the land," rejecting sleek tradition and facilities to dwell self-sufficiently and in concord with nature. Drawing from brilliant firsthand money owed in addition to from wealthy historic fabric, this gracefully written examine of homesteading in the US from the past due 19th century to the current examines the lives and ideology of these who've ascribed to the homesteading philosophy, putting their studies in the broader context of the altering meanings of nature and faith in glossy American culture.
Rebecca Kneale Gould investigates the lives of well-known figures equivalent to Henry David Thoreau, John Burroughs, Ralph Borsodi, Wendell Berry, and Helen and Scott Nearing, and she or he provides penetrating interviews with many modern homesteaders. She additionally considers homesteading as a kind of dissent from shopper tradition, as a departure from conventional spiritual lifestyles, and as a convention of environmental ethics.
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Additional resources for At Home in Nature: Modern Homesteading and Spiritual Practice in America
For Arnold Greenberg, providing locally harvested food, giving performers an audience, and providing a community (particularly in seasons other than summer) with a place to eat, meet, warm up, and find evening entertainment are all part of a larger social vision. That vision is one that places faith in individual capabilities, local economics, and community cooperation. As Greenberg puts in a recently selfpublished book: “In suggesting homesteading—either rural, urban or suburban—as a way of life, that is, creating a more home-centered existence, working in your home, educating your children at home .
Robin agrees while offering her own details of what placing home at the center means, commenting particularly on her commitment to food production at all levels, gardening, preserving, and cooking. 2 Raising the children at home is also an important priority for both Dale and Robin, although they are also committed to keeping their children involved in local groups so that Sally and Alden will be exposed to other children and to opportunities to learn off the homestead. While they do not speak harshly of the public school system in academic terms, they are quite concerned about the socialization processes that peer pressure can foster: bullying, cliques, and the desire for unnecessary things.
Rather, I seek to illuminate the complexity and contradictions of religious and cultural action. Homesteaders were and are passionate about what they do, but they are also ambivalent. Ambivalence toward nature is a dominant theme in American environmental history. Not surprisingly, it is also a significant theme of this book. Throughout this text, the lives of Helen and Scott Nearing serve as a touchstone. It is through the Nearings’ books that I first encountered “modern” homesteading, and it is through living at Forest Farm that I experienced the details of homesteading life through my own labors.