Monday, October 27, 2008

The Cost of Living Today

October 27th 2019

We aren't off the grid. If we could afford to be we would, but we just don't have the kind of money needed to get totally set up. We have a wind generator on the back of the property, solar collectors on the roof. We heat with wood (expensive!), we wear a lot of sweaters and everyone bunks up with someone else. We built bedstees in the kid's rooms so they can conserve heat at night without having to share the same bed - an issue for Nature Chick as the only girl, and Darkmirror who needs his space). Our electricity here is stupid, it's still 90% coal derived. I feel guilty turning on the lights in the morning. We channel all our self produced electricity into the kitchen and the water pump. We live in a 250 year old house, building new and energy efficient runs about 350.00 a square foot, where would we get that kind of money?

I wish they'd get the tidal generators in place, but no one in power yet feels that the benefits outweigh the costs.

We've been buying our coffee sugar tea and chocolate fair trade for 12 years now (it would be embarrassing to stop now so we just ration it out) They are real luxuries and I'm not getting them cheaper off the enslavement of others.

I sometimes look longingly at cheaper chocolate, but I haven't bought it. Papa Pan and I have some friction about this, he is a coffee junkie. He knows it's a weakness, but he hasn't gone back on hias values despite ranting about the cost.

I don't have a lot of earning capacity so it makes a lot more sense for me to homestead and keep our outgoing food costs as low as possible. I have more buying power as a trader too.

My mum and Papa Pan may never be able to really retire though. We always hoped my toymaking could carry them into retirement but despite the environmental costs, the cost of living is so high people would still rather buy plastic crap toys made in sweatshops than buy a sustainably made doll or toy from me. They want to give their kid's things at birthdays. Like they got, so when it comes down to it buying gas and electric matters more than buying toys. They'll still buy toys, but my toys cost more than buying a hunk of plastic does, so they don't. I still feel natural toys are important so I still give my toymaking workshops and have a big basket of FREE toys at my stall (smooth beach stones, pinecones, conkers, driftwood dragons etc) but if business doesn't pick up it might be coffee on Sunday's only. The fair trade dealers are feeling the same pinch. It all cascades doesn't it? The same people who cheered Walmart coming to the Valley now bemoan it going belly up because in it's wake it left them without any other options. They haven't suddenly become our customers. I think they're too angry at the change in their buying power to see past the price tag. It's strange to have people get angry at me when I explain that a cloth waldorf doll takes me 12 hours to make and I really can't sell it for 25.00 like a mass produced plastic doll. I'm trying to have inexpensive toys in my inventory too but they're used to getting little plastic toys thrown at them free in Happy Meals so they can't conceptualize that the little apple wood animals they're holding were handcarved by me and 5.00 is really a steal!

The anger I see in people right now is the hardest thing about the times. They look like they might shatter. The best I can do is share the skills I have. We can't all be self sufficient but we can all learn more skills to help us do the things we need to do to get by, to fill our stomachs and our hearts. If we get together to share these things, yes yes in groups of 12 or less if you're in a ReDS zone! We create community. It's community that helps with the rest.

I remember years ago, stepping out my front door one evening (we still lived in Wolfville at the time) and being dazzled by the stars overhead. I knew then I never ever wanted to live anywhere where I couldn't see the stars. That same week I was at the Market and realized I could never live anywhere where I didn't know the names of the people I did business with. It was a great and empowering feeling knowing I could live in that kind of community.

My hope is that everyone can have the same kind of realization. I wouldn't trade those *relationships* for a chocolate bar. I have faith we'll all get there.

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