Jane Dwinell: Homesteading & Deep Adaptation

Jane Dwinell is a fountain of wisdom about living independently, in harmony with nature. She has been living off the grid – and acquiring the skills required for successful homesteading – since the 1970s.

“I liked the idea of living close to the Earth, and being self-reliant, raising food, living in time with the seasons and the sun – being in relationship with the natural world all the time, not as a vacation but as part of who I was,” she says.

Being in relationship with nature does not mean being divorced from the world of human affairs. Jane spent time in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, helping to rebuild the city. She worked on the Greek island of Lesvos, helping Syrian refugees. She has worked as a nurse, tending to the newly born and to the dying. She is an ordained minister in the Unitarian Universalist Church, where she gives sermons about adapting to climate change.

Since 2004, Jane and her husband have lived in small cities. They have built eight houses together, over the years, including the 700-square-foot house they live in now. Almost all their food comes from garden beds and fruit trees in the small back yard, except for carrots and onions, which Jane buys at the local co-op.

Jane wrote a book – Freedom Through Frugality: Spend Less, Have More, which she says is really about reducing your ecological footprint. She writes a blog, with her husband who has Alzheimer’s disease, about the experience of having the disease and coping with it – Alzheimer’s Canyon.

Currently, Jane is a moderator of three Facebook groups in the Deep Adaptation universe: Positive Deep Adaptation, Practical Deep Adaptation, and Deep Adaptation Parenting. Quietly and powerfully, she adds substance to the discussions, based on her life experience and collected knowledge.

In this interview, Jane shares some choice words about the realities of homesteading and the need for living in community.

Ben Zolno & Alina Huff: Deep Adaptation and “Ok, boomer!”

When I first saw the phrase “Ok, boomer!” pop up on the Positive Deep Adaptation Facebook group, I admit I was offended. I felt like I was being blamed for something I didn’t do, and that my entire life experience was being dismissed with a snarky epithet.

As a moderator of the group, I concluded that to call someone a “boomer” like that was an insult, and thus forbidden by the rules. I ended comments on the thread, and muted the writer for a day. (Spoiler: That didn’t solve the problem!)

It was Ben Zolno who contacted me privately to say he was leaving the group, with this message:

“No one is putting responsibility on a single age cohort. That’s your emotions fogging you. The post was saying that kids see a huge portion of it is on the boomer generation. That’s just factually true. And they’re in pain, and the response of this group was, ‘Shut up, you’re hurting my ears,’ and it was rewarded.”

My eyes were opened! “Ok, boomer” is not rational statement (or not only so), it is an emotional expression. The question is not: How can we older people justify our actions in the face of sarcastic criticism? The question is: How can we, as compassionate elders, respond with empathy to this expression of pain and suffering from our younger kindred spirits?

I felt the need to learn more about how younger people actually think and feel about the catastrophe we face, and about how the Deep Adaptation group is handling it. This interview with Ben Zolno and his partner Alina Huff is my first attempt to begin that conversation.

(Further spoiler: Ben rejoined the group!)


If you have something to say about “Ok, boomer” and the generational divide – especially if you are a younger person – please contact me by email.

John Clarke: Deep Adaptation and Indigenous Community

John Clarke is an environmental activist, social worker, and philosopher who works with the indigenous Amadiba people of the Wild Coast, in South Africa. That community is fighting to sustain their ancestral lands against the threat of mining and exploitation by a foreign company.

John describes his lifelong growth into “environmental consciousness,” which he calls a pilgrimage and “a return from ecological exile.” From an awakening to the environment as a 17-year old visitor to a nature preserve, to activism against apartheid South Africa, to his current work helping defend the Amadiba people, John’s life has blended two threads: “an environmental ethos, and peace activism.”

In his work with the Amadiba, John has been taught their ancient wisdom, recognizing the latent life energy that exists in the land. He has learned that “inclusivety” is the primary virtue, and that social networking is the only way to achieve victories in the effort to protect the land and the people.

Ultimately, John says, the necessary struggle is to expand human consciousness. “The opportunity inherent in this climate collapse is for the emergence of a more compassionate, loving, inclusive, and healing consciousness.” And we cannot heal alone, he says, which is why communities-of-interest like Deep Adaptation are vitally important.


References:

  • A TV news story about the Amadiba people’s struggle against foreign mining, and the price they have paid, in violence.
  • Sustaining the Wild Coast: The South African non-profit created by the Amadiba people to protect their ancestral lands.