"With industrialization has come a general depreciation of work. As the price of work has gone up, the value of it has gone down, until it is now so depressed that people simply do not want to do it anymore." - Wendell Berry, Bringing It To The Table (p.35)
When we view our homes as centers of active production, instead of places of passive consumption, we gain an entirely different perspective on the value and meaning of work.
The important work of home includes cooking nourishing meals from scratch with well-sourced ingredients, baking a loaf of bread to satisfy those seemingly bottomless little bellies, healing sick children with time-honored home remedies and rest, tending to the daily needs of active, growing babes.
The valuable work of home involves opening up a manual with a six-year-old and an almost two-year-old to fix a pesky toilet with Daddy, and spotting the priceless look in a big brother's eyes when he reads the instructions and realizes exactly how the plumbing system operates.
The work of home consists of the daily endeavor to determine what we can make instead of buy, what we can upcycle instead of recycle, what we can insource rather than outsource. The work of home means finding ways to produce more of our own food, fuel, and clothing and better manage our energy and waste. It means creating, not purchasing, our own entertainment and fun, and being together as a family more than apart.
The work of home is all about becoming more self-reliant and less dependent on money and factories and a pervasive consumer culture.
The work of home means rejecting industrial values and reconnecting with the simple values of home, family, and community that sustained generations.
In the new Winter issue of Mother Earth News, the editor's note states:
"For decades, our culture has moved further and further away from a hands-on, do-it-yourself approach to daily life. Our food comes from the grocery store or the nearest fast-food outlet, furniture arrives in boxes with a few hex wrenches and instructions for 'easy' assembly, and cars are so computerized that only trained mechanics dare try to maintain them. Important practices, such as baking bread, preserving food, raising animals and chopping wood to warm our homes are being lost. We've come to rely on mega-corporations for everything from our daily bread to the drugs that treat conditions we didn't even know we had."
For my husband and me, with so much of our lifetimes spent preparing for and participating in a consumption-based economy, learning the increasingly rare skills of home production and do-it-yourself-ness is an important calling. We are frequently dismayed at how far removed we are from the basic elements of human life, how little we know about providing our own food, fiber and fuel. In the weeks to come, we will be taking bigger steps to increase our self-reliance and boost our home production.
There is so much good work to do at home, so much value in producing for our families and striving to live more sustainably and self-sufficiently. We should all take tremendous pride in the important work of home.