Although I run an “urban” homesteading group at the moment (this one), I must confess that we have purchased a small farm in rural Virginia to which we plan on moving at some point in the not-so-distant future.
One of the first questions we get when people learn about this is “why“? Those not into self-sufficiency or simple living wonder why we’d want to give up all of the conveniences of city-living, and those who are sympathetic to that topic wonder why we’d bail out on the “urban” homesteading movement and move out to the country. After all, isn’t the point of the urban homesteading movement that we can live more simple lifestyles, eat healthier, local food and do everything a farmer can do from our own urban and suburban backyards?
It isn’t exactly that simple. Yes, urban homesteading is possible, and growing more of your own food in the city is possible – as so many people (such as this family, these folks, and this woman…) have shown us – but we still go to the store and realize that out of the hundred or more people shopping there we don’t know a single one. We share a wall with neighbors who don’t know our names and go out of their way to pretend they don’t see us in the yard so they won’t have to talk to us. We still live in a city of millions and feel like we’re surrounded by strangers.
Does community exist in the city? Certainly! But people really have to work at it. Community exists in the countryside whether you want it or not. When you go into town for something you can bet that you’ll see several people you know. When you go out to get the mail you can bet the neighbor will wave (if they’re out and you’re on good terms). Just within two days on the property while getting the caretaker set up I met at least a half-dozen neighbors. They would stop by, chat about the history of our farm, tell us what the area was like, give us their names and phone numbers in case we needed anything… We’ve been in this duplex in the Highlands area of Denver for about six months and I still don’t know a single neighbor’s name, let alone phone number. Is that our neighbors’ fault? No. I guess we haven’t gone out of our way to get to know them either. That’s just the way it is in the city.
Have you ever felt like belonging somewhere? Have you ever felt like you needed a place to call “home” even if you weren’t born there? Have you ever felt like being part of a real community, along with all of the good and bad that accompany such a thing?
We do. When we make our move I’m sure the first thing everyone there is going to ask will be some variation of “So what brings you to Hillsville,” or “Why did you move away from the city“. I’ve been pondering my answer to this for some time because it is an important question that I need answered for myself. After having gone over everything from politics to self-sufficiency to economics… Out of the myriad reasons I could give I think the one that will end up coming out of my mouth is: “The more people around you the less friends you have“.