While sipping tea the other day (a vice getting me through crises of faith), it dawned on me the dysfunctional relationship we have as a society with shelter. We humans have only a few basic needs for survival: food, water, air, shelter. And, like the locavore movement, farmer's markets, and a resurgence of interest in gardening and home food preservation are helping us heal our broken relationship with our food supply, we likewise need to heal our relationship with the making of shelter.
It wasn't all that long ago that shelter was built by the hands of the people who would live in it with the help of their neighbors, using materials close at hand. Now, it is downright rare to see people building their homes themselves. There are many reasons for this disconnection ranging from a dysfunctional system of land ownership to overly complex and opaque building codes to ill-advised, old-fashioned, and protectionist laws about zoning and building (naming just a few).
The complexity of the shelter problem easily overwhelms me. But, like so many really big and complex societal problems, this problem will only be solved one conscious decision at a time. When I envision the kind of world I want to leave for my son and grandchildren (if I'm so lucky to have them), I realize what a profound, value-laden, and radical step I'm taking by building this home.
Building this home is one of the hardest things I've ever done. I regularly costs me blood, sweat, tears, and, at times, my sanity.
But, I reaffirm my choice to do it consciously.
In keeping with my values.
For my family.
And, perhaps, in some small way, to heal my planet.
Because through what I do, I become.
What choices are you making that will change the world?