Dreams of living off-the-grid.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I'm a part of this culture, no doubt about it.  I'm in it, enjoying the luxuries it affords me, its conveniences: checking my e-mail on the go from my phone, driving a little over three minutes to the nearest grocery store, tuning into my favorite show on TV (and if I miss it, it's most likely online the next day!). When it works for me, it works for me.  But there is a tension I feel all the while.  I like it but I don't want to be slave to it.  I don't want to check my e-mail at every stop light because I can.  I don't want my kids to remember their mom as someone who had her nose in a screen instead of her eyes on them.  They'll do as we do, not as we tell them to do, right?  The coming generation, I worry, is losing the ability to communicate outside of texting and Facebook.  These are the kids my kids will be growing up with.  A community that, I'm afraid, is missing out on real life.  That is watching people live their lives on TV instead of actually living theirs.  That is playing games with a Wii controller inside instead of with a baseball and a glove outside.  Was I the last of the generation that used their imaginations?  I used to play school by the hour in my basement.  I played store with my friend Sally, making price tags for everything in her room and taking turns being shop-owner or customer.  I rode my bike around town, weaving throughout the streets of my small town with my friends from morning till evening all summer long.  I didn't have a cell phone in my pocket and yet I managed.  We all did.  Does that exist anymore?  While I totally take part in this culture, I chafe against it so much.  At times, I want to be rid of it completely opting instead for a simpler time in which we weren't fighting the "keeping up with the Joneses'".  (Parents, I mean no disrespect, but WHAT are we doing buying six and seven and eight year olds iPhones or computers?  Setting no time limits for their computer or TV time?  Why can't we, quite literally, tell them to go outside and play on a beautiful day and not dare come inside for one whole hour?  To read a book to earn their TV time?).  I'm not saying it's simple.  Kids are stubborn.  They don't want to do those things when they could be so easily entertained and put no work in by watching a show.  And parents, well, we're tired and sometimes lazy and a screen is a cheap babysitter!  But goodness, does it worry me.  I don't want my kids to miss their lives.  I don't want them to look back and wonder why I let it happen.  Here's where my (and I should say our, because Steve is so of this mindset as well) dreams of living off the grid come in.  I want to live a simple life.  Where a regular day could consist of passing the time in a hammock outside with a book.  Where walking trails wind all around and gardens of vegetables grow waiting to be picked.  Where I don't feel the need to check my e-mail ten times a day and instead I'm really present.  I can do my best to give this life to my kids, but can't we all?  Shouldn't we all?

And if my blog suddenly disappears, you can find me in that cabin up there (like-minded people, join me!  We'll start a commune!  Complete with backyard chickens!).

61 comments:

  1. God doesn't that place look lovely right now. Being in college, there are many people in my classes who can't go the whole hour, or hour and a half, class without checking their phone at least two or three times. It's crazy to me, even growing up in the age of computers and cell phones, that it's hard for people to turn their phones off and listen. Now, I realize that the teachers can get boring but at the same time, you shouldn't have to check your phone to be occupied.

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  2. I think about this ALL the time. I'm kind of disgusted at our culture's technology addiction. Yet I'm right there too. It's something I'm not sure how I'll handle when I have kids.

    Sometimes I just want to be Amish.

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  3. Thank you for writing this! My one year old has been watching so much of the baby channel and I have been plagued with guilt! Today and from now on I will set stricter limits! I don't want him to miss out on his life or heaven forbid somehow tame that beautiful imagination that I already am starting to see shine through!

    I think I will have to break up with my i phone our relationship is purely unhealthy! ;) He and I are pretty much always together! Back to my simpler not really a phone you want to text on flip phone...

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  4. Right there with you. And we (my husband and I) would totally join your commune!

    We try our best to not get sucked in by the world. We got rid of our TV 4 years ago (but can now watch things online) and we try to source as much food as possible from local farms. It's a complete uphill battle and I'm sure will get even worse when we have kids... sigh.

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  5. mmmm... let's start a commune :)

    no seriously, i am right there with you! i hate how texting and facebook have taken over actual conversations... how some people never talk on the phone with their friends or significant others because it's much easier to just send them a quick text. i feel like we're losing what makes personal relationships so.... personal and special.

    i've written about this several times on my own blog... it's such a nice thing to think about: separating from this technology obsession that our culture has developed. i recently got rid of my television and i don't own a home computer, and honestly i don't miss either. (that's not to say i'm not obsessed with my iphone... but i'm working on it!)

    i only wonder how i will incorporate these thoughts into the lives of my own children someday... it's up to our generation to change things!

    xx, kara

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  6. yes, yes, yes!

    It sounds crazy since we live in a city right now. But Mark and I have dreams of a farm, a barn, pet sheep. We still come north every spring to plant a garden at our former landlord's house, because it is the only plot of land that we can get dirty in right now.

    Let's let our kids run in the woods, and ride bikes, and get dirty, and breath fresh air!

    Yes.

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  7. I would love to join your commune! This summer I want to grow a big veggie garden...maybe that's a start?

    I'm having my first baby this May and I've been thinking a lot about what kind of example I'll be setting as Baby grows up. Will he or she see me reading good books, gardening outside, baking delicious things, or glued to my iPhone and laptop all the time? I truly believe that to some degree, if kids see mom sewing or baking they will be interested in joining those activities; if they see mom texting they will want cell phones by the age of six. It's a big responsibility, setting an example, right?!

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  8. I'm very tech savvy yet refuse to have facebook, twitter and even cable for the very reasons this post describes. This is also why I think well move to Colorado again... I want my babies to yearn for the wild and great outdoors. And by all means I swear I'm not one of those freaks but I do love love the good ole simple life!

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  9. EXACTLY how I feel. Loved this post.

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  10. I'm right there with you, Sister. Lately, I've been googling "remote vermont farms for sale".....especially after getting hooked on this blog: http://laporterouge.blogspot.com/

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  11. YES YES YES! this is my absolute favorite post to date. so much my favorite, i finally had to comment. ;] i do not even have children yet, but this has weighed so heavily on mind as of late.

    and, the commune idea - i'm absolutely down! :]

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  12. Oy.

    You know this is A Thing with me.

    Did I ever tell you that my parents wanted to live like the Amish do and they did it? They bought a farm out in the middle of nowhere in Iowa and ate their own food and had animals...the whole thing.

    I'm so pumped for this summer when Everett knows how to walk about...we're going to be in the back yard like whoa. I already bought supplies to make him the biggest teepee ever!

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  13. I think this is an ongoing issue, and hopefully, parents like yourself - and me when the time comes - will value imaginative play too much and set limits on computer/ WII time. It's hard, though, to fight against society. But, I think it starts in the home and it's all about each family making small changes - encouraging outdoor play! That will make all the difference.

    I am so thankful to be from the pre-computer generation!

    http://unpublishedworksofme.blogspot.com/

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  14. A-men. That's all. Just A-men.

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  15. afreakingmen. i feel this. and have halfway been living it..not the such an extreme as no internet and im not bathing and living in a cabin..

    ok sometimes im not bathing.

    but i have no car, my phone doesnt even have a camera on it (WHAT!?) i use stephens to take pics..mine is literally like a calculator. and sometimes it lets me call people. sometimes.

    no dishwasher, no washer machine..

    its amazing im still allowed to be a part of this generation.

    and i YEARN for all the luxuries i had when i lived in CA..and then i wonder why?

    i have no answer to this..clearly.

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  16. I always joke with my husband that we're going to one day live out in the middle of nowhere like Thoreau and probably die because I can't keep our family alive. Despite my lack of pioneer skills, I still want to just do it. It sounds like heaven.

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  17. You only check your email ten times a day? Oops.

    This was excellent Bridget, and very thought provoking. "watching people live their lives on TV instead of actually living theirs..." YES! We got rid of cable because between the Internet and TV, WHEN do you have time to live your OWN life? (plus to save money) Now we just download episodes of our favorite shows and watch them cozy in bed on the ipad or whatever. It's more intentional that way, versus just flipping on the TV and wasting mindless hours.

    Anyway, I feel you on all this, I really do. The world is a changing place, and we all need to choose our values wisely and impart them in our children. I'm sure you and Steve are doing an amazing job.

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  18. You should just join the Peace Corps and live in a hut in the village. It's great "off the grid" life:)

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  19. I have backyard chickens. Sign me up. :)

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  20. I feel the same, the internet is a great educational tool...really, my lessons would not be the same without it...but we overuse it. I love my weekends away when I turn off my phone and just enjoy being with the people I am with and READ. I need to do this more often. Maybe after I read one more blog...

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  21. We go back and forth between this too, living in the the city vs. out somewhere off the grid. We've done both and we love both, and I think both can be so important for you based on where you are in your life at the time. I do think having a family changes it though. If we had kids I feel I would want to raise them off the land.

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  22. This is on my mind often! Though I'm lucky to live in a small mountain community where time spent as a family is more important than the mall (we don't have one) the outside influences still abound. A while ago I quit facebook, telling my friends and family they could call or write to me if they had something interesting to share. I don't need to know each and every time you move, that leaves us nothing to catch up about. I feel I'm constantly fighting against the current times!

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  23. i long for this too. My husband and I both wanted to move to the countryside when we got married, but here we are, in the middle of downtown, about to have a baby. We've been talking about a cabin in the woods for a really long time...yep...that sounds just lovely.

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  24. i don't think a day goes by i don't wish i could throw my phone away and live alone in the woods
    :)
    i hate being so dependent on technology.
    i miss playing in the creek all day and catching bugs!

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  25. i was just talking about this with my sis in law this morning. we talked about how we used to play outside and climb trees and kids these days (are we really that old??) sit in front of the tv or computer all day. i HOPE i can keep my babies from that kind of life!! i would be all about joining the commune if that's what i need to do!!:)

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  26. dude, i hears ya!
    we're sooooo on the same page (surprise, surprise) over here.

    i know some people think we're crazy but all of this is why bonzo's never watched a minute of tv in his life and why we don't buy "leapfrog learning toys" and other computer/tv/gaming emulating toys!! i know we can't shield him forever but dude. we'll open that can of worms very, very slowly. (it helps our cause that he doesn't have school aged siblings!!)

    ps: hi! xx

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  27. as a high school teacher, I think abouut this issue on a daily basis! I could go on and on about how they can't think for themselves, solve problems, or be creative!
    I lose sleep at night worrying about the future of our country run by a bunch of "non-thinkers". I'm not sure if you realize the severity of your post or how deep this issue really goes....

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  28. I think about that all the time and I couldn't agree more. with everything.

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  29. I played with my Barbies til I was in (I'm embarrased to say) 7th grade! I remember when AOL instant chat was big on the scene! Haha! I remember riding my bike and going to the mall/movies alone. I make my kids go outside! I give them set times for computer/games. I will be forcing them to go geocaching with me soon so we can be outside in nature! That cabin/place looks lovely. I could picture myself living there.

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  30. I just made the same time of comment to myself this morning as the phone texting ring went off once again. Cabin, chickens and an organic veggie garden. I am in!

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  31. Amen to that! I'm made to feel like an idiot by some of my college-student employees because I don't have cable or the internet at home!

    Let's plant gardens, build tree-houses and romp around in the woods.

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  32. YES. To all of this.

    To books that don't have batteries.

    To skin soaking in vitamin d.

    To quality time with the people right next to us.

    To being great at just being still.

    Job well done, Bridget.

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  33. I think about this ALL the time. I have such a love/hate relationship with technology. Even blogging. For example, I love documenting everything (for my poor memory's sake) but then sometimes I feel like I'm missing out on the whole moment because I'm behind my camera trying to document what I fear I'll forget or wish I had documented later on. It drives me crazy!

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  34. i am so there with you. even now, in our house in the middle of town with just two adults, we're making small changes. less tv, less computers, more books, more time outside. it's lovely and i'm glad we're focusing on this now so we have a better chance of passing it on to our (someday) kids.

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  35. Ah, yes, I feel good about this topic. I've been piling up excess in the garage, getting rid of all the toys and junk filling up my house. I axed twitter, facebook, and instagram. My next step is to put a block on my Internet for most of the hours of the day. Clearly I have no self-control, I have to delete these things to keep myself from using them all day. Woops.

    Then I'll break it to my kids that we're selling our tv that only plays dvds. And they will cry.

    The end (of my faux-social life).

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  36. while i completely can relate to being sucked into our current culture... i would love to live in said cabin. i teach 3rd grade and while i'm a youngster (all of 24 years old here), my students are completely driven by their electronics and are having playdates on club penguin instead of at the playground. while screen time is okay, i definitely agree that there needs to be a limit. i lived off of playing house, school, and restaurant in the basement with my best friend and we have the best memories ever. i love this post- thank you for emphasizing this point! :)

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  37. Its crazy out there!! Parents letting kids play nintendo and watch all the TV they want. Its insane!! I had 30 minutes of TV/video game time each day and then it was outside for the rest of the day. Good on you for wanting to raise a family like that. I do too!!!

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  38. I always say it like this: when I was a kid, I never had restrictions on when I could watch TV or play video games. However, it was a rarity -- because I and all the other neighborhood kids would all MUCH RATHER BE OUTSIDE ALL THE TIME! And we WERE outside all the time. And none of us were obese, and we were totally happy kids. I'm only 29. This wasn't that long ago. The fallacy that we live in a world where you can't let your kids outside anymore MUST die, because kids are no more unsafe now than they've ever been ... and the perception that they ARE more unsafe is a huge part of the problem. My friends who are mothers totally buy into it, but there's of course nothing I can do.

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  39. I sooo get this! I've kinda backed off of my blog the past month and it's been rather nice :) And checking email at the stoplight - guilty!!

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  40. Oh girl, I totally feel you. And while I'd miss you here on the Interwebz if that did happen, I'd totally understand :)

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  41. THANK YOU! I actually just deleted many blogs from my reader list and all YouTube channels from my subscriptions last night for this very reason. I was spending so much time reading and coveting other people's lives through my PHONE instead of living my own life. There are a few blogs I kept on there and yours was one of them. This is because you are real and write posts like the one above. I admire your lifestyle, kids, marriage, etc. but you don't make things seem perfect and you speak honestly. It makes me feel positive and that there is someone out there that thinks similar, but doesn't make me feel doubt about my own life. Please keep all the honest words coming as you always do.

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  42. i feel your vibe. i have such a love/hate relationship with my technology. i love love love my phone and my access to the world i probably never would have had without all of this interwebby stuff, but i hate feeling dependent on it too. more than once i have whipped out my phone to check fb or my reader and realized it was without any sort of forethought! weird. i am like 83.52% ready to jump off the grid...maybe :)

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  43. Sounds like pure joy. I worry so much about "kids these days" and if they'll know how to imagine. Enjoy your cabin! I think I'll be in a cottage by the sea. Come visit!

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  44. I can completely relate. Not that I have kids right now. But there are times where I just want to shut out the world filled with technology and live simply. It's a burning desire within me. I believe God created us to live simply, where all we need is Him to survive. I would love to move to a cabin in the middle of nowhere, where there is no cell service and the only place to use the internet is miles and miles away in town.

    Do I think I can live like that though? I'd like to dream that I can...

    http://beautifulfamilyaffairs.blogspot.com/

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  45. Exactly! Great post. I'm single and don't have kids, yet I already worry about what kind of life they'll have if I ever have any.

    So for me now, I decided to quit Facebook. Had it for 8 years, and got rid of it 3 weeks ago. The best part is that I don't miss it at all!

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  46. I've never commented on your blog but, as a elementary school teacher, I had to respond to this post. Your references to this "culture" we are creating in our kids is, quite frankly, sad. In the 13 years I've been teaching, kids have stopped being able to have a conversation, LISTEN, and entertain themselves. They have become needy when the come to school because so many parents do have their heads stuck to a screen, phone or tv. They want me to entertain them, not teach them which are two entirely different things. They want, want, want. They let their crayons, markers, pencils, fall to the ground because they know they can be easily replaced. I could go on and on. Also, I should say most kids. FInally, I should say I love being a teacher (I know it doesn't sound like it.) but I am gravely concerned with what kids, teens, and, eventually, adults we are raising. I'm glad parents like you are aware, get it, and want to swim against the stream.

    P.S. I'm not proofreading this. I'm too tired. I'm a teacher. :)

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  47. yesss. agreed.

    ready for this? we don't own a tv out here.

    however I could easily spend that gained time on your blog and totally defeat the purpose! (:

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  48. I almost cried when I read this. Is that weird? I grew up in the country so I get it- the need for open spaces and no cell phones. We grew up reading and climbing trees. I need to remind myself of my roots. Thank you for helping me with the nudge for where I came from and where I want to be sure I go. Or don't go.

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  49. our neighbour lives off the grid. he has a small television hooked up to an old exercise bike which powers the television. if his girls want screen time, they have to work for it!

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  50. These are the exact reasons I'm no longer on Facebook. Encouraging real communication and real relationships is incredibly important.

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  51. I am not sure where I read this but I dod somewhere a while ago that teenagers are as lonely as the elderly because of basically social networking. Thery are on the internet instead of going out and seeing their friends and interacting properly.

    Isn't that scary?

    I think it is all about balance and finding what you agree wiht but I do find the idea of four year old having mobiles a bit scary--who are they calling/texting anyway?

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  52. Off the grid living? Yes please! I dream of - and strive to live - a simple life...but my new iPhone is just so perfectly fast and handy (and addicting)!

    I teach at a school where several of the families truly live off the grid - no electricity, outdoor bathroom, etc. I have so much respect for them. I long to live in my own little cabin nestled in the quiet trees, kept warm by my crackling wood stove, entertained by homemade games and musical instruments...

    ... and then I think of traipsing through the snow to sit my cold bottom on a freezing toilet.

    I think I'll settle for a happy medium.

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  53. Ditto, sometimes I think of moving to Maine and getting out of Silicon Valley.

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  54. agree! 100%! I feel like I'm the last generation of kids who played outside. My sister is 10 years younger than me and her youth seems vastly different. She had a cell phone at the age of 7, whereas I got my first one at 18. Sure I had video games and watched TV and even got sucked into being online when AIM was all the rage. But my parents made us go outside and I'm so thankful for that. I hope my children can experience some of that life.

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  55. i am so with you. i think about this every single day, and then go on and check my email and cringe when i think about how often my babies see me in front of a screen. i read a book that was part of an international book club at my library recently that really made me ache for the simpler kind of life where people hang out on their porches and actually talk face to face. i wrote a post about it so maybe i will link you there instead of trying to summarize it here. but i recommend it! http://allweneedisamor.blogspot.com/2010/12/beyond-sky-and-earth.html

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  56. It does sound nice to have a life less dependent on technology, especially the internet and tv. I would have to add in there that living "off the grid" would probably not allow more time for book reading and laying in hammocks though. Keeping a garden, cooking food from scratch, living naturally, all takes a lot more time than it does to live the way our culture in America does today! I don't think I would have the energy to do it, especially since I have so many health issues. But I would love to cut down on all of this, and DEFINITELY want my kids to be playing outside and making up their own games with their own imaginations instead of playing video games and watching tv all day! That makes me sick!

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  57. Amen, sistah! Let's. Do. It.

    P.S. I don't know how to grow anything though. Someone else might need to be in charge of growing the food. I'm sure I can do the hammock thing REALLY well, however.

    XOXO,
    Angie from Ohio

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  58. You hit the nail on the head. This idea is exactly on target. The irony is that I found your post online and am responding with my iPhone.

    My wife and I are talking about exactly this. She's an environmental scientist and I'm an artist by trade but can build just about anything. We are feeling pecked to death by all the non-essentials. We're either going to join or start our own "co-housing" community. What better way to raise our two children than in a real and nature based environment?

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talk to me.

(also! if you have a question, check back as i usually answer it here!)

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