Thursday, April 16, 2009

Economic Downturn Has People Scaling Way Back

This economic downturn has spawned a new phenomenon among some Americans.

Instead of taking advantage of cellar-low mortgage rates and refinancing their house, buying foreclosed homes to sell when the housing market comes back, stockpiling money in anticipation of a bullish stock market, or just simply weathering this doom and gloomy storm of a recession, some have decided to just simply drop out. Their mantra? “Start over.” Scale Back. Less (a lot less) is more.”

They’re called Economic Survivalists, their goal is to make the least amount of money, surviving on skills not needed or used since Manifest Destiny took hold of the American Spirit back in the mid-nineteenth century.

Their cable’s been cut, their cell phones thrown in the garbage or donated to charity. The expensive SUV’s traded in for a used pickup truck; golf clubs are being sold to buy farming equipment.

Folks have had enough – and their ranks are growing. People are stockpiling food in numbers not seen since the Great Depression. Seed packets and transplants have seen a 30 percent rise in sales. The National Gardening Association released a stat that was staggering: 7 million more households are growing their own food compared to just last year.

But it goes beyond just having a green thumb or wanting to go out in the back yard and pick your supper. Economic Survivalists are serious about being off the main “grid” of society. Canning supplies have seen a 30 percent rise since last year, more people are researching and learning how to sew to mend or make their own clothes, blankets and other home items.

In extreme cases, people are just moving to live in a smaller, simpler place.

The goal? People want to feel more in control of their lives. There is a need, a desire for people to get back in control of what they have, redefining what they need and radically changing their lives. It sounds like an oxymoron, but there’s much validity to this “radical” way of living.

We have evolved so far from an agrarian society – where if you didn’t make it, grow or farm it, you didn’t need to it – to a consumption society where you can’t walk a block without seeing two Starbucks facing each other on opposite sides of the street.

Coming from a farming community, one thing I learned early on was self-sufficiency. The earth took care of you, if you took care of the earth and hardly anything went to waste. You learned to sew a button back on a shirt, not go to the mall and buy a new one. If the tractor stalled, you learned quickly how to get it running again before the sun went down. And you never took for granted that you could just rely on someone else to take care of things.

Now I don’t know if I want to throw away my iPod and cut my cable off just yet, but I do know that I feel a kindred spirit towards these people, these Economic Survivalists, who actually decide to take more control of their lives.

Self-reliance is a beautiful (and simple) thing.

1 comment:

  1. Ya know, my mother in law was so impressed with the fact that I could sew she called her mother and told her. I grew up very poor, we learned such things as sewing, mending, doing without, fixing our own car, etc. I've tried to teach these things to my kids but it is hard when all the other kids get new jeans when I would patch with a shiny red heart. Thankfully, the new style looks like mended clothes. I'm good for another year!

    I remember never wasting food when I was a child because food was scarce. Now days, my kids and husband think leftovers are poison.

    I too feel a kindred spirit toward these people. Less really can be more.