Doing More With Less: Our Journey

Eggs from the Hens

In July 2009, we experienced a front row seat to the current economic climate when we lost a major account. Our business was already slower than usual. This one account was keeping us afloat. When we lost it, there was a moment of disbelief and then a sense of being stunned. What really helped to change the outcome of where we ended up and helped us through the difficulty was letting go of the way things had been and starting to imagine what could be.

We put everything up for sale, the office, house, equipment, and some ‘toys’. We planned to keep just enough equipment to keep the business going. Everything sold within a few months except for our home. A year later, it too sold and we were able to buy a much more modest property free and clear.

Our journey has led us into exploring how to live a more self-sustaining, earth-friendly existence. We have been growing our own food, raising chickens, looking into the old-fashioned wisdom of a root cellar, and playing with the idea of breeding my two dairy goats so as to have milk and cheese. We are learning and doing things that we never thought we would do.

Not everyone’s story is the same, but the principles for design are. What is fascinating is that we each one have the ability to craft the future. We are not victims to what lies ahead, but we play a powerful and interactive part in how the future will look.

Chaos and disruption can provide amazing opportunities to practice design principles. What appears from the outside, as a reduction of resources and a loss of income has in fact been an opportunity to create an alternative reality from many existing possible realities. There were many choice points along the way, as I'm sure there will continue to be, but the learning has been how to appropriately imagine and direct energy in a positive way towards a preferred outcome.

We just had lunch with the realtor who sold our house last year. They came up to see our chicken coop and the changes we had made to the property and also to talk to my husband about building a root cellar for them. Having a lunch that consisted of quiche from my eggs, curried zucchini, fresh corn on the cob, and a salad--all from my garden--brought the conversation home a bit!

We discussed the opportunity that we each one have, to take what will inevitably be chaotic times as the economy and resources shift, and craft a preferred future, not only for ourselves as individual families, but how this might look as a community. Our little informal gathering has the potential to be the start of building a cooperative venture within our small community as we both start sharing our ideas and resources with one another. The secret to success is that there has to be enough energy and direction with a vision to actually bring it into fruition. But it is a possibility waiting to happen and an exciting one.

Much of what I have been learning is about how to be more self-sustaining. But we also need to learn how to create self-sustaining communities. What one learns in a garden and on their own property can be shared with other people. When we care whether or not everyone in our community is eating, we might also begin to care if they are getting medical services, have adequate shelter, and are able to live life in a meaningful way.

It is not about having more, it is about doing more with what we have. It is not about a few having everything they want, but the many having what they need. If we face the future with creativity instead of fear, with cooperation instead of greed, we will create a future that is stronger for our children and better for the earth and we can still leave a legacy that will inspire those who follow. We may not be able to change the world, but we can change our own lives and we can change our community for the better.