The Most Radical Thing You Can Do

LONG AGO the poet and bioregionalist Gary Snyder said, “The most radical thing you can do is stay home,” a phrase that has itself stayed with me for the many years since I first heard it. Some or all of its meaning was present then, in the bioregional 1970s, when going back to the land and consuming less was how the task was framed. The task has only become more urgent as climate change in particular underscores that we need to consume a lot less. It’s curious, in the chaos of conversations about what we ought to do to save the world, how seldom sheer modesty comes up — living smaller, staying closer, having less — especially for us in the ranks of the privileged. Not just having a fuel-efficient car, but maybe leaving it parked and taking the bus, or living a lot closer to work in the first place, or not having a car at all. A third of carbon-dioxide emissions nationwide are from the restless movements of goods and people.

We are going to have to stay home a lot more in the future. For us that’s about giving things up. But the situation looks quite different from the other side of all our divides. The indigenous central Mexicans who are driven by poverty to migrate have begun to insist that among the human rights that matter is the right to stay home. So reports David Bacon, who through photographs and words has become one of the great chroniclers of the plight of migrant labor in our time. “Today the right to travel to seek work is a matter of survival,” he writes. “But this June in Juxtlahuaca, in the heart of Oaxaca’s Mixteca region, dozens of farmers left their fields, and women weavers their looms, to talk about another right, the right to stay home. . . . In Spanish, Mixteco, and Triqui, people repeated one phrase over and over: the derecho de no migrar — the right to not migrate. Asserting this right challenges not just inequality and exploitation facing migrants, but the very reasons why people have to migrate to begin with.” Seldom mentioned in all the furor over undocumented immigrants in this country is the fact that most of these indigenous and mestizo people would be quite happy not to emigrate if they could earn a decent living at home; many of them are just working until they earn enough to lay the foundations for a decent life in their place of origin, or to support the rest of a family that remains behind.

From outer space, the privileged of this world must look like ants in an anthill that’s been stirred with a stick: everyone constantly rushing around in cars and planes for work and pleasure, for meetings, jobs, conferences, vacations, and more. This is bad for the planet, but it’s not so good for us either. Most of the people I know regard with bemusement or even chagrin the harried, scattered lives they lead. Last summer I found myself having the same conversation with many different people, about our craving for a life with daily rites; with a sense of time like a well-appointed landscape with its landmarks and harmonies; and with a sense of measure and proportion, as opposed to a formless and unending scramble to go places and get things and do more. I think of my mother’s lower-middle-class childhood vacations, which consisted of going to a lake somewhere not far from Queens and sitting still for a few weeks — a lot different from jetting off to heli-ski in the great unknown and all the other models of hectic and exotic travel urged upon us now.

For the privileged, the pleasure of staying home means being reunited with, or finally getting to know, or finally settling down to make the beloved place that home can and should be, and it means getting out of the limbo of nowheres that transnational corporate products and their natural habitats — malls, chains, airports, asphalt wastelands — occupy. It means reclaiming home as a rhythmic, coherent kind of time. Which seems to be what Bacon’s Oaxacans want as well, although their version of being uprooted and out of place is much grimmer than ours.

At some point last summer I started to feel as if the future had arrived, the future I’ve always expected, the one where conventional expectations start to crack and fall apart — kind of like arctic ice nowadays, maybe — and we rush toward an uncertain, unstable world. Of course the old vision of the future was of all hell breaking loose, but what’s breaking loose now is a strange mix of blessings and hardships. Petroleum prices have begun doing what climate-change alarms haven’t: pushing Americans to alter their habits. For people in the Northeast who heat with oil, the crisis had already arrived a few years back, but for a lot of Americans across the country, it wasn’t until filling up the tank cost three times as much as it had less than a decade ago that all the rushing around began to seem questionable, unaffordable, and maybe unnecessary. Petroleum consumption actually went down 4 percent in the first quarter of the year, and miles driven nationally also declined for the first time in decades. These were small things in themselves, but they are a sign of big changes coming. The strange postwar bubble of affluence with its frenzy of building, destroying, shipping, and traveling seems to be deflating at last. The price of petroleum even put a dent in globalization; a piece headlined “Shipping Costs Start to Crimp Globalization” in the New York Times mentioned several manufacturers who decided that cheaper labor no longer outweighed long-distance shipping rates. The localized world, the one we need to embrace to survive, seems to be on the horizon.

But a localized world must address the unwilling and exploited emigrés as well as the joy riders and their gratuitously mobile goods. For the Oaxacans, the right to stay home will involve social and economic change in Mexico. Other factors pushing them to migrate come from our side of the border, though — notably the cheap corn emigrating south to bankrupt farm families and communities. The changing petroleum economy could reduce the economic advantage to midwestern corporate farmers growing corn and maybe make shipping it more expensive too. What’s really needed, of course, is a change of the policy that makes Mexico a dumping ground for this stuff, whether that means canceling NAFTA or some other insurrection against “free trade.” Another thing rarely mentioned in the conversations about immigration is what American agriculture would look like without below-minimum-wage immigrant workers, because we have gotten used to food whose cheapness comes in part from appalling labor conditions. It is because we have broken out of the frame of our own civility that undocumented immigrants are forced out of theirs.

Will the world reorganize for the better? Will Oaxaca’s farmers get to stay home and practice their traditional agriculture and culture? Will we stay home and grow more of our own food with dignity, humanity, a little sweat off our own brows, and far fewer container ships and refrigerated trucks zooming across the planet? Will we recover a more stately, settled, secure way of living as the logic of ricocheting like free electrons withers in the shifting climate? Some of these changes must come out of the necessity to reduce carbon emissions, the unaffordability of endlessly moving people and things around. But some of it will have to come by choice. To choose it we will have to desire it — desire to stay home, own less, do less getting and spending, to see a richness that lies not in goods and powers but in the depth of connections. The Oaxacans are ahead of us in this regard. They know what is gained by staying home, and most of them have deeper roots in home to begin with. And they know what to do outside the global economy, how to return to a local realm that is extraordinarily rich in food and agriculture and culture.

The word radical comes from the Latin word for root. Perhaps the most radical thing you can do in our time is to start turning over the soil, loosening it up for the crops to settle in, and then stay home to tend them.

Rebecca Solnit is a writer, historian, and activist. She is the author of seventeen books including Men Explain Things To Me (2014), Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas (2013), and River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Midwest (2004) . She is a columnist for Orion, and a regular contributor to the Nation Institute’s Tomdispatch daily newsgram.

 

Comments

  1. i stay home. a lot. and i feel guilty. i love to be home, but i know i am SUPPOSED to be out and about. busy. buying things. but i hate most things. and most things i need i have. i am content and i feel guilty.
    and lonely. like a throwback to a quieter time. what about the inner space? and being present in the space we’re in? enjoying the world within walking distance? i’ve never traveled and i feel guilty that i don’t really want to. at least not at the current cost, and i mean that in many ways. what if we all just got real quiet for a real long time? peaceful and kind and stopped shopping as sport and started talking, but more important started listening? and maybe singing? a few crazy folks might even dance. what would happen then? what could possibly happen then? maybe no seven billion dollar bailout would be necessary. what if we were just happy with what we had?

  2. When people find out that I haven’t owned a car in over two years, they sometimes react strangely, and strongly, with shock, pity, guilt, condescension, or snide remarks that imply I’m irresponsible, a mooch, in the depths of poverty, or not quite a grown up. (I’m 34 and have a professional job.) I think it must feel threatening to them in some way. For me, it’s been liberating: I feel like I’m discovering the back side of the world, where traveling to the next town takes effort, allowing me to see all the places in between here and there. I’ve found there’s profound adventure in traveling slowly, by bicycle and bus, to places that are not very far away. I stay home sometimes, when I’m too tired to bicycle or the distance is too far to accomplish in the time I have available, and I very rarely regret any event I’ve missed because I wasn’t able to jump into a car and rush off to attend it. In fact, I feel more rested and happy when I allow my transportation choices to restrict my activities: I get more out of the places that I do go. And I’m still too busy: there’s so much to do and see in the world. My carfreeness is teaching me to be more carefree: to stay home more and play quietly….thank you for this reminder.

  3. My husband and I just had a baby so I stay home a lot with him. We walk downtown or in nearby towns every day and have short visits with friends-within-walking distance on our evening walk each night. We stay home and play too or go to friend’s homes or parks and play. I have given up many activities I would normally do, (including a lot of freelance working) especially activities in the evening because I like to give the baby a routine. I now do the same thing every day with variance within the basic structure. Sometimes it seems boring, and sometimes I wish I could go out or travel like before. But when I really feel how I am feeling, it isn’t boring. It is rhythmic. Like life’s heartbeat. What feels sad is actually when others rush past and are not in this rhythm. And I find that more people ARE in this rhythm than you might imagine in a fast society like ours: the old men who hang out in front of the cafe; the kids walking by who say “Look, a baby!”; some other mothers who stroll with us, the older ladies where my grandmother lives, and my grandmother who might even say “Is this my baby?”; and the random person working in the store, the cafe or walking on the street. You just never know who will be stopped by the sight of a baby to be happy in the moment, which is after all what staying home is all about.

  4. Staying at home does not signify detachment. If anything, it affords one the opportunity for careful focus, clear thinking, and attentive wakefulness.

    The distractions of over committing, external scheduling, attention- robbing media, the discontinuous modalities of modern life can be stress inducing minimally, and a buzz-kill mostly.

    Stay at home, and own your life, consciousness and awake mind.

  5. Thanks for this great article. Let’s just be careful when we talk about staying home that we don’t forget the privilege and the pleasure (and the incredible value!) of being part of a global community. It’s not just globalization – it’s also an opportunity for cultural exchange.

    Does anyone out there know the citation for the Gary Snyder quote? I’ve been searching for it for months. Thanks.

  6. It is wonderful to be able to stay home. Home helps one regroup and focus on self. When we care for ourselves we are better equipped to care for others. I stay home when I need to recharge. Most important our family has made a choice to live in the city. We can bike, walk, or take public transportation to anyplace we need to go. It was the best choice I have ever made. Our community garden has been productive this season! Trading has replaced some transactions in our lives. I feel much more connected to our world.

  7. I am so grateful for this article which resonates so strongly for me, and all the comments. I am so grateful for my VW diesel Jetta, a marvel of engineering. I am so grateful that I can sell it next month. I am so grateful that I own a sweet little mountain bike and live in a community that has public transport. Staying home, and going out slowly, is a joy. For their sake and the Earth’s, hopefully soon more people will know this.

  8. My grandfather came to the SF Bay Area because he could work at a living wage. He bought a small place with a storefront below. He rode his bicycle to the cinema where he was a union projectionist. He raised five children with my grandmother Andrea.
    She ran the neighborhood grocery store. Then they purchased apartment buildings in the neighborhood. They extended credit to the neighbors, tenants and grocery customers from month to month. They all worked hard, and worked together. It was the depression. When they died, the neighborhood held two observations, a memorial, and then named a school for them around the corner. Nothing like today’s world.
    We have been here for 15 years and don’t know more than 10 of our neighbors. We couldn’t even agree about street trees.

  9. As a counterpoint, Hannah warns us to not forget the importance of the global community, but I would ask that we be more careful with our language and with the logic that flows from it.

    In ecology as in sociology, community has long meant those who share a locale, a place. In time, community has come to mean any group with similar interests or common identity. But those are far different concepts. The first is about relationship, communing. The second is about identity, abstract conception.

    Just as Wendell Berry asserted that it’s not possible to love the Earth, only to love a piece of earth (and through love of the part, respect for the whole), I would assert that global “community” is an abstraction that can be respected but not loved in the manner that creates authentic community.

    Spending time on the internet (as I am now doing), in fact, takes us out of community and home every bit as much as getting on a plane or into an SUV.

    Yes, communication is important and serves as a catalyst for social change (as it also serves the status quo by mass marketing and adverstising). But home is the place and the people that we can wrap our arms around, not simply our minds.

    Staying home, for us moderns, is as much about getting out of our heads and back into our hearts as it is about refraining from getting into the car. And this will be the most difficult yet most necessary cultural shift if we are to relearn to live sustainably and happily.

  10. What a marvelous article! Hopefully, this is the real future, not false green consumerism, not hollow paper or plastic arguments. When we all slow down the crazy consumerism and waste that feeds the machine of oil produced prosperity will die. As the saying goes; it’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than think your way into a new way of acting.

  11. To me, still the most radical thing you can do is to not have kids. I can’t think of anything else that will have a more lasting effect.

  12. I love to stay home and I enjoy traveling. By traveling I mean the chance to leave the familiar and take a journey into a space/people/land I’ve not encountered before. This is different than transportation from home to work to meeting to shopping center to grocery store to gym to … Traveling in the best sense means greeting the unfamiliar and learning more about others with different viewpoints AND one’s own sweet self. Knowing only home can easily lead to distrust of the not-home. The worst aspects of gated developments and small towns are good examples of this. There is much good that can come from experiencing deeply a daily life rooted in place, it just needs a bracing shake-up now and then – plus the wonder of seeing the beauty not found in one’s own corner of the world.

  13. Incredible! I really appreciate the recognition of privilege and the Oaxacan story blended into the theme of the article. hb, no one should feel guilty for staying home or not travelling. Many folks stay close to home, operating on the fringe of society and the economy – old folks, people with disabilities, those with anxiety disorders, the unemployed, the radical anti-economy crowd, etc. We should stay home if we have the opportunity and not let work dictate our self-identification. I always tell myself that it could be alot worse. Certain strains remind me of John Zerzan’s anti-technology and anti-civilization musings.

  14. Wonderful topic. I offer two points.

    #1. I am at home at all times, whether I am in my physical place or whether I move about by whatever conveyance. Home is where my heart is at rest, at peace. In the macro sense it matters not that I travel, only that it be purposefully.

    #2. Wherever I stand is sacred ground. A temple ruin is no more sacred than the ground beneath our feet. These human capacities through which we incarnate are sacred, and for living a sacred life, and for walking in the sacred Way.

    There is nothing more to it. All else is a story, yours or mine. Fulfill the commandments of these two truths and Gaia will glorify your life with abundance of needful resources and beauty. Do not worry about Her, she will take care of herself. We will experience that according to the seeds we sow.

  15. Robert Riversong wrote: “Spending time on the internet (as I am now doing), in fact, takes us out of community and home every bit as much as getting on a plane or into an SUV.”

    I say, “only if I let it.” Robert, without internet technology I would have missed your wonderful comment, and maybe even this chance to meet you. With the internet I have a worldwide community of deep-hearted friends. My internet connection let me save a life in the Philippines; meet my future wife in Thailand; be a personal guest to Bhutan; and more.
    All because I stay at home, in attunement with all of life, mo matter what. I welcome direct contact to themuse1969@yahoo.com.

  16. This was a fine piece. It has feeling of calmness running throughout it well not just calmness but on of serenity together with satisfaction. I have a disability which sometimes prevents me from leaving my little flat but it gives me a chance to reflect upon things. I really love being at home and playing with my wonderful border collie Alfie and we prepare the meal for my girlfriend home coming. If he likes what I’ve made then so will Julie. Thank you for writing your piece.

  17. I have always liked these lines from the Tao Te Ching:

    If a country is governed wisely,
    its inhabitants will be content.
    They enjoy the labor of their hands
    and don’t waste time inventing
    labor-saving machines.
    Since they dearly love their homes,
    they aren’t interested in travel.
    There may be a few wagons and boats,
    but these don’t go anywhere.
    There may be an arsenal of weapons,
    but nobody ever uses them.
    People enjoy their food,
    take pleasure in being with their families,
    spend weekends working in their gardens,
    delight in the doings of the neighborhood.
    And even though the next country is so close
    that people can hear its roosters crowing and its dogs barking,
    they are content to die of old age
    without ever having gone to see it.

  18. Manifesto: Equal Rights to the Road Regardless of Mode

    We cannot fight against wars for Earth’s energy resources if we are not willing to fight for the rights of energy-frugal non-motorists to be safe and feel safe on existing public thoroughfares. And do not suffer any delusions that our nation will ever establish “separate but equal” accommodations for non-motorists along more than a small fraction of our highways, roads, and streets. Neither we-the-taxpayers nor our badly wounded host planet could afford the fantastic acreage of lifeless pavements that such infrastructure would impose.

    What then? We need to adopt behaviors, establish societal norms, and scrupulously obey and enforce laws which undergird “Equal Rights to the Road Regardless of Mode”. And the first step towards fair and sustainable access to publicly-owned thoroughfares is to reject the belief, fervently held by so many at present, that driving two or three tons of metal at 35 or 50 or 75 miles per hour wherever, whenever, and as much as we want is a constitutional right or a “private” matter! We cannot, we must not allow the swift, the mighty, and the heavily armored to dominate the public domain, whether by design, default, or delinquency.

    We challenge any doubters to walk – Literally! – and to bicycle in the non-motorist’s shoes.

  19. Thanks for the article. Beautiful.

    In the face of a melting planet, our “freedom” to “pursue happiness” looks to be an especially bitter irony. Eventually, we will be forced to abandon our pursuit of happiness and find out that it was right here all the time.

  20. It has taken me decades, but I have finally gotten myself situated in a small town where my home is within walking distance of work. It is a bit on the far end for commuting to work: 1.7 miles, about 45 minutes each way – more of a hike than a walk, really.

    There are the obvious benefits of walking to work: saving energy, saving money, getting some good exercise. Walking to work day after day, week after week, month after month also has some unexpected, intangible benefits. It provides one who must work indoors during the day with some daily contact with nature and the great outdoors. One observes wildlife, even if it is nothing more grand than songbirds, squirrels, and the occasional raccoon. One reconnects with the rhythm of the seasons through spring rains, summer heat, autumn leaves, and winter cold. Occasionally, one encounters other people – fellow citizens of one’s community – with which one can exchange a greeting or enter into a conversation, and gradually get to know better. Walking is very much of a communitarian, and not just ecological, thing.

    If we are to become serious about staying put – about really becoming rooted in our localities – then I highly commend a long daily walk as an important part of that process.

  21. I live in Portland Oregon, a place so bursting with creativity and change that one can travel widely without ever leaving the city limits.

    Many of us locals have boarded airplanes to places like Tuscany to take in their culture, and to import their best ideas. Other cultures have landed here as part of the global diaspora, driven by wars and disasters, and they enrich our city.

    We often use sustainability as a shorthand for what is happening, but I think what we are striving for is a way to live “small on the outside, grand on the inside”. One result might be that travel by plane or ship doesn’t seem compellingly better than travel by music, dance, beer, wine, food, friendship, learning and doing together–as one example, the Village Building Convergence.

  22. ‘Staying home’ is the norm for every species but us. Organisms evolve to fit a particular habitat, and prosper there. Not staying home increases the frequency and intensity of stimulation, introduces novelty, and tests our genotype against new limiting factors. Frantic scurrying, of course, generates economic ‘progress’, which seems to be the central tenet of our national religion. It also creates anomie, rootlessness, detachment, and the inability to adapt fully to our ‘core’ habitat. If we don’t know our home turf intimately, then we don’t recognize its uniqueness, and we fail to perform our stewardship duties faithfully.

  23. As the sun walks the sky during a day, so is man’s life.

    Compared to this parable, the present pension regime has forced, or tempted, woman and man to maintain the same level of consumption and living standard during the p.m. part of their entire lifespan. Thus our way of living has become, more or less, out of alignment with natural life. Just like the sun declines so should our outer life convulse.

    Now we have arranged our pension system to fulfill a very linear economic way of living. Most people spend approximately one fifth of the total amount of time at work to insure that they won’t have to work at all during the last third (ore forth) of their lifetime. And thereby accumulate a tremendous amount of “money” – kept in all kinds of obscure funds – obviously this creates and stimulates a similar tremendous need for loan markets etc. The ongoing crisis and turmoil in the financial marked and the economic recession are, in part caused by this unnatural state of retirement – and pension systems.

    That’s the situation now.

    “Goodness, Beauty and Truth” are ancient core values, and I think values like these still exist among folks today. In general, or at least in the developed countries, what we have now is a large accumulated amount of wealth and richness – and also here there seems to be some kind of misalignment between wealth and the “Goodness, Beauty and Truth”. To obtain these core values takes time – it’s not simple – it will require time for personal growth, time for refine, relativize and cultivating the ego bound human – it’s a lifelong effort – and due to, for the most, a striving hectic working life, these goals will sadly disappear beneath the horizon.

    And even when retired it seems difficult to settle – we all know these huge cruise ships filled with seniors, and the sky fells dark with charter planes filled with grayed retirees. And I will postulate that these activities are lacking true spirituality or so to say the “Goodness, Beauty and Truth”.

    Imaging the whole Planet living in the pension manner of the western man – yes? That would be a disaster.

    I think the ongoing financial and economic crisis offers a great opportunity to change our present pension regime, to ensure a shift toward a more natural way of retirement.

  24. Like Hannah on Oct 22, I’m looking for the original source of Snyder’s quote. If you have it, please post it here. Thanks.

  25. Tell the truth as you see it. Speak out loudly, clearly and often.

    Steven Earl Salmony
    AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population, established 2001

  26. The most radical thing you can do? Yes I suppose so. Over there at Orion we are all still tying to heal a moribund planet without ever noticing what’s killing it.
    Listen. Global capital requires us to consume MORE every year than we did the year before. You can call it unsustainable, or you can call it global suicide. Because you do know the planet is finite. You do know that to saving it demands that we consume LESS every year. Because as long as capital chews up ever bigger hunks of planet each year- this is what they mean by “growth”- as long as they are allowed to increase that deadly GDP every year, we are surely doomed. And it’s not going to change if all we do just stay home.

  27. Yes it would be nice if everyone could work close to home. Dual-income families can make this difficult. And don’t confuse staying in your home community with staying in your house. It always takes less energy to keep a hundred people warm in one factory than in a hundred separate houses.

    Also:
    #22 (D Hicks):
    wherever did you get the idea that only humans travel? Ever heard of birds?

  28. I always like her articles, but here I wonder about those for whom “staying home” is not a choice. I think, for example, of refugees, of migrant workers, of those displaced by war, of “Indian removal” and the slave trade.

    Also: It’s true that master narratives read travel as educational (think of study-abroad programs, or of space exploration), but mostly travel has resulted in exploitation of resources and colonization, of tourism rather than true travel. And yet, on the contrary side, we read that schools are resegregating, that gated communities keep out the poor and marginalized, and so the kinds of cross-community discourse that we need are possible only when we travel. In today’s news the city of Spokane is considering the removal of homeless “panhandlers” from storefronts and intersections. What does “staying home” mean to them?

    Last summer I traveled to Hawai’i. I could see in my first few minutes there that the social structures empower whites and Japanese while marginalizing Filipinos and indigenous. But I could not have learned this if I had stayed home. I needed to learn it too, partly so that I can teach Ethnic Studies better to students whose only view of Hawai’i comes from TV, but mostly so that I could meet those teachers who experience marginalization firsthand. I met them, and they are wonderful people. They could not afford to visit me here.

  29. Is it true that we should do the most radical thing we can?

    If I move closer to my work, am I migrating?

    The article contains much good sense. I am not reflexively negative about it, and I love spending time at home and in my community. I just hate gardening.
    It will be much more practical to spend our time at home when we have no economic choice about it.

  30. Perhaps expressions of intellectual honesty and moral courage in our time are radical things to do because they are so rarely in evidence.

    Is it not yet time careful and capable people in large numbers begin to behave honestly and courageously rather than remain silent and comfortable by choosing to follow greedy leaders who are irresponsibly pursuing the patently unsustainable business-as-usual expansion of the global political economy, an unbridled, rampant expansion of big-business activities that is resulting in the massive extirpation of biodiversity, the relentless degradation of our environs, the reckless ravage of Earth’s body and perhaps the endangerment of humanity?

    Hurry up, please. Now is the moment for humane, civil action.

    Steven Earl Salmony
    AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population,
    established 2001
    http://sustainabilityscience.org/content.html?contentid=1176

  31. It is always surprising how set some people are in their ways, and likewise, how willing many of us are to try something different. The wonderful, or at least highly useful, thing is that today’s era of “concern” and “crisis” is nearly dictating that new lifestyles be adopted by some human inhabitants. Those willing should be allowed to come forward at some point very soon – of course with more willing persons able to come forward at all times afterwards. I think any country’s government would benefit from tallying and accepting (because it isn’t anarchic, just more “archaic”) people within their nation who are interested in soldiering forwards with new lifestyles. : )

  32. Many people say that if you stay at home, you are a hermit and don’t interact socially. However, I stay at home quite often, only leaving to go to school and sometimes extra curricular activities. I have very deep connections with a lot of my friends and they stay home often as well. However, some of my friends barely ever have a home cooked meal, and barely ever see their families. I see my family for many hours every day, and I have deep connections with them as well. I personally prefer staying at home, even though I do take the occasional vacation in order to get away from stress. Most vacations we take, however, we stay in the homes of relatives, so we can see them more.

    I also support gardening completely. My grandfather owns a very large garden, and we used to until we moved in order to fit my sister in. We do however have at least 3 fruit trees that are normally overbearing, and can make some delicious dishes. Have you ever tried apricot ice cream? It’s amazing!

    I think I stay at home too much, though. I don’t have a job yet, and I rarely visit people. I don’t even know the names of my neighbors! Most of the time I am connecting with people I know through the internet. This is a bad habit, I know, but sometimes it’s the only way to get in touch with someone if they are always gone. You can send them an email and hope they respond to it within the next few days, but talking to them face to face is virtually impossible if they are so busy.

    Wow, I just realized how much I typed. Well, that’s how I try to stay localized. I eat stuff we grow (when we can) and stay home often.

  33. I am also a big home person. Why not be at home its warm, safe, i have friends and family nearby? But the way we spend our time at home can also be a factor in all of this. If you have the ac lower then you normally would when your gone or you spend a lot of time gardening then yes that sure does help. But what about the people that have every single light on in the house, 20 televisions on, every person is in a different part of the house, and your eating a bag of chips that came with two shopping carts full of food from your local wal-mart, and your not going to take your behind off the couch all weekend. Congratulations, your saving gas because you wont be out and about shopping from store to store all weekend, but in a sense, nothing is really changing. The fact is simple, americans are lazy. And we like it. We like the way we live our lives and nothing is going to change because so far, the only thing effecting most is high gas prices, and to us is merely an inconvenience. Something that needs to change is the way we all look at what makes us happy. It is obviously not money or gasoline. Look where that has gotten us. There is too much structured activity in society today. Everything has a deadline. We all just need to go outside for a walk, read a book, bond with the family. Driving an oversized SUV for 3 kids and 2 adults to a movie is not “bonding time”. I feel like we all do not realize the opportunity of staying at home, that we do not have to work 12 hours a day for a bowl of rice for our families to eat,(maybe an exaggeration there) but imagine the amounts of free time that we waste simply watching television. If we shut off the boob tube for two hours a night, that is 14 hours a week that is added to your schedule. Would you be feeling so rushed in your everyday life if you knew that if it so happened you could not get something done you wanted to, you have an extra 14 hours to do it? Would we all be sitting on the couch eating McDonalds in our size 42 jeans if we had the time to prepare our own dinners?(which is ten times healthier) I think not.

  34. for me staying home is very enjoyable if the tv is not on. for example we had thanksgiving last weekend and with 12 people in the house you might think it was a disaster. but mom turn on the radio really loud so that every one could hear it and while we were working on making the dinner everyone was have a great time. also after dinner and some people had left we had a giant game of monopoly and everyone was haveing so much fun.

    but when it is just me at the house i and i am really board watching tv it makes me feel lazy. so one thing the should come with staying home is having something to do to work on so that it isn’t just being a hermit. like right know i am working on building the new bathroom with my dad and it is really fun.

  35. Give the car a break
    Maybe throw it away(i mean recycle it)
    Get a bike
    Take the bus
    Stay home
    Don’t go
    Connect with your family
    Your neighbors
    Your friends
    Get into a rhythm
    Grow a garden
    Feel the earth’s heart beat
    Around you, take it in
    Live in the moment
    For the future

  36. Ahhhh home, the place where my family makes fun of each other. But the thing about us making rude statements about things we say is that we are laughing and building our relationships. We watch a minimal amount of tv, maybe 21 hours a week. We are using less gas in our cars when we stay home, but we use more of it to heat our house. When we are home we turn up the heat and use more gas that way. And usually our homes are not very well insulated and so we use more gas to try and heat an unheatable box. In order for us to stay home, we need to be happy with what’s at home. This means that we must change our view of what makes us happy. For most, it’s people. We long for relationships naturally. And what better way to build relationships then garden. We can have local gardens down the street that everybody can walk to. How great of a feeling would you have if you knew that your working to feed you and your neighbor. It’s not that we need to stay home, its that we need to change where we go, and how we go there. The world is an amazing place, why waste it at home?

  37. I don’t think “staying at home” necessarily means in the actual house. It means staying in your landscape and knowing it and loving it. The landscape where you grew up or where you have put down roots. It is the place where your history is layered into the land as you walk around each day and work, go to school and visit your friends. Home is the place where you experience the evolution of your town, your neighborhood, the land, the animal populations, the new building, the shifting banks of the local creeks, and where you watch people age.

  38. I’m from Oaxaca and I did not want to stay home.
    I’ve enjoyed many of the benefits of being a locavore, and I’ve grown and raised my own food, may be not in the most sustainable ways because we have been influenced by MODERNIZATION so we now drive pick up trucks and tractors.
    I live in a town of about 7000 people where almost everybody nows each other, it can be overwhelming too! some times I like to go to the city jut (1hr bus ride) to get a doses of anonimity and fun, meet other people and see other expresions of culture.
    I WANTED TO SEE THE WORLD so I went to CA to do an internship, there is a big difference in the way we live our lives as INDIGENOUS PEOPLE IN OAXACA and as CONSUMERS IN USA, I would not say that one os better than the other but being a CONUSUMER intrinsically means eating resources produce-consume-waste. And the other comes from Old L. indu “in, within” (earlier endo) + gen-, root of gignere (perf. genui) “beget,” from PIE *gen- “produce.”
    I’m now studying for a PhD in Engineering Sustainable Design @ Univ. o Liverpool,Uk. hoping to contribute to the body of knowledge and help industry manufacture and heal the environment with their daily operations.
    It is hard to be a conscious consumer when there are not options availaable, l wanted to use fluoride free tooth paste, but now I realize all the phthalates in my toothbrush, I’m still using fossil fuels + toxic additives to “CLEAN” my teeth may be I’ll just start using my fingers baking soda and sea salt like the indigenous people of china who told me that!

  39. Its hard to say whether staying home is a radical act but the act of staying home is a radical idea to most people. Home should be the root of society because it is where we always return to, whether it be after work or after a trip or even after a long strenuous day of shopping. I don’t think that we see staying home as radical just as an unusual idea since so much of our society relies on us going out into the world and spending our money on unnecessary items. Maybe we need to start spending our money on more necessary items like our homes and the staples needed in it. But radical acts are not necessarily bad. If the African-Americans did not revolt and if Mumia Abu-Jamal did not join the Black Panther Society and commit so called “crimes” or radical violent acts, as looked upon by the white man, then they would not have gained any freedoms that they are entitled to as human beings. If the colonists in early America did not revolt against Europe to gain freedom from the British we would not be living the same life. whether that be for the better or worse is of ones own opinion. The British thought that this was quite radical. Why would the Americans want to be free of British rule? The definition of radical and interpretation of it all depends on who you are talking to. Each persons definition of radical is different from the next. But the “root” of it all is somewhat universal. We all cherish “home” and greatly enjoy the idea of going or being home. So why do we increasingly spend less and less time there? What is the radical answer?

  40. I can’t really say that I like home very much. My brother and my dad won’t stop making vulgar jokes. My sister always wants attention. When someone gets home, flick, the TV turns on, whether or not they say that there’s ‘anything to watch’. I usually stay in my room and read a book, or practice reading music. My dad keeps wanting me to learn how to drive (I’m 16 now), but I don’t see the point. I can walk just about anywhere without too much trouble, and I don’t have anywhere important to go to. I’m proud to say that I can’t drive, but other people seem to look down on me like their driving skill is their social power. People don’t realize that oil is about to, or already has peaked. Why should I get into the habit of driving when there won’t be cheap fuel around for much longer. Why should I contribute to climate changes and destruction of the environment, when it’s not that hard to just walk or bike?

  41. I live in a house where we tend to ourselves. My mom, My older sister, her daughter, and myself all share a three bedroom apartment. We have our own rooms and our own things we like to do. Staying home can be fun if it’s my mom and me, but the tension between my sister and me is great. If staying at home is supposed to create more happiness, then my home surely isn’t the one to look at. In most cases families are divided, we don’t do things together as much as our ancestors used to. We all have separate rooms and each room has a TV. My mom and sister watch TV a lot, (my sister sleeps with it on). with me I’d rather read a book or talk to mom. When I’m not at home, I’m at school, but most of the time while I’m at home I’m bored out of my mind. Talking to and seeing the same people day after day gets a little annoying. My sister and I can’t stand to be alone in the same room for more than an hour. So instead of a family, i think we are more like strangers living in the same house. Which I personally don’t like.

  42. Given that 1) my solar architect husband has had no work for the last 6 months (the first time in 25 years) and 2) we live on acreage that we’re gradually restoring from decades of mis-use, we find ourselves doing all kinds of little indoor and outdoor projects that are quite satisfying and were postponed when we were both working. It feels like being on a constant vacation. We lucked into a beautiful living place that needed care…what a pleasure to provide it.

  43. I enjoy staying at home. Its a nie place where i can keep busy. its also a good place where my family spends time together.

    We actually started eating at home more often. Instead of going to dinner we would make microwave lasagna(which is actually very good) and would be done in 20 minutes. Thats like waiting for your food at a resturant, but in the convenience of your own home( and the best part is a 10 dollar meal that feeds four vs a ten dollar meal that feeds one is a great save). This has given us the ability to go to the movies more(which we live 2 minutes away from) and the ability to do more.

  44. I think its a wonderful idea for more and more people to stay home, not to watch TV, but to participate in the lives of their families. Can anyone of today’s social society truthfully say they saw their baby’s first step? Admired their six-year-olds drawings?
    I’m sure there are many, but not enough. Everybody is out working, buying, working, sleeping, etc. but no one is living. It shouldn’t just be “I’m going to stay home more,” it should be “I’m going to live more. I’m going to strengthen my relationship with my family. I’m going to relax and reflect.”
    How much better would life be if everyone just stopped for a few moments to let go, clear their minds, and decided that the next minute would be used for someone else?

  45. I loved the comment where the person said its really about LIVING more. It’s true, too much survival going on, my best moments these days since the birth of my baby have been playing with toys, knitting and walking, all with my little teacher of being in the moment. They are slow moments, of no particular, “value” but are the most valuable moments of my life.

  46. Telecommute! I’ve telecommuted for over ten years and highly recommend it. It should be standard operating procedure for all businesses and government.

  47. I’m far too young and inexperienced to have a child, but I have many younger cousins that are full of surprises. To hear them giggle and enjoy themselves is far better an experience than buying -insert name of product- to gain happiness. So many think that having materialistic values is more important than their children and it saddens me that they think that. I’m elated to know that at least someone finds happiness and value in another human, no matter how small. =)

  48. “The task has only become more urgent as climate change in particular underscores that we need to consume a lot less.”

    Some people may get a more fuel-efficient car and take a bus more often. We may get truckers and buses to not run their engines at idle so much. But if you live in a modern dwelling that is conventionally heated and/or air conditioned, buy most of your food from super markets, use a cell phone and computer, want to rely on modern medical technology in case of illness or injury, and generally take part in modern society, the reduction in carbon emissions would be barely noticeable at best!

    Face it, people: You do not want to go back to living in huts of sticks and spending a shortened life stuggling to obtain enough food by hunting and gathering! Modern technology has freed us in various ways, and has generally improved the quality of life for many.

    We need to learn to use our scientific knowledge more wisely. President Obama is on the right track. Developing alternatives to coal and oil such as utilizing solar and wind sources can make a REAL difference. If you think you are doing your part by such acts as changing your incadescent light bulbs to florescent ones, you are deluding yourself. If you really want to help, start fighting by speaking, writing, and actively opposing the likes of Big Oil, the conservative Republicans, and the Rush Limbaughs of the country!

    The biggest problem is world population – 6.5 billion and growing! Ultimately improvements in energy efficiency will matter little if this kind of growth is not stopped! So add oppostion to the religious evangelicals and fundamentalists to the list. Hey, the evolution of life has always entailed struggle. We have entered a critical period for the human species.

  49. Hi

    I have just come across your blog and I was very interested to read your great posting. I absolutely love staying at home and I agree with a lot of what you have written. It’s a coincidence maybe, but I have just written about “roots” and all the work there is to do on the land.

    The most radical thing I have ever done in my whole life is to leave my comfortable, suburban, cosmopolitan lifestyle behind, in pursuit of the good life here in the Abruzzo countryside.

  50. Response to David Hicks
    “‘Staying home’ is the norm for every species but us. Organisms evolve to fit a particular habitat, and prosper there.”

    Perhaps, but the particular habitats of many species, from whales to caribou to swallows, involves migration of incredible distances.

    On the article and subject overall – Staying home can be a viable and healthy alternative to a hectic, overscheduled, overconsumptive way of life. It can also be a retreat into isolation and insularity.

    I love the city and the place I live in, the mountains, the ocean, the wild places a few miles away. I love my neighborhood, but I would not want to spend my whole life restricted to it, to never travel to the mountains that I can see on a clear day. I would never want to spend my whole life even in this region – to never see anything beyond that. (There is an interesting contrast between this discussion and the “Leave no Child Inside” piece – “In suburban Fort Collins, Colorado, teachers shake their heads in dismay when they describe the many students who have never been to the mountains visible year-round on the western horizon.”)

    I want to bless the lives of my children with an extensive sense of place and knowledge of the community and environment we live in. I also want to give them the opportunity to see other places – to see the wonder of a Southwest desert, to feel the wind blowing across the prairie (what is left of it) in the Dakotas, to stand amidst redwoods, or to know the gentle beauty of a Pennsylvania mountain. When I was a child, my parents set the goal of showing my brother and I the United States, all 50 states of it, by the time I graduated high-school. We spent summer vacations driving around the country in the back of a battered pickup or van, and I have so many cherished memories of the people, places and things I saw there.

    Maybe the damage caused by this kind of travel is not sustainable, and travel is something we have to give up. Maybe, but I would like to think there are ways to have that sort of horizon-broadening experience in a sustainable future – to have a sense of place and rootedness, but also to be able to go on walkabout and see other places.

    John

  51. >J-chapman re: David Hicks
    Very thoughtful, reasoned and purposeful statement personal testament of perception, balance and place.
    My personal attempt to speak to the importance of seeking to balance the allure of being on the move is not analagous to the migratory patterns of other species.

    The reason is the destruction of habitat that accompanies a culture of growth above sustainability.
    This condition is not unique to the US, but my personal experience leads me to believe living within a self-defined set of limits is easier and more rewarding when one recognizes that demand control starts at home.

    Watching the human caused habitat destruction and depredation from satellite imaging is even more pronounced recently when one views the Gulf of Mexico, the Amazon Basin, and the Sahara Desert growth.

    Although I am not personally able to participate in direct environmental restoration, I personally can avoid living at the dead end of suburban sprawl, staying off the road whenever possible, and by bearing witness to minimally destructive lifestyle management possibilities.

    This is not to be judgmental of our brethren who are not able to make conscious choices. That is the tragedy that the American lifestyle often demands. Many of our lives are negatively impacted by the greed and destruction of ‘growth at any cost’ zombies in charge (Z.I.C.S.)

    My conviction is that there are alternatives, but we have to be vigilant, mindful and supportive to counter the Z.I.C.S.
    thundering noise.

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