Historically, people did not live in urban contexts. Throughout the modernization process, governments have rounded people in most nations up into them. At present, many would still choose them though that has unignorably been changing. The future is defined by the balance we’ve yet to strike. The cat’s out of the bag; nobody wants to live in modernity’s epicenters of toxicity. Country pads are substantially more desirable in many respects. But what can those trapped in the city do for themselves? What economic structures could exist, that are regenerative in form where intergenerational wealth could expand on annual cosmic and atmospheric inputs, when a people are contained in unnatural material structures, void of harmonics in the landscape, cut off from sunlight harvesting soil? Stagnant air atop drained and built over estuaries, where the rats racing up the trophic ladders of worldly possession and honor fund the war machine of extractive industry. These are the cattle pens of Homo sapiens, where the crop spends its time herded, amped up on electricity, rueing the necessity of it and longing for connection. Do the people yet see that it is by design they live? So who among them designs for themselves?
The Urban Homesteading Concept and Dimensions of Its Roles in Crafting The Collective Unconscious
Regarding the journey of transformation for human life on this planet as far as a better tomorrow, the urban sphere represents the heart of the beast towards which pioneers of regeneration must charge. The difference positive intention makes, etched into the landscape, is considerably more striking in trashed urban lots, than in, say, converting forest or prairie soil into homestead. People fleeing cities and moving to countrysides bringing their city ways of life, expectations of services, and so on, are the ones who passively destroy the countryside without realizing it. In reality, many of the dimensions of self-sufficiency they seek can be acquired and cultivated on a small lot-even a neighbor’s-as a trial before deciding to get to into farming. The lines have been blurred more than ever for ways of human life in the modern era, and likewise super-positions of different living modalities are possible in more contexts than ever before. The urban environments, in metropolitan context as well as rural in the county seats of regions, townships, are to the overarching societal progress of The West what the house and workshop is to the family homestead. Let us then discuss some of the parameters of these considerations.
Urban centers are indeed nodes where resources concentrate and then distributed, resulting in profound landscape-altering flows of energy. Understanding these patterns of resource acquisition gains one the crafty advantage. The agencies based at the urban centers “represent” the masses that “manage” the large swaths of land surrounding densely populated zones. Rural homesteaders often find it enough to manage their own estates, for indeed with any reasonable amount of acreage and competency, they can provide many of the needs of their own families or even set up small farm businesses to serve a broader community. The wildlands and public land often find themselves accordingly occupied by people who seek them out as an escape from urban life. This is an important factor in the management of these large spaces: what are the background cultural pre-suppositions of the people who define the energetic flows through public lands? A city dweller will see different things, have different motivations in the mountains than a mountain man. And yet, the city dwellers hold sway for implementing policy of public lands. Nature can become a tourist attraction, a commodity, or purely an economic resource if there is not a balance of people and perspectives in the management process. Accordingly, they must connect with nature and represent the land rather than merely extract needs from it. It behooves the urban homesteader to be aware of this as they traverse the lands rural homesteaders are less available to frequent.
The agricultural and general biosphere operations of neighbors in an urban community are quickly understood. They may be seen, admired, gossiped about-or their vapors, erosion, or smoke might contribute to pollution. The pollinators they attract may benefit their neighbors, or the “chaotic” flow of nutrients (composts, messes of plants) may upset the aesthetics of people living nearby. Patterns of networking can be quickly utilized, and the urban homesteading neophyte in today’s culture can, with a touch of craftiness, produce yield and benefit in the many small spaces available once they are trained to see them. In the urban context, when a new person pops into a neighborhood, they can go to classes and link up with more established projects. Gypsy minded people, in whom the homesteading urge exists in a nomadic form, are examples of living methods made of this. They flow with and on currents of energy patterns and take on seasonal jobs and temporary dwellings as reflections of it. In the urban ecosphere, we find increased necessity of stacking fertility densely into tight spaces as well as an increase in opportunities to do so.
Consider the human factor and mass consciousness as it pertains to the public eye. People fall into means of statistical distribution by their actions. Urban designed events have a nearer and denser sociological realm of reach than rural. They have to, since so many neighbors should be driving by than on a rural road. They are features in the landscape. This is why lawns, or agro-chemical manicured grasses, have grown so ubiquitous-they are a diffusion of mindset. Cities and suburbs also allow greater mobility in that the land itself binds its deed holders less and they are able-or compelled to-move more often. If your lot is small and your projects few, how easy it is to swap it for another lot, and hence the average person moving so much in their lives. In the northern climates in urban environments, it is an advantage to need only a shovel for one’s winter snow removal. To assume cheap energy or grid power, and the time saved annually in driving or other such tasks, enables other sorts of creativity. Indeed, to have power aiding in production, to direct large streams of concentrated energy (electricity) into automated systems, is not to be underestimated by producers. Food preservation for industrial age denizens, for example, is made easy through use of dehydrators, freezers, freeze driers, etc, the energy needs of which can be difficult to obtain for the off-grid farmsteader. Small towns, still urban in design factors but rural in geographical locale, provide a sweet spot for the psychology of many people. In many cases, the small amount of land afforded by urban lots is plenty enough to satiate the hearts, ambitions, and work-capacity of many people. Rare plants can still exist in microclimates within city conditions, and wildlife has certainly adapted to take advantage of the nooks and crannies of these spaces as well.
Urban homesteads have capitalized on the access dimension of design. Teaching classes, hosting get-togethers, and being nodes on networks are all facilitated more readily, though they may suffer from lack of space and privacy. Unless a homestead is entirely self sufficient-an asymptotic dream largely unachievable-peri-urban communities may find themselves better equipped to handle broad transitions due to the tribal organizational tendencies in people. Town represents the essence that we need to stay connected. Indeed, rural homesteaders these days will still use phones; commonly they will depend on their long-range capabilities even more so since they cannot hop and skip to the nearest resource bank. Townships are often built upon a region’s most beneficial and central microclimates. Settlers found these mainframe spots, often spiritual power locations and indigenous highways already, suitable to plug into the legalistic expansion ethos that dominated the West. In winter, many of the town structures leak some of their heat away, generating a warmer microclimate. A density of thickly made buildings create windbreaks and the extensive masonry of roadways store more heat-double-stacking and triple-stacking beneficial effects. These roads offer opportunity for water harvesting as well, whether by run-off or snow plow mounding. In mountainous regions, towns are likely built on the area’s logical wintering grounds, where snow loads are not as great nor slopes so steep. Urban spaces can be the most productive of a region since they have so many positive elements and can be so densely managed.
Many country dwellers who are well-established in a given community maintain both properties in town as well as in the country-that their parents may have a more easy place to live, that they have a landing point and base of operations while building out raw land. For the family minded “refugee” style homesteader, the rural landscapes will have more reprieve and greater peace for them. It is, however, imperative at this time that high-vibrating people inhabit the cultural centers of human industry; who else will do the work of reclaiming our heritage as inhabitants of flourishing ecosystems when everyone is running to the hills and turning a blind eye to the runaway “development?” If a town center or a cityscape can embody the will-to-life of a homesteader as seen in its designed, living environment, then new levels of mass consciousness can be achieved and deeper bifurcations of human evolution can occur. Many people on their journey of self-actualization will indeed find themselves in the urban context for at least a few brief chapters of their story even if their destiny lies further on out in the WUI (Wildland Urban Interface.)
Ultimately homesteading is a reflection of the self-sufficient mindset, and an effort should be made to reclaim it given the boundary condition of the fee simple estate system. In this type of “property ownership” real estate system-emerging from medieval serfdom-everyone wants to be the feudal lord and hold lands. We wouldn’t think of indigenous people as “homesteading”, the world was in an entirely different order. Generations of people could travel across the body of the earth as the cosmos flickered above, and freedom was manifest. Instead, homesteading is the upwelling spirit of humanity even given the structural elimination of that type of world as possibility-the homesteader creates a microcosm of that scene on a piece of land, within boundaries. People are losing more and more access to land globally, so perhaps “homesteaders” will phase out of history just as the native lifestyles have. Clearly massive governmental power structures were and are set on eradicating them. Multiple generations into it, the original homesteads-full 640 acre sections acquired freely for just showing up-are mostly subdivided and the urban regime is fast approaching. The lifestyles of the indigenous or the completely self-sufficient may be impossible, but elements of them can be regained if sufficiently broad scale regional design could be well understood and adopted by enough people. Though this is another asymptotically impossible goal, regeneration is a logical conclusion and urgently called for. People must take up the cross of designing the subdivisions of the sprawling capitols of their regions-to beautify towns, and encode the patterns of fertility and cosmic unfolding into explicitly articulated structures available before all. Active collective evolution, where we are in control of our own development and unfolding, can occur if we can cross the threshold and establish the cityscape as a living, harmonic, dynamic system. We can create these closed-circle systems of resource capture, fertility cycling, and yield to the managers of this system. The urban environment can accommodate this goal with living plant communities or built cultural environments, and our higher selves are begging us to attend to the work. Indeed this is a present heroism that every human is called to. The restoration of our world is indeed imminent, unless through ignore-ance it is stymied with further annihilation. All of nature has already heard the call. Come then, let us revitalize the social-cultural wasteland as urban homesteaders.