Several months ago, I was strolling through the Union Square Farmer’s Market when I first spotted the booth of the Urban Homesteaders’ League. There were swap items on a table, a kombucha demonstration in progress, an inviting collection of how-to books in the corner, and a big banner that read “Urban Homesteaders’ League.” I stopped dead in my tracks. I had been making a long string of changes in my life over the past six years in order to adopt more ecological practices around my basic needs. I had started making my own bread, granola, and herbal tea. I was growing herbs, melons, and greens in my community garden. I had joined a CSA, sold my car, stopped using household paper products, and had started buying all of my clothing second-hand.
I was doing everything that I could to wean myself away from the wasteful consumer life-style in which I had been raised. I was finding such fulfillment learning how to make and do things for myself. But I didn’t realize there was a name for this or even a group of like-minded folks nearby who were moving in the same direction. When I saw the banner for the Urban Homesteaders’ League, I realized–of course! Urban homesteading is the perfect way to describe what I’ve been trying to do!
I ran home from the booth to look up the organization online and easily found the UHL Meetup Group based in Cambridge, MA. The robust range of activities planned for this group was eye-popping. I had felt somewhat isolated in some of the life-style choices I had been making, and UHL seemed like a perfect opportunity for finding and building the community I craved.
Not long ago, I saw a posting on the UHL Meetup home page of a woman who was involved with work that fascinated me. I sent her a greeting and learned that she was presenting a skillshare at the UHL farmers’ market stand. We corresponded about her presentation, and at one point she said: “Why don’t you present something that you’re doing in your life? It seems like you have a lot to offer.” What? I’m the novice and the amateur. I’m doing easy things that anyone could do. Then I thought about it. Maybe I could talk about using cloth replacements for some of the basic paper products that people use everyday. Maybe I could actually think of myself as inside the tent rather than watching eagerly from the outside!
As I helped Lisa set up the UHL booth this past Saturday morning, I thought: “Isn’t life grand? Isn’t it amazing how three months ago I was walking by this very booth and feeling the excitement of finding a group of people who were doing something organized and constructive about the issues I felt so passionate about? Isn’t it wonderful to be here sharing something about my life and seeing how the world is full of tremendous possibilities when we join hands and move forward together?”