English (En)

1) About the school

The School of Self-sufficiency is starting its operation in Rasimäki, Valtimo, Finland, in collaboration with the folk high school Kainuun Opisto. The School of Self-sufficiency is the first of its kind in Finland.

 We will kick off the spring semester of 2020 with construction-related courses, each course taking place over the duration of a couple of months.

 We aim to begin the main courses for teaching self-sufficiency in 2021.

 For now, the language used for teaching is Finnish only.

 The preparation work at the School is in active progress. Welcome to join the voluntary workers at the School of Self-sufficiency!

 

2) Why is the School needed?

Our modern lifestyle has inflicted severe damage on the environment and ourselves.

The conditions that sustain life are being degraded. People are aiming for change, but the truth seems to be that the ways of our culture are the actual problem to be solved.

We have set quotas on tree felling. We have set maximum permissible levels for pollutants. We have set objectives for wildlife populations. However, nature knows no such thresholds. Every change we make has an effect. And when we actually start approaching the threshold values, the impact is hefty.

Most conflicts in this world are directly or indirectly motivated by access to natural resources. Self-sufficiency will decrease the number of disputes arising from conflicting interests.

The primary change must be initiated by a grassroots movement. The potential of political action is overemphasized.

Technology is advancing in parallel with a society of control. The increasing dependency on technology will also increase the risks that need to be accounted for.

For thousands of years, man has lived in harmony with nature. That is still possible, to a large extent. In a subsistence economy, people do not live in poverty and misery if they are truly able to live according to the principles of self-sufficiency.

Life based on a natural economy allows a human being to see through the noise.

Life can feel meaningful in a future of any kind.

ALBERT EINSTEIN:

WE CANNOT SOLVE OUR PROBLEMS WITH THE SAME LEVEL OF THINKING THAT CREATED THEM

 

3) Description

In general

“Omavaraopisto” means school for self-sufficiency. Our location is in Northern-Karelia in the east of Finland. We are going to start in 2020 teaching gardening, ecological building, handicrafts and lots more, which makes people more independent from destructive lifestyle. The teachings are based on practical experiences  of Lasse Nordlund and Maria Dorff over several decades.

In the moment we have many work camps along the years to build the infrastructure for our school. If you like, you are welcome to participate. There are many people sharing the idea of doing something meaningful.

Purpose

The purpose of the school of self-sufficiency is to provide a broad range of knowledge and guidance for people interested in living on their own terms and working with their hands. To learn and develop alternative models of living in harmony with the finite resources nature has to offer.
At that time the teaching will be only in Finish.

Teaching

The six month program includes an entire year’s crop cycle.
Starting in May, students learn hands-on how to grow nearly all of their own food in a simple garden. Building and crafts help develop a thorough picture of basic human needs. Teaching is practice orientated. Work is done without machines, manual labor promotes resource wise thinking and helps understand the ecological footprint of communities and the individual. The course will provide insight into various materials, methods, and therein personal physical capabilities and bodily health. A balance of work, mental well being, and social interaction is an important subject matter.
Time is allocated for being together and improving social skills in a group.
The course will include theoretical discourse in the likes of the connection of modern society to energy and finance along with cultural and ethical questions in life. The core of the program is based on the practical experiences of Lasse Nordlund and Maria Dorf over several decades.

The course will cover:
-gardening and composting
-harvesting, storage, threshing and processing of crops
-foraging for berries, mushrooms and wild plants
-basics of log based construction
-building from clay, straw, and natural stone
-metalwork and tool maintenance
-cooking and baking
-different methods of food preservation
-felting, spinning yarn, and knitting
-leather tanning and sewing
-woodwork and utensils
-weaving, crafts from birchbark and wood shakes, rope pleating
-pottery
-making firewood
-growing and processing flax
-fishing
-forest use from a subsidence perspective
-tar making
-self-medication with plants

The learning environment resembles the conditions of a natural economy.
The teaching will follow weather and seasonal changes.
The school grounds are surrounded by woodlands, immersed in nature. At the center are a log house as a schoolroom and congregation space, a sauna, a cellar, wood sheds, and an outhouse which also functions as a compost. The garden and orchard are located in the immediate vicinity. Rainwater is collected for washing and a nearby spring for drinking water.
In the first years the accommodation will be in tents. 4-5m wide standing height bell tents are homely and equipped with a wood burning stove. As the program progresses we will build small cabins with students and volunteers. The congregation space will have solar panels and charging spots for charging the individual batteries for the tents and cabins. LED-lighting and phone charging will be available in all accommodation spaces.

Cooking is done outside in an open-air kitchen with a roof. On schooldays students will cook their own food together under instruction. Most of the food will be produced by the school itself. The diet is mainly vegetarian. Fishing is possible in a forest pond 4km away. The actual fishing instruction will happen during a separate 2 week period at the Kainuun opisto main campus. Students will have 5 days of instruction a week, some of which may be done independently. Weekends will be free.

There will be plenty of opportunities to focus on personal interest, during both instruction and free time. Morning and weekly meetings provide an opportunity to walk through work plans and address questions and concerns. Social and communal issues are open for discussion. After the course students can remain in the school’s peer support network to take advantage the knowhow and experiences of others.

Location

The course will take place in a forested, natural environment in the region of North Karelia, near the border of Kainuu in the municipality of Valtimo, in the village of Rasinmäki. The main road between Joensuu and Kajaani is 3 km away with functioning public transportation in both directions.

 

  

4) On the Nature of Teaching

The aim of the School of Self-sufficiency is to show a way into a more self-sufficient way of living. As well as concrete skills, we need time to explore new perspectives. The meaning of ‘self-sufficiency’ can be interpreted in many different ways. ‘How we learn’ can also be challenged at the school.

We aim to show that our ‘material standard of living’ can be significantly lowered and that nonetheless, we may experience a greater sense of well-being. This transition works when the basic needs of life have already been satisfied. We wish to use positive experiences to pave the way towards more modest living. Our understanding deepens only once we face things outside of our comfort zone. The greatest challenge of the School of Self-Sufficiency is to create a safe learning environment within which true learning can continue.

Unlearning

We have grown up in a particular era, in which we live out countless habits which we take for granted in our daily lives. However these habits are a result of the resource-abundance which has surrounded us. In this situation, before we can begin to learn new approaches, we also need to re-evaluate and unwind many of our preconceived notions. Even during times of restlessness, we tend to hold onto our previous understandings rather than questioning what we take for granted.

Some of the central challenges to creative thinking is thinking of things as opposites (not beautiful = ugly, good vs. bad, etc.) In this way, our thinking can easily become very locked up. But when we begin to deal with first-hand information, with first-hand experiences themselves, then our thinking settles onto a more authentic basis.

The Breadth of Teaching

For comprehensive self-sufficiency, a single person needs a wide variety of skills. One needs to know about plants, farming, knots, resource management, timings, weather, the strength of various building materials, etc. There are many different things that one needs to understand sufficiently. The price is that one can have only very basic skills in many different fields. One should not set one’s targets too high. Nowadays, being good at various things is not appreciated as much as specialist skills. The same dilemma applies to interdisciplinary research.

Modern learning favours specialisation. Thus the very apex of skilled ability – virtuosity – can be seen and heard in the play of a violinist, in the metalworks of a blacksmith and in the care of a doctor. We are easily impressed watching these people practising their craft. By comparison, the skills of self-sufficiency may not show as clearly. A master in self-sufficiency simply takes good care of his life’s basic needs. What this means in a learning environment is that the student is faced with a different situation than what he or she has been used to at school. The teacher is not the wizard of one particular skill, and this can be confusing for the student. While the maths teacher draws upon the long, developing history of mathematics, the teacher of experience has less proven facts to refer to.

The Importance of Practice

Based on feedback we’ve received, we’ve learnt that many students find it important to keep practising new skills as opposed to doing new activities only once. A student can easily drown in a stream of new information. But practical repetition can transfer previous lessons into ‘muscle memory,’ and hence free the brain up to receive new information. It has been said that people’s patience to repeat something that they’ve already learned has decreased in recent times. Yet it may be a surprise to find how inconspicuously and quickly practice makes us skilful.

A Familiar Formula

Many people have already visited us in the interest of getting to know self-sufficiency and doing things yourself. Guests have arrived from around the world, and so they’ve come to very different surroundings – the forest! Their experiences have been useful to the school itself as well.

Over the years it has become quite usual for some newcomers to feel as if they’ve “come home” when they’ve arrived. A dense and open family-life, which rotates around the daily chores (including farming and various building projects) can create the impression of a homely and safe environment. At the same time, there’s a thoughtful atmosphere. This kind of life attracts many people. Often the newcomer’s initial sense of excitement lasts about a week. After two weeks, a downbeat feeling may have developed, and we might ask gently if everything is alright. The answer is usually that everything is fine. Only on the third day of this new feeling our guest may grasp what is bothering them. If we get to speak about all this, the situation can return to normal, and we can carry on, richer than before. Otherwise the time spent together can seem to drag along very slowly. Being in a new environment can spark emotions that come as a complete surprise. Usually spirits are lifted by talking. Sometimes the guest cannot or does not want to talk about these things and chooses instead to retreat politely, saying for example that they are home-sick. The most important thing is to acknowledge that a person who is going through this kind of undefined anxiety will look for a reason and explanation for how they are feeling. They may even force themselves onto such an explanation. The first available reasons are the circumstances or some other external factor. It’s more difficult to investigate the depths of the mind and the deeper reasons for such anxiety.

At the School of Self-Sufficiency we try to support people who experience this kind of changing situation. Ultimately it is the student who chooses how he or she will navigate through these kinds of challenges.

Translation: OJ

5) About Self-sufficiency

Self-sufficiency in a Nutshell

In practice, self-sufficiency means striving towards reducing dependency on others – in other words, the process of becoming more self-sufficient. As individuals we can reach full scale self-sufficiency in different areas of life. As we become more self-sufficient, dependencies change. A subsistence devotee needs, in addition to a diverse natural environment, good health and room to deliberate their activities in a holistic manner.

With regard to communal self-sufficiency, it is hard to differentiate between a voluntary division of labour and an individual’s obligation for reciprocity within the community. As an example, a community may be self-sufficient, but at the same time deny an individual’s efforts towards reducing their dependency on the community (authoritarian self-sufficiency).

The most fundamental manifestation of self-sufficiency is probably subsistence farming: the striving towards self-sufficiency in food by practicing agriculture that does not rely on shop-bought fertilizers, uses own seed stocks and relies on work done without machinery. However, the concept reaches well beyond primary production.

Responsibility

Self-sufficiency means independence and self-reliance. We lead lives where the taking care of the basic necessities of our lives has been externalized to various other people. If we are inactive with regard, and unaware of the foundations on which our life rests, are we able to bear a genuine responsibility for our own lives?

The ever-increasing specialization in the area of work creates a network of interlaced dependencies, which are hard to shake off. In the short run it can promote societal peace, but at the same time it weakens a society’s ability to make necessary changes.

A human being will instinctively leave unquestioned those arrangements on which their livelihood depends. On the road to self-sufficiency, as the meaning of money declines, we may also become mentally more independent. We may depart from the masses and find paths where others don’t believe they exist. The individual actions of people constantly create diversity in the world. This is beneficial in changing circumstances.

Character

Self-sufficiency moulds itself into the framework defined by nature, whereas a technological approach aims to rule over it. The risks related to technological solutions are in proportion to the magnitude and width of their applicability.

In our attempts to manage world-wide problems we unwittingly create new problems by trying out newly created solutions. However, we do have historical knowledge about the functionality and harmfulness of certain ways and means. The model of self-sufficiency creates smaller problems and applies more familiar solutions.

Defining the relationship to the problems created by the dominant culture of speed, accomplishment, force and repression is a serious challenge for the model of self-sufficiency. As an approach that uses few resources, its strength isn’t in retroactive mending of errors but in prevention. The dominant culture is able to carry out spectacular rescue operations, but the next problems are already brewing in its subjugated structures. In that state of things, the wisest course of action may be to break free from the cycle and channel as many physical and mental resources as possible away from the dominant culture and towards serving decentralized communality.

Kindness

A self-sufficient household/subsistence economy is a highly energy efficient system of production compared to the industrialized society, which requires a wide societal infrastructure in order to produce food and goods. That is why it has been able to support us for thousands of years.

Self-sufficiency has an important role in times of crisis. However, a more significant attribute is its ability to prevent crises. Self-sufficiency survives on few and local natural resources, so there will be fewer conflicts over resources.

The independence created by self-sufficiency reduces the creation and corruption of structures of power. Societies that have become centred on power, such as our own western society, need a sizeable governance and balancing system, in order for the society to function. In a crisis, this need makes the society vulnerable to (also green) totalitarianism. A society that is decentralized/based on self-sufficiency can more easily be democratic and is not as vulnerable to global swings.

A way of life based on self-sufficiency enables perhaps the only form of economy which supports the unrestricted sharing of knowledge and skills, because it is beneficial for all. The dominant market economy, in contrast, favours exchange facilitated by payment and motivated by personal gains.

Ownership is an unresolved dilemma between human and nature.

Mind

Do-it-yourself know-how boosts self-confidence and reduces fear. This stabilizes interpersonal relationships especially in times of tension. Being self-reliant is not the same as being selfish. A person who is mentally and spiritually well is in a position to share.

A reduction in the material standard of living in the future feels unavoidable. A peaceful descent is psychologically very hard, because diminishing resources will not be divided equitably. People experience increasing inequality, and this creates hate, which is seeking a way to manifest itself. Our minds tend to blame other people rather than complex societal structures – a strategy favoured especially in populist politics.

A decentralized society based on self-sufficiency is self-limiting. It is not represented by a person who draws other people’s resent. The drop in the societal standard of living (the ability to utilize resources) can easily even go unnoticed by a practitioner of self-sufficiency who runs their household well.

Planet

The migrations of people have come to stay, and borders will not stop them in the long run. Would the development of self-sufficiency give better opportunities for the integration of immigrants? The solution would be akin to the settling of Karelian evacuees in Finland after the war. Over 400 000 people evacuated from the ceded territories in the Karelian provinces were settled all over Finland. Farmers, who formed the majority of the evacuated population, were all given homesteads, which were partitioned either from state-owned lands or privately owned larger estates and farms, which received financial compensation for this.

As we move towards self-sufficiency it is beneficial if our neighbour is also doing well. Networking is a natural way to develop non-aggressive economy around natural resources, across the boundaries created by people. It has to be remembered, however, that keeping in touch and communication also make use of vast resources. In Finland, a vegetable garden with the area of 500 square metres supports one person all year without bought-in food. This is very efficient and only requires a few hand tools.

Thank you for being.

 

6)

7) A Roadmap to the Future

It is unethical to present solutions to the world’s problems as if they are guaranteed to work. How can we pretend to know the answers now, given that we didn’t find them earlier, while the problems were still relatively small?

Change needs forerunners. I hope to see people prospering while working on garden plots and handicrafts, despite the fact that their careers, social status, and an entire ‘economy of appearances’ keeps drawing them away from doing such ‘dirty work.’ The power of example rests in their hands. And yet only a small fraction of the planning, skills, creativity and commitment that exists in the mainstream has been channelled to such alternative scenes.

The current situation is problematic in the sense that we cannot simply move backwards in time and undo the damage that’s been done to the ecosystem, and yet, moving forward by leaning into technology doesn’t seem promising either. Whenever it solves problems, technology tends to create ever bigger problems in the process. The promises of technology seem convincing on the drawing board, but in reality they repeat the results of what has become a fragmented way of thinking, and a fragmented society in which people have divided themselves into separate skillsets.

For me, the most central criterion for attempts at ‘bettering the world’ is this; if the attempt would fail, it should not leave new problems amongst the old ones. First and foremost, I would recommend doing things that are ‘most probably not headed in the wrong direction,’ and endeavours which do not draw too many resources away from other innovations.

Another criterion for innovation is not to lock the direction of change. The solutions that lean on technology usually bring about pressures to continue pushing forward with more and more technology, and in so doing, they tend to actively supplant other models of improvement.

Projects that need stability in order to function can easily get wrecked in changing circumstances, and thus waste the resources that have been invested into them. As technology becomes more and more advanced, it requires more and more stable conditions in order to operate. The immense resources that are needed to supply such technology are not sourced or provided in a sustainable fashion. It would be wise for us to lighten this load.

I do not propose any solutions for urban developments, because urban developments are largely unsustainable (see “The Foundations of Our Life.”) Of course you can also cultivate plants in the city. But as population density increases, the primary means of production become increasingly difficult and a larger and larger portion of the used resources is swallowed up by infrastructure.

In the future we may see an ideological confrontation rising between those who speak for technological solutions and those who seek to detach from the system. Most of the resources, as well as ‘the potential to use force,’ are in the hands of those who speak for technology. Only a miracle would stop them from using their powers in order to further their cause.

Most global problems are a result of technological development, and as such, today’s self-criticism of industrialised societies is more than appropriate. Technology has upended our social life and impacted heavily upon our thinking. Specialisation in both our education system and in the workplace has made it difficult for any one individual to fully grasp the nature, interconnections and consequences of technology.

Therefore I find that investing ourselves into technology completely and unconditionally is not unlike believing that we’re going to win in playing Russian roulette. Conversely, if we sought to have greater critical awareness of ourselves and of our own behaviour, this could have a positive impact not only on our own lives but also on the lives of others. In many countries with lower rates of consumption, people dream of having the kind of abundance that we are used to having in industrialised countries. But if instead we were to lower the resource requirements and standard of living in industrialised countries, it could become an impressive, symbolic and solidary act. Doing this could also help reveal the illusory contents of a life that’s been filled with consumption.

 

Where Does the Change Come From?

I don’t believe that we can control the lowering of our material standards of living or that we can create enduring ecological solutions by simply ramping-up social or legal pressures. Today we already have all the necessary ingredients of an ecological emergency, which could actually be used by the pre-existing system in order to justify the use of restraints as it sees fit. Sliding into an authoritarian system of government does not happen simply because of undemocratic movements or egomaniac leaders. Citizens themselves who are worried about the environment today tend to demand politicians to make environmentally conscious decisions, thereby continuing to expect to be led from above. In this way, we keep ourselves squeezed tight between the systemic problems.

I don’t believe positive change can take place by simply enforcing it from above. At the same time, it seems that people won’t shift their lifestyles drastically towards greater sustainability on a simply voluntary basis. In this situation, do we have any options?

 

Moving away from the intoxication of overconsumption is as difficult for us today as it is for an alcoholic to refrain from touching the drink that’s in front of them. This is why we need to unwind particular aspects of industrialised society which have made it possible to have such overabundance – not to mention the potential threat of slipping into totalitarianism.

It is usually easiest to accept modest living when there is no alternative way around it. At the other end of the spectrum, people who have become accustomed to living in overabundance often find it impossible to give up their advantages. The heavy inequality between these types of existence wouldn’t come to a clash, if it was impossible for people to misuse their powers.

The ‘cycle of seeking more and more’ is difficult to unravel, because its power does not stem from being simply insatiable or jealous. The need to ‘equip yourself better’ can also be very real. As a simple example, if a society can only afford to provide a fraction of its people with eyeglasses, then its behavioural culture tends to become built on the terms and conditions of those who can see well, which in turn impoverishes the lives of those who don’t. (Disabled people can tell you a lot about this.)

Attempting to drastically lower one’s own standard of living turns out to be so mentally challenging that only very few people can actually do it. For years I have experimented with methods of asceticism and restraint. I found that the constant struggle would end up eating all the energy which I could have used in more constructive ways. On the other hand, self-sufficiency has also protected me. Because I don’t have an income, I cannot buy pleasant things or experiences, which in turn has forced me to go and create them instead. This has certainly been more rewarding than buying such things.

I do believe that it is possible for a genuine, positive change to successfully come to life – but only on very distinct conditions. I urge you to divert your energy and constructive activities towards redeveloping and cultivating what has unfortunately become a very fragmented society  by now. I recommend abolishing any barriers to the free transfer of information, and strengthening the skills and abilities that are fundamental to our lives.

This is an enormous project. We must not underestimate the finesse with which contemporary societies have enabled us to live in relatively peaceful circumstances. Today we also have many avenues with which we can safely explore and/or unload the vast range of emotions that comes with being human. And changing circumstances will keep challenging our understanding of what it means to live together. (See also “The Development of the School.” – Article yet to be translated into English.)

Change on a Grassroots Level

On a global scale, people becoming self-sufficient is a relatively low-risk activity. If some would fail to become self-sufficient, it would not result in greater catastrophe than what could be expected today. Even if our broader environmental goals would not be achieved through self-sufficiency, each person living in self-sufficiency would at least have a smaller carbon footprint.

Practising self-sufficiency lowers our environmental load and urges the broader structure of our society towards a more resource-sustainable direction.

On a grassroots level, this type of activity is often considered insignificant when compared to activities that are conducted by society at large. What is often forgotten, however, is that activities like self-sufficiency (which require low levels of social organisation) do not need as large infrastructures as do national projects. For example, if the availability of resources was to diminish quickly, then the benefits of proven folk healing traditions could suddenly become more precious than any highly advanced, unavailable medical technology.

In a lifestyle that has formed predominantly around one’s own handiwork, a person becomes naturally aware of resources. The relationship between energy (work) and the results of our work is perceived more reliably and clearly by our bodies than by our brains. Sweat does not lie about the efficiency of our work. In small, circular economies (in which a person only consumes the food and energy that he or she produces, and vice versa), our work cannot be moved out of sight, the way it can in the contemporary world.

Becoming mindful about how we use our resources is difficult and cumbersome at first, because it seems to constantly contradict with contemporary teachings. It takes time to update our thinking. Step by step, we can approach a better understanding of how life’s different elements – work, rest, joy, different stimuli, etc. – all connect to one another.

Only on a grassroots level can we optimise the use of resources to perfection. By their very nature, national instructions can only remain generic.

Being active outside of the market economy also has significant benefits in mental health and spiritual well-being. History has shown us the effects that (mass)unemployment can have on societies. Being active by doing things yourself can protect from madness.

 

Which Road to Choose?

There are no guarantees about the successes of any particular model, or combination of models, for that matter. In self-sufficiency, a human being constantly remembers what his or her life is based upon. This natural and impersonal power naturally leads a person into sustainability. At the same time, we have great freedom to create our own lifestyle. This freedom needs no limits or controls, whereas the freedoms of modern life have made it possible for individuals to have devastating, long-reach and long-lasting impacts on their surroundings.

A society composed of small local communities doesn’t have to be a nesting place for misery. The myth of ‘the olden days having been miserable’ still lives on today, but subsistence itself may not be to blame. Human beings have always been capable of destroying and violating life, with or without technology.

Overall, humanity has spent most of its history in subsistence cultures, many of which have even been prosperous. It can happen today as well, if we learn to live with a much smaller input of energy than what we’ve become accustomed to, and if we behave ourselves.

I wish to propose pathways to the future, with which we can lessen the mental and material anxieties that stem from change.

 

The Redirection of Resources

Redirecting resources actually requires a deep understanding of what our resources really are. There are material resources and there are immaterial resources (work, time, information).

We should redirect our resources from serving the current system and use them instead to build sustainable alternatives – what you might call life-supporting backup systems. It’s important to begin developing them well before the larger power structures get into trouble.

In practice this requires dropping out as far away as possible from the conditions that have been set by the current monetary economy. Charting the effects of money is highly complex, and by extension so is planning the best course of action for economies in general. Therefore I do not recommend spending much time in renovating the monetary economy or even into experiments like cryptocurrencies. Resource-oriented thinking has always required a great deal of risk analysis, and yet risk analysis is often considered to be a useless brake against progress.

The efficient use of resources can be taken furthest only in decentralised, subsistence-like operating environments. The skills in such environments are critical in building a sustainable society, and yet they have largely been lost during the era of industrialisation.

 

Actuation

The transition into a lifestyle that uses less energy and resources requires a very focused targeting of those same energies and resources. One must balance out how much one will commit to repairing old things versus creating new things altogether. Today, society’s pathways support a largely disappearing culture, but then the current stability of our society does make it possible for us to build alternatives. This is precious extra time that we have on our hands.

It seems that a person only pays attention to his or her own resources by the time they’re unable to do anything with them any more. In order to create a more sustainable world, we need to act pre-emptively.

 

The Information Bank of Experience

Information is power.

Much of the information produced by humanity is owned by someone or something, which means that the use of this information is not free. What most people know is largely information that’s been passed on, rather than based on personal experience.

Freely available information comes with uncertainty about its accuracy. I support collecting information that is fundamental to our lives, its responsible verification and guaranteeing its availability to everyone.

For example much precious information about folk healing has already been lost, with some of the information having been moved into the ownership of pharmaceutical companies, and some of the information being unreliable.

 

Questioning Our Role and How We Fit into The System

The current social system has been set up in such a way that it does not need our active commitment. It’s enough for today’s society that we are passively involved by paying our taxes and turning up at work. Money ties us perfectly into the system.

This means that mutterings, complaints and petitions can’t replace real work in the field of creating true alternatives. The laying of money onto bank accounts is enough authorisation for banks to continue using it.

 

Healthy Activities

When undergoing serious change, a common problem of the transition period is that almost immediately a group of ‘people wishing to be coordinators of the change’ is formed.

There’s a thought that can somehow infiltrate such groups of consultants and leaders, according to which they feel they can maintain their livelihoods, while remaining at the very forefront of change. This is a very human way of thinking safely, but reading between the lines it tells you which actions people find ‘important’ and ‘even more important.’

I wish to highlight that working in the garden, or making firewood, or caring for each others’ health are some of the most important activities that exist. The ‘teaching of change’ or ‘selling it to others’ is already a more fickle thing.

There is no such thing as ecological consumerism. Instead, sustainability begins with taking part in the primary means of production. When the basics of life are well set up, they allow for more soulful hobbies. What gets highlighted in our culture is energetic, extrovert action that appears to shape the world around us. Meanwhile more philosophical ponderings and considerations of humanity at large might actually end up being much less harmful to our surroundings.

Handling today’s problems requires an extended review about our relationship with nature. In this there is also considerable room for spiritual development. Healing our society doesn’t begin and end with simply farming our own food. I would not be surprised to find Ashram–like spiritual communities and/or meditative methods playing a significant part in building our future.

Anxiety, hatred and offended minds can bring forth very damaging action.

 

The Building of Bridges

Let’s create some possibilities for transition. Everybody knows how difficult it is to make changes in life. Even though we know that we need to change, we keep pushing the way we’ve been going on before. Debts, the attitudes of friends, hobbies and habits make it difficult to produce changes that we may have already envisioned. This is why it is extremely important to create pathways along which a person can let go of his or her out-of-date routines and move towards a more sustainable life. Small gardens can begin giving lessons on how to grow your own crops. The School of Self-Sufficiency can provide a place for both teachers and students, where they may raise their own level of self-sufficiency and become independent of money.

 

Humanism

The nurturing of empathy. We are all in the same boat. It’s typical that during difficult times, the communication between different groups ceases and people often begin to create fertile breeding grounds for conflict. He or she who cultivates hatred only opens the gates for the next step. Every person who works in the name of ‘holy hatred‘ is better off remembering this.

When experienced without the comfort of other people, sadness, disappointments and fears can grow over time into hatred. And yet many such unpleasant emotions can be processed to become part of more constructive energy. By hating, one simply becomes affected and even controlled by the intentions of other people. Seek to empathise and understand your opposition instead.

 

Networking

The creation of alternatives is a shared project and it is only natural for it to reach across borders that have been drawn by human societies.

Exchanging information and ideas about resource-awareness by teaching and learning self-sufficiency beyond borders should cut down or at least slow down the arms race, both in a military sense and in the sense of chasing after resources.

Networking has limited value if it happens only amongst people who think alike. In reality, many people write their opinions up on various online forums and don’t use local newspapers to share general knowledge.

Perhaps the most important element of networking is to create a space for peer support. Pioneers work alone. Among them, there may be very unsocial people, or very grounded people. Peer support lessens the risk of change becoming crooked.

Simply ‘encouraging each other’ is not the same as good peer support. Encouraging people only gives them motivation, but in the end it leaves them alone.

In moments of sadness, all of us can provide peer support to one another.

We can spend a moment considering what we should do next.

We have created an overpoweringly complex system of destruction.

The course of this development continues with ‘smart technology’ and artificial intelligence.

We should not expect to turn the tide with short-term action alone.

 

LN, 2.2020

Translation by OJ 2020 03 13

 

 

“I don’t know which is the greater task: to decentralize a top-heavy    civilization or to prevent an ancient civilization from becoming centralized and top-heavy. In both cases the core of the problem is to discover what constitutes a good civilization, then proclaim it to the people and help them to erect it.”

   —Gandhi

Further readings

Self-sufficiency defying common sense,  Olli Herranen/Tere Vaden 2020

InvestigatingTheSimpleLifestyle

FoundationsOfOurLife_3_2010  (Here you find also the berry conservation receipt)

The barbarian 1-2013

BuildingTheLoghouse_Vol1_2016

BuildingTheLoghouse_Vol2_2017

 

Contact information

Omavaraopisto

Murtomäentie 1155

75790 Rumo-Rasimäki

FINLAND

Maria Dorff

044 3736277

omavaraopisto@gmail.com

 

The leaders

A number of people have already joined the effort to bring the School into reality. Please get familiar with the founders:

 

Maria Dorff

For my entire life, I have been inspired by garden farming and various crafts. Around the turn of the 21st century, I embarked on a personal expedition into an ecological lifestyle involving WWOOFing, community activities, farming and making things with my own hands. This rewarding journey of ten years towards self-sufficiency has been a great teacher to me!

  

Lasse Nordlund

So much time has gone by. It doesn’t feel like a long time ago, however. Back in the day I was a nerdy city-boy but I started to shape my life according to the principles of self-sufficiency. The change stemmed from my difficulties in adjusting to the mainstream way of life. I decided to follow my own path, much to the horror of my parents and other family members.

Not giving up easily, I managed much better than I had even dared to expect, over the course of 30 years. This far I have done great without a bank account or a phone. Even the ID papers have been missing for decades, now 🙂

I want to share what I have learned. That is what has made my life so rich.