The Year of Self Reliance

Another year begins, and so follow the resolutions. I’m not making any half-baked resolutions this year – just decisions. Firstly, I’m going to write this blog. And look! You’re reading it!

I’m also declaring 2011 to be The Year of Self Reliance. I’ve already started on this journey, but will be cranking it up a notch in the coming months.

Self Reliance? What’s that?

You have probably heard of the idea of self sufficiency, where a person or community provides for all of their own needs. However, to be totally self sufficient implies a degree of isolation, being cut off from outsiders. For most of us, this is nether an attainable or desirable goal. We may have sufficient to survive, but is that really living? Wouldn’t we prefer abundance?

By aiming for greater self reliance, I mean to do as much for ourselves as we can and provide for as many of our own needs as possible. For example, we can produce much of our own food, move towards energy independence, and ensure we have a source of water.

Why be more Self Reliant?

Most people in modern western culture rely on others for the supply of their basic needs – such as food, water, energy and waste disposal. What happens if the systems that provide these services break down? In times of war, natural disasters or economic hardship, people become self reliant in order to survive. If we face a major crisis – be it economic, climatic or energetic – being already able to provide for your own needs would reduce the impact.

It is possible that we could face such a situation in the coming years. There may be an energy crisis on our doorstep, one where the price of fuel and electricity rises so dramatically so as to change the way our society functions. We are seeing the evidence of climate change in more extreme weather events. It makes sense to be prepared to carry on living in the wake of such an event, especially if you live in the cyclone-prone tropics like we do!

Fear of an imminent crisis isn’t my major driving force, though. I want to eat real, healthy, organic food – not the nutrient-deficient stuff produced by agribusiness you find in the supermarket. I want to feel like I’m doing more than “my bit” for the world by separating the recycling and buying recycled toilet paper. Sure, I want to feel safe, but I also want to feel independent, productive, and that I’m living a life that regenerates, rather than degenerates, the planet.

My journey into self reliance has been gaining momentum over the past few years. So far, we collect rain to meet all of our water needs, produce our electricity using photovoltaic solar panels, and our waste is processed on site. In the couple of years we have been living here I have dabbled in growing a little food and kept chickens for eggs, but overall my attempts at producing food to date have been mediocre. This year, I’m starting over with the vegetable garden, planning fruit trees, and the chickens will be back. Hopefully I’ll be producing a large proportion of the food we eat.

Income generation is another focus of self reliance for me this year. I jumped off the 9 to 5 treadmill at the beginning of 2010 with the plan to start my own business. I’ve picked up a couple of clients, but have also been working a part time job. After completing some study in the coming weeks which I’ve left unfinished for way too long, I’m planning on growing my small business over the coming months and eventually phasing out working for someone else.

2011 promises to be a year of fun, adventure and some hard work. Please join me, feel free to share your knowledge and ideas, and even have a laugh at my expense along the way. I’m really looking forward to it, and to sharing my experiences and lessons with you.