For many folks being sustainable (or living a sustainable lifestyle) and being self-sufficient is their primary goal in homesteading. I feel like having a “mission statement” like this is fundamentally flawed on a couple different levels. For one the goal of being 100% self-sufficient by yourself, while a noble goal, is not likely to be achieved. Now if you add in some sort of greater community… well then you’re cooking with fire! Self-sufficiency is best attained through a communal effort of voluntary association. Everyone should be working to become less dependent on outside inputs though. When you consider the idea of sustainability, then you are looking at maintaining the status quo, while doing as little damage as possible. This is not acceptable, in my view! We are called to be the good stewards of this land, and a good steward makes things better not less worse!
Catch phrases like reducing your footprint, only reinforce the idea that humans are a bane to the existence of our natural surroundings. A parasite, or virus is what this thinking reduces us to. The modern environmentalist movement has embraced this thinking wholesale, and fed it to our children through the public education system… I know I was there, I ate it too! This has lead to governmental policies where sustainability, and “smart growth” are mandated and enforced through an ever tightening net of regulation, fines, and enforcement agents. If you subscribe to the sustainability dogma these things seem like a necessary evil, required to keep our destructive human nature in check. Well I for one do not buy into line!
I know that we were placed on this planet for a higher purpose than to just do less bad than the person who came before us. If you continue logically on the sustainability line of thinking, then the best thing you can do for this planet and humanity is to end your life now! We all know that is not and never will be the answer to any problems. Sadly in our modern “culture of death” suicide and murder has become commonplace. The message is subtle, but ever present: Humans are the most destructive force on this planet! We don’t have to be stuck in that frame of mind, but that is where this noble idea of sustainability, puts us.
I choose to subscribe to the line of thinking that we are the most productive and healing force available to this planet. I firmly believe that we were placed here to be a force of good. A restorative force, an implement of restoration, a force for positive change in this world. We have the knowledge, skills, tools, and calling to not only undo the damage from previous/current exploitation of this planet, but to make the world better! The human being was endowed by our creator with the ability to do these things. We need to move beyond the concept of sustainability to that of regeneration.
With the proper mindset and education we can create local abundance on a global scale, the likes of which no one alive has ever seen. People just need to move past the idea of “doing less bad”-sustainability, to “doing the most good”-regeneration. A regenerative model gives back to the land and our future, while the sustainability model continues to extract resources, just at a reduced rate. It doesn’t take rocket science that the former will continue on in perpetuity becoming more and more productive, supporting more and more life, while the latter is a death spiral, slowly dragging humanity down into oblivion. Using techniques like permaculture, holistic management, and keyline design, we can become a regenerative force on this planet.
We have the tools available to us, we simply need to start implementing them on an exponentially larger scale. For this to take place people need to move beyond sustainable to regenerative in their mindset. If we are going to continue to prosper and become less dependent on outside inputs, taking resources from one environment to bolster another, then we must make this paradigm shift.
For a homestead to have long term success and viability it must be regenerative. The regenerative homestead will produce in such abundance that many of the cardinal needs will be met by default. There will be surpluses in amounts that will make a profit, and the remaining needs will be met through that. External inputs will be minimal and the need for dependence on far away goods and services will be drastically reduced. This is my goal for the Traditional Catholic Homestead, and this is how we are raising our children. Sustainability is a losing battle by it’s very nature. Regeneration leads to abundance and independence. Man has the capacity for tremendous evil, but we are endowed with tremendous graces to counteract that evil. We simply need to be open and willing to let those graces into our hearts and the world. If we do this we can create a world of regenerative abundance rather than one of sustainable scarcity.