We're moving across the country. Leaving Los Angeles for Asheville, NC. People tend to have strong reactions to this. Either "No! You can't leave, we need you here!", or "Congratulations! Wish I could get out of here too."
I have lots of reasons, some I tell some people and not others. Connor asked me today where I thought we'd be in 100 years. After explaining that I would not be around at all, I said I hoped he'd be in Asheville playing with his great grandchildren. I said 100 years from now Los Angeles will probably not be a very good place to live.
One big reason for the move, I'll fess up here - I'm fleeing the potential post-carbon Los Angeles that I've been worrying about ever since I saw End of Suburbia in 2003. It's been a long journey from there to here. First I responded by digging in and doing everything I could as a City Repair-ing, permaculture-ing, community-art-making kind of gal. But the stress of also trying to make a living, raise our son, and cover the basics in this vast, crowded, expensive, polluted place often made it feel impossible.
There is a technique for land restoration in Australia called the Bradley method - when trying to regenerate native bush, instead of taking the non-natives out of the most damaged places first, go to place where the bush is the healthiest and restore there, so you strengthen it. Then you go to the next healthier place and so on until the only areas left are the most damaged but they are surrounded by restored areas where the native plants have naturally regenerated and healed the soil. In this way the ecosystem will support your work all along the way and especially on those last problematic spots.
That's how I feel about Los Angeles vs. Asheville. From a restoration standpoint LA is the fast lane of the 110 freeway and Asheville is the edge of a city park where it meets the forest.
There's a good chance that I'm just burned out or getting old. The interlocking problems are so dense here. I think the loss of the South Central Farm last summer was really the last straw for me. We went to visit Asheville for the first time only a week after watching the heartbreaking bulldozer destruction of that oasis. A progressive city of 75,000 in the Blue Ridge mountains seemed like such a green haven. Not perfect but certainly a better bet in the global-warmed, post-carbed, corporately-governed future we seem to face.
The other big reason for the move is financial but this is also tied to trying to create a better future for everyone. I want to live more sustainably. I want to at least stop contributing to making things worse. Plain and simple - in Asheville we can live a lot cheaper. It's a no brainer. Cash in the equity we are blessed to have. Turn it into a little house with a big garden, orchard, chickens, maybe even goats! Biking distance to the farmer's market and the video store. Get rid of a lot of debt and free up time to dedicate to community building and art.
The Archdruid has an interesting post here called Cities in the Deindustrial Future
where he espouses the benefits of small cities.
This is the plan. Of course we picked a pretty dicey moment to put the house on the market. In the process of preparing it for market I've also had to get up close and personal with all our stuff, boxes and boxes and boxes of it. My participation in the consumerist affliction of the culture is not as minimal as I've been pretending to myself. Damn, you can cram a lot of crap into a house!
How does one move across country in an ecofriendly way? More on that in posts to come.