Another Balm For My Cynicism

In Little League, I was a good fielder, but I couldn’t hit. Another swing and miss on my last post which The Good Wife didn’t find too funny. Maybe it’s not me that was amazing and now isn’t, just my sense of humor.

Through the Biggest Little Farm, a Canadian television documentary about University of British Columbia graduates committed to urban farming, and related reading and multimedia, I’ve become infatuated with small scale farming. I can’t fully explain it, I’m just extremely moved by small groups of people working small plots. I’m sure I’m romanticizing it, but their commitments, work, and products give me hope for the future.

And that’s hard to come by these days.

This heartwarming story, “America’s Most Luxurious Butter Lives to Churn Another Day” nearly brought me to tears. I just love everything about it—the people, the cows, the cows’ names, the pictures, the incredible serendipity.

I want to support local farmers, but besides buying their products at the Olympia Farmer’s Market, I’m not sure the best way to do that yet. If you have ideas, do tell.

Caring, kind, patient parenting and caring, committed, and sustainable farming keep me going when so much seems to be spiraling downwards.


Postscript. Informative critique of “The Biggest Little Farm”.

What I’ve Learned From Grand Designs

One of the nice things about living in the upper left hand corner of the country is getting a Canadian television channel which airs my current fav television show, Grand Designs.

Every weekday I record the hour long show, and then, in the evenings, watch it while fast forwarding through commercials. The format is simple, each episode Kevin McCloud follows one UK couple through the home building process. In recent years I’ve grown keenly interested in architecture and design, but I enjoy the show for more subtle reasons too.

For example, I really like the way Kevin does what the vast majority of us find so difficult. He routinely befriends the builders while honestly and directly confronting them about their missteps. In other words, he masterfully leverages his rapport with the builders to speak truthfully about their projects.

Other take-aways from a selective sample of middle class to well-to-do Brit builders:

  1. People always underestimate how long a build is going to take. Usually by about 50%. Why is that common knowledge? When will more (or some) homebuilders begin extending their initial estimated timelines?
  2. People always underestimate how much a build is going to cost. Usually by 20%+. The standard “contingency” line in a budget is 10%.
  3. People almost always take on more debt than intended (see number 2).

What’s most intriguing about the show is the inspiring nature of the partnerships, whether straight or gay, married or not. Every relationship is tested by a home build, it’s something different every day often for a year plus. The participants on Grand Designs have common values and visions and just keep getting on despite the unforeseen problems, the endless delays, the mounting debt. The way their friendships carry the day is life affirming.

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