Christine Immel, administrative dietetic technician at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center, discovered her diverse hobbies actually fit under the Radical Homemaking movement, which redefines how families live by focusing on ecological sustainability, social justice, community engagement and family well-being.
Christine Immel, Milwaukee VA Medical Center“I attended a conference in 2009, where I bought “Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture” by Shannon Hayes. The book introduces a different paradigm of thought on what it means to be productive members of society. It created a vision that I am starting to live out, which is to help society shift from a consumer culture to a culture of self-reliance that nourishes our families and communities. Radical Homemaking is about shifting our homes from a unit of consumption to a unit of production by teaching lost life skills such as gardening, food preparation and preservation, crafts, living within your own means and relying on community support.
It’s a term people haven’t used before. It’s about getting back to the basics. There’s a lot of accomplishments that have been made in history, but with two people working and nobody left at home we’re finding a disconnect in our communities and having less time for family. We’ve shifted to a consumer society where we did little to no producing in our own homes.
I think we’ve been through the consumption age. We have to keep the technology that helps us. I don’t think we need to get rid of dishwashers, but we need to marry the new technology that we have and what we know works with what we know that we’ve lost.
Radical Homemaking can happen when there are two parents in the workforce as long as they make an effort to start producing in their own home. My husband and I can do it because we have split shifts so we don’t have to get childcare.
All of my life I’ve had separate interests in nutrition, home, crafts. All of my hobbies didn’t come together until I picked up this book. All the things that I felt like I had been training for all my life came together under Radical Homemaking.
I just asked my boss if I could go part time so that I can join two different internships, so that I can master all of these skills and teach them. I’m doing one internship about farm to school and another to become a master gardener.
To support the vision of the Radical Homemaking future, I started a home-based business called The People’s Pantry. I set up my garage as my workshop that I plan to teach out of. I have seven stations: sewing/crafts, homemade cleaning products, recycling/composting, food preservation, home health, resources and home office. I am gardening, vermicomposting, building soil with composting and bunny manure, seed saving, yogurt making, making my own cleaning products and home remedies, mending my family’s clothes, dehydrating and freezing food, and cooking and baking. I am lucky that my husband is handy and does all of the home and car repairs, maintenance and home improvements. I plan to expand my education in organic gardening, root cellaring, canning, soap and candle making. My husband and I are planning to get our own chickens next spring. When I am ready, I will open up shop and teach all of these skills to those who want to learn how to become more self-sufficient.”