Self-reliance in LA

“Erik Knutzen and Kelly Coyne have been farming their yard in Los Angeles for over a decade. In addition to a mini orchard and extensive veggie garden, they have all the instruments of an urban homestead: chickens, bees, rainwater capture, DIY greywater, solar fruit preserver, humanure toilet, rocket stove, adobe oven. But they don’t like to talk about sustainability of self-sufficiency, instead they prefer the term self-reliance.

“I don’t like the goal of self-sufficiency, I think it’s a fool’s errand to chase that goal,” explains Knutzen. “I think we live in communities, human beings are meant to live, and trade and work together. I think self-reliance is okay, in other words, knowing how to do things.”

For the couple, their true goal with all of this self-reliance is freedom to live as they please. “I think a lot of it has to do with our overdriving ambition to be free,” explains Coyne.”

Another great video by Faircompanies. How do they find so many great stories and people?

12 thoughts on “Self-reliance in LA”

  1. I watched, backed up to re-watch at times, this video and deeply enjoyed the “naturalness” and “common sense” of the wide range of things they do as urban homesteaders. Being born in a rural area at end of WW II, I grew up with many of these things being common in our community. Not everyone will choose the homesteading way of life, but one of the appealing features of it is that by building earthbag and other types of natural homes, using active and passive solar and many of the things shown in this video there is a viable pathway to financial freedom. For those strapped for cash, who are trying to save for a house, shop at the super market, etc. and don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel,the homesteading option offers a realistic ray of hope! A few years of learning and diligent effort could easily turn one into a homesteading pro–and the possibility of a life of independence!

    • Thanks for the reminder. We’re talking about true financial freedom for the rest of our lives, not just saving a little money here and there. Getting started is difficult. Finding a place with minimal codes is challenging. But don’t get discouraged. Stay focused on the long term goals and the rewards will far exceed expectations.

    • The beauty of the concept is that it doesn’t HAVE to be for everybody.

      As the video suggested, the concept of Self Sustainability may be a red herring. There is nothing wrong with being part of a community.

      Just because someone may not personally desire to … for example… raise chickens, that doesn’t mean they have to get their eggs from a grocery store. That person can make a deal with a neighbor who does raise chickens, and support their efforts. That deal may be a simple cash transaction of purchasing some backyard raised egges, or that deal may be in the form of barter. Perhaps the person wanting some eggs without the daily chicken care hassle is passionate about something else that their neighbor egg producers would appreciate.

      This basic concept applies not only to eggs, but to fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, meats, carpentry, welding work, and on and on.

      Perhaps you have a personal aversion to gardening? What if your neighor loves to garden? What about cutting a deal with your neighbor for them to cultivate your yard with edible plants? They tend the plants, you get a portion of the harvest, and perhaps a local food bank gets some, and your neighbor gets the rest to use themselves or sell for profit.

      The point is to seek out what works. Find those local sources and support their efforts. Become part of the local community and support local gardening and farming.

      This overall concept has become known as a FOODSHED.

      Try googling “Foodshed” and a few keywords that represent your local area. Try to plug yourself in to the local community resources. Then decide for yourself how you choose to participate in your local Foodshed.

      We each have our likes and dislikes. We each have our strengths and weaknesses. Tap into the best your neighbors have to offer and offer them some of your strengths.

      Have fun in the process.

  2. My thought is every home should get back to doing it simple but, sadly most people won’t until a major catastrophe happens then they’re forced to do it. Then there’s chaos in the learning process. I appreciate these folks doing what most Americans should be doing. America has really just gone to the convenience mode. This won’t help them if the SHTF which I believe is just a matter of time. I highly commend them for their “smarts”.

    • There’s a learning curve to everything. Trying to start a garden, raise chickens, capture roofwater, etc. all take time and effort to learn. So if there is another serious economic collapse then things will be much more difficult like you say.

      • To answer your question, I think Dirksen has developed enough of a reputation that she and her husband get more ideas thrown at then than they can possibly cope with.

        They get a great deal of responses to just about everything they do anymore. For good reason, they are talented videographers, editors, and storytellers. They have a good eye for knowing a good story when they see it, and then they have the talent to tell that story by allowing the people living the story to express it for themselves.

        I find their style very refreshing and compelling. It seems that most modern TV shows that attempt to tell these kinds of stories always end up trying to hype up some “Host” for the program and make that hose the star of the show. It almost always is a mistake and detracts from the stories being told.

        Dirksen and her husband stay out of the limelight. They stay out of the story themselves for the most part. Only when absolutely necessary, or when their own personal experiences are a genuinely important part of the story do they inject themselves into their videos.

        Many people have attempted and failed to maintain perspective when doing this type of storytelling. Very few have succeeded. Charles Kuralt comes to mind as one of the very few that knew how to do it. I dare say Dirksen is better than Kuralt.

        These stories are all around us. We meet interesting people every day. The Dirksens just have a very talented eye, and make sure to tell their stories. Or perhaps I should say, they allow those people to tell their own story.

        • Jay, you’ve hit upon the most loathsome facet of mainstream television: the dramatization of the subject and the host. Revolting.

          On another front, I recently stumbled across I am just a reader, and have no financial interest in this site. The writer and his wife retired at age 30 because they lived simply and saved madly. You’ll find copious profanity, but the ideas for how to live smartly and work for a life of freedom are eye opening. It’s about smart frugality and having the guts to try things and the discipline to eat at a restaurant only once per month. And to enjoy your life fully while doing it! I wish I had learned this 20 years ago, as I’d be free now. But I’m learning it now.

          I share this link because from the site I learned so much about living well, yet frugally.


          • Looks like a good site. Thanks for sharing. They’re largely saying life is all about our attitude, perspectives and the choices we make. Very true.

            Update: I’m really enjoying this Mr. Mustache frugal living site. I’ve decided to do a blog post on frugal living because this seemingly ‘fringe’ topic is so important for realizing our dreams.

          • I’m interested in your definition of “fringe”, Owen.

            How can a topic be a fringe topic when probably over half the world’s population needs to be frugal just in order to survive?

            Seems to me that would be considered mainstream, and the media’s commercialized sensationalizations of the false economies of over-consumption and debt are what is closer to the fringe. A fringe existence is a couple or small family living in a 3000 sqft McMansion for 20 years and never getting to know the neighbors.

          • Note that I said “seemingly fringe”. This is my way of saying it only seems somewhat off topic and I’m sort of apologizing or explaining my reason in advance. Calling it “somewhat off topic” may have been more clear.

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