Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Different Kind of Tribe

You know, it's funny, I spoke with Kelly Morris on her cell phone. After reviewing several pages of the extensive Morris Tribe website, I was almost expecting something different. I'm not sure what I was expecting, just something more 'rustic,' I suppose. I wasn't exactly thinking the conversation would be done with a couple of tin cans and a string stretched between them, but something along those lines!

How silly!
The Morris Family

When you review the website, the Morris Family is clearly familiar with all of the latest technology, yet Kelly's goal to bring her family toward a sustainable lifestyle - raising their own food, getting off the power grid, living off the land - has many facets. And it's a lot of hard work - especially in the summer when the land is providing. The phone conversation that followed had me intrigued about the sustainable lifestyle concept, and Kelly's passion for her own goals.

Here are just a few highlights from my conversation. I'll let you explore her website for more in-depth information on the details.

I asked her how she got started on this concept. She said, "It's complicated, but I'll give you the Cliff Notes version." It started as a way to get out of debt. As a newly married couple, Kelly and her husband Mark had a small house, a small yard and big bills to pay. But you do what you can to save where you can. It felt good to grow tomatoes in buckets on the tiny patio, or save on grocery bills with coupons clipped from newspapers. But then as the family grew - Kelly and Mark are the parents of nine, ranging in age from 26 to 6 - it became even harder to make ends meet. So one thing led to another, she grew as much produce as she could grow. Finally, the family had the opportunity to purchase a farm, and now they raise their own vegetables, dairy products, and meat. All naturally.
She had to learn everything from ‘scratch,’ since she wasn't raised on a farm. And so when she had an idea to raise goats, for example (I'm clearly over simplifying here), she did research, spoke to people who raised goats, and learned what she needed to do to raise goats.

As natural teacher, she felt that others might also be interested in her 'how-to' so the website has become her venue to share her successes and the things she might do differently based on her experiences. 

One really important lesson that Kelly has learned is that a big part of this sustainability concept is 'community.' In other words, you can't do it all. So you depend on your own resources in some areas, and rely on others for resources that fall under their expertise. Bartering can be a big part of the process. Again, I'm over simplifying.

She also realizes that everyone has different levels of, shall we say, 'tolerance' for this stuff. I told her that I almost expected her to say that she lived in a log cabin, with no electricity, no lights, no TV, no internet. With four teenagers, she realizes that this concept doesn't work for anyone if it feels 'forced.' Sunday afternoon television sports are not uncommon in her home. But, if it makes sense, they burn candles or oil lamps, and save some energy, and become a little less dependent on the power grid.

And perhaps the most important thing of all, it has to be fun! None of this would make any sense if she didn't enjoy the journey. It's gratifying. She said, "This isn't for everyone. It's about sustainability that's do-able and enjoyable. And may mean different things for different people. And that's okay."

And here's my big take-away on our conversation: I heard my own inner voice in Kelly's words over and over again. It sounds just like when I talk about my passion for quilting. Can you see the connection too?

 - Community - I like to say quilting is a social sport!
 - Learning and researching - who doesn't like to learn about new gadgets and techniques for their favorite craft?
 - Tackling a project one step at a time at your own pace. If that doesn't describe the process of making a quilt, I don't know what does!
 - And fun! . . . Well . . .Yah!

If nothing else, it's an interesting concept. Myself, I think I'll keep buying eggs at the grocery store. As it is, there's never enough time in the day to quilt! And my neighbors probably wouldn't like the early morning rooster calls. Just sayn' . . .

** Would you like to win a copy of ScrapTherapy, Cut the Scraps!? Click over to The Morris Tribe website and make a comment before October 1, 2012.

Happy Stitching!

PS. If you are looking for the results from the GREAT Summer Orphan Block Challenge . . . Stay tuned, we're still reviewing all the entries.

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