A more conventional profile, written earlier, of the people behind this website is presented further below.
However, now that our new site’s home page contains the word “radical”, it may be in order to explain what, in this context, we mean by it. You see, a friend who apparently understands the contemporary mindset far better than we, warned us against using any boat-rocking terminology on the home page. We did consider his suggestion, though in the end decided to be more forthright than diplomatic. Nicely riding along with the crowd just hasn’t been our cup of tea… and so we continue to address certain subjects in what a few readers may perceive as ‘too critical’ a manner. It is, however, criticism that is meant to be constructive in principally the same manner that enabled us to inspire, and then help bring about, the major improvements in scythe equipment design and manufacturers’ services which so many on the scythe scene now much appreciate.
In 1974, as fresh graduates pondering the future, Faye and I had asked ourselves essentially the same question posed by Williams. We consequently chose the path of small-scale farming within the context of which to explore the possibilities, and hopefully one day be in a position to answer with a ‘yes’.
Above the table in our 16′x24′ cabin has long hung Mahatma Gandhi’s well-known maxim: “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”
For us ‘the change’ entailed learning how to get by with less than the western society’s present norm. (For instance, our off-grid homestead started with kerosene lanterns as a source of light, progressed to one 5 watt lightbulb and then to 9 watt over the years — supplemented by candles made from ‘home-grown’ beeswax and tallow, with flashlights for outside work at night. However, we could function without the high-tech aid, if need be, and not feel ‘deprived’ with the candles alone.)
As caretakers and breeders of many kinds of domesticated livestock, cultivating a diversity of grains, fruit and vegetables — while NEVER striving for maximum production — we felt that animal-powered tillage, along with a healthy dose of Permacultural principles, was an acceptable version of ‘living lightly upon the Earth’.
In retrospect, we were a little too smug. Although significantly reduced, our unwitting contribution to the corporate exploitation continued. (As but one little example, who makes the rechargeable batteries or the photovoltaic panels, where do all the materials needed for their production come from, and what really is the total ecological impact that affords us this ‘green’ luxury?)
It would be several years before we came across The Craftsmen of Necessity as well as other books on an array of related subjects, which together helped to dispel our initial illusions. Now, as members of a ‘developed’ nation living in the 21st century, our honest answer to Williams’ question can be nothing short of a ‘no’. To have come to grips with that fact was heartbreaking. It still is. So is the knowing that no matter how hard we try to walk our idealistic talk, we shall not succeed…
The only follow-up question of merit (one raised by progressively more voices) is: How much violence can be inflicted directly by this supposedly intelligent species before nature can no longer function as our “resource”? The answer is still ‘blowing in the wind’…
In the late 80s our ‘discovery’ of the scythe became a balm to our perplexed souls.
It was a case of ‘love at first sight’, and that on several levels. In an essay Conviviality and the Scythe we had tried to express the extent of its virtues, and began with these words:
Much like the pen of a poet, an artist’s brush or a carving chisel in the hands of a sculptor, a good scythe wielded by an accomplished mower with deep intent can do more than just sever the stems of plants…
By 1998 — for reasons best summed up by Faye’s early morning reflection (the “note to myself” on our homepage) – we embarked on a mission to share this old “tool of necessity” with the new generation of potential ‘eco-craftspeople’, initially only in North America. We dubbed our vision of what we perceived could, or rather ought to unfold, the “Scythe Renaissance”.
All in all, it has been an effort full of challenges, frustration, and of course, some deeply-felt rewards. Eventually, with the contributions of countless others, notable progress has been made. Still, never quite satisfied in this regard, I continue to gripe about the unrealized potential, and worry about the prospects of this tool’s future quality as well as overall shortages (concerns specifically expressed in my essay Will Europe’s Scythe Industry Evade the Reaper’s Deadly Swing?). Nevertheless, it is rather obvious that even the level of ‘renaissance’ reached already is bringing benefits to the collective human experience. Furthermore, we are confident that the movement has nowhere reached its pinnacle and that those benefits will grow, perhaps exponentially — regardless of what exactly the future may hold.
- Peter Vido
|Our home — one with old single-pane windows and altogether too “airy” to qualify as “green”, but a home nevertheless…||…and a southeast view from beside it.|