Guest Post - M. - The View from the Adapting in Place Class: Week 2

by: EJ on 07/19/2012
Posted in: Guest Posts

Sharon Astyk has been running her "Adapting in Place" course in anticipation of the release of her new book, Making Home: Adapting Our Homes and Our Lives to Settle in Place later this month.  This week, M., the New Society Publishers scholarship student, shares her thoughts about the benefits of interacting with people from varied backgrounds and ages.  She also discusses issues surrounding home births in her home state of Maryland.

This class is very different from any other I’ve taken. There are a lot of suggested readings, let’s just say many of them have been posts from Sharon’s blog and we know how long those can be! But there’s also the class discussion, which is online. That alone is new to me, I’ve never taken an online class before. Something I’m noticing every time I read through the latest updates is just how diverse the class is.  There is one other person from my state, one or two people my age, and definitely a couple other moms of young children.  But there are 26 people in the class, so that leaves a ton of other folks of all different ages and positions in life from all different parts of the country.  It’s a completely different experience from taking a local prenatal yoga class or even my courses in college, where everyone had much more in common.  Add to that, the class is partly about learning new ideas and systems for the home and community generally, but another big part is specifically planning for your own life, which makes for extremely wide ranging discussion.

What makes that amazing is while I’m trying to plan for my midlife and my older age (not to mention my family in different stages of life from my own), I can talk to folks in midlife, in retirement, with adult children, struggling with all of these same issues. That definitely doesn’t happen in my day to day life as a mom and teacher.A couple of topics came up this week which sparked a lot of passionate discourse which I had never even considered. One was how to approach preparing and adapting issues with a spouse or partner who isn’t interested or doesn’t believe there are going to be any societal changes to prepare or adapt for. I now know that I’m very lucky to see eye to eye on this with my husband. But for others, it was interesting to hear the ideas for how to start “the conversation”.  A recent natural disaster? Approach the frugal aspect? Think of the grandkids? Emphasize a religious angle? Or try humor?

Another big issue was pets.  Oh, pets. We are nowhere near the mindset of taking on creatures to care for.  But there was a full discussion of the expense and usefulness of pets, along with a lot of information on dog food.

Another topic was discussed that I am thinking a lot about: women’s health care. This is currently news in our family, as we are expecting a baby in the next few weeks.  But it is also very much in the news in my state of Maryland, where an recent enormous malpractice judgement against Johns Hopkins Hospital involved a home birth turned emergency C-section.  Maryland already has some of the most restrictive laws for home birth and midwifery. In a “powered down” world, or just one where folks can’t afford health care or medical bills or gas to drive out to a far away hospital, having a birth at home can be anything from a good backup option to a top choice for low risk pregnancies. The result of this and other cases is that there are few to no midwives offering care for home births in Maryland. However, women are still choosing to have home births, but doing them “underground” with practical midwives or doulas. Because it is illegal, it poses a much higher risk as when there is a problem everyone involved can be reluctant to work with a hospital (and hospitals can be reluctant to work with the mom and caregiver) because they risk getting in trouble with the law.There are a lot of other areas both in women’s health care and in entirely different areas such as zoning where the laws don’t always match what people are actually doing.  I would say getting a work permit for your home in Baltimore city is one example. The question is, to engage the political system and try to change it for the better, or duck it entirely? And just for the record, I’ll be birthing in a hospital (provided I get there in time).

The impact on midwives and their services is worrying and I agree with M. that these are skills we may well need in the future. Midwives are skilled practitioners who decrease health risks to mother and baby.  When my baby was born, the midwifery program in BC was in the process of becoming certified.  There were four midwives in the province and they all worked out of the BC Women's Hospital in Vancouver.   Thankfully, the accreditation process was successful and women now have access to licensed midwives throughout B.C.

What is your approach - do you campaign to have laws and policy changed or do you carry on with what you want to do and "duck" the political system? Stephen Hren has collected some great stories about people who would rather ask for forgiveness than permission in his book, Tales from the Sustainable Underground: A Wild Journey with People Who Care More about the Planet than the Law.  Let us know some of your stories in the comments section below. 






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