Updated: Feb 22, 2020
It seems contradictory to have a school for teaching how to be "self-determined" and "autonomous" as the dictionary defines it. After all, self-reliance in it's purest form means that you are totally on your own, living by your wit, knowledge, and skills. Essentially a hermit. When I was a teenager and knew everything this definition of self-reliance was plausible.
John Muir wrote; "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe."
Believing we can be totally self-reliant requires one to be completely oblivious. But this doesn't mean the the other end of the rainbow is a good idea either. Total dependence on others for our ideas, technology, and physical work limits our abilities as human beings; physically, mentally, emotionally. A little self-reliance is good for us.
Knowing how to make your own bread, purify drinking water, set up a solar electric system, build a shelter, preserve your own food, survive when lost, build your own table, grow or hunt & butcher your own food, provide first aid with the plants that are around you...
These are the "Renaissance" skills that we often give to someone else to do for us, an "expert", because we have lost faith in our own ability, and our culture has lost the knowledge, deeming it antiquated. We are taught that self-reliance is bad for the economy, bad for the team, and essentially a selfish endeavor. But in our shunning of self-reliance we buy in to the cultivation of a mono-culture. Ethnic diversity is heralded everywhere we look, while integration and conformity are the true goals. The "little guy" is kept in line to produce for those who control the strings. Why do we give our power away so easily?
The path to being more self-reliant takes some learning. Unlike in public school where one mostly sits and memorizes things that others have already learned, you have to learn tools. Tools such as creative thinking, or simply how to use the physical tools to do the work you need to do. You take the tools that you have and create. You take your knowledge and apply it to new "problems". If the only tool you have is a hammer...
Making A Bow
Our School for Self Reliance has been around since 1998 in one form or another, starting off with expeditions to Ecuador to learn from the natives of the Amazon as Native Ways. Later on we taught specific classes in tracking and nature skills, wilderness survival, and founded the Traditional Ways gathering. More recently the Lost Creek Folk School was our focus on traditional skills from various cultures. The School For Self Reliance is our newest form honoring the idea that not only are these "old" skills valuable in a homesteading or survival situation, but NECESSARY for us to be complete human beings in the current age.
Pushing aside the old for the new is exciting; The newest phone, the newest kitchen gadget. The automated home. Most people don't ask "What am I giving up when I take on the new thing?" The good news is, you can take back what you lost.