A few years ago I looked around at my friends and all of the things they were interested in, and I realized I didn’t have a good word to describe them. I’m talking about the soap makers, the butter churners, the beer bottlers. The urban homesteaders, the goat herders, the sweater knitters. We weren’t just foodies or hippies or back-to-the-landers. We were reskillers, sure, but not necessarily because of peak oil.
Neopioneers was what I finally landed on. We were all interested in crafting our own lives and learning forgotten skills, charging again into the relative unknown with the hope of establishing something better, if not for our progeny, at least for our dinner plates. I think the word rang particularly true for me since my family settled in Oklahoma five generations ago as part of the original land drawings (think Far and Away, but more orderly.) The pioneers of my past have never seemed very far away.
And so when I decided to start a blog, neopioneer came to mind again. Jeff and I were also embarking on a reverse migration — after generations of pushing west, west, west, we were moving east to New York City, a place where many families begin their American journey and a place so foreign it might as well be another country. I thought I would use this blog to catalog our journey and talk about my adventures in neopioneering. I thought I would talk about serious things, like food systems and flakey, lard pie crusts. But moving was exhausting, so for a while I mostly talked about muppets. And then my street finds. I also realized that despite a pretty competent hand in the kitchen and years of work with local food systems, I’m not actually a very good neopioneer. I’ve never lived anywhere long enough to justify digging a root cellar or even planting asparagus. I still feel nervous about home fermentation. And while my sewing machine made it to Brooklyn, my canning jars did not.
But never mind. No one ever said being a pioneer of any kind would be easy, so while I still plan to talk a fair bit about whatever I damn well please, I’m also resolving to blog a bit more about neopioneering, especially in the realm of food systems and my explorations of New York. Hopefully it will be at least as entertaining as the muppets.