Community Philosphy Blog and Library

Has Facebook alienated us?

** And now a break from our usual programming. **

Last night on Facebook our dear friend Harriet lobbed out an idea for folks lamenting the banning/removal/chastisement/threatening of people who are using the words “URBAN HOMESTEAD” on Facebook:

Folks, I suppose you know about all the censoring going on over at Urban I-can-do-it-myself land. I guess you know about some of our favorite bloggers like, oh Northwest Edible Life who have been warned not to speak their mind on the matter. I guess you can feel the crunch of the fb police closing in on all us urban I-can-do-it-myself-in-my-backyard farmers. What to do? Personally, I think commodifying and copyrighting this movement is completely ironic and speaks to how far from the spirit we have gone. Why don’t we just go over to and do our talking there? Check it out, I think you’ll like them. It might not be fb but it won’t be censored either.

What say you, community? What do you think of as an alternative to Facebook? Calamity Jane tried gathering up her flock in a group called Apron Stringz last year, but it fizzled. She’s been in her own transition, so that may explain some of it, but I’ll ask her why it didn’t last.

This web site is designed to be a welcoming place for supportive, informative and safe exchange of information about all things agrarian, homesteading, householding, domestic, etc., but it also requires the leadership of many – not just one.

I’m happy to provide suggestions on how to structure such a Facebook-like venue on

  • Start a GROUP – a microcommunity – called YOU DON’T OWN MY WORDS or MY LIFE IS NOT A TRADEMARK or THIS IS NOT FACEBOOK or whatever righteous title you agree upon. A group allows for discussions to be organized by topic. Its downfall is that folks tend to just comment on the main group page and we end up with a long string of comments with no structure or reference points. Rambling, at best.
  • Start a DISCUSSION in the main DISCUSSION FORUM. The good part is that there is no extra step of joining a microcommunity. The downside is that there is less of a “club house” feel.
  • Either of these options allows you to share a link to an article, blog post, photo, whatever that you’ve been sharing on Facebook. Sharing with others is easy, too. It certainly would mean a collective shift in behavior, which we all know is not a quick and easy thing. Again, I’m happy to answer questions and give support to make it work.

Yes, Facebook sucks. They’re trying to squeeze money out of anyone with a page. They’ve decided to take the most boring, draconian route toward more profits and it will come back to bite them on their virtual ass. They’ve limited our ability to reach the thousands of people who have voluntarily subscribed to updates because we can’t – and won’t – pay. I’ll admit we’re a bit out of the loop on the news of Facebook banning members and taking down pages, so we’ll leave that to those in the know.

Most of all, I think that we’d like to hear how can be of service to this kick ass community of fired up, pissed off, fiercely independent people like Harriet, Erica, Rachel, Calamity, Heidi and those of us who love the conversations they inspire. I’m eager to hear. Be honest. Have at it. And now, I’ll go over to Facebook and post a link to this discussion. 🙂

~ Cornelia

ps: Apologies to everyone who has absolutely no idea what this is all about. It ‘aint drama, be assured. Carry on.

9 Responses to “Has Facebook alienated us?”

  1. Hey Ms. Cornelia,

    Okay, you asked and I’ll say. At least this is my perspective.

    I think the complaints about the urban homesteading debacle are a tad disingenuous being that most the folks using fb are doing it promote their own efforts – myself included. There, I said it. Yes, we hate the Dervais because they had the audacity to monetize and copyright a movement (assuming, of course, that the universe can be copyrighted) but in a small way that’s what we are all doing — trying to make bank on a movement. Sorry, but that’s what I think.

    Personally I thought the whole thing was absolutely insane and could more or less ignore it (other then it being so very stupid from a P.R. perspective) but others had a financial stake in using the word and they got really pissed off. I understand. I mean, who would have imagined such a thing. And so it got all legal and shit. Not sure if the end is in sight but it’s still a nasty battle.

    So while some folks had a vested interested, the rest of us got pissed off on principle. But I ask, realistically, what’s in a name, particularly that one. The first “homesteading” act was rife with bullshit from day one when most of the prime land was given to the railroad and not those poor besotten fools (manifest destiny my ass) who imagined this country really wanted to give them free land and opportunity. Please don’t make me choke. So using that word is sorta short sighted anyway. But more to the point, ain’t nothing homesteady about what we’re doing. We are land owners and renters and so far from homesteading or squatting that it ain’t funny. When’s the last time any of us ate hardtack? I imagine anyone really homesteading ain’t up on facebook so they don’t give a shit. No, what we are is just backyard gardeners or farmers and that’s that. Sure, I use the word householder but I would more rightly use the word homemaker. Yeah home. Love it, love it and I’m pissed as hell when someone, anyone, thinks choosing to make a home is a sure path to hell and gender subjugation. Tain’t gender specific so cool it. But that aside, words don’t mean shit if you don’t have the heart to live this life. Call it what you will but if we are honest the thing we would call it is life. Life outside the maddening consumptive world of a privilege.

    Still it WAS a lame thing for the D’s to do. Stupid to the max. So we got annoyed and perplexed and hooted and hollered for awhile but that’s about it. Or at least that’s as far as it freaked me out. I’m WAY MORE freaked out about global warming and/or the way folks are not paying attention and/or the way folks keep thinking they can buy their way to sustainability. Now THAT shit drives me crazy. The Dervais??? Dumb and misguided at best.

    But the point is (again) many of us are trying to monetize this movement so the shrill is a bit misdirected. Actually, I doubt I’d be on facebook at all if it wasn’t suggested by my editors at one point. You know, facebook, twitter, blogs, tags and this and that and this and that. Then you get a following, then you get advertisers, then you get a book contract or another one (you hope) or something, anything to put some cash in your pocket cause this life still has a big foot into this damn overheated economy which means its tough as hell to live the very life we propose we want to. Someone’s gotta pay the freak’n bills don’t you know. But talk about frugality???? Talk about stop buying shit??? OMG. Communist.

    So we all get on facebook and we all (or some) imagine we can get tips for our work and turn it into a better way to make a living. I get it. Some folks succeed, some amazingly well. They master the social media game without it looking like they’re gaming it or us or the movement. Well, “gaming” may not be the right word but I do think that abandoning facebook with all its exposure and social media heft is something folks may not want to do. I’m not sure I can or will completely cause it has gotten into the rhythm of my day but it is beginning to piss me off big time. Censor my ass will you????? NOT

    And so and so….what Homegrown offers is a legitimate community of folks who want to talk about the stuff their doing without commodifying it. You remember how cautious you were about saying anything about my dvd? You remember how careful you were to not turn this into a forum for folks to promote themselves. Well, I think that’s exactly right but also what some of the problem might be with folks coming over to this joint, at least completely.

    Me? I’m happy to cause I was never very good at monetizing or promoting myself. It makes me feel squirrelly or somewhat fake cause what the hell do I know? Give me twenty years of this life and maybe I’ll have something to say but other than that, I’m as green as they come – or a little less green but still, a “grandmother” (as in University of Grandmothers) who really, really, knows her shit I am not. I’m just spinning around in space trying to figure out how to live closer to the bone without indulging in all the endlessly “cool” and fascinating shit modernity offers. Like what the hell do we need I-Phones for? Really, I’m asking a serious question. Where do they get that rare earth shit they need for it and our computers? Yeah, now that’s a subject. How is social media killing the planet?

    Okay, so you see. I’m game. I’ll jump ship but I doubt anyone is coming with me. Or maybe we can play on both sides of the coin. Stay on fb to do your social media self promotion (even if it’s sorta honest and earnest and real) and come on over to Homegrown when you just wanna be a normal human talking about the shit of living with one foot in the past and another in the hell of modernity. Or at least that’s what I would like to talk about. Cause lordy, lordy this shit ain’t about making JAM.

  2. Harriet, as usual, you’ve pegged the crux of it. Right to the wall.
    My instinct – and evidenced by the fact that NO ONE ELSE has commented on this despite hundreds of visits to it – is the same as yours. Despite Zuckerberg’s investors’ blind greed and the Dervaes’ short-sighted litigiousness, there is opportunity offered by being on Facebook. The ability to quickly and easily follow thousands of thoughts, trends, memes, articles and pop-culture eruptions in one place – plus promote one’s own efforts – is still winning out. No sense in setting a table that no one will eat at.

    We shifted tack a few months back, believing just that: Folks that were interested in reaching do not “live online.” They’re out digging in their gardens, tinkering in their kitchens, communing around their tables and trying to live a life that matches up with their values. So we’re going to build the best online resource for “agrarian skills” that we can. Interested learners can stop by, glean the information they need, and go back out and do it. Make it. Grow it. Cook it. And we are in the fortunate position to simply trust that those actions are making change in the world and feeding our mission of keeping family farmers on the land and thriving.
    To build this resource, we need the Facebook-dwelling folks’ help. Got a how-to on keeping beetles out of the potato mounds? Great! Share it with the community. You are surely an expert and can offer many more pieces of valuable advice, so the links to your web site / blog / farm / store are a pathway for more. We’ll provide you with recognition, give you thanks, and, hopefully, send a little “business” your way.

    From a “marketing” perspective, the web isn’t a house with locked rooms anymore. You can’t “capture” an audience any more. No one stays on one site for long (even Facebook.) We’re just jumping from web page to web page, hardly connecting or caring who owns the page. So that’s where it comes back to the conversation. The process goes something like this: If Harriet writes a lovely piece on, forgive me, making jam, I’m going to learn the process of making the jam, yes, but I’m also going to feel an affection for Harriet’s humor and honestly – and best of all, she replied to my question about the need – or lack of need – for pectin. I love Harriet and have told a friend about her book. She should go get it right away.
    The way Facebook is heading, our conversations – and our access to each other – will be limited by our inability to pay. The system won’t be game-able any more. The inane questions posed in order to glean exposure will no longer be effective (see Condescending Corporate Brand Page for more, and we’ll be rattling around in what looks like a reality TV show – all ads, little value.)

    When that time comes, we’ll see what people want to do. The light in the window is on.

  3. Harriet – I love you.

    Facebook – you suck. I really, really hate fb and for a while now I’ve been torn between leaving because I hate nearly everything about it, but staying because it IS a good PR tool. Not that I make any money from my blog. None at all. So why am I there? What is the pull? I think it’s a community. Weird one, yes, but it is none the less.

    I’m just not sure people can/will cut the addictive ties of fb. It is actually addicting – studies have been done. More addicting than drugs or sex they say. Which is scary and sad. But there it is.

    I’m not very familiar with But I’m willing to check it out. Just signed up and hope others do the same.

  4. how ironic. i just checked in here for the first time in over a year, to find this post?! hilarious serendipity. since you asked, i will tell you why i think the homegrown group fizzled after a few glorious weeks of frenzied discussion. or at least, i will tell you why i fizzled.
    the internet sustainable living world is inherently paradoxical. if i am out in the world DOING shit, i can’t very well be on the computer WRITING about doing shit, can i? at least not as a mother of two littles. it’s hour for hour around here.
    especially because i was blogging at the same time. i simply did not have time to moderate an online group as well. it ate away at my family and household. i should mention that i have never gotten into FB either, for the same reason. (except that as far as i can see, FB eats your time and doesnt even give you anything for it.)
    lately i have not been on the computer much at all. i am hoping to get back to blogging when our life smooths out, but honestly, the computer addiction aspect does put me off.
    so, and however. on another note, why did i pop in here today? i have lately been reading up in-depthly about permaculture and realizing that that kind of depth is just what i need. i am going to design a little independent study course for myself, to keep my mind busy over the long dark winter, and thought it would be fun (and more effective) to do it with a group for discussion and brainstorming. when i wondered where to recruit fellow permaculture independent students, i naturally thought of HG.
    so on a less related note, where and how should i advertise? feel free to email me, madam moderator, with your ruling… scarletfevir, yahoo.
    thanks for your unending work herein. i’m so glad to see that this space is still groovy.

  5. Calamity, I swoon at your kind kind words. Thank you. A wonderful reminder of what’s really important. By staying off of your computer and living real life you haven’t missed anything important. Keeping online plates spinning is a full-time job.
    I’m also starting to learn more about permaculture, and have actually used the principles as a guide for strategic planning and taking the “health pulse” of my life. Woo woo? You betcha. But I’ve found it a rich resource for all kinds of things. Not least of which is growing some really funky perennial crops.
    As far as sharing what we learn, we could certainly have a group called “Perma-curious” or “Permaculture Primer” or whatever…I’d be able to upload some of the documents I have from workshops, we could link to recommended books and sources, and keep each other apprised of our progress should we actually DO some of it away from our computer screens (gads, what a thought.) See you in the club house!

  6. It’s sad that it’s coming to this but I think deep down we knew it would once Facebook went “public” and they had to find ways to make money. I joined Homegrown a while ago but haven’t been as active as I should have been. Guess that’s going to change. I am looking forward to being here more since I just ordered my first chicks! You’ll be seeing a lot more of me!

  7. I saw a good bumper sticker the other day “My cow died I do not need your Bull” pretty much sums it up. We need practical and needed help not a bunch of bull. Lets keep the community informed and may we all add our 2 cents when needed or we have something to add. As Thumper says “if you don’t have something nice to say then don’t say anything at all” words of wisdom from a cartoon.
    If I missed the point sorry.

  8. April Alexander Says:

    Dear Harriet – I love your idea of shifting over here from facebook after the events of the past few weeks. I’m fully fed up with facebook at the moment. They were censuring my posts as well, and removing comments from the TBUH page – even some that weren’t close to being abusive in any way, shape or form. I feel like my, (and our), freedom of speech is being threatened, and honestly it scares me. So I’ve been avoiding dealing with the topic. Denial can be a good friend. But your solution sounds sensible and reasonable. I’m sick of those people reporting any comment we make regarding them and their idiotic actions. It’s ridiculous and I’m feeling very done with facebook at the moment. So thanks for your idea, it’s much appreciated. April

  9. I like all the posts here, but I find them no different than any other common discussion group. First, no one is losing their “Freedom of Speech” on Facebook. See, the Constitution, in the First Amendment, says “CONGRESS shall make no law…”. Facebook had you sign an agreement to use their service. So, YOU agree to their terms. Their terms are they can take down what you have to say. So, get over it. As for the D’s, they thought they were just too smart for the rest of us, and I think in the long run, they are going to get a very nasty comeuppance.

    I am trying to farm. And run a community garden. Oh, and teach at the local Community College how to urban farm. While I have a full time job. I’ve pretty much found group discussions to not be worth the time. The rare nugget of information isn’t worth going through the endless trolls, flame wars and other inane arguments of what’s right and what’s wrong. Besides, the D’s are welcome to come to Texas and try to “urban homestead”. They would not last 2 minutes here.

    I also think, that by definition, my own comment is moot. Since I don’t have (or probably won’t make) the time to go to these groups any more, no one needs my comment. But I do have one suggestion: Turn it off for a while. As long as you can manage. Stay out of all the blogs, FB, etc. Your time can be better spent with friends, family and dirt. Your blood pressure will go down, you will smile more, the roses will smell better and your breath will be minty-fresh.

    Maybe the entire problem is before the internet and twitter and blogs and FB, everyone had an opinion. Now, with all those things, not only do they have an opinion but they seem to think you should hear about it. And yes, I fully understand the irony of my post.

    Keep your fingernails dirty.

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