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The Kids Are Alright. In Fact, They're Knitting and Baking Bread!

Homeward Bound: The New Domesticity by Emily Matchar
Emily Matchar

You may have noticed a DIY trend among young people these days. Some are getting into knitting sweaters; others are keeping backyard chicken coups. Otherwise, they are making cheese, canning, beekeeping and growing their own vegetables. These labor-intensive homemaking projects may not be just a trend towards rustic pleasures.

Emily Matchar calls this movement the New Domesticity.  And she documents this phenomenon in her new book, "Homeward Bound: Why Women are Embracing the New Domesticity." Generally, she is writing not about people who embrace DIY culture out of necessity, but rather as a voluntary lifestyle. 

“People always did knitting.  People always did home crafts.  But they were traditionally associated with an older and more conservative demographic,” Matchar said in an interview with The State of Things.  “It’s only in the past 10, 15 years, and especially in the last five, that young people who consider themselves fairly hip, fairly with it, are embracing these things.”

But Matchar notes that these young crafters and farmers are embracing homemaking for different reasons than their predecessors.

“They’re embracing it because of environmental reasons.  They’re embracing it because they want to be less dependent on big corporations.  Because they embrace the DIY lifestyle,” Matchar said.

Does booming DIY culture point to larger philosophic and political shifts?  A century ago, the face of the progressive movement focused on increasing regulations.  The Food and Drug Act protected consumers from adulterated food.  Mandatory public schooling and public vaccination programs were instituted.  Does the contemporary DIY progressivism begin to resemble the Conservative movement or even Tea Party libertarians? 

“There is a major thread of distrust in government and institutions," Matchar said of the extreme end of the DIY lifestyle.  "And it comes from distrust of big food.  I think that’s a huge part of it.  People not trusting where their food comes from.  Wanting to know where it comes from.  Not wanting to buy it from factory farms.  All the way to people not trusting schools.  Feeling like [schools] are going to squelch their children’s creativity.  All the way through to people not trusting modern medicine."

Emily Matchar will be reading and signing her book:
Thursday, May 16 at 7pm at Flyleaf Books. 
Friday, May 17 at 7pm at The Regulator.
Thursday, May 30 at 7:30pm at Quail Ridge Books. 

Shawn Wen joined the staff of The State of Things in March 2012 and served as associate producer until February 2014.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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