Why I Work at Homesteader's Emporium May 19, 2015 22:14


Heyo! My name is Kelsey Cham Corbett. I’m a community organizer, social justice and land activist, and former nanny living in East Van, unceded Coast Salish territories. I’ve worked on quite a few grassroots projects with the Purple Thistle and now with the Surrey Youth Space, and have also been actively involved in environmental activism - organizing with Rising Tide and supporting Indigenous groups defending their lands against industry.  Taking on the role of Community Engagement Coordinator, I’m also the newest member of the Homesteader’s Emporium organizing team, so I thought I would take a moment to talk about why I decided to spend most of my hours in the week working with these lovely humans.   In my life, I have come to care a lot about what’s going on in the world. Ever since I was in elementary school (I’m in my late twenties now), I’ve been reading articles in newspapers and online about the injustices that happen in the world. Whether it be about incredibly devastating environmental disasters, corrupt political systems, or species dying due to climate change and pollution, I have always felt a huge drive to do something to change the path of destruction our western culture seems to be leading. This drive to do something positive in the world is actually how I was introduced to gardening, permaculture, and DiY/DiT(doing-it-together) skills. For me, learning these skills meant moving away from systems dependent on tons of pollution and non-renewable resources, and doing these things with other people meant creating opportunities of interdependence, where we learn to share and take care of each other. This is especially important, being in the city of Vancouver, where a study by the Vancouver Foundation found that 1 in 4 residents feel lonely.


From gardening and practicing permaculture, I started learning from nature and natural systems. This has been teaching me how everything is connected. Just like how soil, water, land and ocean are all connected, just like humans and the environment are connected, I’ve been learning that social issues and environmental issues are also connected. As I dig in gardens, I’m finding more roots to the systems that perpetuate injustices in the world. As I become more and more familiar with the insatiable nature and determination of invasive weeds, I’ve come to understand that pulling them out won’t prevent them from coming back. Getting to the root helps, but I’ve been learning we also have to plant new systems that will not only prevent the invasives from continuing to take over, but we also have to replenish the soil and offer nutrients to heal what has been damaged. Planting to create intentional systems that will resist these weeds and create resilient biodiverse ecosystems is where we can find the hope and support we will need to grow sustainably together.   So why Homesteader’s Emporium? Homesteader’s Emporium is it’s own tiny ecosystem in the large urban world, trying to create nutrient-rich and biodiverse communities of self-sufficiency and sustainability. It is a place where folks come to access supplies, learn new skills, and find community as they create their own healthier and more resilient networks. It is also a business that believes in connecting and working with organizations who are also working towards similar visions. Homesteader’s Emporium is a little shop made up of generous folks trying their best to make the connections that will shift society towards deeper understanding and deeper awareness that aims to include everyone. It is a place where people believe in the power of connection.  


This all seems extremely ambitious, and like a lot of work, maybe even a little bit uncomfortable, but I believe it is definitely worth working towards. I imagine my job as Community Engagement Coordinator will be met with a lot of challenges, especially since we are located in the very tense and quickly changing neighborhood of the DTES. With that, I also believe it will be a very worthwhile learning experience. I believe it is an incredible opportunity to broaden my personal community of people who care about creating a safer world, people I  am inspired by and learn from. In creating solid connections, in working intentionally with other organizations, I believe there is a lot of potential to do really awesome work here… and I’m excited about it!   From the Homesteader’s Emporium Vision: “...We see a greater connection between ourselves, our neighbours, and the products we consume, and from that connection a society of greater understanding, dialogue, and sustainability. We don’t imagine that every family will have it’s own small farm, but we do imagine that every person will have a friend that is a farmer, and every child will grow up with a basic understanding of where food comes from. Let’s get there together!”