Sunday, September 4, 2011

modern medieval family : eco-medieval

I'm officially coining a new term: eco-medieval.

What does it mean?  Consider for a moment the materials, methods and manufacturing we strive to include in our recreation kits.  Authenticity, in terms of medieval recreation, is achieved through using period practices and supplies to take the place of our modern conveniences.  Instead of backpacks, we carry baskets.  Instead of denim, we wear linen.  Instead of lawn chairs, ours are made of wood.  And as much as possible, we like these things to be handmade.

In the modern world, this same underlying principle is at the heart of the "green" movement.  A return to using non-synthetic materials, and a preference for things that are hand-crafted.  The eco-friendly family is one that leverages the power of natural resources and human ingenuity to create a healthy environment around themselves.  "Natural resources and human ingenuity."  Doesn't that sound an awful lot like the medieval world?

Eco-medieval, therefore, is a way for the modern medieval family to balance mundane eco-living with period authenticity.  Simply put, living an eco-medieval lifestyle is realizing that our love of authentic medieval supplies- those things we cherish in our kits that make us feel closer to living "the Dream"- doesn't have to check out when we leave an event.  Many of those items can find homes in our mundane lives.  Also, many of the concepts behind those things we love can carry over into the mundane world, finding new, modern avenues.

An example?  My garb is made up almost exclusively of linen and wool cloth.  These materials aren't hard to come by, but they can be costly.  The price is worth it to me, though, because of the authenticity these materials add to my garb and my persona.  Doesn't it make sense, then, that I should look for natural materials in my modern clothing as well?  If I can appreciate fine materials in the medieval sense, I can also appreciate them in the modern sense.  Price is still an issue, but if I'm committed to the eco-medieval idea, then the same rule applies to modern clothing that does to my garb- it's worth it it I feel more enriched and "authentic" by wearing it in the real world.

In addition to finding ways to support "authenticity" in the modern world through the green ideal, it's also a valuable tool for helping children see the modern world through medieval eyes.  And it can only help support their interest in recreation society when they see the history behind a modern desire for handcrafted, natural goods.  Seek out parallels in furniture making then and now, or cooking, or art-making.  Showing them that the medieval ideal is still alive and well in the eco movement gives the educational aspects of our hobby more bearing.

Another way that an eco-medieval attitude between event life and the real world can help children is that it can encourage the value of stewardship by providing a venue for hands-on, eco-inspired learning.  It may be difficult for your wee one to understand how wind energy works by not straining natural resources.  Yet, doesn't shearing sheep and processing wool into yarn to weave into cloth teach the same lesson in a more hands-on, albeit round-about way?  Likewise, they may not grasp that modern packaged foods use chemicals and substances that aren't good for us, but they will jump at the opportunity to grow their own vegetables and learn to make dishes from scratch with them.  Our hobby provides hundreds of chances to teach green lessons in the guise of period authenticity.

Instilling the eco-medieval idea in our children is also the perfect way to teach them about craftsmanship and taking pride in the hard work they do, both at events and at home.  Children who understand the principles behind authentic work in the period context can take that concept with them through life.

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