New Shiny Stuff: Classes, Contests and the New Blog Announcement!

Sharon November 30th, 2009

So lots of new stuff coming up here.  First of all, the official new blog announcement.  I’m moving to  This is awesome for several reasons – first of all, it should mean a larger audience, many of whom may have come in contact with the environmental science, but maybe not the “and you have to change your life too.”  There’s a connection to the New York Times Science Pages, which is pretty cool too. 

The new blog is not set up yet, and will be ready when I finish walking through all the new technical stuff that goes with this platform – hopefully sometime soon, although given my lack of computer skills, possibly it will be a while (I’m also sort of supposed to be writing a book, too ;-) ).  I shall let y’all know when it is ready to go.

In the meantime, I am soliciting your help with figuring several things out.  The first is that if you go to and look at all the blogs, you’ll see that they have personalized banners – most of them really beautiful.  Apparently I am in charge of making my own.  The chances of me making a pretty computer banner are ummm….nil.  I have no idea how to do so.  So I’m having a contest to see who can invent the coolest visual for Casaubon’s Book in its new form.  The winner will get a tribute on the blog, credit in perpetuity for this lovely thing, and a signed book of their choice.  You can email submissions to me at [email protected] or post them at your site and I’ll check them out.  If you give me permission, I’ll post links to them and people can vote on their favorites.

I also am interested in what you think I should do with the old blog.  I’m moving my primary blogging over to scienceblogs.  But I can retain this one, or leave it as an archival source.  Regardless, the blog will stay here – but the question is whether it will be live or not.  My inclination is to keep most of the food storage, food preservation and class materials here - to keep posting Independence Days Updates, Food Storage Quickies and Course posts for various classses, while everything else moves, but I’m curious – if I do, will you follow both blogs?  What do you think?

I also wanted to let you know that Aaron and I are running two classes, one of which is a new one.  The first, which will run for six weeks from early January to mid-February, is our new class – a companion to the hugely popular and always over-subscribed Adapting in Place Class.  The class, which we are calling “Making Your Place” is for people who are not sure if they are going to Adapt in Place – or are sure they aren’t going to.  That is, this class will focus on finding a location, building community in a new spot, deciding whether you should stay or go, what it takes to set up a new homestead, whether city, country or suburb, how to select portable resources, what to do if you are a renter or facing an approaching move…  I think it is going to be a wonderful class!  The class is offered asynchronously online.  Cost is $180, and we are open to barter.  We also have a number of scholarship spots for low income participants.

The second class is Farm and Garden Design – yes, I know we just finished this, but we’ll be running it from February into March, the perfect time to begin prepping your garden if you live in the Northern Hemisphere – and not a bad time to do autumn prep and design in the Southern one.  We’ll cover the very basics – soil, sun, water, seed starting, location, how to get started – all the way up to integrating livestock, using season extension techniques, building community farms and gardens, and a host of more advanced things.  By the end of the class, you should have a garden design in hand and a multi-year plan for how you want your garden to evolve.  This is a great class – it draws on Aaron’s amazing experience as a landscape designer and now farmer, and mine in creating a working homestead, it is a lot of fun.  Cost is the same as above, and again, we’re open to barter.  We’ve also reserved some spots for low-income participants as well.  Contact me at [email protected] to reserve a spot in either class.


39 Responses to “New Shiny Stuff: Classes, Contests and the New Blog Announcement!”

  1. Raye says:


    I will happily follow both blogs.

    Thanks for the heads-up!

  2. Siegfried says:

    I’ve looked at that scienceblogs site and I am not impressed at all :/
    do you think it’s gonna be right enviroment for you? I would keep old blog just in case ;)

  3. Jill B. says:

    I look forward to checking out the scienceblogs site later. I’ll follow both, regardless. No problem! I’ll be happy to excerise my voting rights for your new banner since I have no design talents to speak of…

    Just a note for those in the north considering taking the winter Garden Design class. If it’s similar to before, you’ll have to measure your yard – in detail – and the location of every shed, shrub and swing set. This is difficult in 10 degree weather and 3 feet of snow. Just ask my spouse. :) He was an unhappy participant in the measuring. If you plan on taking the course – sign up early, send Sharon her money and measure before the snow flies!

    Jill in MI

  4. Anonymous says:

    I’m glad you’re going to keep all your old writing up for archival purposes. I’d gladly keep checking this site–yours is one of the few blogs I check regularly.

  5. Lorrieena says:

    Please keep this blog running as well. It’s more pleasant to the eyes :)

    And yes, I’d follow both.

  6. Coleen says:

    Please keep all your old stuff!

  7. (: Sunshine :) says:

    I wish you all the best, Sharon … but personally, I prefer the old blog as well.

    There is are many more rabbit trails to follow on the new blog, but for me, so many links and so many adds are visually distracting and distressing.

    If you keep both blogs, how would they differ? Would the Peak Oil/science posts be there and the more aip/homesteading here?

    Again best wishes!

  8. Maeve says:

    I’d bookmark your scienceblogs blog, but I don’t know how often I would read it. Sites like that end up being a HUGE timesink for me. Too many interesting things all in one spot. The last thing I need is to spend MORE time online.

    Good luck!

  9. d.a. says:

    I’d ask a tech person if there’s a way to automagically link/copy any of your scienceblog entries to here. Keep both, and keep your eye on the stats for both. I’m willing to bet your numbers will stay high for this spot.

  10. Bernie says:

    Hi Sharon, Have just checked out the scienceblog site and it is not something that appeals to me. It sounds like there are more folks who feel the same way. I’ve basically been a devoted reader/lurker but had to step out and say this. Keep this site and like d.a. said, watch your stats.

  11. Jen says:

    Um I checked several blogs at SB and none of them had banners. Don’t sweat it. I’ll check both, BUT I think linking and/or double posting here would be worthwhile. It is a bit busy over there.

  12. rdheather says:

    Okay- science blog is interesting-probably a black hole of time spent interesting ;) -but please keep this site too! I have low speed/info broadband at home and science blogs will load slowly and burn a lot of broadband for me.

    But expanding your audience will be cool!

  13. Wendy says:

    Congratulations! Being given a larger venue for your work is a great opportunity, and the more people you can reach with your “you need to change” message, the better. It will be nice when the simplicity movement is taken more seriously by more people, and instead of being seen as some crazy fringe idea, it becomes the new normal. With a larger audience, and in a venue like that, you’ll be able to introduce your ideas in the context of “this is a possible solution, if not to fix the problem, to at least mitigate the worst of the potential effects.”

    That said – I’ve been a follower of your blog for a long time … since before you moved it here, in fact. I like this space, and one of the great appeals is the simplicity of it. I probably wouldn’t follow your blog on the other website, unless you provide a direct link from here to there.

  14. Sharon says:

    Hi Folks – I admit, I rather strongly prefer the visuals on this site as well – I will be able to customize the typeface and some other stuff to make it more readable, so it shouldn’t look like the smallest type of them, but it is true.

    I can’t cross-post everything – the reason they want to hire me is because I have a lot of blog traffic ;-) , so that wouldn’t be fair. I can cross post up to three posts a month by linking (I can’t copy it here) and that would be my primary blog – most of my material will be over there. You will be able to subscribe to just my blog by RSS feed, though, and there will be a direct link to my blog, obviously, so you don’t have to read all the others or the main page if you don’t want to. There are some really wonderful writers over there, though!

    I think I’m going to keep this blog mostly as an archive, with one or two posts a week on food storage, classes and ID. But if you want to read my stuff regularly, you’ll have to put up with them, I’m afraid :-) .


  15. Shamba says:

    I’d happily follow both blogs although one would cut down on time online. At the least leave this as an archive, Sharon.

    I have to check out scienceblogs now to see what’s happening there.

    peace to All,


  16. Robin says:

    I’ll follow both. I’d hate to lose the archive here, I send a lot of people here for info on the how-to sort of stuff, as well as using it myself.

  17. Grandma Misi says:

    Well, our homey Sharon is moving on to the big leagues… there is a season…. turn, turn, turn…. I will follow you wherever you go but I’ll miss what I perceive to be a more personal connection here. Yet, the scienceblogs gig sounds like a great opportunity in many ways. For you, more exposure, for others an education they might not receive in any other way. That’s all good!

    I agree with and understand everyone else’s comments… but truly believe that there is a purpose for all occurances (not for-ordained though).

    I too have a slow connection so will have to figure out the easy/quick way to connect to your “feed” – but will make the effort as I BELIEVE IN YOU GIRL!!!!

    p.s. – Simon moving on to Arabic just tickles me!!!

  18. Susan in NJ says:

    I’ll read your post where ever . . . but the scienceblog site doesn’t really interest me in toto.

  19. The Raven says:

    I’ll follow both, although I’m not a very consistent blog reader ever, even though I love your posts and have read all of your books. I guess I like books better than computers, as do many of the folks who love your work.

    I’d love to see you with a banner with a campfire, a sign for CAMP TEOTWAWKI, and a homestead in the background. Afraid I don’t have the computer skills to make a mock up, though!

  20. Kerrick says:

    I had a friend posting over at SB for awhile, and it worked for her while it worked. I like a lot of what they have going on over there, but some of it isn’t my style. When my friend was still blogging there, I read her stuff regularly but didn’t tend to follow up on other people’s writing, so that’ll probably be my pattern with your blog there as well, while I have internet.

  21. Kerrick says:

    Also, would you mind posting the size and resolution requirements for the banner so I can have a crack at it? It sounds like fun.

  22. Kaye Kirsch says:

    Would any other readers be interested in a “best of” book from this blog?

    I’ve saved and forwarded so many pages, it would be convenient to have in a printed format.



  23. dewey says:

    Yikes. I’m familiar with scienceblogs mostly as the home of several medical blogs where the regular commenters and even the bloggers spew contempt of complementary and traditional medicine and any human being who uses them. Occasionally the approach is frighteningly ethnocentric (along the lines of: nonwhite cultures are sexist and backwards, therefore no Ayurvedic medicine could have any value, and you’re stupid if you think otherwise – and if anyone here knew enough to mention that plastic surgery was invented in India we’d just shout them down). More often, it’s just “anyone who does anything differently than average American MDs do, including average European and Japanese MDs, is wrong and a quack.”

    Sharon, your whole gig is that the current American way of doing various things is not necessarily the only good way, or even the best way, to do them. Many of the regular denizens of scienceblogs, devoted believers in the myth of progress and American exceptionalism, are not going to like that. Expect to get serious verbal abuse, at least, as soon as you come to their attention. (Oh, and then there’s the hateful-atheist crowd. They usually don’t mess with Jewish bloggers, but you should expect to get some kicking around whenever you talk about spirituality as a possible solution instead of a problem.)

    In short, I really hope you keep your current address and don’t commit too completely to this. As far as I can see, scienceblogs is an improvement on any other part of the blogosphere only in that the people shrieking insults at each other have more letters after their names. Good luck. (I’ll follow you there, of course.)

  24. Sue in pacNW says:

    Sharon, glad you are going to be able to reach more readers and happy that you are going to provide a link from this site to the new. Since what you blog about is all over the map, what catagory are they going to put you in…

    Not impressed with the new site, too much garbage and ads to wade through.


  25. Cath says:

    I like it here. It’s nice and quiet and I can have my cup of tea and a good ponder without any interruptions. The other place is noisy and crowded and full of people shouting their opinions at each other.

    Anyways, you do what you have to do, and I’ll read what you write. :)

  26. cecelia says:

    congrats! at the very least – please leave this blog as an archive -

  27. Lisa Z says:

    Congratulations! The scienceblogs site looks very professional and wonderful for you. I don’t blame you for moving on at all, and hey if they pay you even better! I am happy your work will have a much wider audience with new readers. You need to be out there.

    I am glad you will keep this site as an archive, however.

  28. owlfan says:

    I’ll follow you at both sites, but I do prefer this one. Please make sure it’s crystal clear how to subscribe to just your blog over there.

  29. Another long term lurker here. I am sorry to see you move to Science Blogs–they are not my kind of site, and this coming from a Research Analyst in academia!

    Probably the trouble here is that you are preaching to the choir–most of us already accept what you have to say–so maybe it is time to move on to a place where you will have an audience that doesn’t accept it and needs to be convinced.

    I will probably still follow your blog–and have already requested a space in the Farm and Garden Design class–but will have to see how the new blog and commenters fit before I decide to follow it permanently. Good luck!

    Cat in Colorado

  30. Ohio Mom says:

    Congratulations on the wonderful new opportunity. More people getting more access to your work is only a good thing. I read “A Nation of Farmers” because I found your blog first. Now I can’t wait to read your next. I will be happy to follow where ever you post.

  31. Ohio Mom says:

    Congratulations on the wonderful new opportunity! More people getting more access to your work is only a good thing. I read “A Nation of Farmers” because I found your blog first. Now I can’t wait to read your latest book. I will be happy to follow where ever you post.
    Please archive and continue to update at the old site when you can. This site got me started in the simplicity/homesteading lifestyle…I will dearly miss it! I visit daily to learn and be inspired…it never fails! You have a great following here and a great community, and that is what makes us so sorry to see it disappear into the blogosphere.
    You have succeeded so well in motivating people to live the sustainable lifestyle that we just fear of losing our momentum! Hearing of all the things you manage in addition to your writing has been the kick I’ve needed to try many new things in cooking, gardening, energy use, etc. This blog has made a world of difference for me. Thank you.

  32. Sharon says:

    Dewey, I know just what you mean. I’m somewhat heartened by the fact that all the weird stuff I do is what they *want* – ie, they specifically were pleased to have another religious blogger, had said they were looking for someone to do depletion and the low energy bits of this. But yes, I do know what you mean. On the other hand, they have some really good environmental bloggers there as well.

    Folks, this site isn’t going anywhere – eventually the archives may be duplicated over there so that people can easily find old posts, but they will remain here. And I’ve definitely decided to keep this site active, although that will be my primary blog. If we all hate it, well, I can always come back here.

    I think Cat put her finger on why I want to do this – don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that my readership takes as a given that we have to make such profound changes. But I know that most of the world doesn’t. But let’s just see how it goes!


  33. dewey says:

    Well, good luck. You’ve always … well, usually … been able to maintain a pretty civil bunch of readers here. Here’s hoping you can improve the standard of discourse at scienceblogs.

  34. Mike Cagle says:

    Hmm, not sure what I think of this. I would put your blogging more in the “Culture and Society” category than in “Science,” generally. I was sort of hoping you were going to The Atlantic. Not that I have anything against science blogs! Although the atmosphere on that site seems a little contentious. But you know what’s best for you — and anyway, you have an escape hatch. Perhaps I’ll try to come up with a banner for you!

  35. Claire says:

    I’ll figure out how to subscribe to your blog only when you move, and keep this site bookmarked so I can catch up on all the stuff I missed before I had a browser that was up to date enough to find this site. Good luck! Hope that you reach more folks at the new blog! Goodness knows the world needs it.

  36. Marilyn says:

    I will read your posts on both sites. I wish you much success with the new venture!

  37. Joseph j7uy5 says:


    I’ve been writing at scienceblogs for 3.6 years. This is what I would share with your readers here:

    1. Many of the criticisms are valid, if painted with too broad of a brush. Most of the writers are oddballs of various stripes, so it is exceedingly hazardous to employ stereotypes with this bunch.

    2. The site is not aesthetically balanced. Readers are encouraged to use the Readability extension ( when reading the posts. It makes all the clutter go away.

    3. Bloggers have complete editorial freedom, every bit as much as they did on their old sites.

    4. Several book authors have blogged there. I am not one of them, but I have the impression that it has been good publicity for them. Also, it helps keep them sharp.

    5. If you have ideas you are playing with, try them out there. If there are problems with it, someone will let you know. This can be very annoying, but it is better to be corrected for a stray thought in a blog post, that to put it in a published book. While that can happen on a freestanding blog, too, the greater breadth of exposure will ensure that your readers are not always persons who are predisposed to agree with whatever you say.

    6. A lot of the persons who blog there are dyed-in-the-wool empiricists. Yes, it can be like the logical positivists’ version of talk radio: strident, and annoying. But it generally is respectful and humanistically oriented.

    7. Their theme is “Science is culture.” They aim to make science more palatable. You can help.

    8. Most of the bloggers there had blogs elsewhere, and those old blogs are still around.

    9. Change bothers some people. There is nothing you can do about that.

    10. Scienceblogs is not as much fun as it used to be, when there were a couple dozen bloggers. But it still is fun.

    Welcome aboard.

  38. Sharon says:

    Thank you kindly, Joseph. Mike, as soon as the Atlantic invites me, I will consider it ;-) . I’d go to Salon or the Times too ;-) . On the other hand, I’m not really holding my breath for an invitation.

    Joseph, thanks so much for telling me about the readability extension – that was my biggest concern about blogging there, was the readability. I’ve already got the blog set up in 14 point type, so it should be fairly readable.

    I’ve spent my whole life talking to empiricists – that’s not a problem for me – and my blog will still be my blog, wherever it goes.


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