Wendy Priesnitz Wendy Priesnitz
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Thank you for stopping by this website, which provides access to the work that I have been doing for the past forty years. That work encompasses green living, unschooling / life learning, natural parenting, and entrepreneurship/home-based/micro business. Aside from those being my passions – and therefore what I like to write about – I understand that everything we do in our everyday lives connects us with the web of life on Earth. Therefore, the physical, mental, economic, and social health of our families and of our environment is a reflection of the choices we make. My mission is to help people understand the range of choices available and to encourage them to challenge the assumptions inherent in those choices so that they make the right ones for themselves, their families, and the Earth.

I believe that we have reached the stage where we need to rethink how we live in our families and our communities, and on our planet. And, in my opinion, that means embracing smaller-scale, local ways of doing things, and becoming more self-reliant in the way that we think, educate ourselves, and live.

So I am pleased to meet you here and would be happy to engage with you on these topics via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Scoop.it, Google+ or LinkedIn. I also blog occasionally below, and more regularly on Life Learning Magazine unschooling blog. There are links to some of my writing at the top of this page, and a few pieces are on Scribd.

I hope you will enjoy and be inspired, or at least informed, by the selection of the work I've presented on this website. Please use the links at the top of the page to explore this space and my company's websites.

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Book ListsBook Lists
There is a "game" that has been going around for a while now on Facebook where people post the titles of ten books that have been meaningful in their lives, for whatever reason (or something like that). Oh, and you aren't supposed to over-think it. Even given that I temporarily overcame my habit of over-thinking everything, my list felt frustratingly incomplete. Just ten?! After a bit of my whining, a few people suggested I work on a longer list, and post it here. That process has been underway for a month or more now, and coincided with the downsizing of our home and donation of close to a thousand books to our local library. The downsizing and moving processes are now over, and the list should be too. But each time I think the list is finished, I wake up in the middle of the night with a couple more additions. So in order to to put an end to the process and perhaps get some sleep, here is the longer list; I think it's around eighty titles. I hope you will find some new book friends there.

Oh, and you will find that most of the books are not recent, given the instructions to list the ones that have had a lasting influence. And they are not necessarily all my favorites, although there would be a fair bit of overlap if I were to produce that list.
Posted: September 24, 2014

Living the Good Life by Helen and Scott Nearing

Whole Earth Catalog (and its subsequent editions)

Woodstock Handmade Houses by Robert Haney & David Ballantine

Thinking Green! By Petra Kelly

The Aquarian Conspiracy by Marilyn Ferguson

Small is Beautiful by EF Schumacher

Honest Business by Michael Phillips and Salli Raspberry

The Ecology of Commerce by Paul Hawken

If Women Counted by Marilyn Waring

Sacred Economics by Charles Eisenstein

The Briarpatch Book: Experiences in right livelihood and simple living

Tools for Conviviality by Ivan Illich

Manufacturing Consent by Noam Chomsky

Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez, Vicki Robin

Plenitude by Juliet Schor

In Praise of Slow by Carl Honoré

The Book of Learning and Forgetting by Frank Smith

Insult to Intelligence by Frank Smith

Deschooling Society by Ivan Illich

How Children Fail by John Holt

Escape from Childhood by John Holt

Instead of Education by John Holt

And the Children Played by Patricia Joudry

Mindstorms by Seymour Papert

Summerhill by A.S. Neill

Children First by Penelope Leach

The Political Life of Children by Robert Coles

The Case Against Adolescence: Rediscovering the Adult in Every Teen by Robert Epstein

Magical Child by Joseph Chilton Pearce

Reviving Ophelia by Mary Pipher

Webs of Power by Starhawk

The Call of Service by Robert Coles

My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond

Mindfulness by Ellen Langer

Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn

The Places That Scare You by Pema Chodron

Chop Wood Carry Water by Rick Fields

Solitude by Anthony Storr

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig

The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Learning to Fly by Sam Keen

You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment by Thich Nhat Hanh

Mindsight by Daniel Siegel

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

A Walk on the Beach by Joan Anderson

Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold

Under the Sea-Wind by Rachel Carson

A Place Between the Tides by Harry Thurston

Small Wonder by Barbara Kingsolver

Raising Elijah by Sandra Steingraber

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

The House by the Sea by May Sarton

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Prisons We Choose to Live Inside by Doris Lessing

The Love of a Good Woman by Alice Munro

Unless by Carol Shields

The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence

Runaway by Alice Munro

On The Road by Jack Kerouac

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Anne of Green Gables by L.M Montgomery

Dubliners by James Joyce

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

To Love and Be Loved by Sam Keen

All About Love by bell hooks

The Future of Motherhood by Jessie Bernard

Tangled Lives: Daughters, Mothers and the Crucible of Aging by Lillian Rubin

My Mother’s Daughter by Irene Zahava

Selected Poems by Williams Carlos Williams

Left Out in the Rain by Gary Snyder

Magic Animals by Gwendolyn MacEwen

Entrance to the Greenhouse by Joan Finnigan

Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

Why I Wake Early by Mary Oliver


Posted: March 9, 2014

Avoiding Sleep Training as a Precursor to Unschooling
Check out any online book store and you’ll see over a hundred titles about how to “sleep train” your baby. These books are about getting kids to sleep at times that suit the adults in their lives, not because babies that weren’t trained would stay awake 24/7! That way of thinking/wishing is also where our need to control our children’s learning begins, and where understanding unschooling can begin.

As an article about sleep in our Natural Child Magazine explains, how we sleep depends on a wide variety of factors related to our environment, family, genetic make-up, moods, general health, and even hormonal changes. And, as the same author wrote in another article, “Your baby sleeps and wakes in a certain way because that is how babies are.” Likewise, children learn in certain ways because that’s how they are. When we fight their natural instincts and curiosity, we get in the way of what we want to happen, and ultimately can cause them harm.

I remember coming to that realization a few weeks into the life of my first daughter in 1972, although I had already begun to form some strong opinions about children’s need for autonomy in learning. Accepting that how she would sleep on her own schedule wasn’t much different than how she would learn made life for both of us so much more pleasant. (Sure, I wasn’t sleeping any more than before, but I also wasn’t fighting or trying to control her, and that freed up my energy and my soul just to love her in each moment.)

That decision not to try and control things that weren’t mine to control was one of the foundations on which my philosophy of life learning/natural family life/radical unschooling/autonomous living (however you want to label it) was built. It led to me learning to recognize my daughters’ other patterns, personalities, and passions. And, following their leads, I was able to provide support, companionship, and much more, always respecting their needs and finding ways to mesh theirs with mine.

So here’s where understanding unschooling can begin. Let your babies sleep and stay awake as they are wont to do, Be alert to supporting their needs, but trust that they’re doing what works best for them and aren’t trying to manipulate you. And, as they grow, allow them the freedom to pursue their curiosity, their interests, and their passions. Respect that they can learn to recognize their own needs, and trust that they’ll learn how to fulfill them. They’ll grow up to be healthy, happy, and well-educated. And I’m betting that you all will be able to sleep well at night.
Posted: March 6, 2014

triclosan in antibacterial soapTriclosan: Problematic in Soap? Then Put it in Toothpaste!
According to a press release I received recently, regular use of fluoride toothpaste containing triclosan, an antibacterial agent, along with a copolymer that helps prevent the triclosan from being washed away by saliva, reduces plaque, gingivitis, and bleeding gums and slightly reduces tooth decay compared to fluoride toothpaste without those ingredients. "We are very confident that adding triclosan and copolymer to a fluoride toothpaste will lead to additional benefits, in terms of less plaque, inflammation, bleeding, and tooth decay," said Philip Riley, a researcher at the University of Manchester in England, and a co-author of the study that was published in The Cochrane Library.

Great news for dental health (aside from the problems with fluoride)! Right? Wrong. I’ve written about triclosan a number of times in Natural Life Magazine, and I don’t want it in soap, let alone in my mouth. It’s a nasty, hormone-altering chemical that is already found in most peoples bodies. Ironically, on the same day that I received the above release, I also received notification of this post on the PANNA blog. The U.S. FDA is concerned about antibacterial soaps and triclosan in particular, and is belatedly looking into its dangers.

So, as I often say, “Follow the money.” Are manufacturers backing research that suggests triclosan could be beneficial in toothpaste because it’s going to be legislated out of soap?
Posted: January 18,  2014

Life Learning Magazine AnnualLife Learning Magazine 2013 Annual
In an attempt to tame the large collection of back issues involved with our three magazines, we are creating Annuals – collections of all the feature articles published in one year in each magazine. We're starting with 2013 and working backwards. The first one is the Life Learning Magazine Annual - 2013 and it is now available.

The articles in these large format e-books appear exactly as they do in the magazines – complete with full-color photos and layouts, and live links to resources. Plus, we're adding a table of contents that makes it easy to find specific articles. They are designed to be a convenient reference to your favorite articles from the whole year for each magazine, all in one place. No more fiddling to find and open back issues, or to search for articles!

They are in PDF format and can be read on a computer or a tablet. I hope you enjoy them as much as I am enjoying the experience of putting them together.
Posted: January 17,  2014

small business informationSelf-Employment Is One Of My Passions
I have been a small business owner and social entrepreneur since 1974, working for most of that time from a home office. First, I was a stained glass artisan, doing special commissions and selling at craft fairs and in shops. Then, in 1976, I became co-owner, with my husband Rolf, of The Alternate Press (later to become known as Life Media), which publishes our magazines and books, as well as a number of websites.

In the 1980s, I championed women-owned businesses and home-based micro-businesses by launching the Home Business Network, speaking at conferences, writing how-to articles, presenting how-to workshops about both business principles and life-work integration, and participating on national committees to legitimize and legalize home business at the municipal level. In the 1990s, I taught small business courses to low-income women through a non-profit community economic development organization, wrote the book Bringing It Home - A Home Business Start-up Guide for You and Your Family, wrote a weekly small business newspaper column for ten years, published a print newsletter for green and socially conscious businesses entitled Good Business, hosted radio and television shows, and mentored women business owners. In addition to continuing to edit our three magazines, I now write a regular column about alternative and local business in Natural Life Magazine called Eco Nomics.

Whether or not we see ourselves as entrepreneurs or are inspired to start businesses, I believe that to prosper in the near future – even, possibly, to survive – we will have to re-think how we make a living. Here's an article I wrote for Life Learning Magazine a few years ago that provides more insight into that...and why unschoolers are well equipped to do that. And here's a piece I wrote for Natural Life Magazine about the importance of small, local, and cooperative business. Here, also, is a link to some of the how-to articles that I have written on the subjects of home-based, micro, and green business, as well as what has now come to be called "unjobbing." It's all connected, and all about being self-reliant!
Posted: November 1,  2013

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