Generosity Activism

March 10, 2014 § 22 Comments


Yesterday the temperature never crawled out of the 20’s, but the sun was high and fierce, and despite the cold, and the storm that’s predicted for later this week, the intent of the season was clear as my shadow against the snow-white ground. Penny was giving a soil workshop around the kitchen table, so I fled the house with chainsaw in hand, bound for the copse of fir we’re clearing to make way for all manner of edible perennial plantings. The boys were off in the woods with the children of one of the workshop attendees; they’d taken along fire starting materials, bacon grease, a fry pan, and a thawed muskrat. “Come to our workshop! You’ll learn scads… and your kids can eat campfire fried muskrat!” How’s that for a marketing slogan?


Jimmy and Sara are in the midst of a rodeo of fresh cows and our current batch of piggies are fattening nicely on an endless stream of organic colostrum. This morning, as I was upending their morning ration into the trough, it occurred to me that we really ought come up with some sort of branded effort with our pork. You know, stick the word artisanal in there somewhere, along with Vermont and maybe sustainable, and then charge $7/pound hanging weight, which according to this article, is what the good folks over at Vermont Whey Fed Pigs are getting (this being the pricing option for “home cooks on a budget”). I guess that’s the new thing: Slap a fancy name on a commonplace practice – I mean hells bells, farmers have been raising hogs on waste dairy since the dawn of time – and build yourself a brand.


Here, I got a brand for ya: Ma and Pa Hewitt’s Absolutely-Not-Artisanal-But-Still-Pretty-Damn-Good-Milk-Fed-Pork. How’s that for a marketing slogan?


So I went and added a donate button to this site. Because I do not understand precisely how these things work, for a time it will appear at the bottom of my posts until I can cipher out how to get it linked in the sidebar.

I have added this link because I believe in generosity. Since we inhabit an economy that encourages stinginess and rewards accumulation, I have actually come to think of generosity as a form of activism. Maybe the most important form of activism. I believe I am generous in this space, and I ask for no compensation for the time and energy and experiences I share here.


I am still not asking for anything, but rather providing a medium for your generosity, if you so choose. If you don’t so choose, that is ok. I don’t want anyone to feel self-conscious about not contributing, and there are no additional perks for those who contribute. On the other hand, if you find value in the space, and if you have the means to express that value in moneyed terms, know that your generosity will be much appreciated.

If you so choose, but would like to send something analog, anything addressed to my name, Cabot, Vermont, 05647 will find me (you know those dark chocolate truffles with the hazelnut cream centers? Just sayin’…). For those of you who have already sent notes and gifts, thank you. They mean a lot.


Writing is my primary source of income. It is how I am able to provide my family all the things we are not able to provide for ourselves. As I have mentioned before, I am somewhat infatuated with the idea of being paid what my readers think my work is worth, rather than what my publisher thinks my work is worth. This is a very small step in that direction, not dissimilar to the by-donation soil workshop Penny led this weekend. Some people, who know far more about these sort of things than do I, have suggested I sell ads on this site. Indeed, I might now have enough traffic to attract ad dollars. But that is not what I want for this space, and therefore it will remain ad-free.

By-the-by, If I can figure it out, I’m going change the text on the button from “donate” to “generosity enabler.” How’s that for a marketing slogan?

Donate Button

§ 22 Responses to Generosity Activism

  • Eumaeus says:

    Please some rich person give Hewitt a million dollars. I want to see what happens…

  • Mary Ann Cauthen says:

    I would love I would love to read of some of Penny’s a soil wisdom & to know more of the boy’s basket making. Those photos are fascinating. Thanks for sharing. Mary Ann

  • Tres Jolie says:

    Please some rich person give us all a million dollars. I’ve got a few concerts in my mind, too! Hee hee! Hey Ben you have given me an idea with your ballsy request (nicely worded and I wish I could donate but I’m just scraping by on social security & ranch caretaking stipend myself). It’s kind of like a variation on Crowdfunding. Worth a try and certainly well deserved! Good luck and I want an invitation to the concert!

  • Well, what the heck, my husband is unemployed (a blessing actually!) and the budget is tight, but honestly, it makes me feel good.

    Did you know that when donating it offers the opportunity to make it a recurring monthly payment? Kinda like a monthly subscription fee…

    I am trying to imagine what the measly little donation I just made will be used for…coffee? Chocolate? (None of business, but I can imagine.)

    Anyway, thanks Ben for the opportunity to demonstrate my amazing generosity. I can feel good about myself for the whole rest of the day now…

    • Ben Hewitt says:

      Thanks, SJF. Let’s see… the most pressing financial obligation is replacing the shorted-out wiring harness on the plow truck before Wednesday’s storm! So it’ll probably go toward that.

  • Seeking Joyful Simplicity says:

    Darn, I was hoping for something more self-indulgent.

  • I have always been flummoxed by marketing. I thought that was pretty absurd when 20-mule team borax got new packaging because I highly doubt that people who use that product care too much about the packaging. I also had to dial back my astonishment when a colleague stated with an air of complete authority that Joe Pilates’ name for the method that he himself invented was out-of-date. I guess that I’m destined to be in the minority that focuses on substance rather than form. I commend you for your pluck with respect to the donate button. It comes at a very good time because my Taproot subscription ran out and I’ve been feeling torn. While I like the magazine overall, I haven’t made it through cover to cover in a few issues, there is little that really captures my full attention. And while I feel strongly about supporting the good work that goes into the magazine and I will regret not reading your essays there, the truth is that reading your blog posts has been the most consistent and fulfilling attention that I’ve paid to any of the people involved in that publication – by far. I like that you always weave sound ideas and real-life stories together. You always get me thinking in a way that helps me get more out of my days. So I’ll just pay you what I would have paid Taproot. Money’s tight here just like it is in so many other places these days. Hopefully there will someday be a greater bounty and I’ll be able to pay for more of the good work that’s being done in our world. But for now, it makes the most sense to pay for the work that actually influences my daily life, even if it’s a paltry amount. Thanks as always, Ben!

    • Ben Hewitt says:

      Hi Liza,

      Such a nice note, thank you. Don’t underestimate your written contributions to my blog, either.

  • Jeannie says:

    Ben, your posts go particularly well with my morning coffee before I get started at work each day. As the partner of a professional musician who often struggles with the ‘should I charge for this?’ question, I’m more than happy to be one of your generosity enablers. Plus, I like the idea of my few pennies helping to move snow or feed piggies on the other side of the world!

  • Ellen says:

    Thanks for the opportunity to practice generosity! I greatly enjoy your writing, both in books and on the web.

  • Linda says:

    I really enjoy your writing. Since I’ve read two of your books from the library, and every post since I found your web site, it’s about time I chipped in! Thank you!

  • Ben. Will here in NH. Neighbors you and me. I run a little farm and post a few posts. It takes time doing both. Lots of time. Plus, we’ve had so much snow this year. Lordy! But you know all about this, of course. And like I say, small farms…it’s tight, real tight. So, any chance you might help out? I don’t have a donate button but I do have a mail box. Let me know if I can do anything to help you help me.

    Keeping hope alive!

    • Ben Hewitt says:

      Hi Will,

      Sorry things are so tight over there. I thought everyone in NH was rich ’cause of no taxes or something like that.

      I never seen your blog before; man, you can write the yeller off sweet corn. Nice stuff. Looks like you build a hell of a rock wall, too. Beauty.

      Care package goes in the mail later today. What I’ll do is send it frozen, and by the time it gets there, it should just be thawed and ready to go.

      (you ain’t a vegetarian, is you?)

      Thanks for the opportunity. I’ve been felling a mite stingy lately.

  • Shira says:

    Thanks for the opportunity to donate. I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts daily. Our lives are very different, but we share some similar interests, and your writing resonates with me. I enjoy reading about the way you step away from societal conventions, particularly regarding child rearing. You have introduced me to some fine books (including your own) and ideas, I enjoy your humorous and modest approach to things, and I thank you. And I’m looking forward to your next book!

  • Hi Ben!
    Great post as usual!
    I like your idea a lot, but I allready gave that idea my own twist.
    You know I broke the bank and bought your book “Saved”…. not once but twice! So there’s my support to you.
    One copy is for myself and the other I had you send it to a friend of mine on your side of the Atlantic. He injured himself and I figured it might be of use to him, while he was recovering. I did have one request for him though; after he had read it, he would have to start a pass-around on an outdoorforum we both are members of, to other folks who normally would not buy that book for whatever reason. They can get that book for free, as long as they themselves are willing to do the same thing. He or I would start a thread there, so we can keep track of it.
    This way I am hoping that it will reach others, make them think and share it with someone else as well.
    Fair enough, I’d say… right?

  • […] was one comment following yesterday’s post that compels me to offer a quick clarification (by the way, you really […]

  • CJ says:

    You can change the button to anything you want by creating a custom button and uploading it to your paypal account. Then replace the line of code in your posts that starts with
    from <img alt . . . to the end with the link to your custom button. Paypal should provide all this for you once you upload the new button. If you are using a WordPress blog template swapping out the code maybe a little different, but the first step is to get the new button to paypal.

  • ncfarmchick says:

    We pinch pennies till they yelp not unlike many of your readers, I humbly assume. However, we have always chosen to be frugal not cheap which means we pay for quality. Your writing most certainly fits that description and I will be happy to contribute in the near future. Thanks for providing a way to send something in the mail, too. I’ve had my eye on a few books in my collection that I think you might be interested in and may not have read. Love the term “generosity activism.” The most generous people I have known in my life have been those least able to give material things but have time, thought, knowledge and kindness in abundance. This post reminds me of my hope to live that way, too.

    • Karin Mitchell says:

      I love the generosity button. I am wondering if a marketing tool may be successful for you that the Animal Rescue Sites all use….. post a picture just prior to slaughter of your animal stating that “this pig/chicken/sheep is set to slaughter in 24 hours, please donate to save”. It always works for Rescue sites…..tongue in cheek. I love your writing and once you have the button working you will see a donation from me, for the enjoyment of your blog. It is the least I can do for the information you impart so freely.

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