Make Your Place: Affordable, Sustainable Nesting Skills
by Raleigh Briggs
Raleigh Briggs is not interested in the trendy side of conscious living. For Briggs, “DIY is not a show of prowess, or even a hobby; rather, it is a necessary step towards living our lives on our own terms.” Her three-part zine, Make Your Place: Affordable, Sustainable Nesting Skills, is a beautifully handwritten and illustrated little info-packed guide to commandeering the “tiny, artless actions” of healing, cleaning, and gardening that most people are content to leave in the hands of the Target Corporation and Johnson + Johnson. Make Your Place is not written for the melt-n-pour soapmaking set; this is Mother Earth News for apartment dwellers, squatters, and landowners alike. But don’t let the back-to-the-land vibe leave you feeling excluded — Briggs’s recipes and knowledge are absolutely accessible and regular person-friendly.
If you’re ailing and not itching for a co-pay and carbon-copy treatment from your local MD, hie thee to the “Health & First-Aid” chapter, where you’ll find basic methods and simple recipes for tinctures, infusions, decoctions, and salves as well as a pretty comprehensive list of antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antiviral herbs and their myriad applications. Some recipes may seem out of reach for people whose arid lawns don’t grow common, useful weeds like plantain and marshmallow — buying these ingredients from mom and pop health food stores (when you can find them) or one of the many indie herbal suppliers available online still seems to make more sense from the perspective of conscious caretaking than downing another round of amoxicillin.
Cleaning your home, clothes, and self becomes healthy and cheap with the neurotoxin-free concoctions Briggs includes in the “Nontoxic Cleaning & Body Care” chapter. Make some pretty soul-pampering cleansers with things from around the house, like baking soda, lemon juice, salt, and cornstarch, and a few other items like borax and washing soda that you can get from the grocery store for a few dollars. You won’t find a soap recipe — check out Soap: Making It, Enjoying It by Ann Bramson (Workman Publishing Company, 1975) to add that skill to your set — but you will find lots of sweet-smelling furniture and appliance cleansers, a rose and honey face wash, and a super precious face oil for dry to oily complexions that is poised to give Lancôme a run for its (and your) money.
“Gardening” gives you a brief rundown of plant anatomy and garden design, as well as instructions for companion planting, composting, and improving soil. If the concepts of raised and sunken beds, seed starting, heirlooms, and hardening off (not what you might think) baffle you, Briggs will set you straight — in under 50 pages.
Some of these ideas you’ve seen before, others, like the homemade fly-strips on page 61, may be fresh and new. Make Your Place is not groundbreaking news, but rather an outstanding collection of Earth and body friendly instructions for living a life based on the perhaps forgotten skills we should all have to do it ourselves.