The Barracks on Substack
This is The Barracks, a newsletter about One man's 10 year plan to build a post-climate change, self-sufficient, vegan community.
For the longest time, I have been wanting to do much more granular updates of the day-to-day of the barracks. I’ve been hamstrung in this by the constant idea that it should be in video format. And monetised. Which clearly means I should have a YouTube channel. The creatures on my shoulders have been nagging me for years now - I should be a YouTuber.
I dipped my toe into the water, with the One Man Working channel, which was (is) a sort of ASMR / relaxation channel of very long, very boring videos of me doing very long very boring work. I quite liked it. But it’s not going to set the world aflame.
To make an engaging, interesting YouTube channel, I was sure, I needed assistance.
Over the last couple of years, I have been trying to persuade people, from hobbyists to supporters to professional film-makers that it would be a Really Good Thing to partner up with me to make videos.
For right or for wrong, mild mannered, white, middle-class, middle-aged blokes doing slightly unusual stuff and making high quality videos about it seem to be all the range in the video community these days. The argument that this should change hardly needs making, but as a white middle classs, etc etc, bloke, I’m not sure that I can change that. And definitely not by making videos.
It does mean, though, that I would be a great fit for the current “success” demographic. I can see The Barracks sitting quite comfortably along side Colin Furze and Mark Rober and This Old Tony and making loads of money, and at the same time spreading the message of what I am trying to achieve here, whilst allowing me the space to discover it at the same time.
So, why haven’t I done it yet?
I thought for the longest time that the answer to this was because I don’t have time. Or that I need better equipment. Or a partner in crime. Or a cameraperson / editor / writer.
None of these are the reason though.
Last week, I had a short conversation which triggered inside me that word which so far has kept me from running away from the barracks in the winter; the word which makes me feel proud to call Henry David Thoreau a fucking quitter, the word which troubles and interests me more than any other. Authenticity.
I have never got round to the YouTube thing because I am seduced by the idea that I could be a success there. But that is not authentically me.
I am not a film-maker. I have never had any pretensions to be a film-maker. I love cinema, but I didn’t spend my childhood with a Super-8 around my neck. Not even a still camera. I spent it reading and writing.
If I ever think of myself creatively, I think of myself as a writer. I spent my childhood with my nose in a book. When I went to my Grandparents’ for a sleepover and was allowed on Grandad’s CB-Radio, my 8-year-old handle was Bookworm. I wrote shit poetry in my teenage years, blogged my 20s, and wrote children’s stories in my 30s. I’ve had single-digit magazine articles published, and I have always wanted to write a work of Great English Fiction.
Wintergatan and Scott Manley and Cracking The Cryptic made me forget this for a while, but now I have remembered.
And just at the same time that I remembered, a different conversation made me aware of a website / publishing application which seems to have the potential for allowing me to write, and gather an audience, and ask for subs at the same time.
That is this. Welcome to Substack.
So, how is it going to work?
My writing, the stuff that I am pleased to call “writing” will continue to appear on the blog on The Barracks website and this will for always and forever be free of charge. It will remain the usual longer-form items of significant change and progress on the barracks, about 50-50 with my increasing frustrations on climate change inaction.
The Pirate Ben on Instagram will carry on exactly as it is - irregular picture updates of things that are particularly interesting (to me!), along with the usual gardening tips, mini rants and updates.
The Substack (here!) is an opportunity for you to connect more closely with The Barracks, and to support the work here in a very real and material sense.
It will be more personal, intimate, and regular.
On Monday mornings, 7:30am, I will publish the work-schedule for the week.
This will always be free.
During the week, I will publish status reports and updates, and my thoughts on the work achieved that day (or since the last update). You can judge against the schedule if I am being reasonable with myself or not! I’ll talk about what I did ,why I did it, how it fits in with the whole multiple-year vision. I’ll talk about my thoughts and how they are progressing in relation to that vision. And how the long-term aims are constantly being refined against the short-term physical labour.
And once a week, at the weekend, there will be a Pig Report. Lots of pics, and stories and lots of insight into the emotional state of the porkers. This changes more than you might imagine!
The hope is that there are enough people who would like to support The Barracks with a 5 dollar (or euro) a month subscription.
Last year, I ran a hugely successful GoFundMe campaign to feed the piggies over winter. This year, I’d like to be more interactive with everyone who supports what I am doing here. Sub up, and let me know what you want.
My only real continuing expense here is pig food. Every year, I get a little closer to growing all they need, and every year, they get bigger and hungrier. I’m spending about 3,000 Euros a year on pig food and this has to come from somewhere. Or in other words, a paid subscription makes me feel warm and loved, I hope you feel that you are getting something more or less worth it in return, but essentially, it’s a donation to pig food. And they, and me, are more grateful than we will probably ever say. Because we are all pigs :D
I hope you like the idea. I am very keen to get feedback and to hear what you think.
For now, and for the future, if you want to support the barracks, this is by far the most useful way in which you can do it.
Thank you! And let’s get this show on the road!