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Maintaining Privacy

Gregory Hatfield


Joined: Aug 24, 2011
Posts: 17
Location: Western Washington, USA
I'm new to the forums here and am curious as to how some of you have dealt with the loss of privacy as your lives have become more public.

First a little background on me to help you better understand the situation:
I am in my early 50's and my wife her late 40's, not that that matters other than to say we have been around the block a few times. I own a small, specialty building material supply business and my wife is a personal trainer, so professionally, our lives are very public. Our home has always been a refuge for us and we really appreciate the privacy it has afforded us, but that will be changing soon.

We live on an old 20 acre farm/homestead in a mixed small city/suburban/semi-rural county in western Washington that we own free and clear. Without going into all the details, for several years we have been working towards developing the property as a multifaceted agri-tourism location and will begin implementation next spring if we continue to progress as planned.

Our youngest heads off to University next week and for the first time in over 25 years we will be empty nesters, although we do have a couple international students boarding with us that attend the local college. The construction industry has been devastated in this economy and my little business has not been spared so the timing couldn't be better for us (me) to make the leap.

I have noticed that unlike most forums, many of you appear to use your real names and there are also seems to be many here earning income from their farms, so you seem like the ideal crowd to pose the question to. We have given this much consideration and both feel very strongly that we are up to it. I'm not necessarily seeking advice for my situation but rather am interested in hearing some thoughts on how others have dealt with maintaining privacy as your lives have become more public.

I hope this makes sense.
The Dirt Surgeon


Joined: Aug 17, 2011
Posts: 98
Location: Eastern Colorado, USA

I think it's really a matter of how much you care. 

I liken it to that scene from "V for Vendetta," at the end, where everyone who desires change shows up in Guy Fawkes masks.  They are, at that moment, anonymous, but reach in to the crowd, grab a mask, peel it off, and you know the person underneath.  You can hide from your mother-in-law, but as for anyone employed in the business of rooting out unsavory characters where the status quo is threatened, forget about it.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Robert Ray
volunteer

Joined: Jul 06, 2009
Posts: 1311
Location: Cascades of Oregon
    
  12
Once you start traffic onto your property you have opened the door.
Fences, seperate driveways, hedges, hugel beds, anything  to seperate the two private and public access.


"There is enough in the world for everyones needs, but not enough for everyones greed"
(Buckman)
Gregory Hatfield


Joined: Aug 24, 2011
Posts: 17
Location: Western Washington, USA
Robert Ray wrote:
Once you start traffic onto your property you have opened the door.


Exactly, which is where I was hoping to go with this discussion. My original question is probably too narrow.

It is a much different scenario than a typical away from home business that I feel deserves some thought. In our western culture, privacy is something that most people go to great lengths to protect. Obviously, there are certain aspects in each of our lives that indeed should remain private, and everyone should be free to decide for themselves what those are. Once you have opened the door, there is a very real vulnerability you are suddenly exposed to that you may not be prepared for.

I personally feel strongly that making oneself vulnerable to whatever degree you are ready and willing, is an essential part of personal growth and building community. The more open we are about ourselves, the more others are able to find common ground with us which tends to minimize our differences. We all know where protecting our positions and focusing on our differences gets us.

TheDirtSurgeon wrote:
  They are, at that moment, anonymous, but reach in to the crowd, grab a mask, peel it off, and you know the person underneath. 


I believe that in order to truly enjoy a measure of success in any venture, you must knowingly and willingly peel back the mask and expose yourself for who really are. Frightening for some, not so much for others. Hoping some will chime in with their personal experiences, positive or negative.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5320
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Personally I probably wouldn't let the public into my house.     If/when I have a public garden, I'll be sure to provide public restrooms  (composting, of course!).  I think otherwise, trying to direct traffic to public areas and keep it away from private areas with appropriate signs, paths, fences, screens, etc is the way to go.  This is just safer for you and everyone else, to let folks know where they're supposed to go and for you to know where they're likely to be.

Also be sure you have adequate insurance in case of accident.  Though you can't be protected 100% I think it's prudent to have some accident coverage in your property insurance.

Keeping groups to a manageable size is important, I think.  When a permaculture farm near me gave their last tour (it was the first I had visited, I didn't know they were going to close after that  ) we had to make reservations.  The group was less than 20 people.  Larger than that and people at the back would have had trouble hearing, and moving around in the rather small garden spaces would have been difficult.  Making sure paths are wide and smoothly covered with mulch or paving makes a big difference and something I want to improve on my own place.

You might start with a small public garden and later expand the public area as you get more comfortable managing groups of people.


Idle dreamer

Terri Matthews


Joined: Nov 21, 2010
Posts: 382
Location: Eastern Kansas
    
    3
I have seen one place with a good setup: there is tall vegetation between the business area and the farm house. And, there are two separate entrances.
Robert Ray
volunteer

Joined: Jul 06, 2009
Posts: 1311
Location: Cascades of Oregon
    
  12
I don't believe that you have to make yourself vulnerable for growth but  identify or accept your vulnerabilities.
Even masked truthful and honest actions are apparent, fair treatment, equitable costs, and quality goods will make a venture successful.
We all keep our guard up to some degree, that's the privacy part.
Are you asking how much of our personal selves do we reveal or how to seperate living quarters from a business venture?
Ripples in the water, we reveal more of orselves to our closer freinds and less to those that are mere aquaintance. As a customer base is established there will be those that will fall into those differing groups. Haven't you found that to be the case in your present business? I know it's true in my current circumstance.
Gregory Hatfield


Joined: Aug 24, 2011
Posts: 17
Location: Western Washington, USA
Although I appreciate the responses and good ideas, I'm not specifically asking how to set up my operation as I have that pretty well sorted out.

Robert Ray wrote:
I don't believe that you have to make yourself vulnerable for growth but  identify or accept your vulnerabilities.
Even masked truthful and honest actions are apparent, fair treatment, equitable costs, and quality goods will make a venture successful.
We all keep our guard up to some degree, that's the privacy part.
Are you asking how much of our personal selves do we reveal or how to seperate living quarters from a business venture?
Ripples in the water, we reveal more of orselves to our closer freinds and less to those that are mere aquaintance. As a customer base is established there will be those that will fall into those differing groups. Haven't you found that to be the case in your present business? I know it's true in my current circumstance.


All true Robert. I agree that you do not have to make yourself vulnerable for growth, however, doing so adds a dimension that is unpredictable no matter how much consideration one has given the situation.

For example, say a person has been growing an ever expanding garden over the years and one year finds themselves with much more produce than they can use themselves. Having given it some thought, they set up a small produce stand then go to the end of their driveway and post a sign, "Fresh Vegetables For Sale". Much to their delight, vehicles soon begin pulling into the driveway, parking, and people approach the stand. Suddenly, part of your once private world is open to the public and all that it entails.

When it is your property and home, it is a much different situation and experience than it is with a remote business location. What I'm asking is to hopefully hear some thoughts from people who have personally experienced something like this, how it impacted them and how they reacted.


Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5320
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
I have a home business but not a gardening or food-selling business, and have had clients over to my shop (separate from the house) and to the in-home office (where the "public" restroom is).  It's a little weird having people come into your home, makes one wish the home were nicer and certainly cleaner.  But I did not feel invaded or violated in any way.  Just sort of felt the facilities were somewhat inadequate.  

 
 
subject: Maintaining Privacy
 
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