Intergenerational Wealth

Intergenerational Wealth

I've found, as I start this business, that I have much more appetite to talk about it than people have energy to listen. One thing I come back to over and over is the effect of intergenerational wealth on my startup experience. In lieu of me (unintentionally) expounding upon yet another person about it, I choose to tell you.


Six months ago when I heard the words 'intergenerational wealth' I thought of things like the family home, trust funds, or an inheretence. The past month  has turned my understanding of wealth on its head.


You see, the pandemic had me in a tough spot recently. My liquid cash was down to the absolute dregs of the keg. I was working on my business 9+ hour days getting things ready for fall, but my business can't pay me yet, and I needed compost. Compost in the quantities that would make a difference to the space I'm working in is prohibitively expensive, think hundreds of dollars. So I wracked my brain for where I could find free compost.


Kijiji was a win! I found an enormous pile of free pony poop compost, recruited some help, and got about 3 cubic yards of it home with plans to go back for more - but it was full of germinating seeds. Where's there's five, there's 1000s. I wasn't ready to blindly apply seed filled compost to the garden that I will spend years reclaiming from weeds. (If I find the time someday I'll tell you all about my crusade against the creeping hellflower-I mean bellflower.) This compost would still be useful to me, but in a limited capacity.


Where else could I get compost? The obvious answer was to make it. The process of starting my first compost pile was what turned my understanding of intergenerational wealth on its head.


First, I needed a place to make it. I found three long-abandoned compost bins at the back of my grandfather's yard. They were grimey and so full of weeds they were literally fastened to the ground by roots. Those exact bins retail at $129 each at Home Depot. I saved $406 by digging them out and washing them off. These bins needed to be raised off the ground lest more of the same tenacious weeds invade them again. I found 3 pallets on Kijiji and picked them up an hour later. The slots in the pallets were too large and would let the compost materials through. I rummaged through the backyard and found some discarded squares of chicken wire. $20 saved.


Now I had my bins set up and I needed to fill them with compostable materials. I was lucky, it was the beginning of fall so there was both tons of leaves in my grandfather's yard and some green foliage I could trust was seed-free - but I needed a rake to gather them and way to transport them to the bins. I found a rake hanging in a back corner and got out the wheelbarrow. $18 and $128 respectively. I watered the pile down and paused. Weeds and leaves would eventually start to compost but it would take a long time to get going. I mentioned this to my mom and she offered up an enormous pile of seed-free  chicken manure she had been saving. I guestimate that value at $200 for the whole pile.


My first bin was now full. I waited a week and was ridiculously excited to come back to a pile that steamed and smelled of wet earth, but the pile had shrunk by 1/3 and needed to be topped up. I lamented my inability to shred larger materials to my dad. He announced he had a chipper that had gone unused for several years that I could take. $250.


So we come to today. I haven't used the chipper yet, that's on the immediate agenda. So far I haven't recieved a trust fund, but I saved $1022 on this project alone just because my parents and grandparents already had the stuff I needed. The wealth they accumulated in the form of yard tools allowed me to keep working even though I had no cash and I'm left with a peculiar emotion. I remember the panic I felt when I got part way through my project and realized I couldn't afford to buy a rake. That's a panic that millions of people experience every day. I remember the relief I felt when I found one, right where I needed it, free of charge. That's a relief that millions of people don't get to experience. Moments like these are reasons that everyone at awards shows thank the same people over and over. My mom, my dad, my grandfather, my grandmother. Thank you.

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