Leafbox
Leafbox Podcast
Interview: Keturah Lamb
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Interview: Keturah Lamb

Hosting with Heart: Insights from a Nomadic, Nature-Inspired Hostess who is 4 Generations without a Social Security Number

Keturah Lamb, an American writer, educator, and community builder, discusses her unconventional upbringing, her philosophy, her projects, and her views on technology and society.

Raised in a family that rejected social security cards for four generations, Lamb was homeschooled and grew up in various locations across the US. She has hosted workshops through her project, the Living Room Academy, to pass on traditional knowledge and skills regarding home building, community building and more. She also shares her experiences of traveling and meeting different communities, her approach to using the internet, and her thoughts on politics and spirituality. She emphasizes the importance of community building, hospitality, and sacrifice in her life and work.

Topic Time Stamps

  • (4:31) Keturah’s upbringing and unconventional lifestyle 

  • (9:31) Views on religion and her current spiritual practices 

  • (14:02) Ketura's approach to aesthetics and her Living Room Academy project 

  • (19:31) Demographics and a response to Ketura's work and projects

  • (28:55) Rumspringa

  • (33:10) Travel and meeting members of the 12 Tribes

  • (35:12) Church jumping

  • (37:14) Relationship to the Internet and social media

  • (45:02)Writing practice and community building

  • (47:03) Keturah’s politics

  • (51:51) Dating advice for others 

  • (53:58) Spiritual framework and her views on gossip 

  • (56:12) Gossip 

  • (59:02) Current focus and future projects

  • (1:04) The role of sacrifice / closing thoughts

Connect with her work:

The Living Room Academy Project
https://www.livingroomacademy.com/

She writes

- On Point Whimsical Fiction And Essays

The Girl Who Does Not Exist
Guide to life without a Social Security Number
https://thegirlwhodoesntexist.com/

Find her on Twitter: @KeturahAbigail / Photos in post by Keturah Lamb


Interview Transcript

Leafbox:

Keturah - how do you say it? ,Am I pronouncing your name right, or is that the correct

Keturah Lamb:

It's Keturah ("Qetura")

Leafbox:

Okay, great. Yes, I was looking it up. It actually, I guess it's Hebrew, Ketura, the way you're saying it. Yeah, I grew up in South America, so that sounds more like I would say it, but I thought it was Keturah, but Keturah sounds great. Are you in upstate New York right now or are you in I am, yeah. I think I heard Andy's voice for a second.

Upstate NYC @ Photo by K. Lamb

Keturah Lamb:

Yeah, you did. Yeah, he's in the next room.

Leafbox:

Oh, wonderful. Well, congratulations again on your engagement. I'm happy that you guys, well, at least from the internet, it seems like you guys are in love and that's a positive thing.

Keturah Lamb:

Yeah. I think in this instance, the internet is pretty much realistic and true.

Leafbox:

Wonderful, wonderful. Well, Keturah, why don't we just start? I wanted to, well, I interviewed Andy a few months ago and that was an interesting interview, and then I saw your work and I was like, man, who is this woman he found and who is this person? And I clicked on your website and I read some of your essays, and I actually sat with him for a little bit because I didn't want to approach you then , and then I read some of the essays again. And since you have an interesting project, and I think your age is also interesting as is your lifestyle. So I wanted to understand what your upbringing was like, who you are, what your projects are, maybe what your writing's about, and just see where we can go from there.

Keturah Lamb:

Yeah this sounds great.

Leafbox:

So why don't we just start with your upbringing. I saw in your profile that, well, the barefoot traveling's great, but I was curious about what this no social security card fourth generation person is and what that's about,

Keturah Lamb:

I'll try to be as brief as I can. My great grandfather back in the thirties just didn't sign up for the social security when it came out, and he believed it was some sort of mark of the beast or precursor to it, and just that it was safer and better to keep his family outside of the system. He refused to sign up for any sort of welfare and he refused to ever have a corporate job, never would work a nine to five job, just believed that it was morally wrong to do so and would work odd jobs and raise his family doing that. He had 13 children with his wife, a lot of older boys. So one point in their lives it was basically just the father and all the older boys moving from place to place. They were very much of a nomad type family, always moving all the time, mostly because he was also an evangelical preacher and liked to preach.

So he'd move whenever he heard there was opportunity. There was a church that was looking for a new pastor, and he would intern there until they got a regular pastor kind of thing, not intern, but just stay there until they got a new pastor. And then when those couple months were over, he'd go on to the next church. And meanwhile, his sons and him would just kind of work for a local farm, his farm hands or doing mechanical work. Eventually they got into commercial fishing before it required all the licensing and permits that they required nowadays. And my grandfather was one of those 13 kids. He carried on the ways of his father raised all of his nine kids out of the system, just doing their own ways, thinking outside the box creatively, trying to live life without having a nine to five job. And then my dad was one of my grandpa's nine kids, and then I'm the oldest of 12 kids. And again, we were raised just kind trying to carry on the family tradition and being creative and being your own person without conforming to the ways of society, if that makes sense.

Leafbox:

So I mean, where was this? Where were you raised? And obviously in the US, but which state or where?

Keturah Lamb:

Yeah, it was really all over. My grandpa was all over California, Florida, Missouri, Arkansas. They eventually settled in the Missouri, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee area, just all over there. I mean, have quite a lot of great aunts and uncles and aunts and uncles are just scattered all over. My dad, when he married my mom, they stayed in Missouri until I was 16, and then when I was 16 we all moved out to Montana. So it's definitely spread out quite a bit. We're spread out quite a bit now, but at one point I would say we were mostly located in Missouri and Arkansas.

Leafbox:

And then were you guys, you talked about your great-grandpa being an evangelical pastor. What's your current, I mean, was your Dad religious? Did he continue that or what's your school of thought on that?

Keturah Lamb:

Yeah, it's very complicated and hard to explain because my grandfather and great-grandfather were very zealous in their faith, and my family was too, to an extent, but it was less about, I think my dad really wanted to carry on his family heritage and honor that. And my mom came from a Mennonite background and my dad was also very fascinated by the Amish. So we kind of played around with a lot of different things for a while. We would always try to keep as true in my grandpa's beliefs as possible without, he was very messianic, I don't know if you've ever heard of that as a heat break roots type of thing, but he was before the modern. A lot of people think of it as like a cult or something, but basically like Jews, but they're mostly Southern People. So my Grandpa was a big part of that.

My Dad was that loosely, we weren't that because of necessarily religion, but just because that's how we were raised. And it was, I don't know, just the way we were raised, but he was very heavily influenced by the Amish and by my mom's desire to be more anaba. And so we would choose to live near the Amish and with the Amish as much as possible. And we did live with them for about three years when I was a teenager, a young teenager. And then we left that we went to a few non-denominational churches in Montana and still continue to be somewhat messianic, but also would usually go to churches on Sunday with local ranchers and such.

Leafbox:

I'm just trying to understand your upbringing. So were you totally homeschooled or totally just off the grid or how did you guys, I mean, did you rent houses? Did your Dad have a driver's license? What was the lifestyle like?

Keturah Lamb:

Yeah, my grandpa doesn't have any sort of ID or driver's licenses or anything. My dad did get a driver's license at some point just because it was easier for him to work without being harassed as much. And my dad's way of thinking of it was give little as possible so you can do as much as you without conforming as much as possible. So I think that the only thing my dad did was get a banking account and a driver's license, and I was mostly homeschooled. We went to an Amish school for about a year or two. I went for about a year and my siblings went for two years. They only teach to eighth grade, so I graduated and then was done with Amish school and then just continued homeschooling through high school.

Leafbox:

And what was the homeschooling environment? Was it your mom or father or did you or did you take a GED? I'm just curious what?

Keturah Lamb:

It was different for each of my siblings. It was a 12 kids and we each had a very different way of learning. I loved education and quickly surpassed my mom and dad's educational background. They both had only, I think my mom got an eighth grade education, which is typical Mennonite education, still a lot higher probably than a modern day high school diploma. But yeah, by the time I was like 14 or 15, I was definitely doing school mostly on my own, maybe even from 12 years old. And then when I was a little older, I decided to go ahead and get a high set, which is the Montana equivalent for a GED.

Leafbox:

And how old were you when you got that?

Keturah Lamb:

I was probably about 20. I had been done doing school since I was 16. I just was lazy with getting the HI-SET. I finally decided on a whim to go in and get it and didn't really need to study very much. I just went in and got it and then threw myself a graduation party. I was like, oh, I should have done this years ago. Yeah.

Leafbox:

Did you follow your father or do you have an ID or a passport or whats your approach? What's your relationship with the state?

Keturah Lamb:

I think it's best to remain outside of society as much as possible in a way that you're still social. I think you should still be a good neighbor and a good community member and give to your community as much as possible, which funny enough is easier to do if you aren't involved in having a corporate job and following all these things that society thinks that you ought to do. So as much as possible, I have kind of done as my dad did, which is do as little as possible to adhere to my grandfather's heritage, but also make in a way where I'm not harassed by local authorities. So I do have a driver's license. I do have a passport and I do have a bank account, but I did all that without a social and without a birth certificate. And I have continued doing things in a fashion where I just avoid any route that requires me having a permit or a license in general living choices.

Leafbox:

Do you think you'll get a marriage license?

Keturah Lamb:

We're currently figuring them out, but the plan is to not get one if it's possible to do so and have a Catholic wedding.

Leafbox:

Have you converted to Catholicism or,

Keturah Lamb:

Oh, well I haven't, but that's still one of those things. It's like it won't cause an issue one way or the other. I currently go to church with Andy with Mass, and I plan to continue to do so. I love going to church with him and I've been learning a lot about it, but yeah, I haven't actually converted.

Leafbox:

Do you have the same resistance towards church groups or being part of a larger, I mean the state is one large organization, but do you have the same kind of weariness towards organized religion or organized groups of other forms?

Keturah Lamb:

Yeah, that's a good question. It's one that I've actually just been working through myself. I think that my family, not my immediate family, but maybe some of my relatives has had some resistance towards anything that was viewed as an establishment, even if it were a church per se. At the same time, my grandfather and great-grandfather also loved to visit churches and preach to any church that would have them preach. They just love preaching. So it's one of those things and things that's kind of like, we kind of have a resistance towards it theoretically, but are also heavily involved in a lot of different churches. And I think when it comes to the churches on the local level that they love attending churches, I love going to a variety of different churches and just comparing how they're so similar and so different all at once and how I can learn from all these different types of churches.

And I love to write about guess one of my favorite things to write about is just some of the church hopping I've done, the Catholic church in particular, if I had any sort of reservationist with them, it wouldn't be because of my family's influence as much as maybe some of the Baptist literature I read as a teenager when I was going to Amish school, because a lot of the Amish actually have a bit of a, I don't know, they just have a little bit of a tense relationship with Catholicism because of some of their history. And I was definitely influenced there, lot of Amish novels as a teenager with their viewing Catholicism, but I'm also realizing the Catholic church nowadays is very different than it was back in the medieval days. Even the hierarchy of it all, it's very different. So that's just been fun to see it. And I don't know, I also find the church be very beautiful and some of heavily into aesthetics. I love aesthetics and the Catholic church is probably one of the most aesthetic churches that you can attend, at least in the states, the politics of it don't matter so much in the states either because it doesn't really on the local level, at least lot of the local churches, just a very simple and very beautiful, which I love.

Leafbox:

It's funny that you bring up aesthetics. Maybe you can actually jump to that because I sent your project, which we'll bring up in a second to some of my friends who live in New York and work in fashion,

Keturah Lamb:

And

Leafbox:

We were just kind of analyzing and looking at your photography choices and layout choices, and they seem very contemporary and very actually plugged in. I mean, joke that there's kind of a little house on the prairie vibe, but in a more contemporary way. So I'm curious how you're approaching, you said aesthetics are really important to you. What does that actually mean? What aesthetic?

Keturah Lamb:

Yeah, that's a good question. And that's interesting that you said there's a contemporary approach. It probably has something to do with, even though we had a very eccentric upbringing, I read a lot of literature and I especially loved both the classics and the contemporary fiction equally probably, and read a lot of both, and that's probably somewhat influenced just how I take my pictures, the types of things that I love. For me, I guess aesthetics are just something that I think highlight the natural beauty of something that shows the character of it and the nature of it in a way that's both real and authentic without making it ugly degenerate, if that makes sense. And I also love it if it's especially real. I don't find a dress beautiful if it's polyester. The aesthetics to me are somewhat false if it isn't also quality.

Leafbox:

So to continue on aesthetic choices. Maybe we can discuss for people who aren't familiar with projects, I guess the main one is this Living Room Academy. Could you maybe summarize that and how aesthetics fall into that and what the goal of that project is and what your experience so far with that?

Keturah Lamb:

Well, it was something I did for summer, this last summer in particular, and I was encouraged to do it by a few older women that I had worked with and volunteered with. They just knew that I had a little home on my family's property and then it was set up so that way I had all my sewing stuff at hand and a lot of projects was going on, and they said how a lot of young women would be blessed if they could spend some time in my home with me doing these things and learning these things that they wished they could learn, but just didn't have the opportunity to do so. And so I was kind of considered what they had told me and realized that my home was almost set up to be a school for other young women to come in.

So I eventually advertised it on Twitter and through a couple of ministries I had worked for and had young girls come and stay with me for two weeks at a time. And the idea was for them to learn how to sew and cook and clean, but to do so in a way that encouraged them and help them feel capable of doing so, not just like, here's the tools of how to do this, but this is also how you can keep your mood happy and by drinking water and eating the right food and wearing the right clothes, here's how you can have a successful day and feel successful and not get to the end of the day feeling all tired and grouchy and moody because you're eating good stuff for your hormones and you're wearing things that actually make you feel comfortable and make you feel pretty at the same time.

So we focused on, I guess aesthetic of dress, but also the quality of we were wearing. I encouraged girls to wear linen and cotton and to dress in a way that actually highlighted who they felt to be, not just dressing like how they might normally dress if they were just going to any place. And also we just also focused on, it wasn't just about getting work done and learning how to sew and knit, it was also about having a good time together, having good conversations and reading literature together. We did a lot of letter writing and we took walks also just because it was an intense program. I encouraged the girls to take naps and we often, they would have naps in the afternoon and read and just a lot of quiet time too.

Leafbox:

Who was the audience for these programs? You said you approached local ministries, but did you get people from outside your community or more urban kind of people and women?

Keturah Lamb:

Yeah, I actually didn't have anyone local come. Everyone that came flew from other states out of state, and they mostly came, I was thinking about half of the applicants came from a ministry that I had worked for, and this was a ministry that writes a magazine for mothers stay at home mothers and their daughters who read a magazine who I guess had been thinking about being a home keeper someday saw this program and just thought it was a good opportunity for them to learn how to keep a home, which wasn't really the purpose of my course. My course wasn't teaching women how to be stay-at-home mothers per se, as much as good community builders, but it was the same thing for the same for different outcome I suppose. So I had a lot of girls that were interested from that magazine for that reason to go.

And then I had quite a few people from Twitter interested in just because they were interested in being more feminine and just more capable as a woman doing womanly things and never having an opportunity to know how to do those womanly things. And I think the women from Twitter actually kind of got the point in my course a little bit better than the girls from the ministry, just because the girls from the ministry were more about trying to become the perfect mother and the perfect wife, and I can't really make you the perfect woman and the perfect wife or mother because I don't know. No body knows if they're going to be called to marriage or into motherhood, but we are do know as women that we are women who can have natural gifts. And if you just focus on being a good woman and being a good community builder and doing the things that you can currently do in your phase of life, then it was a course I felt like that could better equip them in that way, if that makes sense.

Leafbox:

In some of your writing, you described it as you're trying to develop spontaneous womanhood. What do you mean by that? And I'm curious what womanhood actually means to you On the internet, you always see those memes about people unable to define what a woman is, but I think you can, so maybe you could expand on that.

Keturah Lamb:

Yeah, so I think mostly when I was talking about the school talked about spontaneous hospitality, I might've a couple times said spontaneous womanhood, but I don't remember what I was referring to if I was talking about that. We're talking about womanhood in general. I just think it means being spontaneous, yes, and being hospitable and being open to just trying things that are uncomfortable, not because we want to become gruf, but because we want to make other people comfortable and in a way that actually helps the community at large. In order to actually be a good member of your community, it takes a certain level of spontaneity that allows you to step outside of your comfort zone, put the thing down that you're currently doing, maybe bake something or cook something for the person that just showed up at your door. Forget about your current frame of mind and just be open to what this person means that's before you. And I think that's mostly what it means to be a woman, is learning how to sacrifice self. And of course this is for anybody, but in specific, I was speaking to women learning how to sacrifice the self to make other people feel like they're in a good safe space where it's warm and comfortable and cozy and doing so in a way that shows them beauty and hope in a world where you often don't see any of that.

Leafbox:

So what has the response been from just the internet in general? I had one friend ask, are most of your followers men or are most of them women are people? One of my friends seemed skeptical of your project and he said that, oh, he's like in a mean-spirited way said, oh, I bet it's just a lot of men who wish their wives were like this.

Keturah Lamb:

Yeah.

Leafbox:

So I'm curious what the is or who's following your work.

Keturah Lamb:

Yeah, it's funny. I actually have mostly a female audience. If I have a male audience, I don't hear from them very often. It might be because I'm a little bit of a prude on mine and I don't respond to any guys who message me, and I usually don't respond to most guys replies. And so maybe I'll have a guy that will follow me for a bit, but slowly I'll notice, oh, I'm not hearing from that person anymore on my post because I just don't respond to most guys. But I do respond to any woman that reaches out to me and have created quite a few good friendships on the internet that are with young women. I do see that for men at least because it's why I encourage and what I feed. I would say that my audience is probably 80 to 90% women. And when I've checked my demographic, even on my Instagram, if I remember right, I had two large demographics and the majority of it was women between the ages of 18 and 35.

And then the other was men, older men, middle aged men, and I don't interact with those, so they're probably just men are stocking or creeping on women's accounts or whatever. But even that demographic was pretty low. I don't remember the actual size of it. It might have been like 20% or it was probably kind of high. But I feel like for the type of account that I was running, it wasn't at least, it was like 90% female audience. It was still a pretty high percentage of a female audience and a pretty young female audience at that.

Leafbox:

And then what is the response in that 80% female? I mean, are most of them fans or most of them supporters or, I asked that because I asked one of my friends who had a Mormon upbringing and she lives in an urban New York City, and I was like, Hey, what do you think about this? And she's like, oh, it reminds me of when the Mormon girls at 13 would go kind of be separated and learn a lot of the homemaking skills and whatnot. But the one thing that was interesting to her was that she was very positive of you running a business out of, she called it your lap in the sense that out of your home where it has to go to a job, a nine to five, and I felt like she had a bit of jealousy towards your project. So I'm curious what women, how do you feel, how do they interact with your projects?

Keturah Lamb:

I definitely have a little bit of that, especially when I was younger because of course when I was leaving my teen years and my early twenties, I had had a high goal visions that seemed impossible to a lot of people I talked about because I was never interested in having a regular job. I was just like, that's a waste of time. It doesn't actually feed to any of my purpose or my passions, and you don't make very much money doing it, but everyone also thinks this is the way it is and you're not going to make it at life if you don't start out with a fast food job that pays you 13, 15, $17 an hour. So I did up having a lot of that, and then when I got to a point where I was like, I'm actually doing all right babysitting and cleaning and I'm working less and I'm able to travel and write and so do all these things I love doing.

People didn't believe me. I would tell people to their people I knew, I'd be like, this is what I'm doing and this is how much money I'm making and this is what I'm able to do with this money because I don't spend it on regular stuff that a lot of young girls spend their money on and they would turn me to their face that it just wasn't true come to my face. Yeah, that just isn't how it is. But as it became stead more obvious as like, oh, you actually can budget your money and you can make decent money just doing regular stuff with people. Plus also learning from this. If you're working with a bunch of old ladies, you're also learning more about the things that you want to do because a lot of these women know how to sew and how to cook, and you might learn a recipe from this woman that you clean for and learn how to turn a hand better from this other lady that you clean for and how to do this and how to do that.

I think it did start to become more obvious and the girls that I would hang out with instead of disbelief in me or mocking me would actually want to end up hanging out more often than not. And it turned into this really beautiful thing where for about, well, up until the time I left Montana recently, for the last three or four years, I've started hosting at least monthly, if not sometimes weekly meetings at my house where just the women from the different communities would come together and we would just spend in the evening. At first, when I first started about four years ago, I was teaching everyone how to darn and how to knit, but now when they come together, they know how to do it now and they're just having fun. So I'd say overall the reaction to it has steadily grown better. There's still people sometimes who don't fully believe it's real and they think sometimes it's a gimmick, but I also don't make a lot of money off of it.

Students Graduates of Living Room Academy Photo K. Lamb

The meetings at my home I don't make anything off of. It's just people coming together and we're all having fun and talking and sewing together. And I basically just basically taught my friends to do what I was doing and now we have fun together and I didn't even really make all that much money off of the Living Room Academy classes this summer really was just something fun I was doing because some old lady said I should do it. And when people actually applied and be like, I would love to do this, but I'll have the money and be like, just pay what you can afford. And I got full tuition. Well, I got full tuition once, but I didn't get full tuition for most of the students because I didn't really care about the money. It was just mostly I want to see women be better equipped doing the things they love to do and feel like they can do it and feel like a sort of hope about themselves in a way that's going to boost their morale and the ads for people on social media, they more than not people who are doing similar things and feel inspired to see more people like themselves.

I had a lot of followers that I also follow, just like we're all basically patting each other in the back as like, oh, I love your quilt and I love the socks that you're knitting and I love this thing that you're making. It's just kind of fun. And then I have a lot of girls who are interested in doing what I'm doing and will sometimes message me and be like, how can I teach myself how to ta lace or how can I make this waistband fit me better? And sometimes it's just a lot of following each other to ask each other tips of how to learn to do this on my own.

Leafbox:

Keturah, one of your upbringings, you were raised with the Amish for a few years, they have the famous Rum Springer. Do you ever have an experience where you left your family or your circle to venture out?

Keturah Lamb:

So not all Amish do that, and the community that we lived with was actually opposed to rumspringa because they didn't think it was necessary like a necessary phase. You'll see it more in maybe Pennsylvania, Amish will do it, but the majority of Amish and other states don't really do the Rum Springer that I know of my family. We were very independent. All of us were just raised very independently, very, very introverted and extroverted all at the same time. Very eccentric bunch of people. I like to joke sometimes that we're a cult, but then I'll also clarify that the only reason we aren't a cult is because my grandpa had a bunch of daughters that he raised to be very outspoken, and then my dad did the same. It's just like we encourage everyone to speak their mind and to speak it boldly and loudly and to argue and fight if their opinions aren't getting heard.

I didn't have as much of a need for rumspringa as maybe some kids in my type of upbringing would feel the need to have. I definitely went through a phase where I was like, oh, my family's crazy and I need a break for them. I think I was 18 when I left home the first time and I just went to work for a ministry and that was my rad thing. And the wildest thing I did was I started dancing. It was barn dancing. It wasn't even very scandalous dancing, but I wasn't even very regardless about it. I called my parents and I was like, I want to start dancing. They're like, well, this is what you want to do, then you should go for it. And so I did it, and I would say the extent to my rebellion was I decided I wanted to start doing things that my parents didn't completely agree with traveling alone.

And so with asking for permission, I just told 'em, I'm going to start traveling alone. And they were like, well, we don't think this is a good idea. And I was like, well, I'm still going to do it. And they were like, well, that's what you're going to do. That's what you're going to do. So it's kind of one of those things where my dad would make it clear, I don't think this is a good idea, but I'm not going to fight you about it or excommunicate you over it. He also doesn't think that's right. So he has for the most part just kind of let us figure out our own way where some people might have thought we were being rebellious. Our parents were just like, well, that's just how Keturah is. You can't really tie her down and make her do something otherwise we did. We probably would just, it'd be a losing battle.

Leafbox:

So did you go to any urban LA or San Francisco, New York, try to see what big city life was like or was that just unattractive to you?

Keturah Lamb:

Yeah, I wasn't really attracted to big city life. I went to Germany. That was my first major trip and I wasn't planning to go to a city. I was just looking to go anywhere in Germany, and it happened to be the Struggart was where I got a position as an au pair. That was huge for me. I think it was what, 90,000? The population was 90,000 people. And of course it was one of those towns that you mostly traversed and train or bicycle, and I learned to take all three quite frequently and regularly. So that was kind of fun for me. It wasn't necessarily something like, oh, I'm in a big city and now so many exciting things could happen still mostly even when I was in the city, seek out parks and just spend my time out off in the parks. Reading was how I liked this to do it.

So I definitely found out pretty quick that I wasn't into the cities. But then when I came back to the states, I started road tripping in my station wagon. And again, what I would do is I would actually follow interesting people on Facebook who some people might consider cultish or just really strange and I would message them and be like, I would like to come and learn more about your family's ways. Can I spend a day or a weekend with your family? And then I would just drive all over the states to stay with these random people. Sometimes I would just acure families. Sometimes I'd stay with people from the 12 Tribes or some other couple other obscured cults that probably you wouldn't have heard of.

Leafbox:

What are some of these experiences? I mean, what are the 12 Tribes?

Keturah Lamb:

A lot of these people, I would stay with them. I would stay with them in a way that I would stay with an individual and not be the entire group. So I would have pleasant experiences. If you stay with an individual, it's always going to be, not always, but more than often becoming experience. And people like the 12 Tribes, they're very messianic. So that was kind of comfortable for me. Just I was used to a messianic atmosphere. They were definitely also very different than my family and a lot of those just because they had perfected some rituals of their own that were different, but I enjoyed their dance and I enjoyed their food, and they have this eccentric way of eating with metal chopsticks, which I just found to be quaint and fun and they have an interesting way of dressing. And then they have the, I don't know if you know much about them, but

Leafbox:

I don't, this is totally new to me. I don't know what metal chopsticks are. Is that Korean chopsticks?

Keturah Lamb:

Probably. I don't from, but they might be like aluminum or something, but they're very lightweight. It made some sort of metal and that's what they eat with. They're very much into aesthetics too. If they have yellow delis, they call them, scattered across the states. These little cafes, they're just very beautiful on inside. They have very ornately designed furniture and yellow curtains and the buildings are out yellow, hence the name Yellow Deli. And they have just delicious food. They're usually kosher. I think they're ko, yeah, they're kosher because they're Messianic and they also know of the Yerba mate. I think they somewhat popularized the Yerba Mate in some form fashion. At least some people say they answer a lot of scandal around them. There was supposedly some sort of in leadership at one point in history. I also know some ex members of the 12 Tribes though, and I've heard some of their stories and you get a little bit. Some people are like, well, yeah, there's problems in leadership, but the overall, the group was pretty good and some people have some trip traumatizing experiences or they say it is, but most people who are in and out of the 12 Tribes have, I feel like a pretty balanced perspective overall. And they're like, yeah, this wasn't for me, but I learned a lot and it was a beautiful experience.

Leafbox:

Was this part of your church jumping?

Keturah Lamb:

It was part of my travels when I was driving across the states. I was just trying to learn from different people just to see how they did things and how they raised their families and how they built their communities. If anything, it was actually me trying to develop a repertoire of hospitality and community building and skills. I would also try to learn, I would fill out this notebook and have people write down like frugal tips for everyday living that take creative outside the box thinking. And I would have these different people just fill that out a notebook. But I would also do random things with a couple of friends. I had met from Facebook maybe the previous year, but they had become good friends in and we took a trip to New York City and we actually, the surprising thing is I didn't really like cities, but we enjoyed our time in New York City quite a lot. And Andy said it was probably because it was during Covid, there was hardly anyone there and we pretty much just had an easy time getting around and we mostly just thrift shop there of course. So if you're going to thrift shop, that's going to be pretty easy to navigate too. Not a lot of people in thrift stores

Leafbox:

Keturah. Could you tell me a little bit more, you seem very knowledgeable on using the internet. Some people might have reservations and opposition to, I'm curious what your relationship is with I guess social media and internet technology?

Keturah Lamb:

So I actually wasn't allowed to use internet at all growing up. I think I was probably 19 before I first used it. I'd already learned how to type because when I was 14 or 15, I found a typewriter thrift store and a book on how to type and I learned how to type. And then I went to look for a ministry when I was 18 or 19 and was required to use a computer all day, every day for nine to five, five days a week. So I had a crash course and using a computer, I hadn't used a computer before because I didn't want affect whether or not I got the job and I knew that it wouldn't take me very long to learn. So I learned how to use the computer just by basically observing her. And I had a friend in the office who gave me some pointers, and after looking for her for a few months, I decided to go ahead and get a laptop of my own to write.

At that point, I had been writing all my stuff out by hand for my stories and my fiction and stuff, but once the laptop, I want to ask my parents if I could get Facebook because I wanted to be able to stay in contact with some of the friends I was meeting as I was working for this ministry and I was starting to travel a little bit and just wanted to have a way of staying in touch with people who I was meeting. I think it just kind of took off from there because I think it's part of having a different sort of, my Facebook just has a lot of pictures of my life. I would have a lot of interesting friend requests from people, and then if I thought they looked interesting, I might accept and then maybe I would stock some of their pictures and be like, oh, it looks like they're doing really neat stuff.

These people raise water buffalo. I'm going to go meet them. Who raises water buffalo in Alabama? I see this other family, they post beautiful pictures of their house and I'd just be like, I want to see what their house looks like. It looks like a house that I should maybe just be in for a while and taken the surroundings and have inspiration for when I want to start decorating my own house. So I think of just a lot of scrolling and thinking, oh, this person's interesting, and what's the worst? They could say, I message 'em. They might not answer. They might be like, oh, we're not open to guests. But you find that people love, people love having the chance to be hospitable if you with them and just reaching out to people and being like, I think you're interesting. Can you teach me some of your ways?

People love that. And so I would just do that if I saw interesting people and when you start seeing one interesting person and reach out to them, then you have more suggestions happening in your timeline and just more and more interesting people end up coming up. Not only that, if someone knows that you're traveling and going to say that I'm on my way from Tennessee to New York and I just stay with this family in Tennessee, they're like, well, I know someone in Harrisonburg, Virginia you ought to stay with. And then you go there and they're like, oh, but you should make a detour in Pennsylvania, some really cool people there that you should stay with. And it doesn't end up being just social media, but you end up meeting people all the way between those two destinations, maybe a half dozen more people because of the first person that you stopped in and met. And for the most part, it's always good. I've only ever had one or two experiences where like, oh, this was probably a little sketchy. I probably shouldn't have done this.

Leafbox:

So Keturah, what do you think of other people in your generation? I guess, I dunno if you're in the TikTok generation or what generation are you skeptical? You used the word de degeneracy. I'm curious. The internet, you used it in a very positive way. I'm just curious. You only had a few dark experiences, but what are your reservations on the internet or technology, if you have any?

Keturah Lamb:

Yeah. Well, I think it's very dangerous to blame the internet for a problem that has to boils down to your soul and to your spirit. And if you're looking for problems, you're going to find problems with or without the internet, and if you're looking for peace and beauty, you are going to find it with or without the internet. Of course, we each have times where we're like, oh, I'm using this too much and this is probably controlling me more than I'm using as a tool, but this doesn't just come to the internet. Even as a reader, I've had times of life where I'm like, oh, I'm not actually treating literature as a joy. I'm starting to use it as a pope, and so I should probably stop reading and go on a walk. And if you ever come to a point anything, there's been times where I'm like, okay, now I'm not using social media as a way to actually connect with people.

I'm using it as a way to disconnect from people, so I should probably stop using the internet right now. And so I think it just takes being very aware of why you're doing what you're doing and being intentional about it, whether or not it's using the internet or reading a book or booking food or knitting socks, you just want to make sure that everything is actually being done in a way that's making life around you, what you're trying to make it. I obviously do think that there's certain things that just cannot be used in a positive way. I do not and would not ever advocate for using TikTok or Snapchat. I think they're both porn written and evil sites that do not have anything good to offer. I think they're disgusting and definitely degenerate. Yeah, they just don't offer anything good. And anything that you can do that people argue for, TikTok you can also do on YouTube. So I just don't get the TikTok phase that's going on. And most of my friends, I think, agree with me on TikTok. No one in my age group uses TikTok, but I know of in my circles most of the people that use TikTok or a thinker in my circles or teenagers, and they're definitely using the internet in a way that isn't impacting their life positively.

Leafbox:

If you had children, what's your approach to, you didn't start using the internet until 19. Would you replicate that or do it differently?

Keturah Lamb:

It's really hard to know what I'll actually end up doing. Of course, and Andy and I have definitely talked about this a lot. We definitely want our children to be raised in a way where they would go to a book before they Google it and they would go and ask each other questions and promote conversation before join a Reddit form. I definitely want to have children that just think and talk and do things before opening a laptop. And if this means I'm definitely concerned once I have kids, I am probably going to get rid of my phone and just use internet less myself just because I'll be in a phase of life where I need to connect with other people less and just connect with my own children more and make whatever sacrifices I have to do to make that possible. At the same time, I don't know.

Yeah, I feel a little conflicted because we do live in a day where in a day and age where technology, it's a little bit, it's a little bit more everyday than it was even when I was a teenager. It was very easy for my family to live without it, and it's getting to be almost less so that way. But I still think that it is possible to raise a family without the internet, and of course they're going to be exposed to it when they go to relatives places and see it with cousins and such. And I think in most opportunities, it just needs to be presented in a way where this isn't evil, it just isn't your time yet to have this tool and to use this tool. Meanwhile, read these books that you have and go play in the woods and such. I learned how to say.

Leafbox:

Curious about your writing practice. Is that what you consider your main practice? Is that or community building? When you introduce yourself, how do you introduce yourself usually as a teacher passing on grandmother's lessons? How do you usually introduce yourself to people?

Keturah Lamb:

Yeah, that's a good question. It depends on the circle, to be honest. I don't usually introduce myself along with what I'm doing. What I'm doing just kind of happens to be whatever it is in the moment. A lot of people have thought of me as a writer more than anything else for the majority of my life, just because a lot of people know that I write and have read my writing. I definitely don't ever introduce myself as a teacher. It might come up in the conversation three quarters of way through like, oh yeah, I've taught some courses and I've done these. Often if I'm having a conversation with someone that I've just met, they've come and talk to me because they've noticed that I was tatting in church or I was knitting this thing and they want to know what I was knitting, and they'll strike up this conversation about different projects we've been working on. And so I guess it's just a different approach to introducing yourself because there's obviously a variety of things that people do in life and think, but most of the people I meet and interact with immediately assume that there's one thing I do that defines who I am, if that makes sense.

Leafbox:

Well, I ask because I think that's often a question. When you went to New York, that's often the first thing people ask, whereas in other cultures, sometimes they never ask at all what you do, where you are. So maybe sometimes you go ask what family you're from or distribution. So yeah, how you said different circles have different answers. Expanding on your writing, I think some of your writing seems quite political. What's your approach to politics or I think you're maybe a libertarian, it's hard to tell conservative. I don't know. What's the term you would use or what are you explain? Yeah,

Keturah Lamb:

I guess I wouldn't use any term because politics for me are depending on my mood and my current phase of life, sometimes I'm really into them and sometimes I'm not. Right now is a phase where I just could care less about what's going on. Mainly I'm heavy into politics because my dad is probably running for office, and both the times that he was running for office, I just stayed up to date with what was going on, especially the first time because I campaigned him and canvased the neighborhoods and stuff like that. And I was also, there's a few other friends I had that was doing things, so I wanted to help them and would do so by just talking to people and door knocking and mailing out flyers and all that kind of stuff. And during most times, of course, my mind is more in the political atmosphere, so my writing tends to be a little bit more political.

My dad is somewhat libertarian and somewhat anarchist, so I definitely dabbled in all those arenas, but depending on who I'm hanging out with is kind of who I am. I'm hanging out with a bunch of liberals and I'm probably very conservative. If I'm hanging out with a bunch of conservatives, then I'm almost quite liberal. If I'm hanging out with libertarians, I am not libertarian if I'm with a bunch of people who are very anti libertarianism and I'm somewhat libertarianism, and it's not that I'm trying to be contrary, it's just that my political beliefs are so large that when I started hanging out with people who have very defined ways of thinking or at least very, they've put labels on it, it just doesn't quite fit, and then I don't quite fit into that.

Leafbox:

Do you think your, I guess hospitality is a project, a political project?

Keturah Lamb:

I think it transcends anything political. I think it definitely matters a lot and that if people had a more open view of just keeping their front door unlocked or at least in the spiritual sense and being open to people coming and dropping in and sharing meals more that we would have a lot of, I think we'd have a lot less political issues in general and that it would start to become more of a local issue and that people would probably get along better and just realize like, oh, we can have a meal about this. And at the end of the meals like, oh yeah, we disagree, but at least the food was good kind of thing. And if that started happening more, I'm definitely a bit of an idealistic, and I know that this isn't something that's probably nationally possible, but I think at a local level it does create more goodwill towards each other. If we just have more hospitality and not discourage political discourse, because I don't think that's good to shut people up because there might be a tense conversation happening, but it can help us at least be curious about what the other person's thinking and consider and what their side of it and not try to change their mind and also not change our minds either, but maybe be swayed in a more understanding way.

Leafbox:

You think that idealism comes from your age or from an actual openness?

Keturah Lamb:

That's good. I don't know. I feel like I'm actually more idealistic now than I probably was at 16, and I think it comes from my experience with traveling and just meeting a lot of cool people and sharing a lot of cool stories. I think if you just don't read the news and don't listen to all these political podcasts, I mean, I've gone through my faces of doing all of that, but just travel and meet people and see what people are actually doing. Then it just gives you a really joyful view on humanity. And you're like, well, yeah, they're probably all really horrible places in the states and in the world, but there's also a lot of really good people doing a lot of really good things, and it just makes you feel a lot better about the world and more inclined to do your own part. You see that other people are doing it and that they are making a difference in their own communities, which is what matters at the end of the day.

Leafbox:

Keturah, I have a friend who asked, what's your advice for dating?

Keturah Lamb:

That's funny, huh? I guess for women's, it's to not be so picky and just to be open to opportunities that seem maybe not quite up your alley. And if something's good, don't reject it. And also I think women should trust their gut less and just try and do what actually is good for something that's actually good rather than what Hollywood presents as the good thing, if that makes sense.

Leafbox:

Talking about Hollywood, do you interact with mass media or what do I mean? Do you watch tv? Do you watch, I'm just curious what your interaction, A lot of literature obviously, but do you consume mainstream or corporate type content or not?

Keturah Lamb:

I'm going to have a really funny answer for this. Probably is probably shock you, but I actually have watched a lot of movies. My surprisingly enough loves movies and a lot of my siblings really aren't very intellectual and they just like movies, and so our family is going to do something social. Even since we were little, my dad would just be like, oh, it's time to watch a movie kind of thing. And even would been the Amish, sometimes we would bring home this little tiny tablet that was the size of a encyclopedia and we'd all gather in this little tiny tablet and watch a movie. So I have watched a lot of films. I would go through phases of life where I'd be like, oh, this. Even I remember I went through one when I was 11, another one, I was probably 17, and I would not watch movies with my family, but then I would feel really sad and lonely and be like, everyone else is watching a movie and I don't want to be with them.

So I would leave that phase really quick and then just go back and watch movies with them. My family also has a really fun way of watching movies. We don't just watch a movie and love it. We watch a movie and we talk about the entire way through it, and it's like a very social, extroverted experience. It's like, oh, that person was stupid, or Why is that person doing that? Or I bet this is going to happen. It's like almost going to a first race. You are just talking the whole time and speculating what's going to happen in the plots. We watch some things just because we know we're going to hate it and we watch some things. We think we're going to like it kind of thing.

Leafbox:

Keturah, how do you, I mean, connecting on the other end, what is your spiritual framework? I understand it's in the Christian faith, but how are you developing your moral kind of code?

Keturah Lamb:

I definitely don't think that my moral code is developed through church. A lot of people do, and yet I do think that visiting a lot of churches has helped somewhat in that. It's helped me understand the Christian community at large, but I think lot of my faith has been shaped just from my grandfather's advice. As a kid, I remember when I was nine years old, I was just asking him what I could do better to understand faith from my own perspective and understand what he was saying to me better. And he just told me to get a copy of the Bible and to read through it and to get a strongest concordance and look up anything that I was ever confused. And so I took that advice seriously and read through the Bible several times by the time I was 13 or 14 and used that encyclopedia that I found quite a bit.

And I would write up little bits of essays and send them to him, sometimes disagreeing with some of his own things that he believed in. But he loved that. We just loved that I was thinking and not just trying to go along with what he was teaching us. And I think that experience as a kid greatly shaped how when it comes to the dog love, at least this fun discourse that we get to have with people about what this means and what this means with faith actually means on a spiritual level though, I think just boils down where Jesus talks about in New Testament, loving your neighbor and loving God and following his example in general and sacrificed himself for others and thinking less of ourselves and destroying the flesh. Flesh or the fleshly desires to walking away is upright and loving. And I think it doesn't necessarily, the way we do it doesn't always necessarily matter as long as it's pleasing in a way that's pleasing to others and beautiful. And kind of like this sweet aroma, this sweet perfume talks about how we are peculiar people. I don't think that means we're peculiar people and that we're odd and that we're obnoxious, but that we're like, what was that? That is very delightful. I'm very glad to have just seen that kind of thing where people witness us and they're like inspired somehow or overjoyed just to be alive because God's people are there.

Leafbox:

The reason I ask about your framework is that in one your essays you write about redefining gossip. I'm curious if you could expand on that. Yeah. It seems like you have a dialectic in your own writing where you're often debating both sides of something. And I saw that in your essay.

Keturah Lamb:

I've gotten that before. Yeah. I think I like to take things that are a little bit contrarian and controversial sometimes, and then play with it in a way that simplifies it into just the basics of what it means to be a good loving neighbor, if that makes sense. And when I was point out the word gossip, I think I was just hearing, I was hearing a lot of people say things like, oh, we can't talk about that. We can't talk about that because it's considered the right thing to do societal, but maybe it would have actually been more kind to do this. And I hear people throw around the word gossip a lot, and I am really intrigued by entomology in general and just love looking words up. And that might stem back from my days of being heavily involved in the strong concordance, but looking at the word gossip one day and I realized that it had some connections to gossip, and I just started thinking about how gossiping and talking and sharing the good news, it's almost the same thing when you take slander out of it and how it can actually be helpful to have a community where the woman I talk to each other and they're all egging each other on to do the right thing, whether it's going over and delivering meals to this family who just got really sick and how do anyone know?

The family just got sick if someone hadn't been telling someone else that, oh, did you know? So-and-so's children all have colds right now, and someone else was like, oh, really? We should think about that poor mother and how she's trying to feed them all, so maybe we should make her some soup. And just like how people are so tight ripped and so private that they forget there's actually some value in gossiping when it's actually caring for one another and how that can a good thing and how it spreads. Just sort of good news among the community to know what other people are doing without being directly told. But hearing this from the other person who told some other person, of course there's always a lot of bad ways for gossip to be done. And I think I wrote a little bit about the bad side of that and why it gets a bad reputation, but overall it shouldn't deter us from having a good healthy view of what it means to tell the truth about people in a community.

Leafbox:

So Keturah, what do you envision for the future for yourself, for your project, for your family? What are you focusing on right now?

Keturah Lamb:

Obviously I'm in a big transition right now trying to readjust to a new location and getting ready, planning for a wedding and all, unless it was taking up a lot of time and mind space right now, just thinking about what my new community is going to look like, discovering what my new community is going to look like and making a wedding dress and gathering all the details for what it means to plan a wedding. I don't know. I really want to return to some more of my writing. I've been doing so much traveling and so much event planning these last few years that I've given my riding the back burner and I really want to bring out with, give that a little bit more priority. And of course I also want to be heavily involved in Andy's writing and support that it's always kind of been a bit of a dream to be kind of like Tolstoy's wife helping your husband with his ride. I've always thought that was kind of sweet. And then just making our clothing, or at least keeping an app and just making a home that's cozy in a field of literature and books and songs. I love music and just making music and making a home that is just filled with all those things. I think that's mostly what I'm thinking about and working towards right now.

Leafbox:

And then Keturah, what's the best way for people to find you or connects with you?

Keturah Lamb:

They can find me on Twitter at Keturah Abigail, also on Instagram, also at Keturah Abigail. And then I blog on Substack and also just through Blogger and the Social Porcupine and if they're interested specifically in my social security number stuff, which I don't necessarily write a lot about, but there's some basic information there. That's all the Girl who Doesn't Exist. And of course my Twitter all have my email so people are free to email me. I love talking to people if they want to reach out and just ask questions about stuff. At some point I may end up doing more courses and classes similar to Living Room Academy. I just have to figure out what those will look like since I'll be married and not living on my own, just like what kind of classes I can facilitate. But I do hope to do more like that at some point.

Leafbox:

Do you ever imagine doing mixed gender courses?

Keturah Lamb:

I would, as long as I have housing for that. I did offer weekend mixed gender classes back with my living academy, and I think I did one weekend course of that, but I didn't have very many guys that were actually interested in it. And then the guys that were interested in it didn't end up showing up. But if I have plenty of housing for that, I definitely wouldn't mind it. I just give the summer course. I was like, well, let's keep this simple. I don't need a bunch of teenage boys in the mix. But in the future I would definitely love to have a wider variety of,

Leafbox:

And Keturah, one of my last questions is, I saw on Twitter that you participated in some, I guess conferences with Paul Kingsworth and what did you present or what were your experiences with those kind of larger gatherings like?

Keturah Lamb:

Oh yeah, those were very beautiful. Well, the Kingsworth family was just a very humble, inspiring family to be around. And I know they gave us all a lot of encouragement just in our different projects we're doing. And their writing also was very beautiful. It is very rare that you meet an author and you're like, oh my, I got to buy all their work. But after I met him, I was like, I hadn't heard of him before at the conference for some reason, which is kind of surprising because his writing is right up my alley. But after we left the conference, I went and had his books and I've been reading through some of his novels. His first has been really intriguing, but Andy and I presented together and Andy just talked about his nomadism and how it led him to a place of belonging and home.

And then I talked a little bit on my upbringing without a social security number and impacted me just spiritually and mentally and how it created a sort of different way of thinking about society and how in order to live in this way, I had to come to understand what sacrifice means and what I'm trying to recall. It's been still long since the speech. But yeah, just like my philosophy, that was that way because of my upbringing. And then also afterwards, Paul Kingsnorth asked this woman to some of the women in the group to speak again, and we all spoke on different parts of what makes a home basically. And I think his wife spoke on plants and I shared my views on gossip and there was another woman that spoke about Willow and the metaphysical connection she saw with Willow. And that was a very beautiful panel. All the women that were speaking on their different understandings of what they were doing as women

Leafbox:

My last question, you just mentioned the word sacrifice. What do you mean by that or what can you expand on that?

Keturah Lamb:

I think mostly in that category. In this instance, I was talking about how life isn't meant to be this journey of finding out who we are as much as finding out how we're meant to serve. Because we're all born knowing who we are. We know that better than anything else. We know who we are, and yet Hollywood has deed us with this lie that we don't know who we are and that we must know who we are. If we don't, then maybe we ought to do what society tell us to do and get this college degree and get this job and do all these societal expectations to find out who we are when really we need to forget about ourselves and deny the flesh and sacrifice the flesh in a way that helps us see other people and see past ourselves to the world at large. And how in doing so we become more content in who we are and have no desire to even dig deep into ourselves anymore.

Leafbox:

Keturah, have you ever explored Asian traditions like Buddhism or Hinduism or some of those aesthetic practices?

Keturah Lamb:

I haven't explored them in the sense where I was interested in converting, but I've definitely read bits and pieces of all that sort of stuff and I love it. I find it all very beautiful and large pieces of truth in it. I definitely think there's something to a lot of those ways. I read Kahlil Gibran's, the Prophet not just a few years ago I think it was, and felt heavily influenced by that. I definitely have a lot of friends who practice those different things, and of course I've had deep conversations with them and there's never any disagreement in those conversations. They're very beautiful conversations.

Leafbox:

And then Keturah, is there anything else you want to add on a final note for people to know about you or what you want people to think about?

Keturah Lamb:

Yeah, I guess mostly it's just that when it comes to these different things, everyone doesn't have to do it in a specific way. It doesn't have to necessarily be done like, oh, you're not doing it wrong, just because it doesn't look exactly like how I'm doing it. Maybe I have a specific way of cleaning my house or baking my food or wearing my clothes, but you can still be beautiful and you can still have a way about you that is less about yourself and more about your community. Without being so focused on the actual what makes the aesthetics, you can still be aesthetically pleasing without being how one person views that, I suppose. Yeah, this has just been fun and enjoyable.

Leafbox:

Great. I really appreciate your time.

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