The Stuff Whisperer

Unknown-4Continuing our discussion about “stuff” and the way that it impacts Real Estate. Below are excerpts of a conversation with The Home Weeder, a thoughtful observer of the human condition and an empathetic advisor/guide for those trying to reorient their relationship to stuff. She offers a full-service approach for those feeling a little overwhelmed. I call her “The Stuff Whisperer” – a title she hasn’t officially sanctioned yet, but anyone that needs help with their stuff, should contact her. Claire Rubach/

HomeWeeder: There’s a phrase I hear over and over again when I first meet people to see what kind of help they need: “I don’t know what happened. I don’t know where I got all this stuff.” And yet, there it is.

REOM: So how do you explain our penchant for more “stuff”

HW: I’ve been a social worker for 25 years. Experience tells me that almost every big issue people struggle with takes place in the context of the social milieu they live in or were raised in.

REOM: And what’s the larger cultural context relating to people and their stuff?

HW: Most of the people I work with range in age from 50 to 90 years old – aging baby-boomers to their octogenarian parents. Both generations had profound experiences that shaped their notion of stuff when they were growing up.

REOM: One grew up in the Depression Era.

HW: Right, our parents or grandparents were raised during the Great Depression, a time of significant hardship and deprivation. The basic necessities of life were difficult to obtain. Food. Shelter. Jobs. Clothing.

REOM: My parents were both born in 1925 and they never want to throw anything away. It’s almost part of their DNA. It is shameful to waste anything. When you do get something, take care of it. Make it last forever. Hand it down to your kids.

HW: That’s right. Then figure that that generation was just reaching adulthood, when they plunged right into WW2, a time when severe shortages and rationing of goods was a way of life.

REOM: And shortly after the end of the war, all those baby-boomers started to arrive on the scene.

HW: Yes, the wave of births came with the end of the war. Suddenly the incredible industrial effort that sustained the US through the conflict was directed back home. The country launched into one of the longest periods of economic growth the world has ever known. Suddenly there were Levittowns springing up. New products and new inventions. America emerged from WW2 as the most powerful nation in the world. We were on a roll.

REOM: And then?

HW: Well in some ways we¹ve been on a roll ever since ­ promoting the values of our consumer culture. And of course, television, which had actually been around since the 1920s in some form, finally exploded onto the scene, helping to usher in Madison Avenue.

REOM: And Madison Avenue was all about inventing new and more sophisticated ways to get people to buy stuff.

HW: That¹s right. Kind of sounds like Google doesn’t it?

REOM: Reminds me of my favorite quote about the internet: “I saw the best minds of my generation inventing new ways to get people to click on things.”

Next Week: More of the conversations

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