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Archive for August 2009

Boston To Launch Largest Bike Share Program

Boston just announced that they are going to be launching 290 stations around the city. bike1 If  you haven’t seen these before they are basically fancy bike stands that lock bikes until a member or paying customer swipes their card to get the bike.  After you are done using it, you drop it off at any station and you are good to go.  The nice part about this is that you don’t have to store a bike, which in cities space is at a premium and bikes are rather awkward things to keep inside.  In addition to not having to store it, you don’t have to maintain it, fix it;  You can use it when you need it, where you need it.

I have seen these around in my travels and for living in a city it’s a great option.  They will run $78 for the year or $5 a day.

bike2

More here

Mad Houser

A little while back I talked to someone who was a reader of this website; the topic was about how tiny houses might be able to address a need for homelessness. hut1 This is of great interest to me as I work for a non-profit in order to reduce poverty and homelessness.  My job is a bit different from most who work in this field as I am essentially a staffing agency for volunteers.  I seek out non-profits who need volunteers and then get volunteers, train both sides and facilitate them to fight poverty.  All of this is done for free, except for when large companies want a “work day” or “community service day” for their employees, we charge them a consulting fee.

Homelessness is a big issue right here at home, with the economy in a funk, I personally know many people who by all measures financially were responsible, saved 3-6 months of expenses in a rainy day savings account, but were still forced out of their home.  If you have ever worked with homeless folks, we find that really aren’t that different than us.  I was struck by irony one day when I served food to a group of gentlemen who were dressed better than I was.  I was struck when 4 nurses who were still employed sat down to eat because they had a job, but couldn’t afford to eat because of pay cuts and they were giving their portions to their kids.

This Atlanta group called the “mad housers”  is a really interesting idea of making cheap houses and dropping them off at homeless camps and tent cities.  They construct these for around $400 and have a sleeping loft, a wood stove and a place to secure their belongings and sleep safely.

If you live in a city, you may no know, but every city has several tent cities.  Homeless people don’t always just sleep on the streets, they construct in prompt tu shelters in groups for security, community and many other reasons.  These things are huge too!  I have seen some covering an entire acre.

They say this about their mission:

MAD HOUSERS Inc. is an Atlanta-based non-profit corporation engaged in charitable work, research and education. Our charter outlines our goals and purposes:

  • To provide shelter for homeless individuals and families regardless of race, creed, national origin, gender, religion, or age.
  • To develop low income housing for people in need of housing.
  • To help people develop the skills and knowledge for constructing and rehabilitating housing and shelter.
  • To increase the quantity and to improve the quality of housing in the world.
  • To act, if necessary as an advocate for the homeless, to ensure that their moral and civil rights are protected.

The Mad Housers believe that if a person has a secure space from which to operate, they are much more capable of finding the resources to help themselves.

Check them out here

Sustainable MiniHome For Sale

mini1Today the MiniHome was put up for sale, it is a prototype that I really liked.  The house is made form completely sustainable materials and is already setup to live 100% off the grid.  Its a interesting styling, almost akin to a box car and for some reason it brings images of a 50′s Dinner to mind.  I really like the inside, it is big, bright and well laid out.  The unit is a prefab unit which has many perks to it, but it being sold for $100k which seems a bit steep.

mini2The inside is laid out beautifully.  I really like the use of the stair case as a bookshelf.  The combination of light woods, white walls and windows galore makes for a really nice package.  The house is around 350 square feet and I know for a period of time the designer and his daughter lived in this unit very comfortably.

mini3One aspect I really like is that this house uses a combination of clear, gray and black water.  For some of you out there who don’t know, gray water is partially treated water, black is untreated water.  When I lived in Australia  every house had a solar water heater and two water lines, clear and gray.  The clear water line was hooked up for any source that you consume, while gray went to laundry, toilets and the garden hose.  This is a really brilliant concept that works very well in Australia, but has yet to make its way over here.  Combined this with a dual flush toilet (small flush for “number one” and a larger flush for “number two”) and the impact is so much smaller.

Loyd Alter sums up the house when he says this:

Designed for a 50-year life expectancy, the miniHome offers the possibility for year-round, affordable living on almost any site. It is equally at home in a remote, wilderness setting – completely off-grid – or in an urban trailer park. Its remarkably sustainable combination of energy efficient systems and beautiful finishes usually associated with luxury condominiums results in a home that sings the virtues of simplicity and conservation

source: here

I Swear I’m Not Obsessed With Chairs!

So I just posted some other chairs the other day, I know, but I really liked these and being that I have been lounging on the beach all day, doing nothing, you’re gonna get what you are going to get.  lol!

chaiur

You can find more info here:  Link

Reusable Shopping Bag Pools

I have been using reusable shopping bags for a while now, once every few months I forget to bring them, which is okay unless I am doing a big shopping trip.  I still use plastic bags for various needs that cloth can’t really substitute (think dripping package of raw chicken).    It really sucks when you do forget though, because you feel so guilty, you don’t want to buy any more because you have a ton of them, its just consuming more and its senseless to drive home.  I ran into this idea over at treehugger.

reusable-bags

Reprinted: Trehugger Sammy Grover 8/2009

I went to the co-op the other day, and once again forgot my reusable bags. It’s one of my bad eco-habits – along with dragging my feet over putting up a clothes line. But as I filled my plastic bag in shame (I REALLY don’t need any more reusable bags at home!), I was reminded of a comment on a previous post, where someone (whose comment I can no longer find) informed us that their grocery store has a “bag pool” – where you can bring in your old bags, and exchange them for new ones – free of charge. If you have too many, you simply leave excess for those who forget. Given the resources that go into growing cotton, recycling plastics, or even manufacturing and transporting a bag – it makes total sense to use it to the maximum, rather than each of us having 15 that sit in our closets.

I believe the scheme in question is BagShare in Western Massachusetts – and in addition to reusing existing bags, BagShare volunteers get together to sew new bags from old t-shirts and other preloved items. The project claims that over 10,000 bags have been sewn or donated – and some participating stores now only offer BagShare bags and/or cardboard boxes if you forget your own bags.

It’s the perfect example of a product service system – and we like those! George Monbiot would no doubt still argue that plastic bags are a distraction, and volunteer hours might be better spent elsewhere – but to my mind, if you can build community through the reuse of valuable resources, then you are undoubtedly on to something.

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