Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

Land Sharing

Part of the issue of tiny houses is figuring out where to put them.  While building codes are so restrictive, it simply isn’t possible to legally place them on land in most states. landshare There is a county in my state of NC where the minimum square footage is 2500 square feet!  I continue to feel that the only viable is to buy a large chunk of land and have your house nestled deep within it.  But this presents a large barrier for some, including me at the age of 25.  Once I do get a sizable piece of land I have often thought of opening it up and sharing with other tiny houses to form a tiny community.  The group would contribute to a community garden, upkeep and improvements.  There would be public areas such as botanical garden, small park, perhaps a pool or swimming hole.  I apparently I haven’t been the only one thinking about this.

Reprinted Treehugger Bonnie Alter January 2009

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is a national treasure–a writer, organic farmer, chef, t.v. personality and passionate believer in local communities. His latest venture is “Landshare“–a scheme which puts people with large unused gardens in touch with gardeners wanting space. He calls it a “food revolution destined to be the next great thing.” With more people wanting to grow their own food and allotments being harder and harder to come by, he just may be right.

It is a simple and optimistic idea. People register their interest as a grower, a spotter –someone who has seen land in their area that may be suitable for growing–or an owner. The register, once it is up and running, will put these people in touch with each other.

The facts are that 80% of Britain’s population live in towns and cities, Britain’s food travels 17 trillion miles every year to reach our plates and it costs four barrels of oil per person to feed us every year.

So there is a good reason why the concept is growing and others are proposing variations. “LandFit” is another group that is “encouraging local food production by matching would-be growers with under used land.” They too want to increase opportunities to grow good locally by bringing untended and ignored bits of land back into use. They see it is a way to not only grow food and encourage organic gardening but also as a way to discourage anti-social behaviour. It’s a variation on Jane Jacobs all over again: when you have a well-kept street with local people interested in what is going on then you have a sense of community and involvement.

It is complicated and political because it involves land ownership and the use of private property by others. The group is in the process of discussing matters such as ” governance issues, and developing a model agreement between gardener and ‘lead stakeholder’, and ways in which LandFit style agreements can be supported.”

These are two examples of groups trying to come to grips with sustainability in food production, taking control of food production and the growing numbers of people interested in gardening but without access to land. Landshare and LandFit

Great Tool For Life Goals

I found this great website called 43things.com It is basically a website that lets you input your life goals, rearrange them, but what’s more, is that it connects you with others that have the same goals so that you can learn and discuss it with them.  It also connects you with those whom have completed the goal so that they can share how they achieved it.  It’s a simple website, but has amazing implications and is a great source for inspiration for me.  Here is my short list for example:

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ReBurbia Design Competition

How to reshape suburban sprawl?  If you think about it the demands of today are high.  People want their McMansion on decent sized lots (which they think is 1/3 an acre, but that’s for another day).  I live in Charlotte, NC where our outer beltway is over a hundred miles long and it doesn’t even begin to encircle Charlotte’s suburb.  If you have errands to run, in a single day, I constantly drive 100 miles just for errands!  How can we fix this?

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Enter the Inhabitat / Dwell REBURBIA competition, by sending up to 5 images and a statement about your design proposal. You can submit as many entries as you like, but each individual entry should be focused on one singular design problem/solution (i.e. a McMansion farm rehab, a bicycle transportation hub, a piezoelectric, energy-generating freeway paving system). Entries will be judged on clarity of idea, usefulness of design, and visual/aesthetic appeal of renderings.

go to http://www.re-burbia.com/ to check it out!

The Greenest Consumer Is the Non-Consumer

We all have heard the phrase: “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” But have you ever really gave it some thought?  The progression of this saying is very important.recycle_world We must first Reduce what we consume and use.  To stem the problem we have to simply stop consuming so much.  We produce in a single day, the amount that 12 people from Bangladesh do in an entire year!  The average person in the US uses 120 gallons of water in a Day.

Reuse.  If we absolutely have to consume something, we try to extend its life and make its consumption count.  We make smart purchasing decision about how we can address our needs for the future, not just the immediate.

Recycle.  If we have had to consume something, then we should try to recycle it.  In college I used to get so mad when people would throw a can away in the trash bin at the end of the hall, which was right aside of recycle container.  Recycling is not the answer, reduction is, but if we must consume, it is our job to extend that products life and then dispose of it properly. Today’s post talks about how the best consumer is the non-consumer (for the environment, not big corps).

Reprinted EcoHearth July 2009 Tonya Kay

Bless the well-intentioned consumer. The biodegradable soap, the hemp backpack, the energy-efficient light bulbs—the end products of conscientious consumption—are becoming far more popular and make us feel better about ourselves. But how much better are these purchases for the Earth?

The economic collapse has devastated my household, my community and my industry. Perhaps, however, this is just what we need. As I send ‘hang in there’ balloons and sympathy cards like everyone else, wishing the economy a speedy recovery, somewhere deep—in a secret, sadistic place—I hope it’s not over yet.

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On Solitude

aI am fortunate to be employed in a field I truly love.  But the demands made on my time, energy, and person are many.  That is one reason I crave solitude.

When I drive home, some times I keep the radio off (NPR is perhaps my favorite station).  But more importantly, my own mental health and emotional well-being require that I have some time that is alone and filled with quietude.

Solitude is not loneliness.  Nor is it engaging in activities to numb up one’s loneliness.

Rather, solitude is the capacity to live within and among one’s self without having to turn on the radio or TV or call a friend to distract one from loneliness.  Full disclosure: I have been known to do all three (but certainly not at once!)

Solitude is more than aloneness because when apartment or condo or townhouse living or one’s own TV do not assault our senses we can then enter into the inner chamber of our being.

I am writing this late in the evening and most of my neighbors are asleep as the pitter patter of the rain bookmarks the click of the keyboard.  I can think, I can reflect, I can assemble these thoughts in hopefully cogent form.

Solitude also allows for creativity and one of the finest books I have read on this topic is Father Matthew Fox’s, Creativity: Where the Divine and the Human Meet.  Let me quote from him briefly.

Father Fox writes that the title of his book “suggests that there is a special encounter with the Divine where creativity occurs.”  (p. 4)  I like that because whether or not I take the Book of Genesis literally, the creation of the world was indeed a supremely Creative Act.

“To allow creativity its appropriate place in our lives and our culture, our education and our family relationships, is to allow healing to happen at a profound level.” (p. 9)  Anyone in touch with one’s own or others’ hurts and wounds knows that our planet and its wonderfully diverse peoples are in great pain and in need of much healing.

Tiny living has already brought hope to many who were either tired of renting or who could not afford to embark upon a mortgage or whose life circumstances could not be reconciled with the housing market as it is.

Therefore, tiny living is indeed a creative effort and it can allow for solitude.

If living a life that is anything but small brings undue worry, stress, or heartache, then a tiny life can help allow for the solitude and creativity that can bring about peace—within and without– and contribute perhaps in some small way to the healing of our world.

Greg