The Perfect Storm: Gypsy Envy Meets The Tiny House Movement.

I’ll never forget my first gypsy caravan.  Emerald green gingerbread trim, yellow dutch door flanked by tiny window boxes runneth over with hot pink geraniums… white pony grazing lazily alongside.  I don’t remember how old I was or where I saw this image (which instantly seared itself into my permanent psyche) but I do remember being absolutely incensed. I mean, why on earth had I been born and strapped to these ridiculously regular people and not to an exotic band of gypsies so that I, too, could live in a magical little house on wheels… with a pony?   Oh, the injustice!

So you can imagine my reaction when it recently came to my attention (where have I been?) that there is something called the tiny house movement.   All around us people are building tiny houses.  To placate inane laws which prevent people from building homes which are deemed “too small” (small houses = small property taxes = big no-no)  these tiny houses are predominantly built on wheels.  In other words, they are gypsy caravans (!).

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Pic from Canal Winchester news. Click for story. These guys of http://www.tallmanstinyhouse.com are 6’7″!

Who is fueling this tiny revolution?  Older people freeing up and paring down – choosing to ditch their big homes and redundant possessions, younger (and smarter) folks choosing to go small from the get go, environmentally conscious people from all walks of life who choose to leave behind a smaller footprint (and in some cases next to no footprint at all) and, perhaps, a few gypsies wannabes. The implications (financial, environmental, psychological) are both huge and heartening.

Where to park these tiny houses?  That’s a little trickier but not impossible.  If there’s no generous relative in your life with land to spare and you can’t afford to buy a patch yourself you can offer a small monthly sum to a struggling homeowner in exchange for a corner in the backyard… or to a cash strapped farmer for a tiny slice of his or her paradise.  There are also some more formally organized partnerships that are cropping up called tiny house communities.

Gypsy envy aside, this concept has really got me fascinated.  For example, I am a single mom.  My son is grown and living his own life now.  In a few years my teenage daughter will likely be shipping out, too. Admittedly, over the years we have lived a bit of a gypsy life though more by default than design… moving 12 times in the last 24 years (which is also the current age of my son).  From country to country, state to state, town to town, house to house.  Boy, this is getting old.  And exhausting.

Not the moving around, so much – one could argue that I am a bit of rolling stone by nature – but the carting of all of the many contents from one house to the next, the crippling mortgage or steep rent, the never ending, ever rising utility bills.   Somehow (“Hey, mom, did you ever think that maybe going to art school wasn’t such a good idea?”) money is not bursting out of the seams around here.  Nor is there an investment portfolio or any of those things that seem to belong to other people.  And those “other” people, as we’re all noticing, have become notably fewer and farther between.  Which means that the vast majority of us are facing a future of continued stagnant wages, rising costs and ever increasing debt while the environment, in the process, is being destroyed.  In other words, samo, samo.

The cherry on top of all this is that retirement, for many of us, is not even in our vocabulary.  When you step back and think about it for a minute it really does seem crazy to spend our entire lives working to pay for our unnecessarily large (and immobile) mortgaged or rented homes  just so we can come home on our day off and maintain them.

Which reminds me (ugh), it is my day off and I am now way behind on my housework, which there is far too much of.

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http://www.tumbeweedhouses.com tiny house plans and worshops

Ya know what?  The vacuuming can dang well wait until next week.  I am simply too busy trolling the internet and dreaming of my not so distant life as gypsy queen of my very own tiny house on wheels, complete with window boxes… and a pony.

Ok.  Maybe not the pony.

 

 

 

 

Click here for the tiny house movement’s background.

Click here for tiny house plans and workshops.  And here.  And here.  And here.

Click here for tiny house (on and off wheels) listings.

Click here for tiny house (on and off wheels)  inspiration.

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Continued thanks to Amazon reviewers of Long Live Earth…

*****5.0 out of 5 stars   See all reviews here.
“Wonderful Book for Earth Day or any day!”
January 10, 2014 by mbscott “mbs” (Buffalo, NY)
“I read this for Eath Day every year to the K kids–great book about taking care of the planet. Good for budding Evolutionists, too, as it references the earth being way older than 6000 years–and prehistoric man! The illustrations are actually quilt squares–beautiful.”
Thank you Amazon reviewers for continuing to send in your kind thoughts!

How to convey the terrifying machine that is the Koch brothers in fun size.

Yeah, yeah.  I know the Koch brothers are bad guys.  I know they’re oil guys.  I know they’re bajillionaires.

But, like a lot of us, do I really understand all the what, where, why and hows?  Admittedly, I do not. And that’s exactly how the Koch brothers want it.  Ignorance, after all, is bliss. Unfortunately bliss, in this case, is theirs alone.

So I did a little research on them.  In a nutshell, here is what I learned:  every single person on this planet needs to understand exactly what this two headed monster is doing to every single one of us every single day – and we need to understand now.

It’s common knowledge that in this fast paced, digital world we are more likely to read or engage in something that is bite size and easy to digest.  We prefer bullet points to paragraphs, the synopsis to the full story.  We want to be briefed.  And that brief had better be brief.

That being said, what better way to grab the world’s attention and help get the word out on these guys than with a quick, clever blurb paired with a single, yet powerful, image?

Which leaves me in the conundrum  of how to convey that terrifying machine that is the Koch brothers in fun size.  A conundrum in which I must remain as it is simply not possible to cut to the chase on these guys… their reach is that vast, their targets that permeated, their influence that prolific.

So in order to have a rudimentary understanding of who is ruining everything for everybody and how they are doing it you are going to have to watch this extremely insightful and equal parts frightening FULL LENGTH (that means 55 minutes!) documentary.  And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

So belly up and hit the play button because if ignorance is bliss, knowledge is power.  And we’re gonna need a whole lot of that if we’re gonna have a fighting chance against these two.

From Brave New Foundation, Koch Brothers Exposed

Do not underestimate the power of Facebook. Or friends…

Even Mark Zuckerman needs friends.  A few years back, Greenpeace and a whole lot of Mark’s friends asked the Facebook founder, via this rather adorable video, to stop his plans to power his Oregon data center with coal.

20 months later he did just that.  And today Facebook continues to do the right thing…

Its’ new data center will run on 100 percent wind energy.  Be a friend…read the whole article here. If you liked this video, check out a whole bunch of others you’ll also like over here.

 

Spend more – it’ll cost less. Watch this groovy little animated short. Say goodbye to Walmart, Costco and Target…

“Go Local” from EcologyAction

I am a jellyfish. That explains a lot.

I went to the aquarium yesterday because my niece is in town.  I am not huge on aquariums.  I know that is a terrible thing to say because nobody likes an aquarium hater.Northeast-Pacific-sea-nettles-Monterey-Bay-Aquarium-631

After all, the fish are obviously well cared for in their huge, gleaming, impressively realistic tank homes. I guess it’s just a bit hard to believe that they are actually buying that whole set up.

Or maybe it’s the funky lighting.  Regardless, it never takes long before my lower back starts to ache, I am famished, parched, I have to go to the bathroom, my feet hurt and I am wondering why our tickets should have to cost more than the average health insurance co-pay.

But then I get to the jellyfish tank.  And here, at the jellyfish tank, I am mesmerized.  I am literally glued to the glass.  I don’t ever want to leave this place.

All those bobbing, dangling blobs seem almost cultish.  And I’m pretty sure they are beckoning to me. I don’t just watch the jellyfish at the aquarium.  I actually feel that I am a jellyfish at the aquarium.  Jeez, are they brainwashing me?  Am I actually turning into a jellyfish?

I mean, if left for two minutes in their silent but echoing company I become a weightless, worryless, goalless, harmless, timeless coagulation of flotsam and jetsam (or whatever) effortlessly drifting and dipping though the portals of time and space.  I can actually feel my blood pressure dropping.  In fact, I don’t think I have any blood pressure at the jellyfish tank.

This morning I googled “jellyfish” in anticipation of writing a little ditty on what I  used to think of as a weird, aquatic anomaly of mine… only to discover this breaking news:  I am a jelly fish. Which kind of explains everything.

Or at least I was.  In fact, scientists are now placing bets that all life descended from the jelly fish.  Albeit we’ve advanced a bit.  Jellyfish still don’t don’t have brains, lungs, hearts or plenty of other things that tend to cause humans a fair amount of angst.  But boy do those guys know how to relax.

So before you head out for the aquarium take your over-evolved brain along to National Geographic and read the whole facsinating story:  “Was Your Ancestor a Ball of Jelly? Evolution Study Surprises Experts”.

Earth. The only gift that will ever truly matter in the lives of our children. Avaaz. 32 million strong and growing.

big-tree-looking-upI wish I had a happier post today.  This is not a very happy post. Nevertheless, this is reality and this is the future. Except (surprise!) the future has already arrived.

Now that the Xboxes and American Girls have been ribboned and wrapped and are all safely tucked under the tree, for frig sake can we all please spend those last few dollars on the only gift that will ever really and truly matter in the lives or our children?  Because it’s almost too late.  I’m going to say that again.  It. Is. Almost. Too. Late.  And unfortunately I am not an alarmist.  I’m going to say that again, too.  I. Am. Not. An. Alarmist!

It’s simple. Extremely big changes need to happen and they need to happen extremely quickly.  Period. The scientists, not the tree huggers, have told us this in no uncertain terms.  I’m going to say that again.  The. Scientists. Have. Told. Us.   Avaaz has been listening. They (we) are powerful… 32 million strong (and growing).  But this can’t wait until next Christmas, nor until tomorrow. Once again. This. Can’t. Wait. Until. Tomorrow.  You, me and everybody else: do this one very doable thing.  Right now. It will make all the difference in the world. Literally.  As below:

Dear Avaaz community,

 

This may be the most important email I’ve ever written to you.

Scientist Julienne Stroeve has studied Arctic ice for decades. Every summer she travels to north to measure how much ice has melted. She knows that climate change is melting the ice fast, but on her last trip, she was amazed by what she saw. Vast areas of Arctic ice have disappeared, beyond our worst expectations.

This is what the experts warned us about. As the earth warms, it creates many “tipping points” that accelerate the warming out of control. Warming thaws the Arctic sea ice, destroying the giant white ‘mirror’ that reflects heat back into space, which massively heats up the ocean, and melts more ice, and so on. We spin out of control. In 2013 everything — storms, temperatures — was off the charts.

We CAN stop this, if we act very fast, and all together. And out of this extinction nightmare, we canpull one of the most inspiring futures for our children and grandchildren. A clean, green future in balance with the earth that gave birth to us.

Scientist Julienne Stroeve has studied Arctic ice for decades. Every summer she travels to north to measure how much ice has melted. She knows that climate change is melting the ice fast, but a recent trip surprised even her. Vast areas of Arctic ice have disappeared, beyond our worst expectations.

Meighan — Click to pledge what you can, we’ll process your donation only if we reach our goal of 50,000 sustainers: 

YES, I’LL PLEDGE $6 A WEEK 

YES, I’LL PLEDGE $7 A WEEK 

YES, I’LL PLEDGE $10 A WEEK 

YES, I’LL PLEDGE $12 A WEEK 

YES, I’LL PLEDGE $14 A WEEK 

To pledge an amount other than the ones listed above, click here.

Fatalism on climate change is not just futile, it’s also incompetent. The hour is late, but it is still absolutely within our power to stop this catastrophe, simply by shifting our economies from oil and coal to other sources of power. And doing so will bring the world together like never before, in a deep commitment and cooperation to protect our planetary home. It’s a beautiful possibility, and the kind of future Avaaz was born to create.

Facing this challenge will take heart, and hope, and also all the smarts we have. Here’s the plan: 

1. Go Political: Elect Climate Leaders

       — 3 crucial countries have elections in the next year. Let’s make sure the right people win, and with the right mandate. Avaaz is one of the only major global advocacy organizations that can be political. And since this fight will be won or lost politically, it could be at some points just us vs. the oil companies to decide who our politicians listen to.

2. Make Hollande a Hero

       — French President Francois Hollande will chair the Paris summit – a powerful position. We have to try every tactic and channel — his personal friends and family, his political constituency, his policy advisors — to make him the hero we need him to be to make the summit a success.

3. Take it to the Next Level

       — The scale of this crisis demands action that goes beyond regular campaigning. It’s time for powerful, direct, non-violent action, to capture imagination, convey moral urgency, and inspire people to act. Think Occupy.

    4. Out the Spoilers

         — Billionaires like the Koch brothers and their oil companies are the major spoilers in climate change – funding junk science to confuse us and spending millions on misleading PR, while buying politicians wholesale. With investigative journalism and more, we need to expose and counter their horrifically irresponsible actions.

    5. Define the Deal

         — Even in the face of planetary catastrophe, 195 governments in a room can be just incompetent. We need to invest in top quality policy advice to develop ingenious strategies, mechanisms, and careful compromises so that when the summit arrives, a critical mass of leaders are already bought in to a large part of the deal, and no one can claim that good solutions don’t exist.

    We need tens of thousands of us to pledge small donations to blast out of the starting gate on this plan. The amount doesn’t matter as much as much as the choice – to hope, and to act:

    YES, I’LL PLEDGE $6 A WEEK 

    YES, I’LL PLEDGE $7 A WEEK 

    YES, I’LL PLEDGE $10 A WEEK 

    YES, I’LL PLEDGE $12 A WEEK 

    YES, I’LL PLEDGE $14 A WEEK 

    To pledge an amount other than the ones listed above, click here.

    At the last major climate summit in Copenhagen 2009, we played a pivotal role in German and Japanese ‘climate’ elections, in shifting Brazilian policy, and in helping win a major global deal on financing, with rich countries promising $100 billion per year to poor countries to help them address climate change. Back then, Avaaz was 3 million people. After Copenhagen, we reflected that we needed to be a lot bigger to meet the challenge posed by climate change. Now, we’re 32 million, and growing by 2 million per month.

    Climate change is the ultimate global collective action problem, requiring cooperation from every government in the world. And Avaaz is the ultimate collective action solution, with millions of us united in common vision across every nation. This is our time, to build a world for our children whose beauty matches our dreams. Let’s get started.

    With hope and appreciation for this amazing community,

    Ricken and the entire Avaaz team

    MORE INFORMATION:

    With Arctic sea ice vulnerable, summer melt season begins briskly (The Christian Science Monitor)
    http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/2013/0501/With-Arctic-sea-ice-vulnerable-summer-melt-season-begins-briskly-video

    Arctic sea ice levels to reach record low within days (Guardian)
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/aug/23/arctic-sea-ice-record-low

    Five Reasons We Need a New Global Agreement on Climate Change by 2015 (Switchboard NRDC)
    http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/jschmidt/five_reasons_we_need_a_new_glo.html

    The Doha climate talks were a start, but 2015 will be the moment of truth (The Guardian)
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/10/doha-climate-talks-global-warming

    Arctic sea ice melt disrupts weather patterns (NBC News)
    http://science.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/05/30/18631374-arctic-sea-ice-melt-disrupts-weather-patterns?lite

    The Arctic Ice “Death Spiral” (Slate)
    http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2013/05/28/arctic_sea_ice_global_warming_is_melting_more_ice_every_year.html