But the overwhelming challenges facing our only inhabitable planet will not. Those will still be here tomorrow. So let’s get louder. Today, tomorrow and the next… until we are heard:
Over the years I have had some very good neighbors and, like most of us, some not so good ones. Where I live now I have only trees for neighbors. Simultaneously quiet and entertaining they are, I think, the best variety. I took this photo of them while standing at my bedroom window this morning. Stoic and unadorned, it’s hard to imagine that in just a few short months they’ll be covered in tiny chartruese explosions.
Is there anything more wondrous than spring?
While scientists and environmentalists are well intentioned with their daily projections of our not so distant future dystopian world order and subsequent extinction it can put a real damper on the day. The struggles of our grandparents can seem downright quaint in today’s post climate change world… the age old mantra “life goes on” a phrase twenty somethings of today might wear ironically on their t-shirts.
Can you blame them? The daily challenge of survival is no longer limited to ourselves as individuals, our individual communities or even entire populations but now encompasses every last one of us, including all future generations and/or the lack thereof. It’s enough to make you throw your recycling bin in the trash can.
The answer? I have no idea. But I am inclined to think that a very good start would be for all of us to run to the bookstore or the internet and grab a copy of The World We Made, an imaginary memoir written in the year 2050 by history teacher Alex McKay. The author, Jonathon Porritt, who just returned from the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi is a founding member of The Forum for The Future, an environmentalist and no lightweight in the scientific and technology community. This green futurist believes that we already have the technology to create a sustainable, progressive world in which environmental, economic and social advances are shared, maintained and enjoyed by all. The catch? We must also believe that this is doable. It’s fundamental. If we don’t collectively believe that it is doable it simply won’t get done.
I’m in. I’m gonna get the book. And I’m gonna believe. How about you?
“The World We Made presents a credible vision of the world in 2050 – a world that is connected, collaborative and genuinely sustainable. This is the biggest thing I’m working on at the moment. We simply have to change the ‘mood music’ in terms of the way people feel about sustainability, and that means that everything we do in Forum for the Future is about positive solutions to today’s converging sustainability challenges.” Jonathon Porritt, Author of The World We Made
“In a world where doom and gloom surrounds us everywhere, Jonathon Porritt shows us that another future is possible. . . Jonathon is arguably more responsible for helping to create that positive future than anyone I know.” Jeffrey Hollender, Co-founder of Seventh Generation and Co-chair of Greenpeace US
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 (!).
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.
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 (on and off wheels) listings.
Click here for tiny house (on and off wheels) inspiration.
“Go Local” from EcologyAction
My dear old friend Susanna featured Long Live Earth on her nifty blog. Lots of great pics and products for young and old to be found at Susanna’s Paper Oranges. Click her big Sourpuss to get from here to there. Thanks Susanna!