TerraBluTeam Practice #34


As founder of terrabluteams.org, a long-time environmental advocate and in rebellion against my ancestry (Norwegian architect of the overbuilt Gingerbread house variety- all his structures are on the historic house register); I thought it time I designed and built my own zero carbon tiny home.

Why, you may ask. Or better yet, why now?

I’ve had a lifetime of renovating suburban and urban properties, lofts and mountain retreats I have owned. All energy efficient structures that were needed for differing family and business requirements. I have lived in homes as large as 4,800SF and as little as 350SF. I’ve always had to take another builder’s structure and make it mine. No more.

During my lifetime I neither had sufficient time as a single parent, excess funds or the knowledge of how to build my own sustainable home. I got close a few times. Being single again, after having nurtured a family and several partners for decades, I will now have the opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream – to design, build and live in my own tiny zero carbon home on wheels that fits my sustainable lifestyle.

Armed with today’s tech, the internet, a sustainability management education and a tiny house workshop I’ll be attending in November, I will be able to take this dream off my bucket list and back into reality!

This week’s practice is to find your “sustainable” bucket list item and take steps to actualize it.

Please send us your comments and feeback!

The WHY:

When I read E. F. Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful in 1973 most critics thought his vision of development utopian and outdated instead of the precursor to sustainable development.* His focus was on our ability to make economic or technological choices in the long-term interest of communities – “economics as if people mattered.”

The “Why” is simple.

  1. Intelligent, efficient lifestyle customized design.
  2. Easier to maintain.
  3. No wasted space.
  4. Energy efficient.
  5. More creativity
  6. Economically viable for anyone.
  7. Smaller footprint.
  8. Easy to move.
  9. Easy to add on or reconfigure.
  10. Can be custom designed and hand built by an average person.
  11. With recycled materials can be built for as little as $500 or pre-ordered custom built for as much as $50,000.
  12. Can be commandeered for guesthouse, studio, meditation shack.


 • Leopold Kohr, the Austrian economist and political scientist inspired the Small is Beautiful movement and warned us 50 years ago that the global system was heading for implosion in Breakdown of Nations.

Note: And it is interesting that the founder of the small house movement settled in my home town, Minneapolis, Minnesota.This English born American architect, Susan Susanka, is credited with being an American Culture Innovator in 1998 after her book The Not So Big House was released in 1997.

The HOW:

I have followed the “tiny house movement” since 2008. At this point in my life, a tiny zero carbon sustainable house is all I need. I figure solar powered, stainless steel roof rainwater collection, triple glazed windows, recycled green materials; you get the idea.

In order to get off the grid and on wheels ASAP with little or no footprint I spent the last six months checking out workshops in my regional area. I registered to take a creative tiny house workshop in November that I read about in the New York Times over a year ago (when I was attending Presidio Graduate School in Sustainable Management) and heard about in an NPR segment given by the renowned, Derek “Deek” Diedricksen.

I can’t wait to see what tricks and tips he has up his “creative sleeve”! Will report back when I return.

You can check out other national workshops from this map.

The Deep Dive:

Tiny House Summer Camp of Deek’s that I’m taking in November in Stoughton, Ma.

The New York Times article about Deek

Why hasn’t the tiny house movement become a big thing?

Loftcube, the home you can take with you anywhere

The Micro-Compact home

Jay Shafer’s Tumbleweed Tiny House Company

The “Weehouses” from Alchemy Architects

The Minihome from Sustain Design Studio

The tiny house movement is being captured into this movie

House 227 – 34 minute you tube video documentary

The Not So Big House book is credited with starting the tiny house movement in 1997

We the Tiny House People, the 1 hour 21 minute video on the growing underground movement

Tinyhomebuilders.com has great resources for those ready to take the plunge, check them out here.

6 thoughts on “TerraBluTeam Practice #34

  1. Reading EF Shumacher’s classic is hopefully going to happen for me this September as I finish up a couple other reading projects, but I’m intrigued by the idea of a sustainability bucket list – I’ll definitely make one even though I’m sure my scope is limited at this stage for me, mostly due to financial reasons. I’m intrigued with the idea of zero carbon/tiny house but have a lot of reservations about it myself like – but how do you balance this with entertaining people or being able to provide an extra bed for family/visitors? I admit though, I don’t know much about it… thanks for the links.

    • Beth,

      Please send me your “bucket list”, can’t wait to see it. Weather permitting, entertaining folks can be in nature. The “guest bedroom” will be in my loft; all they have to do is climb a ladder. It will be close quarters. However, I have wonderful plans for “off the side” quarters. More later.

      What else are you reading? Are you on LinkedIn? Want to connect? I have been reading some great books…


  2. Pingback: A Sustainability Bucket List | All Growing Up

  3. Lately I’ve been reading The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge and also working through Scripture, Culture and Agriculture by Ellen F. Davis.

    I am on linkedin, (http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=60558812&trk=tab_pro) though as a part time student/part time stay at home mother I am not a very robust user of that particular social media tool. I would certainly love to connect for future possibilities though.

    Here is the link to the post I wrote about the Sustainability Bucket List. https://allgrowingup.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/a-sustainable-bucket-list/

    Thanks for replying.

    • Beth, you have a great sustainable bucket list! I’ve linked to your blog on this week’s entry. The one I haven’t incorporated into my lifestyle yet is your #9, Bee farming. Check out my old Asheville neighbor, Debra Roberts, holybeepress.com, she might have a few tips. Also, my friends in NYC say there is an entire movement that brought back urban beekeeping.

      Systems thinking is the way to go, Senge is great; you might check out Donella Meadows books, one of my mentors. The Davis book examining theology and the ethics of land use sounds interesting. Let me know your opinion.

      Keep up the good work!

  4. I can’t help but think of Bucky Fuller and his vision when I read this entry. I am so excited to be a witness to your tiny house project. Every new challenge seems to hold a new opportunity to make a sustainable choice!

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