Meditations on the 1st National Tiny House Jamboree

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 5.34.26 PMMeditations on the 1st National Tiny House Jamboree (Week #34)

The WHAT and WHY:

I had been looking forward to speaking at the 1st National Tiny House Jamboree in Colorado Springs for months. After driving for three days straight over 2200 miles from Northern New England, it’s a bit ironic that my car, which has not had a repair issue or breakdown during the ten years I have owned it, died 25 miles from the Jamboree sight in rush hour traffic at 92 degrees.

HondaBillI overcame so much to build my Silver Bullet Tiny House, this was just a blip on my radar. Six hours and $782. worth of repairs later, I had a new alternator, battery and wire connections replaced in my oldie, but goodie, 2004 Honda Element EX.

 

 

 

I arrived at the Mining Museum grounds and saw all sorts of vendors and builders driving in their tiny houses and sprucing them up for the coming attendees. Tiny houses seem to be getting larger. When I got my trailer two years ago, 18 feet was considered large. As I toured these, I discovered most of them were 24 feet or larger and 13,000 lbs. plus. And yet, so beautiful, gorgeous, well planned and designed and such great ideas and sustainable concepts.

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After touring some of the tiny houses privately, I set out for the campground in time to set up my tent and get over to the Jamboree VIP party to meet the tiny house luminaries whose blogs I have followed and commented upon, whose books and DVD’s I’ve read and recommended to my workshop attendees and whose tiny house journeys I have admired for years. I was elated to put faces and such warm hugs and conversations to the names and images I have enjoyed in the online tiny house tribe.

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Best of all, I got to see my mentor and tiny house rock star, Derek “Deek” Diedricksen, speak on the 1st day. His speech was so awesome; inspiring, humorous, informative – he set the tone for the entire weekend of magical happenings and connections.

Deek

As I returned to the campground every evening, I met folks from Europe, Canada and all over the USA. There were tiny DIY micro-shelters built on one axel trailer rigs as well as two large tiny houses on double axle trailers. A little camping tiny house tribe of our own with wild fire-dancing parties at night and discussions into the wee hours of the morning.

DblRainbowAs I looked up at the twinkling stars in the deep blue Colorado sky, my heart raced with the excitement of the coming weekend’s National Tiny House Jamboree speaker’s, activities and 40+ tiny houses to tour and experience.

I spoke on Sunday to a crowd of tiny house enthusiast’s about my tiny house journey. I also announced my new board game “Tinyunopoly” which will fund tiny house construction for the homeless. Here’s a picture of the 1st draft I made while waiting for my car repairs. (I was a financial consultant to the Parker Family Trust for many years). Money is not in this game, only barter shares and the gift economy. The properties are tiny house villages, the “railroads” are renewables: wind/water harvesting, solar, biomass/ethanol and people powered. No “going to jail” in this version, instead you go to sustainability pillar camp. And the four piles of cards you draw from require all kinds of fun interactions between yourself and your fellow players involving tiny house tips and tricks and sustainable concepts.

If you would like to contribute feedback and help finish the design of the game, just let me know at taospirit@mac.com.

Tinunopoly

By the end of this incredible weekend those tiny house enthusiasts’ eyes were full of twinkling tiny house stars!

And on my way back to New England I saw my first tiny houses on the road!

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I hope they’ll have Tiny House Jamboree 2 next year!

The HOW:

If micro-housing or the tiny house movement interests you, consider:

  1. Joining a local tiny house meet-up group and networking with your tiny house enthusiast neighbors.
  2. Attend a tiny house workshop near you. Get some hands-on experience and network with other tiny house enthusiasts.
  3. Next time you take a trip or vacation, consider renting a different tiny house every few days and learn what features you like and/or dislike.

 

The DEEP DIVE:

See the Tiny House Jamboree Drone video encapsulating the event in 50 seconds here.

Deek’s upcoming Tiny House Summer Camp here.

 

 

World Environment Day

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 8.47.20 PMWorld Environment Day June 5th (Week #20)

The WHY:

In two weeks, on June 5th, we celebrate World Environment Day. The 2015 theme for World Environment Day is Seven Billion Dreams, One Planet, Consume with Care. 

It all started back at the UN conference in 1972 in Stockholm, Sweden. Attended by 113 countries that agreed upon a Declaration containing 26 principles concerning the environment and development; an Action Plan with 109 recommendations, and a Resolution. It is said this arguably paved the way for further understanding of global warming, which has led to the Rio Declaration in 1992 and such agreements as the Kyoto Protocol in 1997.

This year, 43 years after the Stockholm Conference and 23 years after Rio, the 2015 global WED celebrations will be organized at the world famous Universal Exhibition, in Milan, Italy. This event attracts over 20 million visitors. Expo Milano 2015 will run from May 1 to October 31 and is expected to include over 140 countries plus a significant number of international organizations.

Announcing World Environment Day 2015, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said, “While industrialized countries account for the bulk of the world’s resource consumption, unsustainable consumption patterns are becoming more prevalent worldwide, with 3 billion middle class consumers expected to be added to the global population by 2030 – many of them from emerging economies.”

“Food production is one of the most obvious examples of unsustainable consumption patterns, with 1.3 billion tonnes of food being wasted every year, while almost 1 billion people go undernourished,” he added. “This is an issue that UNEP is helping to address with partners like the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) through our joint campaign against food waste, Think.Eat.Save. We are glad the Expo’s theme also focuses on sustainable food systems.”

“World Environment Day provides us with an important opportunity to identify solutions for re-engineering our consumer culture to create a sustainable society in which everyone has enough to live well while staying within the planet’s regenerative capacity. It is time to look seriously at what our appetite-for-more is costing the planet, our health, our future, and the future of our children,” he said.

The WHAT:

Think Global, Act Local. Get involved and take a step, try any or all of these steps A-Z. Or join others in Milan, Italy, the host country, program here.

The HOW:

Join others at your school, university, community or workplace, or start your own group and register your activity here.

The Deep Dive:

United Nations Environment Programme Stakeholder Forum: Ottawa
read more: http://nr.iisd.org/events/united-nations-environment-programme-stakeholder-forum-ottawa/

Where will you be on June 5th? Invest ahead for people and planet.

The Power of One Voice

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 12.00.15 PMThe Power of One Voice (Week #3)

Raise your voice, not the sea level, not the temperature, and not your carbon footprint. Start a conversation about your favorite sustainability issue with someone – get engaged!

The Why:

I was in Middle School when I heard Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech live over our school room speakers. Forty years later we elected our first African-American President, Barack Obama. Mr. King spoke up and spoke out eloquently and in a non-violent way. His words changed my life.Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 1.47.59 PM

In celebration of Martin Luther King Day I thought it fitting for our third week to go on an engagement adventure. Inspired by Dr. King’s approach, we will choose an environmental, social, cultural or economic issue close to our hearts and learn how to take that issue to our politicians, the businesses we frequent or community leaders. Why? Because one person can make a difference.

The What:

“Finding your voice” Week. Come up with ONE sustainable issue you are passionate about and express your voice to one or more of the following (helpful links below):

• Write your Congressman an email or a real letter (link below). At least once in your lifetime you should visit your Congressman either in Washington DC or at his home office. I have never forgotten the experience of meeting Senator Hubert Humphrey and his personal tour of the Congressional Chambers where he described the joys and weighty responsibilities of his Office representing the Constitution .

• Attend a town meeting or council meeting and speak up.

• Speak to the owners of your local coffee shop or the businesses you frequent.

• Find your local community cable studio and start a sustainable show featuring local residents, business owners who initiate and maintain sustainable practices.

• Take your sustainable concern to your local newspaper/magazine/TV station. Write a letter to them (see links below) and follow-up in person.

• Attend this year’s National Conference and Global Forum: Energy and Climate Change, January 27-29, 2015 – Hear inspiring speakers from science, industry, academics, the EPA, Forest Service, NOAA, and DOE discuss and offer solutions towards are more sustainable future.

The How:

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Once you have found an environmental, economic, social or cultural issue you would like to bring to local, regional or national attention, do your research. Some of the links below have valuable suggestions that can be helpful to complete a substantive letter to your boss, local media station or local politician!

And don’t be shy, while in your local coffee shop, take your own “to go” cup and ask them to refill it. Let them know its your way of keeping those cups out of a landfill. As you order that sandwich from your local deli, ask them if they practice the 6 R’s; for example, do they compost and recycle? Let them know your wallet is behind sustainable businesses. If you are in a store, ask them what sustainable best practices they are proud of (sustainable lighting, fair wages, sustainable and & smart designed products, sustainable packaging, etc.)

And if you are business owners, you could encourage more sustainable practices by giving a discount to those who bring their own coffee mugs, bags, etc. Purchase your own mugs and bags to resell to your customers, encouraging them to develop more sustainable practices. Start an employee rewards program for winners of quarterly 6 R competitions, green auto purchases, etc. Become recognized as a local sustainability leader.

In other words, be aware of your impact and your surroundings, be present. By being compassionate, kind and mindful of our collective impact we can make suggestions for a more sustainable world and they will be heard. So make your little corner of the world better during this “Find your Voice” week. Get engaged.

The Deep Dive:

How to contact Congress, citizen’s directory here.

Contact your Governor via email here.

Citizen’s guide to town meetings here.

How to write a letter to Congress here & here or how to write a letter to the editor of a newspaper, magazine or blog here.

Great ideas on how to influence Congress as a citizen here.

Visit your regional EPA office here.