What is “Home”

“Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.”

-German poet, painter and novelist, Hermann Hesse

“Home is not where you live but where they understand you.”

– German poet, Christian Morgenstern

The tiny house movement, its enthusiast’s, founders, builders and advocates may just be my “home”. They get me, they champion me, they help me, they celebrate the sustainable tiny life with me. And more than that, they get, and champion each other. It is an inclusive group, all ages, types, kinds, levels of ability. A sustainable group. They embody the soul of the two quotes above.

Let’s back-up a minute. Growing up in the Midwest in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, my childhood was inculcated with the American Dream of owning one’s own “home” in the nation of “equality, democracy and material prosperity” where upward mobility and pursuing your “bliss” were a “given” that you had succeeded in life.[1] You know the words we were taught in grade school, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.

Today for millions of Americans, including myself, the American Dream is looking a lot different. The Great Recession affected all of us. Debt is so embedded into the fabric of our society that millions have lost their homes, jobs, retirement, and their financial and social stability.[2] I am sure Wall Street had quite a bit to do with the foreclosure of the American Dream for most of us.

Cliff DuRand, Truth-out columnist, posits that upward mobility is dead:

My favorite slogan from the Occupy movement was “Wake up from the American Dream. Create a livable American reality.” That is the challenge We the People face in the 21st century. And we have to face it with little help from our political elite and none from capital. We have to do it ourselves. It will take social movements and prolonged struggle. It will take courage and bold experimentation. And for starters, it will take speaking the truth: The American Dream is over. For good or ill, history will move on without it.”[3]

Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 12.06.18 PMA large number of us nearing retirement, have lost our savings in the recession and can no longer retire. Others of us lost everything paying health bills for chronic illness and cancer due to toxins in our consumer products and the polluted environment.

Yet how can we achieve financial or social stability in a society that thinks the labor force or the older American (over age 50) is “irrelevant”, “of no value”, “unproductive” or “health-cost prohibitive”?

“The flood of “micro-aggressions” towards older employees in the workplace is astounding.”[4] Corporations could engage and educate their workers by fostering an ethic of inclusion (think best sustainable practices) but few do. Are they aware that someday they will be our age too? (You can see more details about my personal experience with this in the 2008-2010 archives on terrabluteams.org).

Surviving ageism in the workplace and discrimination for being a disabled adult, I made the positive future-forward decision in 2008 to find my own solution. I started a customized 5-year plan to recreate and manifest a deeper sustainable tiny life.

Home, to me, is wherever I am. It is an authentic life of integrity, joy and peace. It’s a mindful life in balance with nature and living creatures.

My net zero Silver Bullet tiny house on wheels, when its finished this summer, will be the manifestation of my new “livable American reality”. I believe “The tiny house movement has been growing for a decade and it is the sustainability imperative at work”.[5]

I can hardly wait to take the Silver Bullet on tour across the country to inspire and help others learn about the joy and rewards of living the sustainable tiny life.[6]

Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 12.35.17 PM

[1] As an environmental and social activist I was considered a “hippie” during the late 1960’s and 1970’s.

[2] Solman, Paul, “Brutal Job Search Reality for Older Americans Out of Work for Six Months or More”, 5/3/13

[3] In his article “The American Dream Is Dead; Long Live the New Dream” Cliff DuRand, Truthout columnist, posits that upward mobility is dead.

[4] Solman, Paul, “Brutal Job Search Reality for Older Americans Out of Work for Six Months or More”, 5/3/13

[5] Struck, Vera, Standing on the Shoulders of Giants8/28/13 blog article from tinyhouselistings.com. 38% of tiny house dwellers are over age 50.

[6] You can read all about the joys, rewards and challenges of our founder’s tiny house build and sustainable tiny life journey at silverbullettinyhouse.com.


2012 TerraBluTeams Recap

We would like to thank everyone for their support of our new sustainability non-profit on Facebook, Twitter, our Indiegogo campaign and our website.

2012 was a great year of growth for TerraBluTeams, we have much to be grateful for since our inauguration in December of 2011:

1. Incorporation of this sustainability non-profit as an education and grass roots community engagement model

2. The funding of several grants to further our four educational vehicles (see 3-6)

3. The finalized conception of a community engagement model, The Getting to Zero Project

4. Creation, launch and maintenance of this website/blog

5. Launch and executive production of six sustainability education community cable shows, “Getting Engaged”

6. Engagement of thousands of middle school, high school and college students in dialogues about sustainable best practices.

What is in store for 2013:

1. The founder will build a net-zero “Tiny House” on wheels as a 2013 “sustainability practice” education vehicle

2. Further development of a Middle School, High School and college level sustainability curriculum

3. Funding and implementation of the community engagement model, The Getting to Zero Project

4. Enhanced visibility and engagement of our Facebook, Twitter and Website community 

Again, thank you for all your feedback, support and interest in becoming sustainable practitioners.

Please comment here on what sustainability practices from this website inspired you this year!

If you would like to drop us a line, we would love to hear from you!

TerraBluTeams Practice #28

The WHAT and WHY:

On July 11th global citizens will observe World Population Day. Did you know that in 2011 the world population surpassed the 7 billion mark? One of the greatest challenges we face today is figuring out how we are going to sustainably use our remaining limited resources while allowing future generations to meet their needs.

According to the UNFPA’s 2012 Population Matters for Sustainable Development Report for the Rio+20 Earth Summit, a call to integrate population into the water-food-energy nexus is the missing link in sustainable development. According to the expert panel from Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge University, population councils and other distinguished institutions we need to recognize:

• Population dynamics have a significant influence on sustainable development;

• Efforts to promote sustainable development that do not address population dynamics have, and will continue to, fail; and,

• Population dynamics are not destiny. Change is possible through a set of policies which respect human rights and freedoms and contribute to a reduction in fertility, notably access to sexual and reproductive health care, education beyond the primary level, and the empowerment of women.

“Any analysis of sustainable development must recognize the differences among people in terms of their impacts on the environment and their vulnerabilities to risk, which depend on their age, gender, location and other socioeconomic characteristics. New evidence indicates that human capital, enhanced through education and health (including reproductive health), can make a substantial difference in people’s contributions to sustainable development and their capacity to adapt to environmental change.”  The Laxenburg Declaration, 2012

This week’s practice is to empower yourself with the capacity to change your unsustainable behaviors. Not because you need “points” from a gamification website or the green initiative software at work, or because you will avoid fines, penalties, carbon taxes or imprisonment but because it is the right and healthy thing to do for yourself, family and community; and will leave a world inhabitable for your children and your children’s children.

The Top Ten HOW:

1.   Change one unsustainable habit at a time.

2.   Make it simple, start small.

3.   Write down a 30 day plan.

4.   Ask for help and support as there will be sabotagers.

5.   Become publicly accountable. Do it with a friend, a group, post it on your blog, write a column.

6.   Exercise, rest and drink lots of water.

7.   Use visualization, have a mantra and give yourself rewards.

8.   Engineer it so it’s hard to fail.

9.   Avoid situations and people that support unsustainable habits.

10. If you fail, try again. Obstacles can be overcome. Regroup, let go of guilt and just try again.

So let’s just do it, embrace radical openness* and cultivate an evolved sustainable world.

Let us know how you are doing!

The Deep Dive:

UNFPA 2012 Report – Population Matters for Sustainable Development

Population Milestones

Promoting Sustainable Behavior

How Radical Sustainability Can Save Your Business

RUST, Radical Urban Sustainable Living

*Thanks to my colleague, Chris Brogan, for reminding me how much I love TED talks.