2017 Tiny House Summit

screen-shot-2017-02-15-at-1-46-35-pmSign up for the Tiny House Summit

What is the 2017 Tiny House Summit?

February 20-24  Five Days!

An online conference where you can learn all about tiny houses and small-scale living from tiny house community leaders!

Join the Silver Bullet Tiny House designer/builder/dweller/author, Vera Struck, along with many of her friends and colleagues!

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Spring Cleaning Sustainably

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 4.32.56 PMSpring Cleaning Sustainably (Week #16)

“Spring breeze—

the pine on the ridge

whispers it”

Haiku by Kobayashi Issa (1804)

After Earth Day and around Arbor Day I begin an annual ritual I have enjoyed for many decades, “Spring Cleaning”. It’s origins can be traced back to the Persian practice of khooneh tekouni, which literally means ”shaking the house”.

In the midst of “the rebirth of nature”, our Midwestern family in the late 50’s, were recruited for a full weekend of running mattresses outside, hanging Persian rugs and draperies for a day of sunshine (and a good batting), dusting, sweeping, floor and window-washing. That was followed by the next weekend’s cleaning of the garage and a yard sale. Visions of our Scandanavian ancestors stuffing hay into their beds comes to mind.

We had a family of six, whose sports, camping and collecting recquired my mother’s diligent Army commando style direction to keep us focused on our respective cleaning and purging tasks. I recall, the pungent smell of cedar oil, ammonia, bleach, Fels-Naftha and trisodium phosphate. There was ample time for hijinks and fun. Driving our parent’s crazy was the objective of four creatively active offspring who reluctantly gave up a weekend of teenage activities. We had pillow fights, water hose competitions and attic theatricals to relieve the tedium of our chores. A spotless home with clean air and more space after a Minnesotan winter was appreciated by all.

I remember it as a pleasantly cathartic opportunity for humor and prankdom that required increased inspiration, as we grew older. Let us know what your family tradition of “Spring Cleaning” was by commenting below.

The WHAT:

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This week, your challenge is to practice the 6 R’s while we “Spring Clean” in a sustainable way to create the space to move forward towards a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle!

The HOW:

  1. Toss out the toxins in your life. Whether it’s old food, toys, clothes, or other mental or physical clutter. Self-improvement and advancement need room to grow. Utilize decluttr, craigs list, free cycle, thredup and sports gift to donate, recycle and sell all your “stuff”. Have a yard sale!
  2. Look at the pattern to your clutter. Are there too many dead plants, paintings, books, magazines or toys? Is there some emotional programming you need to rewire?
  3. Learn to be selective. We absorb the energy of the people and objects with whom we associate. Be proactive about your daily choices after you consider their full impact.
  4. Liberate your true identity. Look at what you own versus who you are. Liberating yourself from the past possessions and unsustainable habits, diets and practices will maximize your present lifestyle and “spring it forward”.
  5. Make room for the new sustainable you to emerge. With the new “space” in your environment, you will have the room to be creative and make smarter choices.

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 5.36.27 AMNote:

The EPA suggests the following five guiding principles when purchasing sustainable cleaning products:

1.  Include environmental considerations as part of the normal purchasing process.

2. 
Emphasize pollution prevention as part of the purchasing process.

3. Examine multiple environmental attributes throughout the product and service’s life cycle.

4. Compare environmental impacts when selecting products and services.

5. Collect accurate and meaningful environmental information about environmental performance of products and services.

The Deep Dive:

Complete listing of each type of spring cleaning checklists, schedules, seasonal chores can be found here.

Try either of these DIY laundry solutions. They work well, are inexpensive and keep your clothes fresh and soft: Hippychick’s recipe for 4 gallons of your own laundry soap here. Getting Raw’s DIY laundry detergent & softener here.

Try commercial green cleaning products such as MethodSeventh GenerationSimple GreenGreenWorksMrs. Meyer’sEcoverDr. Bronner’sBiokleenOptionsForLife or other manufacturers.

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]

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[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.