Posts Tagged ‘Permaculture’

A Low Impact Woodland Home

A hobbit's houseSimon Dale and his father in-law decided to build their home as inexpensively as possible. So they used natural material and what they could find to build home for Simon’s family of 4. According to Simon:

This building is one part of a low-impact or permaculture approach to life. This sort of life is about living in harmony with both the natural world and ourselves, doing things simply and using appropriate levels of technology. These sort of low cost, natural buildings have a place not only in their own sustainability, but also in their potential to provide affordable housing which allows people access to land and the opportunity to lead more simple, sustainable lives.

I’ve always been a fan of underground homes, and this is the perfect example of how locally sourced materials and ingenuity can make an affordable and livable home. Sadly, in the States, it would almost be impossible to get the necessary building permits and variances to build such a home. It would not meet code standards set in stone here in the Puget Sound. Still, it’s a great idea.


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A story in USATODAY.com talks about how the residents of Clark South Dakota created a new General Store after the older, franchise store was closed by the parent company. A store that is more responsive to the community’s needs because it is own by the community.

[M]ore than 100 people in Clark have purchased $500 shares to finance the opening of the Clark Hometown Variety Store. The store will take the place of the Duckwall store, which was one of 20 underperforming stores parent company Duckwall-Alco Stores of Kansas closed in 2005.

“We had no place in town to buy a pair of shoelaces or buy socks or underwear or any of those things,” says Greg Furness, a shareholder who runs the local funeral home. Residents, he says, had to make a 40-minute drive — sometimes in treacherous winter conditions — to Watertown every time they needed supplies.

This is a great example of a community banding together to provide themselves a service, in this case a general store, that a large franchise deemed unprofitable. So how does this mesh in with the sustainable lifestyle? Well, for one, a community owned store has to answer to its stockholders, the people who invested in it. They have a say in the type of products that the store sells, and they can ask that the store sells locally sourced products. It may mean higher prices for goods and services, but at least the community has a say.

For more information about how to start your own community-owned business, check out the BigBoxToolkit PDF file: How to Launch a Community-Owned Store.


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The Transition movement, while noticeably growing in areas such as the U.K, isquietly developing a toe hold here.  One nearby town that has adopted Transition Town principles is Sandpoint, Idaho.  An article published recently in the New York Times discusses their efforts. Interesting reading.  The following is an excerpt:

The Transition movement was started four years ago by Rob Hopkins, a young British instructor of ecological design. Transition shares certain principles with environmentalism, but its vision is deeper — and more radical — than mere greenness or sustainability. “Sustainability,” Hopkins recently told me, “is about reducing the impacts of what comes out of the tailpipe of industrial society.” But that assumes our industrial society will keep running. By contrast, Hopkins said, Transition is about “building resiliency” — putting new systems in place to make a given community as self-sufficient as possible, bracing it to withstand the shocks that will come as oil grows astronomically expensive, climate change intensifies and, maybe sooner than we think, industrial society frays or collapses entirely. For a generation, the environmental movement has told us to change our lifestyles to avoid catastrophic consequences. Transition tells us those consequences are now irreversibly switching on; we need to revolutionize our lives if we want to survive.

Transition’s approach is adamantly different from that of the survivalists I heard about, scattered in the mountains around Sandpoint in bunkers stocked with gold and guns. The movement may begin from a similarly dystopian idea: that cheap oil has recklessly vaulted humanity to a peak of production and consumption, and no combination of alternative technologies can generate enough energy, or be installed fast enough, to keep us at that height before the oil is gone. (Transition dismisses Al Gore types as “techno-optimists.”) But Transition then takes an almost utopian turn. Hopkins insists that if an entire community faces this stark challenge together, it might be able to design an “elegant descent” from that peak.

We can consciously plot a path into a lower-energy life — a life of walkable villages, local food and artisans and greater intimacy with the natural world — which, on balance, could actually be richer and more enjoyable than what we have now.

Transition, Hopkins has written, meets our era’s threats with a spirit of “elation, rather than the guilt, anger and horror” behind most environmental activism. “Change is inevitable,” he told me, “but this is a change that could be fantastic.”

Read the full article here…..

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So.., What’s Permaculture? and What is this Transition movement?

Time: April 14, 2009 from 6:30pm to 9pm
Location: Maple Leaf Lutheran Church
Organized By: John Samaras & Sue McGann

Event Description: …a series of shorts that begins to answer these common questions. The Permaculture movement arose in Australia in the ‘70s as a positive constructive response to the energy and environmental crises that are still with us. It was a part of the “Back to the Land” movement of the time but many believe it is just another form of gardening, like “organic,” “bio-dynamic,” or “bio-intensive.” As this movement has evolved, two relatively new branches have grown out of it: Urban Permaculture and the Transition Towns movements. These are centered around growing sustainable and resilient community.

Come join us to watch these films and engage in community discussion. Social 6:30pm; films begin at 7:00pm. See more details and RSVP on Northeast Seattle Neighbors’ Sustainability Network:


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