The multilingual, multicultural online journal and community of arts and ideas. There's a heaven above you, baby.


Horrible Harmful High Housing

Houses gassing off. Carpets, insulation, paint and more. So tight and filled with chemicals they’re sick houses. Literally! The building materials are bad for us. Real bad. Have been for years now. Since the ’50s we’ve had Horrible Harmful Housing.

I remember back in the late ’70s when I was a young thing living in Pennsylvania. Me and my best beau (that’s us in the photo, weren’t we cute!) would stop for a look see at houses from time to time. Was fun… we loved it. Once we pulled into a mobile home lot and took a tour. It was hot that day. The sun was frying eggs. Walked in one home. Looked around a bit. It was really nice inside. Could imaging living there. The longer we spent ooing and awing the more our eyes burned and watered. When we both started coughing we beat it out of there fast. Talked about it as we drove away. Said to each other, “We’re protected for sure. Thank you God.” Came to the conclusion it musta’ been the formaldehyde. That was the buzz word back then. The stuff in the insulation that gassed off and made folks sick. They were ripping it out of all the schools.

But it’s still used in some building materials. Read an article at ABC News dated July 9, 2008, “Makers of Katrina Trailers Grilled by Congress.” The mobiles that were bought as temporary housing for hurricane Katrina victims were filled with it. Made some folks sick. Huh. Scratching my head. They were ripping it out in the early 80s why is it still used? In our modern society can’t we come up with affordable housing that is people and earth friendly???

Well that got me curious about green housing. Sustainable, affordable, earth friendly? I like words and always find it interesting to look at dictionary definitions. Here is what I found in the Oxford American Dictionary and dictionary.reference online.

The definition of the word sustain: to support; to keep alive; to endure without giving away. To keep in existence; maintain. To supply with necessities or nourishment; provide for. To support the spirits, vitality, or resolution of; encourage. Definition of sustainable: capable of being sustained or maintained. Capable of being continued with minimal long-term effect on the environment. How interesting.

So what does sustainable mean with regard to housing? Here are definitions of sustainable housing I found online:

Sustainable Housing: Affordable and comfortable. Climate appropriate design which minimizes or eliminates the need for artificial heating and cooling. Design and construction which maintain sites natural resources. Collect and efficiently manage water resources. Management of own waste on site including greywater and black water. Produce and efficiently manage electrical power. Provide food resources from a permaculture garden. The house becomes part of the local ecosystem. Use of building materials which are recycled or made from renewable resources.

I enjoy housing designs which are unique and creative. So I did I a search. Found lots of stuff on natural or recycled building materials. Lots from companies building passive solar and other things. I was looking for something more then your average home… something fun, unique, affordable, beautiful, sustainable, earth and people friendly. Here are a few of the inexpensive homes I liked a lot….

A low impact woodland home – beautiful, natural living

Wales woodland home Located in Wales, UK. Built with maximum environmental regard by 2 people and passersby. 4 months start to finish:  1,000-1,500 man hours. Cost: about £3,000 (£60 per sq. ft., not including labor). Part of Lammas ecovillage project a carbon neutral, low impact development.

Features: Dug into hillside for low visual impact and shelter. Stone/mud at site used for retaining walls, foundations etc. Framed with oak from local woodlands. Reciprocal roof rafters. Straw bales in floor, walls and roof. Plastic sheet and mud/turf roof. Reclaimed wood floors and fittings. Reclaimed windows, burner, plumbing, wiring, etc. Lime plaster walls. Breathable and low energy to manufacture. Heat is wood burning stove – renewable and locally plentiful. Flue through thick stone/plaster. Retains heat. Slowly releases for even warmth. Fridge cooled by underground air through foundation. Skylight in roof. Solar panels for lighting, music and computing. Water gravity system from nearby spring. Composting toilet. Rainwater from roof collects in pond for garden, etc.

Building workshops available. Learn how to build a low impact woodland home.

Thanks to Pipa’s Porch for directing me to this wonderful home.

Eco Dome Earth Dwellinga small gnome-like homedomepod-home1web

Located in California, USA.  House built by students to learn about Superadobe coil construction. Very small, 400 square foot, very low cost. Easily built by 3-5 people. Part of the Cal-Earth educational and research program.

Features: Built from local earth-filled Superadobe coils (soil-cement or lime-stabilized earth) and barbed wire. On site soil utilized, coil bags low cost. Covered with adobe. Tree free. Main dome and four niches, very low cost. Can be repeated and joined together to form larger homes and courtyard houses. Very thick walls have significant thermal mass, which reduces heating and cooling costs. It also provides sound insulation, structural integrity, fire and pest protection. Designed with the sun, shade and wind in mind for passive cooling and heating. Wind-scoop can be combined with a rated furnace unit. Solar energy and radiant heating may be incorporated. Water collection and reclamation can be incorporated. It is estimated that a four-bedroom, 2,000 square fo
ot house would cost $75,000 ($37.50/sq. ft.) to build, including labor, materials and utilities.

Building workshops available. Learn how to build with Superadobe coils online or apprentice at Cal-Earth.

Sculpted concrete homes Live in Art

Living Art concrete home by Flying Concrete Located in Mexico. Beautiful, imaginative custom, free flowing, sculptured concrete homes built by Flying Concrete. House shown is 700 square foot with various out buildings. Has been a design-as-you-go, evolutionary, spontaneous project. Built by 2 people.

Features: Roofs built with lightweight aggregate. Walls are lightweight concrete or local rock. Vaulted roofs – 400 year guarantee. Solar green house and other interior solar spaces.  Passive solar heat and good insulation. Water recovery systems.  Detached composting toilet. Low cost units as low as $25 per sq. ft. (2005). Roof represents 10-15% of cost.

Building workshops available. Learn how to build a sculptured concrete home.

Whoo Hoo!!! There are lots of great healthy, natural, beautiful and affordable alternative building techniques that I can learn and do myself. This is so great I can’t wait to get started. Now if I only had a plot of land…

There are a lot more green and sustainable building methods, I’ve only mentioned a couple. Here are some links to additional stuff:

Green Home Building is a website which talks about sustainable architecture and natural building.

Natural Building Network is an association which promotes natural building principles, materials and practitioners worldwide.

Green Builders Directory a listing of various builders who build green and sustainable housing.

~Bonnee Klein Gilligan

    Fundamental Beingness

    © 2008 Bonnee Klein Gilligan., All Rights Reserved

    Peaceful, Meditative, Buddhic, Enlightenment.

    Fundamental Beingness represents our Buddha nature. The state we can attain thru Spiritual practices.

    Pastel drawing with computer enhancement. Spectral Light – Trefoil Series.  I did the original 9" x 12" drawing in 1998, then in 2007 scanned and enhanced it in Photoshop. Prints are available at my Spirit Art gallery.

    ~Bonnee Klein Gilligan

      soft darkness, waking joy…

      ~a poem by Bonnee Klein Gilligan

      Sunrise dreams - photo by Light  ©2002-2008 Bonnee Klein Gilligan. All rights reserved.

      So was in a dream indeed

      in space, in quiet being.

      Danced on air and time stood still

      through misty fog revealing.

      These flashing skies and clapping booms

      stand watching as time passes.

      Sweet moisture, cool and gentle rain

      without a wetness seeming.

      Soft darkness passes lightly by

      what was is now forgotten.

      To waking full upon the day

      in paradise abounding.

      All with promise pregnant poised

      awaiting only choices.

      Reveals itself with breath and life

      and moments as we make them.

      The road, the place are all the same

      for home is where the heart is.

        Sacred dance of 1,000 hands

        A living 1,000 armed Goddess of Mercy (Guanyin) is depicted in this fabulous dance production. Performed by 21 deaf dancers.  The China Disabled People’s Performing Art Troupe was formed more then 20 years ago and have performed in more then 40 countries. Inspirational!!! Enjoy.

        ~Bonnee Klein Gilligan

          How Green am I?

          This weeks blog is about me and how my green life is going. Been getting progressively greener since March. My organic veggie, earth friendly roommate moved out beginning of July, so I’m living alone again. We won’t be laughing, dancing and singing round the house together anymore. Sniff, sniff. I thank her for getting me on board with a greener way of life.

          Town Square, photo by LightI live in a very small community of about 4,000 mostly elderly  folks. We’ve got a beauty salon, senior center, doctor, massage therapist, chiropractor, realtor, small clothing store, restaurant  and post office all in our little town square. It’s so cute. The  photo left is of the square. Across the street is an 18 hole golf course with clubhouse and restaurant.  Don’t know the meaning of the words healthy food. Look at you like you’ve got 2 heads when you ask for a veggie anything. Say what???

          Anyway, I walk to the Post Office everyday. It’s about 1/2 mile from my house. The nearest grocery store is about 10 miles via interstate. There’s no public transportation and because there are no back roads bicycling is out. Weird I know. ‘Sides I don’t have a working bicycle. Have a 1997 Honda Civic hatchback which gets about 40 mpg most of the time. Feel fortunate. Keep tires inflated and only drive when necessary. I’ve cut trips into town down to about once or twice a month. Would like to go more… feelin’ a bit deprived.

          When I go in for a shop, I buy water in bulk too. Have 5 gallon bottles. Cost is only $1 for 5 gallons. Won’t drink the tap water, would if I could but, it tastes bad and is full of minerals and other unmentionables. It’s called aggressive water cause of how fast it builds up like rock formations on everything it touches.Sage in my Garden photo by me

          Still using locally grown or organic produce and eggs mostly. Grow many of my own herbs. The photo right is sage in my garden. Buy rice, beans, grains, flours, oatmeal, salt, sugar and spices in bulk. Store them in quart or 1/2 gallon canning jars. Use organic dairy products such as milk, butter, yogurt, and cream cheese. But cheese is a different story. Started baking and making lots of food from scratch including bread. Have a bread machine that looks like R2D2. Makes terrific bread. Bake my own cookies too. That way I know what’s in ’em. Taste better, cost less and there’s less packaging to deal with.

          Never ate much meat but now it’s a flavoring agent, because I like the taste, instead of the the main ingredient. Mostly I cook vegetarian. Been trying recipes from around the world like Pad Thai and curried coconut veggies. And I’m eating lots of fresh organic salads with greens, shredded beets and carrots, pumpkin and sunflower seeds and lemon juice. Never thought I’d say I love salad… but I do now. The food tastes different, fresher and more alive. But the odd thing is I’m not wanting to cook and eat very often. I just noticed I was hungry and thought ‘Is it time to eat again already?’ What’s up with that?

          I’m still using eco-friendly dish liquid. Right now it’s Bio Pak Ultra with tea tree and aloe, Green Apple scent. Works great, but don’t like the smell much. Will try a different green kind next time. Or might buy the Dishmate Almond, I liked it. I’ve noticed my hands like these products better too. They aren’t rough and dry any more. And my dish sponge still smells nice. I do the dishes by hand, don’t have an automatic dishwasher. But I think I run the water too much. More then is frugal. So I’m not perfect… humph.

          Haven’t noticed a change in my electric bill since my roommate left. But we’d already cut way back. I’m cooking a bit more and I’ve got an old 2001 Dell with a big fat monitor that’s on at least 6 hours a day so I can keep blogging. Wondering about that. Sure, it’s EnergyStar rated, but I know it sucks power. And it’s slowing down real bad and making growlin’ noises too. Materializin’ a new laptop. Visualizing myself using one, concentrating, focusin’ every day… poof… new laptop. Poof… old computer gone, in that order please. Thank you. Whole bunch of poofin’, no materializin’. Sigh, what’s that ‘Secret’?

          Keep blinds closed and ceiling fans on. Air conditioners off except when it gets really hot a couple hours in the afternoon. Have switched off the power strips mostly. I forget once in a while. The old TV, VCR and DVD players are unplugged all the time cause I don’t ever watch them. The clock on my stove doesn’t work. Don’t own a coffee pot. Drink tea with milk mostly. Heat a mug full of water in my electric teapot. The microwave has a clock. It’s the only one in the kitchen. Don’t have a cell phone or power charger. Think I’m doing pretty good with all this stuff generally. Conserving, doing what I can. Writing about it and telling my friends too.

          Now we’re all on board the green train to conscious change.

          Oh yeah a P.S…. ants invaded my house again. Did a cinnamon treatment inside and out. Worked great for all rooms except my bedroom closet. I must have missed a spot or something. Those buggers invaded my laundry basket and chewed holes in two of my favorite tee shirts and a pair of undies. Now they look like Swiss cheese. Rotten ants. Had to get out the artillery… big guns. Read about cornmeal killing ants. So I put some out. They took it back to the nest and I haven’t seen ’em since. Not very compassionate. Pppppffffftttttt!!! Good riddance!

          ~Bonnee Klein Gilligan

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