Back in the fall of 2016, when Joaquin Matias and I began work on A Call to Action, Klaus Jacob, the noted Columbia University geophysicist, mentioned to us the term: “Nomadic Instructure.” When we asked him, what exactly it meant, he said he was not really sure, but his work in Lagos, Africa had observed houses built on stilts so they could be easily be moved to a higher ground in the event of floods. Klaus’s primary premise was that we had to start building upland to avoid the future ravages of sea level rise (SLR). The book A Call to Action provides a blueprint for beginning the concept, design and construction of sustainable & resilient communities, at all scales, be they large or tiny. http://bit.ly/2vJDPCb
I have been fortunate to have been able to travel the last four months throughout Europe and a big chunk of the western U.S. These travels have been solo and had as their main purpose to determine how sustainable and resilient a particular community is (or is not) and to try to disseminate these findings through this blog, public talks and/or book signings. http://bit.ly/1Y04fKB
We, as humans, are in the very beginning stages of what we have been calling Resource Capitalism, whereby companies and governments become less concerned about short term profits and focus more on social and environmental costs to better manage the flow of goods, services and natural resources to our world citizenry. Yes, I used the word “world” rather than “national.” In my opinion, the burgeoning human population requires a world outlook towards food production, health care, education and other vital human services.
There has to be a very gradual movement away from our profitability obsession and that is the phase we are just entering from an economic perspective. Once again, we call this Resource Capitalism but other theoreticians have used Sustainable Capitalism and Natural Capitalism to have a similar meaning.
Two weeks ago, I attended a Tiny House exposition here in Austin that was quite interesting. It was at the suggestion of Diane Bernard, an Austin marketing expert, who suggested Tiny Houses might be a viable niche for The NRF and/or Clear Springs Communities to explore. According to some of the speakers, here are some of the preliminary facts: 1) a tiny house is defined as a maximum of 399 square feet, 2) here in Austin, the maximum height restriction is 13 feet six inches, 3) the house is considered personal property so no real estate taxes and that seems to be most attractive to potential purchasers, and 4) no mortgage loan but personal loans are allowed. Many of these structures had sleeping/storage lofts that were difficult to access, especially if you were over five feet tall, but they do not count towards the 399 square foot maximum if they adhere to the 13 1/2 height restriction. A good resource for further research about Tiny Houses is www.themamaontherocks.com.
Roberts Communities, a TX, AZ and CO Manufactured Home builder, owner-developer is structuring the Tiny Home community off of Decker Lane called Village Farm in Northeast Austin as a two phase sales process with 42 houses initially and another 112 in the second phase. The community is already an established RV park and I think that is a model that Roberts and other developers might want to pursue to diversify their inventory. I would add that including Yurts as part of the mix might be viable, as well. As I visualize these communities, they encompass, sustainable, resilient living with the nomadic infrastructure component included so the housing and energy needs can be movable without too much cost or effort. My mom was taught in elementary school that “a nomad is a wandering shepard” and in many instances that may well be our natural state as human beings. The wandering shepard often used his flock for his food needs as many climates are not conducive to agricultural cultivation of fruits and vegetables. In fact, the desertification of a good chunk of the southern hemisphere will perhaps mandate a return to humans becoming wandering shepards, once again. Hence, the need for nomadic infrastructure technology.
One of my favorable Airbnb experiences involved living for four nights in a Yurt in Dixon, New Mexico that is located about equidistant from Santa Fe and Taos; two very cool towns. Dixon is kind of cool too, with wineries, a food co-op, a restaurant, library and post office. Lisa Ann Edenfield, in addition to being a mother, nurse and environmental studies expert, has become an expert in Yurt living. A Yurt is a single room circular structure that can have windows and even bathrooms and kitchens attached to the structure. Yurts can cost between $4,000 and $25,000 depending upon finishes and how much of the materials are recycled or repurposed. Kitchen and bathroom are additional costs. In Lisa’s instance, she has a 3/4 season outdoor kitchen and 4 season compostable toilet/shower/bathtub/washer located about 12 steps from the Airbnb yurt which also has a wood stove for winter/fall living. It is a glamping experience that I found quite enjoyable if a little unsettling, especially at night when I was reluctant to use the detached toilet.
Waterwise, Lisa has a well with a solar panel that pumps water to a big holding tank. So even without power, the water is available. Like many places, water availability can be a real issue in New Mexico. Lisa’s appliances in the yurt are solar but small scale. The outdoor kitchen is on the grid with a potential for solar hookup. The solars panels are on the roof of the kitchen. To explore Yurts in greater detail, check out Lisa’s website: https://lisannedenfield.wixsite.com/purposeful-beautiful/living-library.
Our original ideas for Clear Springs Communities envisioned large scale developments like New Atlanta in middle Georgia and a regionalization of the Texas Hill Country. These conceptions would have been many billions of dollars and the capital, both public and private, for these sort of developments does not appear to be readily available unless big money becomes interesting in building sustainable, resilient communities. Therefore, we are now looking at conceiving, planning, designing and constructing much smaller communities (at least initially) to test the sustainable, resilient community concept. Initially, we will be focusing on Austin and the Texas Hill Country to see if we can work with the local municipalities to begin organically developing communities that have workforce house as their anchor, with tiny houses, yurts, great houses for multigenerational caregiving and in general, a focus more on the “old ways” expressed by native American Indians in their lifestyles developed over the millenia.