The island of Samsø, off the coast of Denmark, has a remarkable story to tell. Winning a 1998 contest sponsored by the Danish government allowed the island to become a showcase community for reducing carbon emissions.
We've been fascinated with the concept of tiny houses since we first learned of them. We've loved watching the reality shows that demonstrate the builders' amazing creativity designing multi-use activity areas for the most efficient use of the space they have to work with. One of my favorite uses of space was a quilting workspace and sewing-machine cabinet that doubled as a kitchen table! We have also followed the experience of our friends who had a tiny house built at Starseed Healing Sanctuary in Savoy, Massachusetts. Their off-grid tiny house is nestled in a quiet, wooded area and you can even rent it for the night on AirBnB if you want to try out tiny-house living.
This article notes that tiny-house plans are changing, with designs moving from cute, little spaces to those that sustain a more permanent kind of living, with the perks you would want for a well-rounded lifestyle. There is a trend now to build in a modular fashion to keep an extended tiny-house collection movable, with each piece able to be moved on its own trailer.
The tiny house featured in the article has a separate green house and a comfortable front porch with a swing. The interior of the house is beautiful, with full-size kitchen facilities, stairs that lead to a comfortable sleep space, and dining and lounging areas. You can even buy this exact house because it's for sale in South Carolina for $81,000. We're all set with our smallish house, but if I were looking for a tiny house, I might be tempted by the extra relaxing room on the porch and the ability to grow plants and vegetables through an extended season.
With less open space and more people, smaller farms that feed people locally and replenish the soil are becoming popular in many areas. Limestone Permaculture Farm is a one-acre farm in New South Wales, Australia that was started ten years ago when the wife fell ill. Her husband, a builder, described his excitement about discovering permaculture like this, "When I found permaculture, it was less about one form and more about following nature’s design. It blew my mind.”
Their farm now produces enough produce for 50 families. It uses permaculture techniques and also powers itself primarily from renewable energy. Bees, goats, and chickens also share the farm and contribute their talents. The farm's owners, Brett and Nici Cooper, are still working full-time at jobs away from the farm, but they hope to make farming a full-time life soon.
The Coopers share what they've learned by offering tours, internships, and permaculture programs, hoping to pass on their knowledge and inspire others. As Nici Cooper puts it, “We feel there has been an awakening across our beautiful country, self-reliance is on the rise again; urban and rural homesteading has people taking their food and energy supply back into their own hands. With each passing day we are transitioning to a more wholesome life, creating a more fulfilling and positive future, not just for ourselves but also for our family, friends, and community.”
That's inspiration worth growing everywhere!
According to this article, electric vehicles are not only the way of the future, they'll be our drivers too. They're getting cheaper and there are fewer moving parts to maintain. That has wide implications for the auto industry and all those who support it. England and France have announced that they will be banning traditional internal combustion engine vehicles in 2040 and undoubtedly more nations will follow suit. There are lots of interesting details in this article, including how this timing aligns with the end of the oil industry. Electric vehicles are non-polluting and I hope we'll be around long enough to see them widely used.
An inspiring group of ten teenage girls from San Fernando High School in California didn't have the money to help the many homeless people they encountered on their way to school, but they knew they wanted to help somehow.
See the article for many more photos of the girls in the process of making and testing their invention and for anecdotes about what this experience has meant to them and their dreams for the future.
Abeer Seikaly, an architect and artist from Jordan, was so moved by the many Syrian refugees she saw in her country living in inadequate housing that she invented a new type of solar-powered weatherproof tent that also collects water. She envisions these tents being used as housing for the homeless and for refugees.
She says, "There are one billion people globally that live without adequate shelter, and a rapidly growing proportion of this population that are being forced to live semi-permanently out of their environment or who are transient. So this whole idea and focus of researching a shelter building process with several communities has really been integral to the development and research I’ve been conducting."
She plans to join a team of women on Mt. Everest next year on an expedition led by fellow Jordanian, Mustafa Salaamed. She will be bringing a prototype of her tent not only to test it in the harshest of circumstances, but to raise awareness of the global need of so many for safe and comfortable housing.
Plastic never fully breaks down and is responsible for destroying ocean ecosystems around the world. As of January 1, 2017, India's National Green Tribunal has banned all plastic cutlery, cups, and bags in Delhi. As a city of of nearly 19 million people, this is great news for India, its nearby oceans, and could be a model for other large cities to follow worldwide.
Denmark has onshore and offshore wind turbines that are generating so much power that on one recent day, there was enough wind energy that it could have met the electricity needs for the entire country. It seems that Denmark is well on its way to its goal for 2020 of generating 50% of its power with renewable energy. As early as 2015, 42% of Denmark's electricity was generated by wind.
Solar panels generated more electricity than coal between April and September 2016 in the United Kingdom. This is great news for the growing solar power movement. According to James Court, head of policy at the Renewable Energy Association, “Solar overtaking coal this summer would have been largely unthinkable five years ago...Now that we have a significant global and domestic industry, solar is one of the cheapest forms of power." Imagine what could happen if government policies and incentives supported renewable energy as the premiere source of energy.