After my urban permaculture design class I wanted to give up affluenza for a sustainable lifestyle. In a flash of insight I saw how to create affordable, infill urban housing, with landscaping that restored native habitat or provided food and energy security for residents.
We’re starting to eat locally produced food, one of our cars is 100% electric, we recycle, compost and give each other handmade gifts. Next, we bought our first home, a fixer-upper of 3100 sq. ft. next door to a cohousing community. We've taken down the fence between our yards, help take care of the chickens, and share common meals. We’ve got a rain catchment system now and are planning to set up a gray water system. My daughter even made us a composting toilet!
In discussions with our neighbors, we talk of increasing security by restoring respect and hope among the youth who live on our street. One idea is to reduce the fortress look of our home by moving the fence away from the edge of the sidewalk and having a work party and BB-Q to build a cob bench in our yard, surrounded by a vertical food forest so kids can hang out in a green space rather than on the concrete and asphalt.
We're working very hard just to pay the mortgage and debt. I've also begun exploring, with a small team, creating a company which will buy investment properties of up to 6 units, retrofit them into condos using green, urban permaculture principles (including encouraging prospective owners to help with construction, design and landscaping), with PV, “living roofs” and community gardening. The idea is to then retain a portion of the property's value as investors, and sell the "airspace" of the condos at affordable prices.
This journey has included losing our rental home, living homeless with our two children, my wife dropping out, then going back to school, and meeting lots of amazing people who are also working to “save the planet”. Trusting God’s abundance, I’m in exactly where I’m meant to be, doing what I am meant to do.
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
I want to be on Oprah!
I submitted this to Harpo Productions. Maybe Oprah will do a segment on our project!
Posted by Robert van de Walle