Sunday, March 10, 2013

Tiny Houses, Tiny Footprints, Tiny Planet

On Earth Day in 2004, I took the ecological footprint quiz in Central Park in New York City.  I had walked there with my daughter in a backpack, since I still didn't know how to drive, let alone own a car. My daughter is turning ten this month, and as she learns about getting big, I have tried to teach her about living small.

We are both inspired by the tiny house movement.  The first time we saw Jay Schaeffer's Tumbleweed Tiny House company featured in a documentary, we became fascinated by tiny houses.  After living my early adult life in Manhattan for six years, until my daughter was 15 months old, I learned how to enjoy life in the real world while keeping my belongings to a minimum.Now, with four kids, we live in a three bedroom with a full basement and a garage, and I cannot imagine packing the family into a 300-square-foot studio.  Living eight years with eventually three children in 600 square feet was challenge enough. 

But someday when I am old and grey, a tiny house is a dream.  I will park it in my adult kids' yards for a month each, and I'll unpack my rocking chair and visit my grandchildren.  In the meantime, I would certainly consider staying in a tiny house vacation rental for a week to try it out.  Here is a video about a tiny apartment built into a shipping container---with amazingly cool Murphy-bed-style furniture that folds out of the wall.

Living small allows the family budget to stretch to meet the needs and desires of living in the real world.  Just think:  fewer rooms to clean, less junk to put away, less storage space to cram full of memorabilia so that people can get out and enjoy life more. I am eagerly waiting the release of  the documentary film Tiny:  The Movie.

Living in a tiny house saves time and money in maintenance and cleaning, which allows human energy to be spent in growing a garden, traveling, exercising, reading, writing, and enjoying outdoor life.  If you've read the book by Richard Louv Last Child in the Woods you know how important it is for children to explore nature.

Gardening with children teaches them history, independence, economics, biology and hard work.  Our family will grow the three sisters (corn, beans, and squash) in symbiotic harmony as the Native Peoples grew for centuries before our ancestors migrated here.

Permaculture is not a trend.  It is a return to our roots.  Someday, when we raise chickens for fresh eggs, we'll put them to work in the backyard food production project as well.  Check out these chicken tunnels for natural insect control:

It's a small world, so let's make tiny carbon footprints to keep our earth clean. You can check your ecological footprint by taking a short online quiz.

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