Vibrant, Alive, Affordable + Living Lightly Locally= Sustainable Neighborhoods

5 Planets! How are we, the US of A, going to be a serious leader if our lifestyle requires 5 planets of resources??

How are we going to look our grandchildren in the eye and say with pride “All this is yours!”??

The good news is we are innovative. So, my fellow Americans, let’s roll up our sleeves and seize the opportunity. What else are we gonna do?!

Join us on Tuesday nights, and help design and build the 21st Century sustainable! MeetUp Design Lab for Sustainable Neighborhoods

More good news! Ya ready?  Mixed-use, mixed-income sustainable neighborhood infill developments of 2 or so acres, located in rural, urban, or suburban settings, meet the challenge to deliver sustainable lifestyles that are good for people and our planet!

Here is a drawing of one possibility that is efficient, affordable, and creates a beautiful oasis.


Infill Plaza at the Heart for web 1 copy

With approx. 40 residential units of varying sizes on the upper floor, and mixed-use commercial and shared common facilities on the ground floor, we just need 80 or so people who want to move in. Want to have your business here?

Come to the next Designing Sustainable Neighborhoods Workshop

Go to Meet Up Santa Fe and RSVP! and check the box letting us know you’ll be attending. Together, we can make Sustainable Neighborhoods real!

Don’t live in Santa Fe, but want one in your community??!! Let me know!

Up on the Roof

♫  When this old world starts getting me down

Up on the Roof in Berkeley

And people are just too much for me to face
I climb way up to the top of the stairs
And all my cares just drift right into space
On the roof, it’s peaceful as can be
And there the world below can’t bother me
Let me tell you now…  ♫

The Drifters sang it, Gerry Goffin and Carole King wrote it, and every time I climb up on a roof (I’ve been a general contractor for 25 years), it’s always the best.  Share your pictures of roof top living!

As we design and build Sustainable Urban Villages, one of the great assets we can share is roof top living.  The additional costs can be significant, so sharing the space as a community is an obvious win-win. … READ MORE >>

Call it Poverty, call it Voluntary Simplicity

I lived out on Taos Mesa in the tiniest trailer known to mankind.  There were no utilities, no running water. I’d haul water from Henry’s house, just down the road, and heat up a pot of water to take showers. Invigorating showers out in the wide open space, freezing night air.  A 5 gallon bucket was my toilet, which used sawdust to cover contributions. When the bucket got full, I’d bury the contents in the earth, feeding the earthworms.

The remarkable thing is I loved it.  I felt wild, and yet I was surviving creatively.  A boy from the burbs of Southern California. I felt freer, less rent to pay. Except for filling the propane tank for heating and cooking, I had no utility bills.  I’d clip a power cord to my truck’s battery and have a little light at night.

The one thing about the road out to my trailer on the Mesa, was the spring thaw…you had to leave early and get home late, cuz when the daily thaw happened, the muck was amazing.

Other than that, call it voluntary simplicity, call it poverty…I called it good. I was a new father, in the middle of a separation, learning to be a construction carpenter, and was looking to live inexpensively.

Even then, I was dreaming of sustainable villages; high density, vibrant alive, local food, local energy. Heck, Mike Reynolds was my nearest neighbor. His house/office under the windspinner was my nearest neighbor to the south. We’d argue about where to build sustainably; he was a “in the country” kind of guy, and I’d argue for urban settings… turns out we were both right.

I want to live in beauty, but I don’t want all the maintenance that goes with it.  I want thriving, vibrant, alive streets, with kids roaming and having fun. A sunny spot at a wind sheltered table for a morning coffee. Watching the sunlight bounce of the pond’s surface. I want to be a part of an abundant life, I’ll help maintain the pond, I’ll help establish frog habitat.

My wife is much more domesticated that I, and she has a strong sense of beauty.  She once visited the trailer on the Taos Mesa, there is no way she’d have anything to do with it.

This is one of the defining challenges we face…how do we live lightly on the planet, and yet have a high quality of life? How do we make sharing easy, convenient, so we aren’t owned by all our stuff?  I believe it takes a village to go sustainable. My spiritual practice reminds me I can’t find what I’m truly looking for in this world.

Share your ideas! How would you make sustainable real? Call it poverty, call it voluntary simplicity….I’m calling it good.
Images courtesy of Taos homes, Arttattler

Free Up Disposable Income, Ditch the Car

Mixed use neighborhood. Sounds simple. Saves money. Artur C. Nelson presented the info. Robert Steuteville wrote about it.  The question remains…where do you want to live?

“The average American family spends 32 percent of its income on housing and 19 percent on transportation, leaving 49 percent for all other expenditures. Those who live in auto-dependent suburbs spend 25 percent of their income on transportation, leaving only 43 percent for all other expenses. Those who live in transit-rich neighborhoods spend only 9 percent on transportation, leaving far more money for discretionary expenses.”

Another beautiful thing about living in a walkable mixed use community, is the attached part.  Just by the virtue of being attached, your house has less exterior wall exposed, thus a savings in heating and cooling,  and less maintenance. Polar Sam gives it two big thumbs up!… READ MORE >>

The #1 way to Support Local Food is…

The #1 way to Support Local Food is by… creating a deeply affordable lifestyle. Lowering the cost of living frees up customers’ pocket books so they can buy more local food and dine at restaurants serving locally produced food.

Santa Fe's Farmers Market

Local Farmers, Local Food...Santa Fe Saturday AM

A deeply affordable lifestyle is essential in other key ways as well. Farmers and their employees need affordable housing, water, land, processing facilities, season extending structures, fertilizers, etc.  Higher costs in any one of these networks of networks undermines our food security.

Here in Santa Fe we have one of the best Farmer’s Markets in the nation, apparently.  I think much of its popularity is because Santa Feans have more disposable income. And yet, in spite of all the success, Beneficial Farms CSA‘s Steve Warshawer estimates all the capacity of the Northern New Mexico regional farmers would feed only 2000 folks.  Santa Fe current population is around 70,000, with a surrounding regional total of approx 100,000.

For our regional capacity, our Food Shed, to grow significantly, I believe we will have to work  together to create deep affordability and free up more disposable income. I call it “Mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhoods, with lifelong learning and open space”. The open space is for agriculture, natural habitat, and recreation.

This strategy is good for everyone; builds our regional resiliency and food security, lowers our eco-footprint, and raises our quality of life!

Share your ideas and experiences in the comments area! Back yard chickens, collecting urine for fertilizer, compost piles, converting front yards to food forests, deep mulching strategies, farm to school programs, aquaculture, etc… the list is long….Together we can make sustainable real!… READ MORE >>

Why own?… when you can Carshare!!

Oh my God!  We can share stuff, even cars!

Philly Carsare

Sustainable living with a carshare!

Can you imagine, you can rent out your car by the hour??!! yep, human ingenuity strikes again. You probably have heard of Zipcars, and other private car share programs.  Well, another variation on the concept,  peer to peer car sharing,  is coming on line.  RelayRides in Boston claims their participating car owners can earn up to $8000 a year by renting out their cars.  With different Smartphone interfaces, integrated web cam configurations,  and insurance packages tailored to the club program,  a variety of business models have sprung up around the planet. … READ MORE >>

What to do about the economy? Go Sustainable!

The thing to do these days is get a more affordable lifestyle. Lower your gasoline bill, lower the monthly heating bill, lower the housing payment, lower healthcare costs….you name it…make it lower. The problem is gas prices are going up! and that makes everything more expensive.  It’s time to get creative. It’s time to go sustainable.

This is where we are as a planet, in the middle of reinventing ourselves… We need an affordable lifestyle… that is economically sustainable. Coincidently, there is a good chance our more affordable lifestyle is going to live lighter on the planet too.  So this reinvention, this retrofit, this more sustainable living is going to be good for the polar bears as well.

President Obama brought it to our attention in the State of the Union address… Americans have always invented themselves, and the time is here again…. READ MORE >>

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