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Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Hippie Manifesto

When I was thirteen, I wanted nothing so much in the world as to be a hippie and go 'back to the land'.  Somewhere in here I abandoned borrowing novels from the library and started bringing home how-to books and catalogs.  The Whole Earth Catalog was one, and I have no idea of the countless times I brought home my all time favorite book, Rolling Homes: Handmade Houses On Wheels, by Jane Lidz.  My parents were sympathetic, and bought me the Foxfire book- back then, there was only one Foxfire book; now there are eleven, I believe.  And one happy Saturday, they took me and some siblings (I can't remember if it was all of us or only a couple of us) up to Berkeley to see the Integral Urban House.  What a happy little hippie chick I was that day!

I'm still working on Fisker's Early Retirement Extreme, but as I'm reading it, I'm imagining that part of the scheme for retiring is selling this house and buying a small property somewhere, and building a very low-tech, small house on it. A really, really little house.  One that would make me take a hard look at all my crap and force me to prioritize.  One that was well-insulated and snug with thick walls that would keep the house warm in the winter and cool in the summer. One that could be electrified by a wind turbine and maybe a couple of solar panels.  One that used spring water, or at the very least, collected rainwater.  One that probably had a composting toilet.  A very small, low-tech house, with enough electricity to run a fridge and a couple computers.  I figure with a small, country property and a small, low-tech house, maybe, just maybe we'd be able to afford to retire kind of early.  Just kind of early.  It's probably just a pipe dream, because I doubt I'd be able to get Steve to do it.

I've been borrowing those kind of how-to books from the library again.  Masonry Heaters, by Ken Matesz, The Toilet Papers, by Sim Van der Ryn ( who was one of the people behind the Integral Urban House, by the way), and I have a whole bunch more like them on hold at the library.  So it would seem that the hippie in me has come home to roost.  It pains me to think that I was on my true path so long ago, and that I would stray so far over the years that I wouldn't be able to find it again.  Well, maybe not find it, because I have found it again.  More like I'd find it, but I wouldn't be able to tread it again.  Bummer.

Maybe I'll content myself and just quit shaving.


Aurora said...

I rememeber reading about the Integral Urban house in an old National Geographic from the energy crisis (which I missed by 5 years); and to my nine year old brain it just seemed awesome and made perfect sense to me. I too strayed and have got caught up in a world that would have seemed bonkers to me as a child, but I am returning 'home' now.

I have bought the new edition of the book 'The integral Urban House' which is excellent although not so applicable for retrofitting most British homes. Small, well designed homes appeal to me, but I wonder how we would accomodate our brewing and winemaking and craft activities.

Paula said...

I have been giving that very subject some thought, but I haven't come up with anything other than an outbuilding for storing the equipment. My pressure canner falls into the same category. I'm thinking wood stove for cooking and heating in winter, and then do all my summer cooking outside. I would definitely try to find a property with a hill, so that I could dig a root cellar into it. Maybe store the canning and beer and wine making equipment under beds?

Aurora said...

I also thought some sort of external food storage/workshop. Even with that space addded, you would still be consuming a fraction of the energy and wasting half of the time the average household spends on maintaining 'stuff'. Book storage would also be a problem for me! I wish you luck with it whatever you decide.