Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Small Spaces Big Ideas for a Changing Planet


Dan Phillips may be considered a modern day revolutionary of sorts. His idea is to help low-income workers realize the proverbial American dream of owning their own home. The catch is that they have to build it themselves with recycled junk and leftover scraps they can scavenge. The working poor... I like that phrase... "working poor". To me, it has a much nicer ring to it than non-working poor with their hand out for a hand out who are not contributing to their own welfare and community. With Philips' help, the working poor really get their hands dirty by building their own houses with whatever refuse and castoffs they can find. According to Philips, tons of perfectly good building materials are thrown away every day and that an average community has enough scrap building materials to build several homes a week. The resultant homes have a Doctor Seuss-esque quality about them that I find instantly appealing, quaint, and invitingly comfortable. Through Philips' efforts some people can now build their own beautiful unique home and learn to be artisan craftsmen at the same time.

Dan Philips reminds me of my late brother, Charles. I can see Charles doing exactly what Philips is doing and with much the same attitude and fervor. Charles always fancied himself the rough and rugged survivalist outdoorsman type who could build or fix anything. Discovering Dan Philips and his noteworthy contribution to simplified solutions to home ownership has brought an emotional smile to my heart with a remembrance of my brother. Thank you, Dan, for keeping the pioneering spirit alive and for being a contributor to the expanding consciousness and enlightenment of humankind.

Philips' efforts prompted me to think of the ways I have personally been simplifying my own life over the last year. Of course, I have a long way to go before I can get remotely close to the point of building my own home with my own hands from construction site scrap material. But research into similar efforts led me to this video of Dee Williams' new eighty-four square foot dream home. I can see myself being extremely contented living in such a beautiful, small and efficient home. Now I just have to have a friend who doesn't mind me homesteading in their backyard.

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