This morning I have been meditating on Lao Tsu’s verse #8 of the Tao Te Ching.
It gently invites us to be like water.
I considered two translations. Each is quite different. Without consulting the original Chinese, I did my own translation. I drew inspiration from the two translations, adding my own insights about life and the nature of God and water. Truths I learned from my own life’s path, my Tao
I hope to become more like water and God. Wrestling with my own poetic version of Lao Tsu’s wisdom helped me think more deeply, clarifying my water. I recommend the exercise and, should you give it a try, would love to see your version. Post it as a comment for the enjoyment of all. Share your living water. In a time of division, contention and darkness, this is something we can all do. Perhaps the best thing.
“Be Water, my friends. Be Water.” Bruce Lee
I include the two translations, from which I drew inspiration, below.
I hope this brightens your day in some small way.
With love, Grant
——————————————————————————— “True goodness is like water, it benefits everything and harms nothing. Like water it ever seeks the lowest place, the place that all others avoid. It is closely kin to the Tao.
For a dwelling it chooses the quiet meadow; for a heart the circling eddy. In generosity it is kind; in speech it is sincere; in authority it is order; in affairs it is ability; in movement it is rhythm.
Inasmuch as it is always peaceable it is never rebuked.”
——————————————————————————— “The supreme goodness is like water. It benefits all things without contention.
In dwelling, it stays grounded. In being, it flows to depths. In expression, it is honest.
In confrontation, it stays gentle. In governance it does not control. In action, it aligns to timing.It is content with its nature, And therefore cannot be faulted.”
This BBC-produced video showcases low cost construction and its relationship to freedom. As a lifelong follower of Thoreau’s philosophies, this resonates with me. Freedom to build “what you need” is a principle upon which the Village on Sewanee Creek rests.
So, we have a roughly 5,500 square foot mansion currently under construction here. It is anything but low cost. But it is what the owners decided they need. From my point of view, that’s wonderful. If you have the resources so that the building does not become a lead weight on your life, it can become such a blessing, not only to the owners, but to those they chose to share it with. In the Village, where we are collectively all about voluntary sharing, what a blessing that can be! It’s what’s inside that counts. I’m confident that the owners who will become the heart of this magnificent home when it is completed, will bless all of us with their generous spirit and wise hearts.
On the other extreme, we have three “Tiny Homes” that are “finished” and occupied with capacity for future expansion and creative expression as need dictates. Large or small, expensive or low cost, or somewhere in between, the range of homes in the Village expresses our core values. One of the most important among our values is the individual freedom to build according to needs as each of us defines them.
Out of that freedom, comes a natural diversity of expression. That diversity, or lack of sameness can be viewed in different ways. Differences can be viewed either as low-end eyesores that depress property values or as egotistical displays of wealth on the other extreme. As we elevate our consciousness and supress lower ego-driven impulses, these differences can be perceived as beautiful, artistic expressions of freedom. Again, where the building is only an expression of the builder, it’s what’s inside that counts.
When our personal artistic senses are challenged by diversity, it is an opportunity to reevaluate the depth of our spirituality and the quality of our values – to dig a little deeper and discover more enlightened ways of perceiving and interacting with the world around us.
Monday, we celebrate the 4th of July. For me, it’s a celebration of the liberated human spirit, not just freedom from political tyranny. My fondest hope is that the Village will continue to evolve and improve as a society that values freedom in its deepest, spiritual sense, thereby securing not only freedom for ourselves but fostering it for others.
Keep reading to my previous post. You are invited to celebrate the 4th with us tomorrow, or for the rest of forever.
The following is a dialog from “Friends of Sewanee Creek” a private site.
I just discovered a website with a mission to report on issues in depth, in a non-partisan balanced manner. Check out http://www.publicintegrity.org
At times, it seems to have a liberal bias. But on second reading, that’s probably because I have a clearly conservative bias. I like being able to read articles that at least try to present both sides, then make up my mind which side is right.
I believe it’s time to lose the Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Conservative, Liberal and Progressive labels. Labels are used to simplify and obscure shenanigans we would reject if not for the cloud of stupid party or generalized philosophical positioning.
I believe in the free market, not the market that is paid for by big Corporate special interest donors to “free market” conservatives.
From what I have read so far on The Center for Public Integrity Website, there is enough information there to make informed independent decisions. I hope you get good value from this site and will share what you learn with other thinking people here.
———– commented on 09/13/2014 05:55:48 am
Grant, Some have asked me why I quoted a “Liberal Blog”, it inevitably was because it represented some “Flawed Thinking” or outright Lunacy! It is always good to read both sides! As they say, “Know Thine Enemy”…! Unfortunately the “Low Info” people never do this and continue to get their information from those “reliable sources” such as Jon Stewart or Al Sharpton or the Liberal and Biased TV News!
Grant Miller commented on 09/13/2014 08:31:50 am
Excellent points! It’s good to know your enemy.
Sometimes, it’s even better to discover that, as Pogo said, “we have met the enemy and it is us.”
Grant Miller commented on 09/17/2014 08:21:16 am
I believe that our world has been intentionally polarized. This divides grass roots power and assures that those with concentrated power at the top of the pyramid maintain a strangle hold on the masses, unchallenged, despite how egregious their sins and obviously corrupt they are. I am speaking primarily of two power bases, government and massive corporate interests. Perhaps the largest and most nefarious subset of corporate power is the military industrial complex that keeps us perpetually at war.
When we label liberals as the enemy, or liberals label conservatives as the enemy, the divide increases, grass roots power is diluted and the real enemy is free to enslave and rob the general population.
When I read balanced, well articulated perspectives from both sides of the divide or speak with intelligent representatives of either side, I find an amazing amount of agreement on the core problems, causes and perpetrators. Differences are usually found in proposed solutions that come out of differing world views. By listening carefully to opposing views, I often discover insights that I had been blinded to because of labels, biases and ignorance.
The world is a highly complex place. The more I learn the more convinced I am that I understand very little. In business, I was once counseled by an associate (who incidentally held a liberal perspective) to “stay in learning mode as long as possible”. I think that is a fairly accurate definition of the word humility and I have found it to be wise counsel, albeit difficult to follow.
One of my objectives in the Village is to heal divides and increase power at the grass roots through building community. That is happening within our tiny Village as we are open to civil, intelligent exploration of opposing ideas. As we practice this, our influence spills out of the Village to the larger community like ripples in a pond.
Let’s avoid demonizing people who hold opposing views. If their views make them an enemy, we will not defeat that enemy by force of labels. The only way to defeat an idea is with a better idea. Better ideas are never effectively delivered by shouting across a divide, but through clear logic, respect, patience and love, unfeigned.
This, I believe, is what Christ taught by parables and example.
The Village on Sewanee Creek is located in rural Tennessee, the “Volunteer State”
“Voluntary” is a key word in our community. Expectations, demands or compulsory involvement are kept low in favor of personal choice and personal circumstances. We trust that the primary reason for joining our community is the desire for community. Largely due to lack of compulsion or pressure, the community has flourished with high levels of regular, voluntary, joyful involvement.
Regular traditions include:
Friday Project. Rotates weekly by homestead, as calendared on our Private Village website. Each week, a designated home owner plans and gathers materials. Everybody shows up to work about 10 am, sometimes earlier in summer. A simple meal is often provided by the home owner. Project work is usually planned to last two hours, but frequently ends up an all day project as members generously linger to volunteer time. The payback is simple and obvious. We enjoy each other’s company and we learn project, leadership, organization and social skills. We learn to trust each other in all the important dimensions of trust: reliability, competence, integrity, respect, caring. And we know that as each gives, the gift is returned in a regular rotation. It’s a virtuous spiral. Hundreds of discrete projects have been completed. A short list includes such things as help building houses (primary and guest), a chicken coop, a large hoop greenhouse, raised bed gardens, maintenance on the community amphitheater or trails, harvesting cabbage and making sauerkraut, canning green beans or venison, installing a rainwater catchment system, a goat enclosure, house painting, framing and roofing a carport, and on and on.
Monday Evening FHE: Games, discussion, lesson, problem solving, planning, followed by light refreshments.
Bi-monthly formal potluck dinner. Host rotates between families.
As the community has continued to grow in numbers, greater specialization has emerged. Members are assigned and voluntarily accept callings that include: director/coordinator of music, drama, facilities, community scheduling, security, beekeeping, Open-Source Ecology (distributed manufacturing), games, etc.
We maintain shared, online virtual libraries of books and movies and a private website for sharing of ideas and general communication. These don’t require a leader or curator, just the initiative of someone to create the format for a shared online database and the generous trust of friends volunteering to share their resources in an open, organized fashion. We have no need to build a physical library, only information about what resources are voluntarily available and stored by each member in their homes. It has been said that the millennial generation cares little about ownership; it’s all about access. Older generations, on the other hand, care about personal ownership and care of things. The bridge is TRUST. We do not own many things in common, but we actively cultivate trust. As trust develops, open sharing is a natural consequence. Where there is no need to replicate assets, personal costs decline; abundance increases. This isn’t a new idea. It’s the way communities functioned before they became fractured.
As you can see from our Friday Project tradition, this concept is applied to the sharing of skills and services as well as things like books or tools.
The community is composed of active, accomplished individuals with diverse skills and backgrounds that include:
PhD’s in plant genetics, Psychology, Counseling & Philosophy.
Masters in Engineering, Bio-Chemistry, Business, Computer Engineering.
BA’s / other certifications in mathematics, elementary and secondary teaching, textiles, registered nursing, and more.
Equally if not more important and respected are our member’s practical skills in construction, plumbing, electrical, landscaping and excavation, military and police, bee-keeping, water purification and management, horticulture (organic & greenhouse gardening, orchards), animal husbandry and the performing arts (singer/songwriters, instrumental music, live theater, film directing and editing)
Each year community strength grows. 2014 has been a watershed year, as our active population and skills sets virtually doubled. Over the years, more lots have been sold with the promise that, as homes are built, transitions made, new trusting relationships created, the Village will only grow in strength and stability. It’s a pretty nice place to live for a volunteer.
It is to safeguard our ability to choose and do that which is good.
To defend freedom in the name of freedom only – the right to do whatever we want because we want to – is to be morally bankrupt, destructive to the world God created for us and at odds with “natural law”.
If we commit unspeakable acts of violence and evil in the name of freedom, we have no moral basis for the defense of “freedom”. We fight not for freedom, but for personal greed and dominance.
The dirty little secret that The American people have bought into, the elephant in the room that we choose to ignore, is that the empire we support through endless wars of conquest disproportionately benefits us vs the rest of the world. As the empire crumbles and the benefits that trickle down from the elite to the masses wane, the masses will wake up, not out of righteous indignation, but out of a displaced sense of loss. The gravy train has been good. We have collectively turned a blind eye to our wars of aggression waged in the name of freedom, or as G.W. Bush euphemistically said it, “our way of life”. Is our way of life just an excuse for conquest and plunder?
These are my thoughts as I considered the following interview from The Real News.
I believe that the mission and message of our little community, the Village on Sewanee Creek, should be about freedom in its fullest and best sense – the freedom to do positive good. Not as “do-gooders”out to reform everyone else, but people quietly reforming our own lives in harmony with that which is good.
The American paradigm we live within has focused our thinking to be against or at war with almost everything. There are wars against poverty, drugs, inequality, injustice, terrorism, illegal immigration, and on and on. A war mentality breeds anger, dissension and more war.
What is the antidote for a world that is continuously at war at every level? Christ taught us to repent. Repent of your acceptance of all forms of war. Champion freedom for the sole purpose of thinking and doing positive good. Repent of your natural inclination to justify evil in the name of false, self-serving good. When we learn to focus all of our thoughts and actions on doing that which is good and productive and always rejecting that which is harmful or destructive, our lives will be full of light, joy and peace.
I write this with no personal sense of moral satisfaction, for I am as guilty as anyone of self-serving thoughts and behaviors that justify evil in the name of false good. When we stop focusing on the greed of others (Wall Street, corporations, politicians, etc.) we may begin to recognize our own complicity in a system, built from the ground up on self-interest, a nicer word for greed. Christ identified the problem in His mote/beam parable.
I desire to live among people who don’t see themselves as righteous or good, but humbly seek to become so through striving for that which is good – people who are continuously in an active process of repentance – or reaching upward for the light. I hope that being with such people, I will be inspired and strengthened to repent myself.
The world will become a better place not through conquest of others but by conquest of oneself.
Regardless of our circumstances or the political system we live within, we are all, ALWAYS, free to do that.
To End All Wars is a powerful, gut-wrenching moral tale that lays bare the core dilemma of True Christians. Starring Robert Carlyle and Kiefer Sutherland, the movie is set in the hell of a WWII Japanese POW camp in Burma, where a war rages between two factions of prisoners. It is a philosophical war between justice and mercy, complete with the crucifixion of the leader of the mercy faction.
Since 2011, our world is at war everywhere. By definition, the war against stateless terrorism defines the battlefield as having no boundaries. It is, therefore, already an undeclared, unrecognized World War III on the verge of exploding into something even larger. Every citizen of the world is now a soldier in some sense and a POW in another.
In a surprising twist, this powerful movie makes the case that the real war is not over territory or strategic resources. It is a war over the soul of every man.
To end all wars; It is a perennial quest and the hollow justification for all wars. Is there a resolution, a real answer? As with most profound questions, the answer is, “it depends on your definition”.
Here is the dilemma:
To take up arms in defense of family, freedom, justice and righteous principles?
To lay down arms and bear with unbearable courage and unconditional love, the hate of Satanic forces and by so doing, to overcome hate and evil in the only way that it can be ended?
These are the profound questions asked of each of us in this tale based on true events.
These questions are not unique to Christianity. Gandhi based his life work on reaching a Machiavellian balance between an aggressive but non-violent war and surrender to love. Thereby, he won India’s independence from England. But he did not achieve a lasting peace on Earth or even for India. The realist says such an earthly peace is beyond possible. And that is true until the war for the soul is won for all mankind. THAT is the only War with the potential to End All Wars. It is a costly and intensely personal war. Few are willing to wage it. The sacrifices it requires can not be placed on others.
New Testament, Mark, Chapter 8:
36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
For anyone who has struggled with the question, “why do we need a Savior to atone for our sins?”, To End All Wars offers the answer. Because the Savior’s example of perfect, unconditional love changes us. It saves us from ourselves. But as the movie shows, it does not work for everyone, only those who embrace the example and live it. For these, the war for the soul has a happy and permanent ending even if the price is high. For the rest, war may be an eternal reality.
I highly recommend this film with a warning that neither its Christian ideals nor the graphic violence or language in it are for the faint of heart. I’m adding it to my list of the Top 100 Movies for Troubled Times.
The Village is for people who seek an end to war, specifically the war of the soul that leads to war against people and nature. That spirit is embodied in our theme, “in harmony with nature and people”. Gandhi would have been a welcome resident, though he was not a Christian. If that kind of sustainable, self-sufficient neighborhood appeals to you, ask here.
Oops, too close for youtube’s comfort? Only hours after I posted this it disappeared. http://vimeo.com/24706064
Watch the video before you read the following:
“Our Ethos is all that we currently hold to be true. It is what we act upon. It governs our manners, our business and our politics.” Howard Zinn 1922 – 2010
The left/right, liberal/conservative paradigm is meaningless. It is a smoke screen, a delusion, a diversion. I have to keep reminding myself of that because my thoughts and values are so steeped in conservative traditions. Harrelson, Zinn and others in this movie are icons of the left. Yet, here he is speaking intelligently to the same issues that have polarized the right against the left and reaching similar conclusions to mine on what to do about it.
One of the prime reasons for this Village is a reaction to a world gone berserk. 9/11 was the watershed moment that changed my world view and led ultimately to my decision to find another solution. It is a reaction to powerlessness against overwhelmingly powerful forces.
Most of the world has taken refuge in the very activities that perpetuate their surrender of freedom and meaning in life. Harrelson correctly points out that in the aftermath of 9/11, we were told the solution was to go shopping. And again, in 2008 when the economy crumbled, we were told that it was our duty to save the economy by doing what? “Go shopping”.
How ironic is it that I am now teaching “Strategic Marketing” at the University? Yet, Marketing, like the Internet, like a gun, like a drill press or a saw, is a tool, not inherently good or evil. It is simply a means of identifying and satisfying human needs and desires. Some enterprises use marketing effectively to pander to base human needs and wants. There is a BIG market for these products and services.
I do marketing to find and satisfy people who are looking for a means to improve their lives, to find meaning and joy. The product I am building is mostly intangible. It is community, harmony, security, connection to nature, creative and constructive work, a meaningful life. In this context and for this purpose, is marketing evil? Only if what I am selling is bogus or of poor quality.
Yet, while I agree with Harrelson’s prescription, it is only one element of a total solution for an empty, shackled life. “Stop shopping” or at least shop wisely. It’s positioned as an offensive weapon against an entrenched corporate enemy. Is that where it ends? In the unlikely event that this perpetual war should end, either in victory or defeat, what do we, the wounded and weary foot-soldiers, return from the battle front to? There must be something more, something meaningful to replace our culture’s obsession with consumptive living.
Sandy Hook is another 9/11 event. It is meant to polarize right and left. Masterful marketing used with malice aforethought, IMHO. Extreme polarization between left and right. Strident calls for disarmament from the left while demand for guns and ammo empties the gun stores and heavily armed and fortified communities appear in Idaho and elsewhere.
Left and right are just arms and legs on the same body.
Powers that divide, profitably conquer
while the masses, having lost their heads,
trade arms, legs, body and soul for fear and division. – Grant Miller
In answer to this insanity, can we not respectfully explore and enjoy different perspectives and world views while we live peaceably within our means and “in Harmony with Nature and People”? That is my solution and my intent.
This man tells the truth. I can’t say it any better or even as well, so here it is, unvarnished, intelligent, true.
These are the reasons I founded the Village on Sewanee Creek. And, it’s not easy. But, as he explains, it’s worth it. The real “safety-net” called family and community was dismantled and replaced by a false government welfare “safety net” as part of the system of broken promises he speaks of. Working together with like-minded people makes it doable and more rewarding than going it alone.
The visuals may seem irrelevant to the words, but pay attention anyway. The video shows why it is worth it – to live “in harmony with nature and people”.
It is our mission in the Village, to make what is impossible, not only possible, but enjoyable and fulfilling, through community.
He admitted to being a closet Libertarian, an unpopular position at liberal Sewanee U. But, he said he was having a hard time reconciling “sustainability” with some of the libertarian views I had written of on this blog. In his mind, these were polar opposites. To which I responded,
“I can’t imagine anything sustainable unless founded on true principles, including the freedom to act on them”.
That led to a broader discussion of sustainability. Sustainable extends into eternity. It’s not just about restraining ourselves from destroying natural Eco-systems, although that is part of it. It includes spiritual, moral, physical and economic sustainability. It’s about being wise, good stewards. It’s about being the change we want to see.
In other words, Saving the World one person at a time. . . starting with me.
Sharing a thread from the Village internal bulletin board (names changed to protect privacy):
I participate on a variety of libertarian forums and lately there has been discussion of “moral relativism” and “moral universalism”. The libertarians on these boards feel that morality is something that is subjective to the individual and that no one can actually say if there is such a thing as “good or bad”. In other words, the intense desire for freedom and independence among many libertarians seems to also be trying to throw off the shackles of any moral code as well.
To me this appears like libertarianism is descending into “nihilism”. I was deeply disturbed to see how many libertarians subscribe to the idea that there is no “objective” way to determine right and wrong. Following this philosophy to its logical conclusion leaves us disagreeing with murderers, rapists, etc. but without a basis on which to condemn their actions because the “goodness” or “badness” of their actions is relative to their own personal perspective. I think this is a dangerous trend emerging among libertarians.
—- Gary —–
Gary, I share your concerns. This is one reason I think it best not to identify oneself too closely with any popular external line of reasoning, philosophy or thought. It is so easy to be branded with their follies. While there are many elements of libertarianism that are compatible with natural law and truth, there are also elements that are twisted to serve the interests of corrupt and evil men. This is true of every philosophy. Hence, I prefer to be known as an independent thinker, not a subscriber to someone else’s philosophy.
As founder of the Village, I feel an obligation to weigh in clearly on your excellent point.
There IS such a thing as absolute right, wrong, good, evil and truth. I have observed, over time that while “facts” tend to change based on men’s perceptions of truth, truth does not. While we do not require Villagers to subscribe to the fine points of any particular religious doctrine or creed, we ask that all aspire to be practitioners of Judeo-Christian or other compatible religious teachings. This is the law and the prophets: Love God and Love others as yourself. The basic ten and other scriptural commandments are only descriptors of the highest commandment.
There is a fundamental, correct libertarian notion that crimes that harm victims are the worst crimes. Crimes that harm others justify punishment and/or the use of police or military force to protect people who would otherwise be victims.
But, I hold that “victimless crimes” can also be crimes. The victim of so-called “victimless crimes” is the self. These crimes are against natural law, God and truth. They frequently lead to harmful acts against other victims. But, victimless crime is only punishable through natural consequences and by God. When governments take it upon themselves to prosecute victimless crimes, they tread on sacred, personal ground. It leads to speech and even thought control, wars on drugs, prohibition against drinking raw milk, raising one’s own garden, harvesting rain from the sky on one’s own roof, use of natural medicinal treatments and all kinds of incursions on personal freedom of choice.
Whenever personal freedoms are abridged to this extent and the state presumes to bear all accountability for choice, a general rejection of personal accountability is the natural consequence. When there is a tear in the fabric of personal accountability, social systems fail and mankind reverts to a survival of the fittest mentality and a rejection of all law and order.
Joseph Smith made one of the simplest and wisest statements on government when he said,
“I teach men correct principles and they govern themselves”.
Clearly, within this statement is the assumption that there is a difference between correct and incorrect principles.
Lest there be any confusion over the principles under which the Village on Sewanee Creek chooses to be governed, this is it.
In 1620, the Pilgrims tried socialism – and utterly failed at it. For several years, the colony raised crops in “communal service.” It didn’t work. So Governor Bradford instituted one historic change that was to ensure the flourishing success of the colony and change American history ever afterwards. Communal agriculture was abandoned and private planting was established. Here is Bradford’s own account from the original source documents:
“This was very successful. It made all hands very industrious, so that much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could devise, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better satisfaction. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to plant corn, while before they would allege weakness and inability; and to have compelled them would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.
The failure of this experiment of communal service, which was tried for several years, and by good and honest men, proves the emptiness of the theory of Plato and other ancients, applauded by some of later times–that the taking away of private property, and the possession of it in community, by a commonwealth, would make a state happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God. For in this instance, community of property (so far as it went) was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment which would have been to the general benefit and comfort.”
This story from our American heritage explains why private property ownership is so important. Let me give you another example of how we learned the same thing that Governor Bradford did. Those who have visited my website at sewaneecreek.com have seen that we tout our community garden. This garden was never intended to feed Villagers, but rather serve as a place for training and social relationship building. But, even on that level, I proudly admit that the “community garden” has failed. The good news is that we recognized this early on and, like Governor Bradford, changed to something better. I built a nice raised bed garden and brought in good topsoil for the community garden. But, because everyone in the Village has enough land to raise their own crops, it’s simply more convenient to farm closer to home. That fact, combined with what the Pilgrims discovered long ago, that socialism discourages real work, doomed the community garden even though it’s still there, ready to be worked by anyone who wants to.
What works better? Letting natural law take its natural course. We began assisting one another with gardening on our own land. That practice evolved further to helping one another with other projects. The key is that there is always a project sponsor who has a vested interest in getting something done with or improving something they own. An enlightened sponsor, interested in optimizing value, getting the job done effectively and efficiently, puts extra effort into organizing in advance. By managing it well, needed tools and materials are readily available. Know-how is acquired by study in advance of execution and necessary training is given. This happens naturally when the objective is efficient production, not just hanging out together. Not only does value-added work get done, but leadership and management skills are developed in the process. The tangible results?
Example 1. Last winter, three families contributed real labor in the planting, tending and harvest of crops from the greenhouse that my family owns. The productivity of our assets increased as needed labor hours were contributed. We felt good about sharing the products of our combined labor. We had an abundance of winter vegetables including cabbage, kale, lettuce, carrots, beets, broccoli and cauliflower. At times there was much more than the three participating families could consume, and much more than our family had the prior winter, when we operated the greenhouse by ourselves.
Example 2. is actually many examples. As each family realized the benefits received when others contributed labor to THEIR sponsored/owned projects, there developed a free market of labor exchange based on trust that value given would be returned and amplified. A free market requires that kind of trust and it encourages all to give their best efforts in return SO THAT they can earn the trust and contributions of others. An essential part of FREE MARKET is FREEDOM. No one is forced, coerced, or even made to feel guilty if they don’t opt to play in the free market. But there are natural consequences, in the form of benefits.
Here is a partial list of the products of these many small projects.
ROTATING COMMUNITY PROJECTS
(by sponsor/beneficiary – in order of arrival in Village & participation)
Raised Bed Gardens Built
Back Garden Clearing, Plowing, Planting
Orchard Irrigation Water Tank – overflow from RWCS
Deep Cycle Solar Battery Charging
CONEX Guest House Built
Interior paint & Paneling
Lister Generator Installed
Wood Gasifier Installation & Training
Micro-Hydro-Electric Generator @ Miller’s Falls
drilled for Re-Bar above Waterfall for Small Dam
Dam for Driveway and Pond Built
Driveway Built, Rock Surfaced
Outdoor Wood Furnace Installed
Raised Bed Gardens Built
Chicken Coop designed & Built
Rainwater Catchment Tanks installed
Solar PV System Installed
Roof Repair – Main House
Move In: Unload truck and move furniture
Kitchen Cabinets Finished
Special House Cleaning for guest visit
Solar Fence Installed
CONEX containers for shop installed,
Ground work, leveling
Trenching for electrical connection to shop
Storage Shed Built
Raised Bed Garden Built
Garden Leveled and Plowed
Stone Retaining Wall & Garden Bed Built
Fallen Tree Removed
Chicken Coop Built
Installed 2 TV Antennas
Move In: Unload truck and move furniture
Rainwater Collection System Installed
Put Out Large Brush Fire
Built Goat Shelter
Re-Mapped New Lot perimeter for Solar fence and Dam
Raised Beds for Garden Installed
General Yard Clean-up during Construction
Tile Fired and Installed for Face of the Village Sign – Donated by a generous Villager
Planter at the Village sign, maintenance – Family #3
“It is absolutely critical – whether or not you have a new legislator – that you and your team introduce yourself to them,” Resch agreed. “Make sure they know they have a solar company in their district.”
It’s hard to be a libertarian purist. As a matter of principle, a libertarian refuses to be part of the corruption, pork-barrel politics and influence-buying that is our government. I acknowledge that is how the game is and always has been played. Refusing to play it that way puts me at a distinct disadvantage.
There are more paradoxes. I want to be self-sufficient. Solar can be a source of “free”, liberating energy. With enough innovation and scale, solar can be an economically viable solution, freeing me from the tyranny of the military- industrial-governmental complex. I want the solar industry to succeed. But I want it to do so in a free market without the distortions created by government meddling.
We are losing that battle. But, as they say, “all politics is local”.
What can I do? That which is important; Maintain my personal sense of integrity and support that which is good in the world. How to be “in the world, but not of the world”?John 17 Isn’t that the Christian struggle between good and evil?
Over six years into building an intentional community called the Village on Sewanee Creek, it’s an interesting coincidence that we finished this video on election day and have just uploaded it to YouTube. I hope it’s a comforting response to troubling times.
I actually went to bed early on election night before results started coming in. I slept well, knowing that no matter the outcome of the election, I had done all I could or should. I awoke early, as usual. Like most of you, I found it fascinating to review the Facebook posts from last evening. So divided, so extreme!
I have a few suggestions:
For those who are celebrating, partay on, dudes!
For the indifferent, get back to work. Move along, there’s nothing to see here.
Then there are about half of the voters who are genuinely concerned about the state of the Republic, your civil rights, the economy and what happens when a President is re-elected, with no prospects or concerns for re-election and a history of trampling the constitution. This is especially for those of you who have noticed that it doesn’t matter which party that President comes from. For you, it’s time to take action to secure your future. The system is broken. When things are beyond a political solution, it’s time for a personal solution. In this video, I speak on the foundational values of the Village on Sewanee Creek. Self-Sufficiency, Personal Freedom, harmony between people and nature, adherence to the Golden Rule.
If you’re in the mood to reclaim a sense of peace and security in your life, you can inquire about living in the Village here.
If you have read my short bio, you know that I have some experience with the Japanese culture and speak fluent Japanese. In the late 70’s, Japanese management philosophies were popular in America as our auto, electronics and optics industries were being decimated by Japanese competition.
Kaizen is a key word in Japanese philosophy. A direct translation from the Chinese/Japanese characters “Kai” and “Zen” is “change” and “good” or in other words, to transform for the better. As with most things Japanese, there is a deeper meaning, hinting of a unique, underlying culture. To understand, one needs to add a few more words to the translation. These would include patience, persistence, small, incremental and harmonious.
Deeply imbedded in the Japanese psyche is an understanding that perfection is achievable, but only in incredibly small, incremental steps, accomplished through cooperation. Nothing great is ever achieved by a single genius in isolation or in one magnificent technical or ideological leap.
Dyed-in-the-wool American that I am, it’s hard to practice this philosophy. By nature, I tend to be visionary, impetuous, strong-willed and impatient. We Americans pride ourselves, above all, on rugged individualism, self-sufficiency, independence and personal initiative. We idealize strong-willed individuals, while the Japanese idolize an amorphous group who toil upward silently in the night, never seeking or receiving personal credit but collectively achieving greatness through an uncountable series of small innovations. That’s kaizen, or change(s) for the better. While American heroes are individual people, the Japanese draw their heroes from nature – ants and bees.
Polar opposites, there is genius in BOTH Japanese and American world views. Where quick, bold action is required, Americans win. Where absolute excellence of quality, nearing perfection, is required, the Japanese approach excels.
Is it possible to practice both in a symbiotic balance? That is the challenge of the Village on Sewanee Creek. We are striving for a balance between opposites.
Consider our motto, “In harmony with nature and people” One might say it has a Japanese, Zen-like ring to it. A number of Villagers even work together harmoniously to raise bees. Bzzzzz, sounds like “nature and people in harmony”, doesn’t it? I actually hadn’t thought of the symbolic nature of our beekeeping collaboration till just now.
On the other hand, a top stated value for the Village is self-sufficiency, independence and personal liberty. One practical application of that value is the absolute requirement for private property ownership. Within one’s personal sphere of control, ownership begets personal accountability.
On yet another hand, we believe that collective, cooperative work optimizes effectiveness, efficiency and positive social relationships. We observe this in action nearly every week when we rotate projects, one Villager sponsoring and leading the project and the rest chipping in. A few weeks ago, it was my turn. My project was framing up a new car port. It is instantly clear as you struggle to lift both ends of a heavy beam into place, level it, and secure it, that a team of 2 or more beats a single laborer no matter how skilled or determined. Where there is clear leadership and willing follower-ship, once again there is harmony as well as efficient achievement.
Both Leaders and followers are important in any task involving more than one person. But, we find that achieving long-term harmony requires that all who want to lead must have a fair opportunity to do so. By regularly trading project leadership, each participant grows and is built along with the building projects we undertake. Each participant has an opportunity to improve their people and relationship skills including both how to lead and how to follow.
Each also has the opportunity to express their creative side on the property they own and control. That brings out the best of our American spirit of ingenuity, vision, and can-do attitude.
One of the big lessons I have been forced to learn is that quality takes time and continuous improvement. Through the contributions of many, both in physical labor and inspired ideas for improvements, each day is a challenge to make things a little better. In the Village, we enjoy the pleasure of seeing our personal labors translated into physical improvements before our eyes. No doubt, it’s nice to be able to call up a professional and order a nice improvement done. But there is a special satisfaction that comes only by being able to say, “I did that”. Even better if you can say, “We did that.” At the end of a productive day, working together on something that will be yours for a long time, the tired smiles are priceless.
If this is the kind of harmonious, productive life you have always dreamed of, drop me a line here.
I found this TED presentation fascinating, as much for the audience reaction as for the information conveyed.
On YouTube there are, at this writing, 515 likes and 794 dislikes.
Among the YouTube comments, there is a refreshing amount of critical thinking and legitimate dislikes over some of the solutions Goodman suggests and even his self-interest-promoting motives.
Good idea to re-engineer the genes of world leaders to make them invulnerable super-people? Hmmm…. seems like a pretty bad idea to me. Maybe the world leaders are the real terrorists? In fact, I’m pretty sure many of them are.
Open source everything, including everybody’s genome? No thanks. Think I’ll try to keep that to myself as long as I can.
Turn everybody into vigilante mob cops? Welllll… there are some problems here too, although neighborhood watch groups have been a pretty good thing for some time.
On the other hand, even with all the communications and coordination technology used by the terrorists in Mumbai, I wonder how successful ten guys would have been at killing hundreds of people in a luxury hotel and shutting down the city had all of the guests been personally armed and well-trained.
Here’s one case where Occam’s Razor seems to apply, where the more complex things become, the simplest and most straight-forward solution is the best one.
Liberals who responded negatively to this piece frequently suggested pre-emptive work to identify and help criminals not to become criminals. That would be nice. And, of course, there was the argument that the real problem is poverty. If we could just put all our efforts into lifting people out of the ghetto, we could have a utopian society where crime would not be necessary. As I have said elsewhere, I like nice, uplifting thoughts that often come from liberals with good intentions and positive, optimistic viewpoints. But the pragmatic side of me says, point me to one example where that has worked in the real world. (Again, see Occam’s Razor)
History says there always have been, are and always will be bad people motivated by power and greed and some who are just vanilla psychotic. The smart and wealthy ones will be the most dangerous in a world dominated by high-tech innovation. There must be adequate deterrents for them and protections for the rest of us. Small, underfunded, slow response, remote police forces won’t be up to the challenge. Don’t believe it? How about cell-phone/text coordinated flash-mob gang robberies of stores in big cities that have become routine police nightmares? Similarly, it’s doubtful that well-intended social engineers who want to reform all the bad guys will be up to the task, especially against the smart, well-financed bad guys (drug lords, world leaders and garden variety terrorists).
Liberal, anti-gun enthusiasts love to cry “Fear Mongering”, believing it to be the modern equivalent of “Wolf”. Many commented on YouTube, with a touch of sarcastic ennui, “What’s new? Technology can and always has been used for good and evil.” as if to say in true Alfred E. Newman style, “What, me worry?” But, if there is anything that rings true about Goodman’s talk, it is that the stakes and the risks are increasing at an alarming rate.
On a happier note, if you believe the majority of people are actually good and the bad guys are in the minority, as I do, why not put some trust in the good guys? Arm them, train them well, not only in gun handling, but in positive ethics. The Swiss seem to have a handle on this, where the general population is disciplined and trained to be responsible for their own lives. Guns are handled with great respect and crime is extremely low because the deterrent is high. To acquiesce to a few well-armed criminals while distrusting a well-educated, well-trained majority is, in my view, the ultimate in pessimism. Unbecoming of a true, good-hearted liberal. For a thinking person, the natural response to the scenario where the bad guys are the only ones armed with technology and weapons is not “fear mongering”. It’s just rational, useful fear.
For almost six years now, my wife and I have labored to build a community called the Village on Sewanee Creek. I’ve documented our journey towards self-sustaining community on this blog. It’s been a fertile time for such an endeavor.
The world seems to be falling apart at the seams. The poor and middle class get poorer while the rich (1%) get richer and more powerful. Global economies are in disarray. There is rioting in the streets of London, Cairo, Paris… Never mind. It’s easier to ask what major cities don’t have riots or mass demonstrations. The world grows more polluted or depleted. Inflation for basic commodities like food and energy is up while the value of houses and 401k’s is down. Food is GMO, with less nutrition but more antibiotics, chemicals and other questionable stuff. Overhead, there are chem trails. People worry about nuclear radiation from Fukushima. 9/11 and other false flag events enabled the Patriot Act and other constitutional abuses. The TSA gropes us at airports and now searches bus riders and blocks highways. Obama’s health care bill is loaded with power-grabbing provisions that have nothing to do with health, but it does a great job of paying off the big insurance and pharmaceutical corporations. Gun and ammunition sales are at an all-time record pace. And nobody trusts a government that has gone stone deaf to the governed, but brazenly lines its pockets from the public trough and corporate grease. Corruption is epidemic at every level.
In the midst of all this, we the people, are divided. Despite accusations from aspirational, hard-working conservatives, it’s not all about lazy liberals who demand a hand-out. Nor is it just about greedy, heartless conservatives who refuse to pay reasonable wages or their “fair share” of taxes. I count myself among conservative libertarians, but hope to have the heart of a liberal without resorting to government theft for th0se in need. See my comments on “I like Liberals”.
It’s about something much larger going on while we squabble over the diversions.
In this blog, I have maintained that the answers are in individuals coming together, living with less greed, more honesty, more charitably, working hard and keeping what we earn. We have to rebuild local communities where there is trust and relationships flourish. Freedom is won and retained by people who are prepared to assert their freedom by being less dependent, especially on government. All that is hard work, swimming upstream against a putrid popular culture that is super-saturated with gratuitous violence, sex and greed.
So, forgive me if I am sometimes overwhelmed with feelings of impotence. I feel like I’m preaching to a very small choir (maybe a quintet?) and ignored by the masses. So, when I discovered the video, Thrive, it was a breath of fresh air. While I can’t vouch for its free energy solutions (simply not qualified to comment), the rest is spot on. I love what it has to say about taking back control of our country and the world. If you haven’t seen this one, please watch it. There is a lot of information here. Well worth your time. I’m adding it to my list of “Top 100 Movies for Troubled Times”.
Well, I guess today is the official beginning of the year of hype and hysteria. One year from today, the Mayans reportedly predicted that the world will end. This History Channel doccrockumentary chronicles many of the reasons we should live in fear. To be honest, there are a lot more scenarios one could get catatonic about. Bad as these predictions are, they only scratch the surface. Not enough time in less than an hour. I found it laughable that the hosts of this program, after building to a crescendo of terror, concluded that on December 21, 2012, one would “go armed to Mom’s house” to make sure she’s OK. Another said he was thinking of stocking up on a few weeks of food. What’s THAT all about?
If the YouTube version goes away you can watch the entire show here.
What do I think? Hooey! The words “confluence of catastrophes” keep coming up in this piece. Yep, there are a lot of things happening. Who hasn’t noticed? But the greatest confluence here is between people making money out of fear, selling advertising. “Your Mercedes won’t help you”. But apparently, if you have an advanced Lincoln, things will be, oh so nice “with innovative technology built in that’s able to aid and assist you”.
I’ll double down on my bet that the world will NOT end on December 21, 2012. I won’t be doing anything special on that day. That date will come and go like Y2K, with a whimper. It’s absolutely the safest bet anyone could make. If I’m right I can brag about being right. If I’m wrong nobody will know, cause we’re all dead. 🙂
Meanwhile, the world IS gradually, but at an exponentially increasing rate, descending into poverty and chaos. Technically, what I’m about to write isn’t prophecy, since it’s already happened and is continuing. It’s been going on for some time now. There will be many more natural disasters that will happen around the world. More governments will be overthrown. Civil liberties will be lost. Corruption will grow even faster, at all levels unabated. People will watch on their TV’s and i Pads. Terrified for 15 minutes, then go to bed, waking up the next morning in the same state of denial and indifference. People kind of like to be scared. That’s why roller coasters and horror movies sell. But these things don’t require any forethought, work or sacrifice of the present luxuries, indulgently viewed as necessities. People don’t like that. So, they won’t DO anything about it other than periodically whip up their fears for a perverse thrill.
I can testify from personal experience. For years, at least 99% of the people who inquire about joining our self-sufficient lifestyle in the Village on Sewanee Creek, after confiding that they are deeply concerned for the future, are still thinking about it, but not doing. Back in 2006 when times were good, I suggested that it was time to prepare. Then the sub-prime mortgage crisis began gradually in 2007. People wanted to wait till better times came and they could get more out of their houses. Then the 2008 meltdown hit. People said they desperately wanted to be here, but were upside down on their mortgages. I suggested times probably weren’t going to get better. They didn’t. Today is no different. People have little money compared to a few years ago. But they still live in big heavily mortgaged houses, drive expensive (a bit older) cars, wear stylish clothes, eat expensive prepackaged food, pay exorbitant amounts for insurance and health care and incessantly wring their hands. They still have many assets that could be traded for a simpler, more secure future, but they won’t make any decisive changes. Frozen in the headlights. No, that light at the end of the tunnel is not natural.
The great depression was a bad thing. I believe we are in a depression now that is just as bad measured strictly by economics, but papered over by mountains of debt and extended unemployment payments. When those cease, people will feel the pain much worse than the great one. Will there be sudden jolts and disasters? Of course there will. But what we have been seeing is not a one-day event. It’s already happened and will continue to stew the masses like the clichéd frog in the pot. It’s a really BIG pot.
While the central premise of this documentary, the Mayan prophecy, is mostly hype, they did manage to get a lot of things right, the things we already knew. If you haven’t already started preparing in earnest, drastically cutting back on the frills and aggressively providing for future necessities, my bet is you won’t. You will be among those looking for a gun, pillaging your neighbors when TSHTF. Good luck with that.
What do I expect to be doing on December 21, 2012?
I won’t be surprised if my financial resources are almost completely depleted (or close to worthless, ravaged by inflation). It’s likely I will have discontinued all my insurance because it’s accounting for fully one-third of my expenses now and probably isn’t sustainable. So, I’ll be very careful to take care of my health, eating well, exercising and learning more about foraging in the woods for natural remedies. Not such a big deal. That’s the way people lived throughout all history up until just a hundred years or so ago. I’ll still be driving my old cars, some of which lack computerized chips and would survive an EMP or solar flare. But the price of gas will be pretty high, so I’ll probably be sticking close to home most of the time. It’s nice that I like where I live. It’s peaceful and naturally beautiful. I’ll be wearing my old clothes. I’ll be living in the grace of God, day-to-day raising our food. By then, my work building a self-sufficient community (marketing, blogging and sales) will be over, so I won’t depend as much on my wife to do the farming. I’ll be helping a lot more with the daily chores, feeding the chickens, chopping wood, tending the garden, making compost, taking care of the orchard. My entire focus will be on daily living. Do I fear the hoards of starving, thirsty people from the big cities? I guess there is some risk of that and it’s an unpleasant thought. But if there is anywhere that can be more easily defended than where I am and with the people who have joined us, I don’t know where it is. Will I be well armed? Is the Pope Catholic? There is some comfort in knowing that there is little here for anyone to come after. When you raise what you eat and live simply there isn’t much to plunder. It’s now late in December and we are still eating fresh tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, peanuts and other produce from the greenhouse. A new crop of winter greens (Kale, Spinach, broccoli, beets, carrots, etc.) is just coming on. Kill the farmer and you kill the goose that lays tiny golden eggs. That reason for a sense of security goes double for living on the edge of Grundy County, TN where people have lived close to the bone for generations. Survivors all.
After the hysteria, there’s a hymn that I love. It speaks to the human condition whether in poverty or wealth, sickness or health, joy or anguish. It is an anthem of eternal hope. After viewing something like this History Channel documentary, it helps to sing:
Come, come, ye saints, no toil nor labor fear;
But with joy wend your way.
Though hard to you this journey may appear,
Grace shall be as your day.
‘Tis better far for us to strive
Our useless cares from us to drive;
Do this and joy, your hearts will swell –
All is well! All is Well!
Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?
‘Tis not so; all is right;
Why should we think to earn a great reward
If we now shun the fight?
Gird up your loins;
fresh courage take.
Our God will never us forsake.
And soon we’ll have this tale to tell –
All is well! All is well!
We’ll find a place which God for us prepared,
far away in the West.
Where none shall come to hurt or make afraid;
There the Saints will be blessed
We’ll make the air with music ring
Shout praises to our God and King.
Above the rest, these words we’ll tell –
All is well! All is well!
And should we die before our journey’s through,
Happy day! All is Well!
We then are free from toil and sorrow too;
With the just we shall dwell!
But if our lives are spared again
To see the Saints their rest obtain,
Oh, how we’ll make this chorus swell –
All is well! All is well!
Focus on these three principles creates an environment where harmony, trust and productivity can flourish. But people are imperfect regardless of good intentions. So the message of this TED talk is encouraging. Above good intentions, there are physical explanations for different people’s ability to empathize and practice the golden rule.
Turns out that bio-chemistry plays a major role and there are things we can do to improve our own natural tendencies to live moral, harmonious lives. I particularly like the concluding prescription. Hope you enjoy this talk as much as I did.
I was needing to build a guest house. Inexpensive, but strong, well insulated, attractive and off-grid ready. There is a series of YouTube videos featuring Bob Vila building houses with Steel Shipping Containers, sometimes called CONEX boxes. When finished, they make attractive houses, indistinguishable from others in the tract. But the cost per square foot is about on par with standard construction at $150 to $200 per square foot. Other than the appeal to save-the-earth recyclers, I have a hard time seeing the point. There has to be a better way.
Done, for less than one tenth the cost.
A little over a year ago, I bought two CONEX boxes to build a guest house. They cost $2k each, delivered in rural Tennessee from Atlanta.
I put them on six steel reinforced concrete piers next to the main house. I purchased good quality used double pane windows and doors from a local salvage place for about three bars of a song. It was handy to already have plenty of dry storage with the containers already in place. The old saying “time is money” turns out applies not only to the cost of labor and capital, but to one’s ability to buy materials at a discount. A dry, secure place to store materials while you take the time necessary to buy frugally and build is an important feature of CONEX boxes that saves lots of money. Over months, that dry storage was put to good use to accumulate inexpensive surplus or used components like sinks, toilets, cabinets, counters, carpet, tile and a wood burning stove from CraigsList, eBay and other local salvage sources.
Immediately on delivery, the boxes are dry and secure. But they aren’t insulated and that’s a big deal on a house. Without it, these steel boxes become ice boxes in winter and ovens in summer. We are fortunate to live in an area where Tyson has forced the closure of all the older chicken houses. That’s good in several ways. First, the toxic stench is gone. Second, the neighboring chicken farmers are no longer subject to Tyson’s vassal labor conditions. Third, the chicken houses are slowly being disassembled and sold for scrap metal and the 1 to 2 inch thick foam insulation panels are often discarded. I acquired two kinds of insulation for less than a song (about the chorus of Yankee Doodle Dixie), almost nothing. The spun glass type went over the container tops and under the low-pitch steel roof. Because each container is built to handle the weight of ten or fifteen more containers stacked on it, each loaded with tons of cargo in hurricane force winds on a tossing ocean, there’s no worry about having a higher pitched roof to carry a snow load, especially in mild southern winters.
With a plasma cutter, a friend cut holes in the sides of the CONEX for doors and windows and a gaping hole between them to open up a large space for a living area. It was a fairly simple task to frame the holes with standard 2X4’s and install doors and windows. Using standard framing and drywall, it was easy to add interior walls for a storage room, bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, living/dining area and laundry room. Needing more space in the main house, the laundry was immediately moved into the end of one of the CONEX boxes, installing plumbing and electrical in the process. A huge chest freezer was added. In short order, parts of the new house were functional even before it was insulated. The thick marine plywood floors could be easily drilled for plumbing. Used cabinets and the electrical panel (also bought used) were easily mounted to the steel walls in the new laundry room and hooked up by a licensed electrician.
Then I installed more vertical studs on the exterior walls, screwing them flat, directly to the steel walls from the inside. The two-inch depth of the studs is perfect to frame the 2 inch thick insulation panels. Next, I ripped some treated deck boards and screwed them horizontally into the vertically oriented studs. I nestled another 1 inch layer of insulation panels between the deck boards and on top of the 2 inch ones. That makes three inches of solid foam insulation on the walls, almost what you would have in a commercial walk-in freezer. With the insulation in place the difference was immediately gratifying. The space, while not yet aesthetically pleasing, was comfortable and livable. People interested in sustainable housing often speak of the relative advantages of insulation vs. thermal mass. With the container house, you get both! By putting the insulation on the outside, tons of steel are on the interior where the mass absorbs, retains and radiates heat or cold from AC, wood burning stove or other heating system. This thermal mass helps keep interior temperatures relatively even. Meanwhile, the insulation on the exterior keeps the extreme temperatures outside. Another benefit of putting the insulation on the outside is that it doesn’t eat up precious interior space. Finally, top off the insulation with exterior siding, and Wa-La, it’s beginning to look pretty nice. Eventually, as time permits, I am thinking of cladding the exterior with cord-wood harvested from the property to give it a rustic feel.
A trip to Dalton, Georgia, just across the Tennessee border was well worth it. Dalton is the carpet and flooring capital of America. I found a great deal on commercial quality carpet squares that stay in place without glue or tacking. You can easily replace just the soiled or worn ones. Granite tiles go under the wood stove and vinyl for the kitchen and bath. I love the look of the corrugated steel walls. Granted, they aren’t the smooth drywall look most people are accustomed to, but something a little different is nice. So, keep the variation in the walls. Simply paint them with some lively colors and accent the larger reinforcing members and doors with a contrasting color. It wouldn’t be hard to overlay the steel walls with drywall or paneling, but if you enjoy a different look and like saving the time and money, paint works just fine. I especially like the back-splash wall behind the kitchen sink. Blending several vibrant colors, you can create a rainbow effect that gives life to the kitchen. The deep corrugation in the steel is perfect for up or down lights that wash the wall and intensify the colors. “Inexpensive”, “innovative” and “attractive”.
CONEX guest house kitchen
As you work with these big steel boxes, there are endless outlets for creative innovation to be discovered. Once set on the level, you have already conquered the carpenter’s primary challenge – plumb, level and square. After that, it’s just a matter of hanging stuff on them. Rather than try to make the finished product look and act just like the surrounding cracker-box tract houses, it’s fun to tease out the unique benefits of building with them. From thermal mass/insulation qualities to the unique undulating aesthetics of corrugated walls, to very serious economic benefits, there is a lot to be learned and achieved with steel shipping container construction.
This project is only the beginning. The goal is to make this little house sustainable and off-grid with the same kinds of economic savings. Use Solar PV (photo-voltaic), but spend $10k or less to do it. Use hydro-electric from the 50′ waterfall nearby and wind. Integrate and balance these complementary renewable power sources for both the house and transportation. Use the battery pack on a golf cart to flexibly store and supply energy to the house, the cart and portable applications like running an electric chain saw or MIG welder somewhere out on the 750 acres that make up the Village. Folks in the Village on Sewanee Creek are looking for the freedom that intelligent, frugal, debt-free design can afford. We’re experimenting with these and other abundant lifestyle solutions. Thankfully, we share and help one another in our common goals, so I don’t have to do it all myself.
If this appeals to you, contact me for more info or a tour here