Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A Home of My Own

Having spent my entire adult life in rented or provided accommodation, I have an intense yen to have a home of my very own.

While my employer-provided housing is very convenient, efficient, comfortable (and virtually free), it is not mine. Nor is it anything that I would chose, given a chunk of money and time.

(The image? NOT my house. An amazing Earthship I found on a Belgian Earthship web site.)

I am very lucky to have been providing housing, and I know that this opportunity elevates my security and financial stability--but I also wonder what it would be like to put down roots, to make a real connection with a place, to invest myself in my domicile.

When in these increasingly frequent moods , I dream, I fantasize, I surf--and I find marvelous--and probably unaffordable--ideas: Solar Row in Boulder, an Earthship in Taos, a co-housing community where I'd find new friends to garden and recycle and knit and cook with.



Twilight said...

While the earthships here in Taos are incredibly expensive to buy they're not as expensive to build yourself. They just take a really long time to do it by hand. Once upon a time my husband and I tried building one and were digging into the earth with shovels when we hit the type of rocks that stopped us in our tracks. So lesson learned-if you build yourself an earthship make sure the land where you plan to build it is suitable first.

Mom said...

Is your yen for ownership of your shelter fueled by a desire for enhanced aesthetics? Do you need a diversion that you find worthy of your energy and talent.

You might remember that you (and your brother) are heirs-apparent to an earthship in the northern woods. It meets many of the standards of the Taos biotecture. It has the potential to become even more self-sustainable, if it were habited year-round.

It has been my summer diversion these many years, and I would happily turn over to you care of the cabin when the time is ripe.

I recognize that this reminder does little to satisfy your immediate need. How are you at delayed gratification?


Ann said...

Amazing! I have never heard of an Earthship. Once again, you have enhanced my education. Thanks you.

ruth said...

I hear you about a home of your own, and have spent many hours pouring over websites and literature of alternative housing, if only I didn't need to earn a living...

I hope you're able to get your Earthship soon. They are very cool houses.

Raines said...

I'm glad you're considering cohousing among your options. There are rentals and roommate situations from time to time in cohousing neighborhoods, and units for sale in the nearly-100 already-built communities out there, but from your post it sounds like the ideal of co-creating your own community is what you seek.

The good news, in the context of your message, is that while the basic cohousing-creation mechanism is market-rate, nearly every community has some form of affordability built in, from "silent second" mortgages to Habitat for Humanity partnerships to limited-equity or capped-appreciation units; there are now affordable-housing developers using sweat equity and city/federal financing to create 100%-affordable cohousing neighborhoods with subsidies up to $200,000 per unit and design for low-replacement-reserves-funding requirements. The key element, though, is in the process, the education to build relationships and learn from/teach your neighbors, to engage with professionals like architects and group-process professionals in ways that we wouldn't be able to afford individually, to get higher quality per dollar, to live more sustainably and greener by leveraging the bank-mortgage system and slide through city approvals by looking "ordinary" and standards-compliant. I wish you the best of luck in your quest, and to paraphrase Scoop Nisker: "If you don't like your housing choices, go out and make some of your own!"

Raines Cohen, Cohousing Coach
Planning for Sustainable Communities
at Berkeley (CA) Cohousing

Femminista said...

Very interesting, Raines. Thanks very much for posting.

My husband and I were looking at an amazing co-flat community in his hometown in England. Walkign didstance of shops and farmers' market, a shared car, bicycles, and garden.

But it seems that as soon as I find one of these communities that seems a good fit for us, I discover that all units of the community are already sold out!

Co-housing certainly seems to be an increasingly popular concept.