Green Homes

Building for the future, today – combining the best of historical wisdom and modern technology.

Add to My MSN

12/23/2014

The Emergence of Underground Homes

Underground homes, or earth shelters as they are technically called, are gaining in popularity..even more now than they ever have. It used to be that only a certain group of people wanted to live in earth shelters and that has changed.

Many towns around the country have an underground house that is tucked away in a neighborhood or located just outside of the city limits. The majority of these homes have been in place for decades and the homeowners are used to and very willing to let those people (who are brave enough to knock on their door) tour their unique home. Once a person tours an underground home, the tour unlocks something in that person and they start to research what it takes to build an earth shelter home.

That is the point when I get an email from someone around the country that is looking at building an earth shelter/earth berm/underground home. The building styles are not all the same, but they do all fall under the category of 'earth shelter' and should be specific to land style.

It is tough to figure out where to start when it comes to building an earth shelter. One of the very first things to consider before you even start to think about what type of earth shelter to build, is what the land is like that you want to build on. If you have not bought or found a piece of land yet at this stage, you will want to check back on this blog and we will discuss how to find the right piece of property to build an earth shelter on in a later post. Don't go away thou, there will be enough information here to start your search!

I always ask those who email me about building or consulting on earth shelters to send me pictures of their land. This will help me to understand what style of earth shelter that will be most cost effective for their piece of property. We built the largest underground farm on the planet, which included five dome style earth shelters that were all connected together underground, in the middle of an old corn field. The land had a slight contour to it, and was by no means ideal for a dome style earth shelter. A flat roof earth shelter would have been less expensive in this instance because of the amount of earth we had to find to cover the domes up. This is a good point for those wondering what earth shelter would work best on their property. Basically, if you really like a dome styled earth shelter, you will spend less on the project if you build the dome style earth shelter into the side of a slope or large hill. The domes are over 20 feet high, so finding a slope that will allow you to build a structure that tall into it is a great place to start. Your budget needs to be realistic if you chose to build a dome style earth shelter on a flat piece of land.

We are just finishing up a project that is an earth bermed house, with berms just below the soffit on three sides of the house. The south facing side of the house has the windows to make use of the solar gain. I designed the house after I saw the city lot that the homeowners bought to build on. Our quest together started when they asked for my input on selecting land for an earth shelter. Although the original goal was to live underground, they could not find the right piece of land for the style earth shelter they wanted. Their land selection criteria included more than just a slope facing south, they needed to be closer to town and to doctors, etc. When they informed me that they bought a wide lot in the city limits, I wondered how we were going to make an earth shelter work. That is when the idea of a bermed house came into our conversations. The energy performance of an underground home versus a bermed house can be similar if built properly. Another factor is protection from powerful storms and this bermed home is very tough and capable of withstanding any storms they may encounter. (Motivation to build specific styles of earth shelters will be covered in later blog posts as well...stay tuned for that.)

We have barely scratched the surface of what you should do to get started in your quest for an underground home. There is so much more to write about, and I will, so stay tuned! In the mean time, you can always email me at: hybridhomeguy@gmail.com and visit AdamBearup.com to view our videos on the building of the large underground farm I spoke of in this blog, The Earth Shelter Project Michigan.

If you already have land and are ready to select an earth shelter, the next step will be to have a soil test done on your land in the areas you wish to build on and at a depth of the footings of your earth shelter. Engineers need this information to properly design the structure that will be your new home..

I get emails from people who have land, that want a specific style of earth shelter, and are wondering what to do next after that..we will discuss that in Part 2!


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



12/23/2014

The kitchen is one of the largest consumers of energy in the home. If you are looking to reduce your carbon footprint, the room where you cook is a great place to start. Of course you've probably already read all about buying Energy Star appliances and the money and energy savings those offer, but there many other simple ways to save energy in the kitchen.

1. Let There Be LED Light

Switching out your kitchen light bulbs to LED bulbs will save a significant amount of electricity. A standard BR30 LED bulb costs about $1.50 a year to run, versus $7.80 for an incandescent equivalent. When you factor in the longevity of the LED bulb, estimated to last 23 years versus one year for the incandescent, the savings for both you and the planet are clear.

2. Cook Carefully

The top source of wasted energy in a kitchen is from cooking. Avoiding these bad habits will quickly add up to big energy savings:

• Opening and closing heated oven doors too frequently
• Not putting lids on pots while boiling
• Using incorrectly sized pans (cooking with a 6-inch diameter pan on an 8-inch burner wastes over 40% of the heat produced)

Additionally, cooking in a convection oven is 25 percent more efficient than a conventional oven because of shorter cooking times, and using a microwave or a toaster oven reduces electricity use for smaller meals. Even though these appliances use more energy than conventional ovens, the shorter cooking time saves energy overall. Energy Star estimates savings of as much as 80 percent when using the microwave instead of the oven.

3. Cool Wisely

Refrigerators and freezers work by sucking the warm air and moisture out of the space and leaving cool air in its place. The less warm air and moisture there is in the space, the less energy used. Keep the door shut as much as possible, the shelves full so that there is less air to cool, and liquid items covered to reduce moisture in the air.

4. Seek out Saver Settings

Most appliances now feature energy saving settings. For example, new dishwashers have an "economy" setting to reduce water and energy use. Also, look for the option to disable the heated dry on your machine. The heated dry setting is responsible for a good portion of energy used by the dishwasher, so consider switching it off and leaving the door open overnight to let the dishes air dry.

6. Unplug

Just as you shouldn't leave a cell phone charger plugged in with no cellphone attached, don't leave small appliances like toasters and coffeemakers plugged in when they're not being used.

7. Check Your Range Hood

Keep your hood clean so it works properly. If it's not ventilating, it's creating a hotter kitchen environment and requiring your HVAC to work harder. Make sure your hood vents to the outside, but turn it off as soon as you're done cooking, because it will be sucking cool air outside in the summer and warm air in the winter, again causing your heating and cooling system to work harder and draw more energy.

8. Find the Best Fossil Fuel

Until replicators are invented, we're stuck with gas and electricity to cook our food (indoors at least). Many chefs espouse the benefits of gas over electricity because of its responsiveness and smaller carbon footprint, however it contributes significant indoor air pollution, and while more energy-efficient than a basic coil-top electric range, electricity actually offers the best energy savings in the form of induction cooktops.

Currently, cooktops are not Energy Star rated, but the Department of Energy has singled out induction cooking as the most energy efficient method. Induction cooking works by transferring energy straight to the metal of the pan through an electromagnetic field, rather than using heat transfer, as gas and electric do. Induction uses 2.8kw to deliver 2.52kw of power, making it 90 percent efficient. Gas uses 3.5kw to generate 1.75kw, a 50 percent efficiency rate (Best Induction Cooktop Guide). The result is almost instantaneous temperature control and a cooktop that remains cool to the touch (only the pot gets hot).

As with most energy saving solutions, the rule of thumb in the kitchen is "act wisely not wastefully," and you'll save plenty. With constant advances in cooking technology, from the microwave to the induction cooktop, there are many tools to help us do that, but it's still down to you to make sure you are using them correctly in order to get the most benefit for the planet.

Jennifer Tuohy writes for Home Depot about energy efficiency and appliances including microwaves and induction cooktops. Jennifer provides advice to homeowners on options available to make their home green. Home Depot's selection of microwave ovens and their line of induction stoves can be found on the company's website.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



12/18/2014

Transforming this suburban property has been one of the most satisfying and creative adventures in my life. No need to go anywhere. Making big changes was the plan from the beginning, 15 years ago, when I bought this quarter acre property with a modest 1,100 square foot mid fifties suburban house. If I reincarnated as a house and suburban property, this would be it.

The previous blog provides an informative overview about re purposing suburbia - turning a land use liability into a social and economic tool for a greener way of life. Suburbia has much to offer for taking care of more needs closer to home – food, energy, water, culture, creativity. There are already many pioneers on the suburban frontier and future blogs will include profiles describing some of them. Not all suburbia is created equal but just about every property and neighborhood has surprising assets to work with. This blog will describe some of the projects here at my place, more or less in the order they took place. The reader will easily find many photos on my website, that show what these projects actually look like – look under the “On Site Features” tab.

This property, two miles northwest of downtown Eugene, Oregon is flat. Its a rectangle with its long dimension north to south. The house is longer east - west and the back yard is on the south side of the house. The quarter acre has great solar access and the soil is good.

First Major Project

A friend and I turned the one car garage into a living space. This was a simple remodel. The open north end was closed in by an insulated wall with a door. The south end was cut open to install an eight foot slider for solar gain. Surprise to me, cutting through the painted wooden siding, I found immaculate red wood. Fifty years old and beautiful straight grain. Perfect condition. We built a wooden deck elevated several inches above the concrete floor in the garage and laid rigid foam insulation over the concrete. The west wall has several windows, was insulated and the ceiling was insulated.

Reclaiming automobile space made this a three bedroom house so I could rent both the other two bedrooms. Since then, the remodel has been paid back many times. Now I live in a passive solar detached structure I built behind the main house so the garage remodel is now rented which will eventually pay for the detached structure. More on the newer passive solar structure in a future blog but safe to say, a house can be a very useful working asset for making income.

garage remodel

Another early project was trading grass for garden. Grass is one of the most iconic symbols of suburbia. Some say the suburban landscape of grass and scattered trees is a sub conscious re creation of the primeval savanna of our distant ancestors. Regardless, the millions of of acres taken up by suburban grass can produce an enormous amount of food.

There are a variety of ways to get rid of the grass. Scalp it with a machine, dig it up. I laid out large pieces of cardboard and covered it with eight inches [the more the better] of compost and leaves from October to March. Over that time, the leaves mostly broke down, the cardboard rotted and the grass and weeds underneath became a dead slimy black mass. Perfect. Caution, roto tilling the grass not recommended. I did dig out the dead sod. It was really thick even when dead. I identified best places for garden paths and left them alone. No need to dig them up. The dead sod was composted and the remains were later added to the garden. I had a garden my first spring in residence while other part of the former lawn became water features and planted to raspberries and blueberries.

sheet mulch

Notes From The Suburban Frontier

One image I came upon was a graphic comparison of the surface area of Atlanta, Georgia and Barcelona, Spain. Both cities are about equal in population. What absolutely shocked me was the difference in area the two cities occupy. Atlanta, with its design for automobiles takes up almost 30 times as much space as Barcelona - for the same population. For public transportation, Atlanta is a challenge because of the low population density. For urban agriculture, there is enormous opportunity. The graphic can be found within a blog on my website that explains more about highways, dispersed land use and transportation.

Fence Lines Are Readily Available in Suburbia

They are a great place for long and narrow use. Nearly all my fence lines have been put into food production. Some of these design features were planted early on, others were added over the years. One fifty foot section of fence line is bamboo. At this moment, I will limit the blog to describing early work. Along the east side in the back yard, I planted a fig, four apples and two pears. Other than the fig, the apples and pears are semi dwarf. I wanted to manage the shape and size of the trees so I constructed a wire and wood frame parallel and partly supported by the fence. It looks something like a power line.

This built structure is in the shape of a loosely manicured hedge. The trees have been pruned and branches tied to the wire to create a food hedge. There is no space between trees. Branches from the neighboring trees mingle and overlap within the hedge form. Note: there is need to prune and shape the hedge every year. This is a great use of a fence line. Future blogs will describe other approaches to elevated and edible landscaping.

fenceline

Again, photos of all these projects with more detailed description are on my website. Future blogs will touch on taking out a driveway, water features, front yard gardens, rain water catchment and solar features. Social aspects of the suburban frontier will also be described. Please comment, share what you know. Ask questions. Check out my website.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



12/16/2014

Energy Efficient Cooking

While cooking is not among the top five of your home's 'energy-hungry routines,' if it's something you do every day then there are many small steps, and a few big ones you can take to decrease its impact on your energy use. Your method of cooking is the root of how much energy you use, so to help you cook wisely, here is a rundown of some of the best options for sautéing sustainably:

Cook with Electricity

Whenever you read about options for energy efficient cooking, the question of gas versus electricity always comes up. The difference in energy use is actually pretty negligible, especially now that induction cooking is bringing electricity up to par with the speed of gas. This shift really does put electricity in front in the "green" stakes for the following reasons:

• Natural gas is a fossil fuel, and while most electricity comes from coal-burning power plants, you can source sustainable electricity via solar panels.
• Gas introduces air pollution in the form of nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide into your home.
• Cooking with gas produces a lot of ambient heat, often requiring the use of air conditioners, a huge energy user.

The best option for cooking with electricity is definitely induction, which is 84-percent efficient, compared to the 40-percent efficiency of gas. A ceramic glass cooktop, which uses halogen elements as a heat source, is a close second as both options deliver heat almost instantaneously, cutting back on wasted energy.

Choose Convection over Conventional

Convection ovens are more energy efficient than conventional ovens because the heated air is continuously circulated, so you can reduce cooking temperatures and times. It's estimated that a convection oven uses about 20 percent less energy than its conventional counterparts. Throw in a self-cleaning model, which has significantly more insulation, and you have a pretty efficient cooking machine—just don't use the self-cleaning feature too often.

Smaller Can Be Better

Using microwaves and toaster ovens, which are basically miniature regular ovens, can reduce energy use by as much as 80 percent. These are great options for reheating and cooking small portions. While microwaves and toaster ovens do use a lot of energy when working, because they slice cooking times to smithereens they are definitely the energy-efficient option when you can opt for one over firing up the oven. Slow cooking with crockpots is a great way to cook energy-efficiently. Once the crockpot is brought to temperature, its insulation can keep it hot for up to 6 hours while drawing only minimal additional energy. On the other end of the spectrum, pressure cookers cook faster courtesy of steam pressure and a sealed pot, meaning you can cook your beans in less than half the time you would in a standard pot.

Full Steam Ahead

Whether electric powered or stove top, a two- or three-tier steamer is a highly efficient, incredibly healthy method of cooking, as you are cooking two or three dishes for the "price" of one and eliminating the need for oils and fats in the cooking process while retaining all the nutrients.

Once you have your eco-friendly cooking equipment, make sure you get the most out of it by following these five guidelines, sourced from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy:

• Match the cooking method to the meal: use a toaster oven for one slice of pizza and the whole oven for the whole pizza.
• Match the pan size to the element; a small pan on a big burner will waste energy.
• Buy flat-bottomed, good quality cookware. Warped pan bottoms loose energy because they do not have good contact with the element.
• Choose high-conductivity materials, such as copper-bottom pans on the stove and glass or ceramic in the oven, for faster cooking times.
• Reduce cooking times by defrosting food in the fridge (which has the bonus of helping your fridge use less energy), putting dishes in the oven while it's preheating, and turning the oven off a few minutes before the time is up.

Jennifer Tuohy writes about green-home technologies for Home Depot. Jennifer provides tips to homeowners on how they can cut back on energy usage for large appliances, including gas and induction ranges. To view Home Depot's selection of induction ranges, including styles discussed by Jennifer, check the Home Depot website.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



12/15/2014

White Birch Bed Frame 

Hi, my name is Adam D. Bearup, a.k.a. The Hybrid Home Guy. I have been a ‘green’ builder for most of my life and I live in Michigan, which, as a whole, has never really been a hotbed for green construction — until recently.

Like other pioneers, I did not have the luxury of working from a pool of money or savings; I had to figure everything else out as I went. I wasn’t the builder with the brand new truck because I would have to spend what money I was making on fixing things on the cutting edge houses that we built or on specialty tools. I always thought, “Well, if the people don’t like me because of the truck I drive, then I don’t want to work for them anyway.” 

There was incredible resistance to the way I was building houses. This resistance was from suppliers, other builders, and even the local home builders association. I smile now when I see one of those builders drive by and they have a green leaf in their logo on the side of their brand new truck.

I am not the only pioneer in green building; there are others who had an impact throughout history. Those pioneers from the 1970s who help us to get jobs now should at least be rewarded with a hand shake and a “thank you.” Most of our clients have always said, “I saw this type of building in the seventies, and it has taken all these years until we could afford to have a house of our own like that.” 

Pioneering Green Building

I heard this one day, “Oh, you are on the bleeding edge of technology,” and that term has always stuck. I have learned that most people are on the ride for the money and not for the science, or the learning, or even the recognition, and that has got to be the reason that I had to pay for most of our subcontractors who would never come back to fix their mistakes. One of the memorable moments on “the bleeding edge” occurred when we learned that you could not acid-stain concrete that had fly ash in it. Fly ash is what is left over after coal is burned in a power plant. The finish peeled off of the concrete floor shortly after the homeowners moved into the house and the concrete subcontractor said, “Oh, who has to pay for that?”  This was a major problem that took several of my house payments to pay for. I got to know my mortgage company really well during that period of time as we learned our way across the bleeding edge. 

It can hurt a pioneer who was on the bleeding edge to see others making money doing what they did for free, but that is not why pioneers do what they do. Those on the bleeding edge of anything understand that there needs to be change and those pioneers are willing to do what it takes to help bring about that change. There is a certain excitement when others start to follow your lead, we see that in everyday life and in what is now called green building.

I am happy to see the change happening, I am happy to see products in the big box stores that we used to have to beg, borrow, and steal to get! Can you imagine what Lewis and Clark would say now if they knew that an Interstate existed which can take a person across the country? I bet they would say what us other pioneers say, “Wow, that would have been nice.”

Photo by Homeowner, The Earth Shelter Project Michigan 

Check out Adam’s green building videos on Vimeo.com.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



11/24/2014

Little Mud Hut Cob Building 

In 2007, I visited Bill Coperthwaite at his home in northern Maine and fell in love with the only round house I've ever been in that really works. The beauty of it grew directly from the circle itself; Bill didn't try to make it fit a squared-off floorplan: no right angles, and the big spaces (the main living space is about 30 feet in diameter) were simply divided in half or in thirds. People in one portion had privacy but could reach any other part of the building easily via a generous circular "room" that was open all the way around the perimeter.

Bill's designs would make a wonderful book (in addition to his classic, A Handmade Life), but I went home wondering how I could combine his ideas with my own favorite material: mud.

Creating a Structure from Basket-Woven Willow

My first attempt was a hybrid stud frame building with wattle and daub infill. It worked! The mud provided all the necessary stiffening without additional lumber, and even on the wettest, coldest Pacific Northwest winter day, it's comfortable and dry inside. The next year, I invited Bill out to lead a workshop. About 20 of us (many with no prior carpentry experience) built a beautiful 20-foot diameter, two-tier yurt with a living roof on the first tier, and shingles on the cupola. The bays in the framing of the bottom walls were filled with local willow woven by master basket-maker Margaret Mathewson, and backed with an earthen plaster.

Basket Woven Willow Yurt Frame 

Folks were delighted to learn the sophisticated carpentry required to cut all the compound angles with hand saws. Indeed, the framing was tighter than I've seen on many professional stick-built houses, Still, however, I dreamed of a design so simple that anyone could make it with minimal skills, no power tools, and no nearby lumber mill.Build A Mud Hut

I went to the woods and cut an armful of hazel withies about thumb thick. These I lashed with baling twine into a rough, circular lattice, staked to the ground and contained at the top by a tension band made of bamboo and also bound with baling twine. The roof was reciprocal: all the rafters woven into a self-supporting cone, each stick supported by the previous stick, and supporting the next one.

When I scaled up the design to 14-foot diameter, the same Margaret who had hosted Bill and the workshop let me thin out her grove of black basketry bamboo for the wall lattice. For the rafters, my neighbor let me cull some of the young Douglas fir saplings that had been shaded out in his forest.

When the lattice was up, we wove split-bamboo into it.

Adding a Natural Roof and Building Mud WallsLittle Cob Hut In Forest

A bigger reciprocal roof was more challenging, but beautiful and functional (thanks to Tony Wrench for inspiration — his lovely cob and cordwood round house is another variation on the yurt). The ceiling was canvas drop cloth, and the roof membrane was a piece of heavy-duty vinyl billboard tarp, a waste product that it tough, waterproof, and flexible — perfect!

And when it was time to mud the walls, we invited friends and had a party. Windows (and the door) were easy to cut out of the lattice, and followed that pattern of diamond shapes. The final interior finish was a lime plaster.

Sharing Natural Building Techniques

I took the design down to Aprovecho Institute, in Cottage Grove, Oregon, to offer a week-long workshop as part of their 7-week Natural Building Intensive. In 4-1/2 days, 16 of us gathered and prepped all the materials, assembled the frame, raised the roof, and applied the first layer of mud. (The foundation/base had been completed beforehand.) In following years, we've slowed the pace to spend more time experimenting and addressing important design details around doors, windows, and the roof system. Several students have gone on to build their own yurts, and solved their own problems in new ways, with new materials as they find them. That's appropriate technology!

Designed for the rainy Pacific Northwest, the generous overhanging eave protects the walls and keeps them from growing moss. The thick, insulative earthen walls keep even unheated interiors dry and comfortable. The only time I get to work on this is for a week in the summer, and every summer we have to start a new one! So finish photos haven't yet been taken. So when you finish yours, send photos! And if you know of someone else building an innovative, low-tech yurt, please let us know so we can gather more material for our yurt-book project!

Here's a free booklet with more details.

Natural Building Community Workshop 


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



11/23/2014

Suburban Permaculture Home

Half of all Americans live in suburbia. It’s true that suburbia is on the receiving end of a lot of social, economic and environmental criticism with much of that criticism well deserved. Suburbia requires a lot of resources to keep it going. Just about everyone has a car. Many homes are remarkably over sized.  Suburbia is known as a place lacking in culture where people often don't know their neighbors.

Potential for Suburban Permaculture

While some of these criticisms may be justified, at the same time, suburbia offers enormous potential to become a critical new frontier for deep changes in our culture and economy. “You don't have to move to live in a better neighborhood.”

All over the country, a growing number of people are beginning to recognize the potentials of suburbia as a location for a way of life that is far more friendly to people and planet. Here in my neighborhood, two miles northwest of downtown Eugene, Oregon, we have a small preview of what suburbia can become. There are lots of good stories.

The purpose of this blog is to share practical experience for transforming suburbia. Food, energy, water, culture, economics, human scale technology, social uplift. This blog can also help bring people together who are starting out and others with years of experience, to share what they are learning for creating a very different kind of suburbia. This blog can help add to important conversations relating to the suburban frontier.

Fifteen years ago, I bought this modest 1,100-square-foot house. From the start, the plan was to make best use I could of the assets this quarter-acre provided. The grass is gone front and back. The 350-square-foot patio has become a closed in passive solar space that helps heat the house. There is edible landscaping all over. Automobile space has been reclaimed as the driveway was taken out and the one-car garage turned into a living space.

Surprising to some people, the Pacific Northwest is dry for months in the summertime so I installed a 6,500-gallon rainwater system for garden and landscape. The house has a solar water heater and heat pump, there are two water features landscaped with “urbanite” from my former driveway, and there are a greenhouse and cold frames.

Over the years, well over a thousand people have visited – green bike tours, permaculture classes, school groups, eco bike tours, curious neighbors, well known writers and media. Both the mayor and city manager think the place is great. This quarter-acre has activated many other transformation projects in the neighborhood and elsewhere.

My next-door neighbor has taken out part of his driveway in favor of garden space and replaced decorative plants out front with many food-producing shrubs and trees. We collaborated on a project taking out an expansive hedge on our property line and replaced it with edible landscaping.

Within a fifteen-minute bike ride, dozens of friends and neighbors are transforming where they live. There are front yards turned into gardens, green buildings, food forests, solar projects, fences down between like minded neighbors, shared properties, educational outreach and celebrations. There are mutual assistance networks and a sense of identity, we live in the River Road Permaculture Zone.

Building An Eco Home 

An Important Lesson about Urban Homesteading

We learned another important lesson: Almost any neighborhood and town has many assets and allies that can be helpful in transforming where we live. A surprising variety of organizations — ad hoc groups, schools, communities of faith, even city and county programs have agendas that fit perfectly with greening our communities. Taking the time, one can recognize many surprising opportunities for common cause, to help create a more peaceful and healthy world.

This blog will share practical information for home-scale property transformation. It will also describe collaborations in the neighborhood and great stories about tools, assets and allies in the community. Making these changes is simply about people taking the time to re define their priorities, recognize the benefits for taking action then, doing the work. Each positive story can be a platform to inspire others to action.

The ideal is to re purpose suburbia to use as a platform for creating a very different economy and culture that will be far more friendly to people and planet.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.








Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.