I recently had the pleasure to visit a few countries in the Western Carribean. Instead of staying close to the tourist routes, my wife and I tried our best for the brief time we were there to see what the locals would see, to experience their world. I couldn’t help but take pictures of their homes. By far, the homes in Guatemala were the barest, and simplest. Some built with no more than what you could find in the forests and trash dumps.
The home pictured above was one of the nicer homes, more put together than the rest. I am sure this home builder had some experience building. Bumbling around the local streets, I passed many abodes, few with any architectural elements incorporated save for walls, and a shed or gable roof. Many cooked beside the road, over stick fires, with palm fronds to shade their head. Babies were washed in 5 gallon buckets, transportation was tied to a fence post refueling on the grass at their feet. Their was something simple about all of this. Something organic. Yet I still was an onlooker, never really able to be in their shoes.
I observed as much as I could, and left Guatemala with two main thoughts:
1. The need for education. From cleanliness and health safety, to organization. The world benefits with being shown how. In building houses, some quick information can go a long way. The modern world seems to forget the education of the past. Each generation relies on their own experience to build. This usually results in a few sticks holding up a square of tin, or rubber. Crowded in cities, people seem to be waiting for deliverance. How are such great building practices of our past buried and never passed on. I’m not sure, but its time to re-educate. All should be able to use resources around them to survive. Our industrial world has quite a bit of byproduct. If only we could harness that, and come up with a way to teach and house the have nots of the world. In the back of my mind, their lies a thought on how to build a home the least expensive way possible, where it would fight the elements, and give someone a place to call home. Many people in the world are calling old shipping containers home. At 8′ X either 20′ or 40′, they are an economical shelter. Here in Nashville, you can purchase one for less than $2000. Cities are being built from these that even I would love to live in.
2. What we feel we can’t live without, we probably can! I know Americans that will pay their cable bill before their water bill. There has been a push for larger homes over the past few decades from lenders and developers, to codes officials. Do you know that there are laws that govern how small your house can be. Many cities and neighborhoods have further size restrictions. I am seeing a swing in the other direction though as evidenced in one of my favorite sites dedicated to the small house. I love to remodel small homes, reworking them so that they flow and live better. Tight homes that are more energy efficient and more comfortable for their inhabitants. Personally, I have an 1800 square ft home. We live in 1200 sq ft of it rarely going upstairs. I believe we could live in a smaller home, but we try and put what we love to good use. We entertain, and actually house couch surfers quite a bit. Its essential to try and share what we have with those around us. I look at the picture above, and wonder if I could live there. Would the Thoreau in me come out enough to find joy there? Who am I kidding, I would want to remodel it!
We humans are intertwined. Giving to those around us, living life with those close to us is vital to a thriving community. If we start with our neighbors, and extend that further, it won’t matter what you live in, you will feel fulfilled.
What kind of repeatable home can you dream of, invent that could change the way others live?
What resource can we make available to aid the health and home of those around us, around us as living on the earth?