Tiny House Fest Vermont

I bringing the Silver Bullet Tiny House to Vermont this weekend! Join me and others who are bringing their homes for you to view!

More details about the event schedule : https://tinyhousefestvermont.com/tiny-house-fest-2017/

Join us in Brattleboro, Vermont for four days of fun, September 1-4 this weekend!

Friday, Day 1 : See Vera’s exquisite reclamation gowns at Gallery Walk on Flat Street

Day 3 : “Living the Sustainable Tiny Life”, Vera’s Talk at 1PM on 1 of 2 Flat Street stages

Day 3 and Day 4: Tour her Silver Bullet Tiny House at the Tiny House Village

For tickets : https://tinyhousefestvermont.com/experience

Why Tiny? Why Now?

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Last week I had the distinct pleasure of presenting a brief history of the tiny house movement and speak about my Silver Bullet tiny house journey/build to a group that convenes monthly called Local Poverty Matters.

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I spoke about my moral imperative of solving climate change, the desperate lack of affordable housing, and my homelessness as a single human in a world of diminishing resources.

Most of the homeless, like me, do not want a hand-out. We want a hand-up. After being socially ostracized, discounted and marginalized, we are often invisible to other Americans. The American Dream I grew up with is dead. So I invented and chose a new American Dream. I created the Silver Bullet Tiny House Challenge.

Could I build a non-toxic, off-grid, all renewable energy fed, resilient sustainable lifestyle in a mobile tiny house on wheels? Could it be made of reclaimed, repurposed sustainable materials and cost less than $20,000.? Could it serve as a mobile educational exhibit that could inspire individuals and families to decrease their carbon footprint, their economic costs and improve their community involvement by freeing up more time and control of their lives?

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Taking my future in my own hands, I designed a beautiful, biomimetic tiny house that nurtures my sustainable lifestyle. I used reclaimed resources, found sponsors, repurposed what others left on the roadside, and made my own home. Nature is never more than four feet away from me in any direction. I love that.

The details of my story and build are in my recently released e-Book, if you want to know more. Proceeds from the book support me giving workshops on sustainable living across the USA starting in Spring, 2016.

Here’s the thing about my homelessness. Deciding to take my own fate in my own hands, even with obstacles like my disabilities*, my poor health, no funds, no social or career possibilities imminent, fostered within me a resilience I only fantasized was possible. That is, until I achieved my solution.

Creating my own hand-up was not easy; however, others were inspired by my passion, drive and commitment to live a simple, tiny, healthier, zero-waste footprint lifestyle and they helped me any way they could.

I gained self-esteem, construction skills galore, lost weight, grew muscle (both physically and psychologically), found my “happy place” and finally, I gained social and community acceptance. The journey was incredibly challenging with many turning points in which I almost quit. But like all great journeys and projects, when finished, the joy and glory of seeing my accomplishment, knowing I reached all my goals, was an amazing reward.

I have achieved wellness all around. I will live in a non-toxic, all renewable energy, self bio-mimetically designed, hand-built, mobile home.

That’s why “tiny” and that’s why “now”.

You can donate here. Every dollar helps me to help others.

* Although I have been classified by the State of Massachusetts as disabled, I have never collected any disability income from any source, private or public, Federal or State.

Meditations on the 1st National Tiny House Jamboree

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Meditations on the 1st National Tiny House Jamboree 

I had been looking forward to speaking at the 1st National Tiny House Jamboree in Colorado Springs for months. After driving for three days straight over 2200 miles from Northern New England, it’s a bit ironic that my car, which has not had a repair issue or breakdown during the ten years I have owned it, died 25 miles from the Jamboree sight in rush hour traffic at 92 degrees.

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I overcame so much to build my Silver Bullet Tiny House, this was just a blip on my radar. Six hours and $782. worth of repairs later, I had a new alternator, battery and wire connections replaced in my oldie, but goodie, 2004 Honda Element EX.

 

 

I arrived at the Mining Museum grounds and saw all sorts of vendors and builders driving in their tiny houses and sprucing them up for the coming attendees. Tiny houses seem to be getting larger. When I got my trailer two years ago, 18 feet was considered large. As I toured these, I discovered most of them were 24 feet or larger and 13,000 lbs. plus. And yet, so beautiful, gorgeous, well planned and designed and such great ideas and sustainable concepts.

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After touring some of the tiny houses privately, I set out for the campground in time to set up my tent and get over to the Jamboree VIP party to meet the tiny house luminaries whose blogs I have followed and commented upon, whose books and DVD’s I’ve read and recommended to my workshop attendees and whose tiny house journeys I have admired for years. I was elated to put faces and such warm hugs and conversations to the names and images I have enjoyed in the online tiny house tribe.

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Best of all, I got to see my mentor and tiny house rock star, Derek “Deek” Diedricksen, speak on the 1st day. His speech was so awesome; inspiring, humorous, informative – he set the tone for the entire weekend of magical happenings and connections.

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As I returned to the campground every evening, I met folks from Europe, Canada and all over the USA. There were tiny DIY micro-shelters built on one axel trailer rigs as well as two large tiny houses on double axle trailers. A little camping tiny house tribe of our own with wild fire-dancing parties at night and discussions into the wee hours of the morning.

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As I looked up at the twinkling stars in the deep blue Colorado sky, my heart raced with the excitement of the coming weekend’s National Tiny House Jamboree speaker’s, activities and 40+ tiny houses to tour and experience.

I spoke on Sunday to a crowd of tiny house enthusiast’s about my tiny house journey. I also announced my new board game “Tinyunopoly” which will fund tiny house construction for the homeless. Here’s a picture of the 1st draft I made while waiting for my car repairs. (I was a financial consultant to the Parker Family Trust for many years). Money is not in this game, only barter shares and the gift economy. The properties are tiny house villages, the “railroads” are renewables: wind/water harvesting, solar, biomass/ethanol and people powered. No “going to jail” in this version, instead you go to sustainability pillar camp. And the four piles of cards you draw from require all kinds of fun interactions between yourself and your fellow players involving tiny house tips and tricks and sustainable concepts.

If you would like to contribute feedback and help me finish the game, just let me know at taospirit@mac.com.

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By the end of this incredible weekend those tiny house enthusiasts’ eyes were full of twinkling tiny house stars!

And on my way back to New England I saw my first tiny houses on the road!

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I hope they’ll have Tiny House Jamboree 2 next year!

If micro-housing or the tiny house movement interests you, consider:

  1. Joining a local tiny house meet-up group and networking with your tiny house enthusiast neighbors.
  2. Attend a tiny house workshop near you. Get some hands-on experience and network with other tiny house enthusiasts.
  3. Next time you take a trip or vacation, consider renting a different tiny house every few days and learn what features you like and/or dislike.

Links you may enjoy:

See the Tiny House Jamboree Drone video encapsulating the event in 50 seconds here.

Deek’s upcoming Tiny House Summer Camp here.

Celebrate Earth Day with Us-Coming Events!!!

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Mark Your Earth Day Calendars!!!

At several Earth Day Festivals April 15 – 25th, we will be demonstrating “College Dorm Sustainability Hacks” and speaking about the net-zero sustainable Silver Bullet Tiny House Exhibit designed and built by our Founder, Vera Struck, as an education module for a “tiny sustainable lifestyle”, at the following Earth Day Festivals, Sustainability Events, and tiny house workshops.

APRIL 16th, THURSDAY,  11AM – 2:30PM  

BU Medical Campus, Talbot Green 

http://www.bu.edu/sustainability/what-you-can-do/events/bumc-earth-day-festival/

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APRIL 22nd, WEDNESDAY,  11AM-2:30PM      

Boston University Main Campus, GSU Plaza

http://www.bu.edu/sustainability/what-you-can-do/events/earth-day-festival/

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APRIL 25th, SATURDAY 10AM – 4PM

Annual Amherst Sustainability Festival, Amherst Town Common

https://www.amherstma.gov/683/Sustainability-Festival-Information

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MAY 1st-3rd, Friday/Saturday/Sunday

Silver Bullet Tiny House Builder and sustainability lifestyle designer, Vera Struck, author of the soon to be released “Living the Sustainable Tiny Life”, will also be speaking at Deek’s next workshop in Connecticut May 1-3. Sign up now before he is sold out!

http://www.relaxshacks.blogspot.com/2015/01/relaxshackscom-may-2015-tiny-house.html

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Artist Turns Trash into Homeless Tiny Houses

Hi everyone! I have been wicked busy building and preparing for the Silver Bullet Social/Demo/Tour Event. There are a few spaces left, so register soon, click here. Will post videos, pics, etc. of my last few weeks of construction after the event!

There are several artists and tiny home enthusiasts helping the homeless by repurposing and recycling trash. For the full article and many more pictures of his creations, please go to the full article at viral nova.com.

Gregory Kloehn goes dumpster diving, but not for the reason that most people would think. He isn’t homeless. In fact, he is an artist from Oakland that is trying to help the homeless and develop his craft at the same time.

Instead of building sculptures that he would sell to rich people to add to their massive homes, he decided to focus his efforts on helping house the homeless population in California.

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Read more at http://www.viralnova.com/used-garbage-homeless-shelters/#sUCUyiv51dhIJChG.99

Transition Town

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The Transition Network is an organization that offers resources, training, education and initiative support for individuals and communities that want to be resilient, reduce their CO2 emissions and self-organize around the Transition model.

I have been practicing the Six R’s continuum (Reduce, Reuse/Repair/Repurpose, Rot (organics), Recycle)for decades and have achieved Zero Waste for four years. Last summer I began building an off-grid zero-waste tiny house on wheels. The challenge is worth every minute of it and the rewards from compassion, kindness and respect for all living things, resources and the planet are plentiful.

This is the local one near where I live, Transition Newburyport, and there are thousands around the world you can hook up with, check out their initiatives map here.

Mariah and The Comet Camper

I met Mariah at a tiny house workshop and I loved her retro Comet Camper. She also has a vintage clothing business, Planet Queen. Mariah is a lovely, creative, young tiny house enthusiast!

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Being a sustainability tiny life advocate, I have belonged to several CSA’s and worked tirelessly over the years with all levels of governing bodies for cleaner/renewable energy, amending zoning ordinances, eco-education and public service. So I found her blog entry (below) particularly inspiring and I wish her luck with City Hall:

After reading Van Jones’ book The Green Collar Economy, I was inspired to come up with a “green collar” plan for the city I live in, Worcester Massachusetts. Jones frequently mentions Chicago in his book as an example of a city that is embracing the shift to an ecological economy. Worcester, like Chicago, has a manufacturing background, and could learn from the examples of successful green-collar programs in other cities. Based on the “Green Collar” ideas, I came up with a list of goals for Worcester, and suitable jobs that Worcester could support.

The idea here is that by embracing these ideas and creating the right conditions here in Worcester, young innovators will be attracted to locate their green businesses here in this dying city. We need to keep our dollars in the local economy as long as possible, and in order to do that people need local places to spend their money.

I hope to give a presentation at a City Council meeting about this topic, and see what the city thinks are feasible projects.

A CSA farm is a great idea for building local economies. More and more CSAs are popping up in urban areas.

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Goals:

To build resilience in my city

To eliminate reliance on foreign fossil fuels

To include all groups in the regeneration of my city

To support communities and individuals with innovative ideas

To empower citizens

To eliminate waste

To provide meaningful jobs and fair work

To bring new people, businesses, and eco-industry to my city

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Eco-Building Bargains is a store in MA that sells salvaged materials, recycled building materials, and used appliances/furniture/just about everything.

Changes in Government:

Zoning and building codes must be changed to allow:

– Tiny Houses and homes under 400 square feet.

– Composting toilets

– Greywater systems

– Front Lawn Freedom (no restrictions on front-lawn gardening)

– Rainwater collection

– Livestock, animal husbandry, chickens, etc.

– Rooftop farms

– Food carts and mobile businesses

– Land Use Reform: Allocating abandoned land to non-profits to begin urban farm operations,      compost operations, and other programs.

We can provide empowerment via:

– Workshops

– Education

– Sharing of Resources (Libraries for tools, equipment, and information, Skillshares)

– Freedom of Choice (in relation to living simply)

– Organized “Consumers Anonymous” meetings  – a place where people can find support in simple living and participate in a “No New Things” challenge with the support of a committed community.

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Waste Veggie Oil Fueling stations are the gas stations of the future – I would love to see one of these in my city.

Essential Projects for Regenerative Urban Economy:

1. Education and Learning Center for Sustainable Sciences, Practices, Building, Farming, and more

2. Simple Living and Tiny House showcase in unused lot

3. Eliminate Lawns Campaign (“Food not Lawns”)

4. Public Permaculture Park + Edible Forest

5. Green fueling station and garage (WVO and electric charging station)

6. Bike paths and lanes for increased pedestrian and pedal transport, including connections to surrounding areas (Providence, Boston, and rural towns).

7. Allocate land for ecological and Transition projects (Brownfields, unused lots, abandoned warehouses, etc).

Green Collar Jobs:

Organic Food Production/ CSA management

Waste recycling and compost

Fertilizer and soil production from compost

Energy audits and consulting

Deep energy retrofits/renovation/insulation

Photovoltaic installation

Permaculture design and installation services

Maintenance of public parks with Edible Elements

Public permaculture

Urban Garden design/installation services for residential buildings

Hydroponics operations in abandoned warehouses (fish, produce, fertilizer)

Green design/build/architecture firms

Salvage Mining

Eco-Demo – Ecological Demolition and Deconstruction Services

Salvage yards and recycled building materials sales

Water systems installation and maintenance

Rainwater installation

Wind power installation/maintenance

Compost toilet installation

Education/Teaching

Fiber production (sheep, alpaca, angora, etc) and Value-added items (yarn, clothing)

Sustainable clothing production and maintenance (emphasis on mending/repair services)

Radical Menstruation supplies production, marketing, and distribution

Milk and Dairy production

Egg production and distribution

Honey production and distribution

Herb production and distribution

Chicken breeding for sale and slaughter

Rabbit breeding for fur, food, and sale

Hybrid Mechanics

Grease-car conversion technicians and mechanics

Waste Veggie oil filtration and fueling station/ grease car garage

Farmer’s Market and Craft Fair coordinators

Organic, Healthy food trucks – low cost start-up

Local hops growing and brewing

Locally sourced restaurants

Kombucha brewing and distribution

Bicycle mechanics

Technology and digital design

Internet and information based jobs (blogs, news resources, how-to resources)

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A commercial kombucha operation is a great idea for building a resilient, sustainable economy. Photo from kombuchamama.com.