BiAnnual Fundraising Event for TerraBluTeams at the Silver Bullet Tiny House

November 4th, 2017, Saturday, 5-7 PM: TerraBluTeams BiAnnual Sustainability Lifestyle Education Fundraiser at the Silver Bullet Tiny House in Hamilton-Wenham, Massachusetts (Private address sent to ticket holders only)

 

 

Enjoy cocktails, farm to table bites and bid on auction items to fund and support sustainable lifestyle education at our 5th Anniversary Party at a private location off Route 97 in Hamilton-Wenham, Massachusetts. Get a private tour and speak with our founder, Vera Struck, Tiny House Designer/Builder/Dweller, author, reclamation artist and tiny house movement speaker.

Auction items include art, bicycle accessories, and generous gift certificates at local restaurants, shops, jewelry stores, etc.

Limited Attendance, so get your tickets now, just register for tickets thru the PayPal button below:

 

Silver Bullet Tiny House goes to 3rd Annual Massachusetts Tiny House Festival

September 23rd – 24th, 2017:  3rd Annual Massachusetts Tiny House Festival

Five years ago I was at one of Derek Diedricksen‘s first tiny house workshops. And four years ago Miranda was at one of my first workshops. I introduced them to each other and so it is only fitting that I complete the circle and retire from the tiny house festival circuit at their co-partnered event, the 3rd Massachusetts tiny house festival.

Please come out on the weekend of September 23rd and 24th to Trackside Plaza in Stoughton, MA.and see a dozen or more tiny houses on wheels!

Vera and the Silver Bullet Tiny House will be at the festival where she will speak about her sustainable tiny life. Bring your sense of humor and tiny house questions.

For more info and tickets:  http://mirandashearth.com/tinyhouse/

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

Best Tiny Home Award

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So honored that my Silver Bullet Tiny House won the best ‘Tiny Home’ award out of 90 tiny structures on wheels at the Florida Tiny House Festival this month. I was also honored to be chosen as Renogy’s Solar Ambassador to the festival and am so pleased to be powered by Renogy.

I purchased my 2nd generation solar solution for the 5 year old tiny home early this year and love being powered solely by renewable energy. You can learn more about my choice here.

 

 

Systems Thinking for your Tiny House on Wheels

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Drawing by Peter Senge, author of the Fifth Discipline, The Art and Practice of the Leadership Organization

 

I was introduced to Thinking in Systems by Donella Meadows back in the 90’s. Applying her principles of sustainable stewardship was a challenge. It took me five years from 2004 – 2009 to downsize and transition into a simpler, minimal resource, substantive lifestyle. 

“Systems thinking is a management discipline that concerns an understanding of a system by examining the linkages and interactions between the components that comprise the entirety of that defined system.” Fixing one part doesn’t cut it. Hence, why it took me so long.

For tiny house on wheels designers, builders, dwellers and enthusiasts, that means examining all parts of your tiny house design, your lifestyle needs, and understanding the impact and interactions between your environmental, social, cultural and economic responsibilities.

It was not until 2012, after several workshops and fundraising that I began to design and build the Silver Bullet Tiny House.

At tiny house festivals, tours and my workshops I am constantly asked how I did it. There is much information here in the website archives and I also wrote about my journey and gave details about my build in my first e-book, Living the Sustainable Lifestyle. My second e-book, Living the Sustainable Lifestyle Workbook is the playbook that will, through a series of exercises, help you design your own sustainable lifestyle. And I guarantee you, it won’t take 5 years, like it did me. You can do it in ten weeks because I have made all the mistakes, done the research and can help you do it.

My life is still a work in progress and my Silver Bullet Tiny House has gone through many changes evolving as I go to a more efficient, zero-waste, all renewables, off-grid functional home that is mobile, safe and free of fossil fuel dependencies.

Here are some useful reduction tips and tricks I used to lower my carbon and water footprint. After calculating my wattage usage for my few appliances and electronics, it was easier to find a renewable energy solution. These simple practices and others have saved me considerable time and money, giving me greater opportunities to socialize and travel while saving the planet for my child and her children and other generations to come.

WATER:

• I save 35 gallons of potable water a day (at my age 5 flushes @7 gallons per), or 12,800 gallons per year with a compost toilet.  By composting your organic material, you are able to sequester 80 pounds of carbon into usable fertilizer. Read Humanure, a great handbook.

• With 3 ‘military showers‘ a week you can reduce your water usage to 6 gallons a week or 312 gallons a year. I will warn you, it takes a couple of weeks to perfect your technique!

The average American uses 32,850 gallons of water a day, I reduced my total water usage to 1,900 gallons per year and I believe you can too!* (That includes my consumption in juice or water of 2 gallons a day.)

LIGHT/ELECTRICITY/HEAT:

• 90% of my evening lighting comes from solar sources, the remaining lights are 12V LED’s.

• 70% of the year I cook on my Biolite grill/stove which charges my electronics while I cook, make hot soup or tea. The other 30% I use a toaster oven and small electric one burner unit. Making cold press coffee is not only healthier for you, but saves considerable energy.

• I have had two generations of wood-burning stoves, even as small at 12″ square and they were both too hot for my 34R value building envelope in 148 SF tiny home on wheels. Currently I am using a small electric unit which only requires evening usage during the Fall, and all day usage during the winter in New England. I am still searching for an even smaller wood stove (I like seeing logs burn, even tiny ones!) or other evolved heating solutions.

• I have reduced my appliances to a toaster oven, small burner unit, a tiny refrigerator, my 4 gallon water heater, my 12V pump and the occasional use of my VitaMix, which allows me to get by with a 2000W solar system.

FOOD:

• I maintain an exterior organic garden and a vertical garden (herbs and lettuce) that uses water that I harvest from rain. A  10′ x 12′ garden plot requires 74 gallons of potable water per week. By water harvesting, I save up to 3,500 gallons of potable water per year! This obviously is adjusted based on rain, your water harvesting system storage size, etc.

Although these are just a few sustainable tips and tricks I utilize, a more extensive design and strategic plan can be found in my handbook.

Next week I will go into more details about that calculation and my clean energy solar solution for the Silver Bullet Tiny House.

 

 

*This does not include indirect water consumption for other environmental services. For example, how much water it takes to grow the vegetables I eat, make the t-shirt I’m wearing, etc.

Silver Bullet becomes Renogy Ambassador to Florida Tiny House Festival


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We are pleased to be Renogy‘s Solar Ambassador to the Florida Tiny House Festival November 18-20th at the St. Augustine Fairgrounds!

It is our pleasure to provide tours of the zero-waste, all clean solar powered Silver Bullet Tiny House. Take your shoes off, bring your sense of humor and meet Vera Struck, who designed and built a simple, off-grid, sustainable life style.

Her tiny house journey and build are available in her sustainable e-book, ‘Living the Sustainable Tiny Life’ (discount code is available to attendees).

She will be premiering her new e-book, ‘Living the Sustainable Tiny Life Handbook’, a ten-week process workbook to get you on the road to designing your own sustainable lifestyle!

Step inside the creative, non-toxic, healthy, all sustainable materials tiny house on wheels built by this sustainability dynamo. Her design based on bio-mimicry made a tiny home that breathes just like the rest of us.

You can find her speaker and workshop schedule at the festival here.

 

The Silver Bullet Tiny House is powered by a solar solution purchased from:

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Silver Bullet Tiny House Tour Dispatch #1

Touring with a tiny house is an adventure! I’ll be giving an official dispatch with pictures and lessons learned. This post is long but informative, I’ll try to make them shorter and more often in the future. I just haven’t had the bandwidth or wifi to do so.

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I fulfilled my five year old dream on June 1st by taking the Silver Bullet Tiny House on its first tour*. Grit and gumption are words I would use to describe the character traits one must possess for a tiny house journey, its build, and a road tour. Attempting a cross-country tiny house sustainable lifestyle education tour at age 67, alone, was described by some friends and colleagues as “plumb crazy”. Well, you know what, I was up for the challenge.

Before May, I had never driven a pick up truck, nor a trailer, nor a 10,000 pound load anywhere, much less on interstate highways.

I have been to 49 of our 50 Unites States of America. Everywhere I go, I am used to meeting so many creative, amazing folks. This tour is not any different.

With this 10,000 pound load and a case of the nerves, I stopped at every rest stop and turnpike plaza. As you can see from the pictures I met an older ford hotrod and another tiny dweller along the way. I passed through four states in lovely sunny weather.

My first night I spent in a ginormous truck stop with 165 spaces. That night was so much fun meeting all the trucker couples carrying the country’s commerce on their backs.Being dyslexic, the thought of going in reverse scares me.Luckily, I have managed to always go forward.

I really was not prepared for all the honking, filming and smartphone camera shots while I was driving and every time I stopped. Now I know what the rest of the tiny house tribe was talking about! I guess I’m going to have to comb my hair a tad more often.

I headed to a location just outside Philadelphia for my first Pop-up Tour at a sponsor’s location; Benjamin Obdyke’s parking lot in Horsham PA. was spacious and well suited to meeting the hundred or so visitors we accommodated the next day from their company, the curious public and the Philadelphia meet-up groups. Hats off to the PB & J food vendor who delivered a lovely, gourmet dinner for me before I packed up.

The Top 5 Tiny House Tour questions asked of me so far:

  1. What is a building envelope and why was rain screen important in your bio-mimicry design?
  2. Can you really project livestreaming video with your projector on a window shade instead of having a TV?
  3. What are those cool awnings?
  4. What mixture and proportions are in your compost toilet?
  5. How come your grill and coffeepot can charge your phone and computer?

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Good questions! And here are my answers:

  1. building envelope is the physical separator between the conditioned and unconditioned environment of a building including the resistance to air, water, heat, light, and noise transfer. Benjamin Obdyke’s rain screen is one important layered element of this design. Read more here.
  2. Yes, you can. When you are near WiFi, download your favorite shows, movies, etc. from Netflix, Xfinity or whomever, on your smartphone (this saves data charges). Project directly from your unit; mine is an HD Brookstone. I do this on my thick smooth bay window shade. I also have done this on the side of a barn! Or use your phone as a hotspot, if you have a good data plan.
  3. Those wicked cool awnings are a polycarbonate material I was introduced to years ago when helping Deek at one of his workshops. It is Tuftex. See me on the road or at the Tiny House Jamboree, August 5-7th in Colorado Springs (Vendor Booth #13- next to Onduline) and I’ll tell you all about it! I chose a clear panel so that weather deflects from my windows and yet I still have the benefit of light. They are very good for saving my windows from damage on the interstates as well.
  4. One part organic cedar chips and one part organic peat moss; mix together and put in a container. I also add my daily Hazelnut coffee grounds. My “bucket” has my own DIY urine diverter.
  5. I have used Biolite products for five years, since their early beginnings. I have their grille, their stove, the teapot, and their lights. And I love plugging in to recharge my tech components.

Luckily I left early before the local festival closed off the streets surrounding me. Heading for the Christian Klay Vineyard for my next Pop-up Tour/Workshop certainly kept me on my toes. Checking my rear view mirror I saw my Tuftex side door flopping in and out. Stuff is going to happen out there, so have your power tools and extra pieces of wood and screws handy. I was back on the road in minutes.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike has several low-clearance bridges and tunnels – that is, in the right lane several are only 13’2″. So keep your eyes open!
Blog1.2For my last stretch, I should have been to my friend’s vineyard in a few hours. The weather was not cooperating in the mountains and so I went turnpike plaza to turnpike plaza waiting for the thunder, lightning and squalls to abate.I just hopped in my tiny, cracked a good book and relaxed.Blog1

The Christian Klay Winery is beautiful upon approach, even in bad weather. The hundreds of acres of mountaintop vineyards, ponds and many barns have histories that only its charming vintner, Sharon Klay, can tell with flare and style as she drives you through her vineyard.

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Sharon and I met many decades ago when I was art professor in Pittsburgh, long before she fell into an award winning career as a vintner. She is also a painter and at one time was my student.

This visit has allowed me to see the vineyard in its maturity and it is lovely. So many kinds of grapes and wines were seen and sampled. In the evenings after visiting Ohiopyle, the local art sanctuaries or the Frank Lloyd Wright house we return in the evening. Blog2.1I cook, she pours and expounds on the botanical infusion process that has produced some of her finest award winning wines. Of course, I’m in heaven.

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We also stopped by at her son’s distillery, Ridge Runner, across the street, where we created the Silver Bullet Tiny cocktail.

Her lovely sister, Dr. McCarthy, has her own restaurant in a town at the bottom of the mountain with food to die for. become a guiltless gourmet and experience one of the finest farm to table destinations.

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My tiny house tours and workshops drew an interesting group: builder’s, junior and high school students, tiny house curious empty nesters and environmentalists. All were fascinated with my off-grid building envelope and customized repurposed/reclaimed storage solutions. Hooray, a success.

You know you have an impact when science students can’t wait to take the samples of your building envelope back to their environmental science teachers and parents!

This segment’s lessons were learned the hard way:

  1. When prepping for your tour, and making your tiny house on wheels road worthy, always have it weighed first and your anti-sway bars and brakes calibrated in several driving conditions. Against my trailer company owner’s advice back in 2013, I bought only a 7500lbGW trailer. For only $500. additional, I could have had a 10,000lbGW trailer. Oops! I should have listened to Ross. I weighed in at 9,280 pounds a few weeks before my trip. That cost me $1,300. to change out my axles, tires and brakes for the appropriate 10,000lbGW system. SBWeighed.1And it added 2″ to my height, which is 13’2″ now. Anti-sway bars, if not calibrated correctly, can cause more damage than their original intended purpose. Make sure wherever you purchased your trailer, they help do this for you. For me, I went with the trailer company owner to see just what is involved in a calibration of them and my new braking system.
  2. Take driving lessons with your load or practice beforehand. I white-knuckled it all the way in my first 500 miles of driving of the tiny house. Yikes, just learning how it feels to move from gear to gear, how to navigate those narrow construction lanes with high cement walls, how to quickly collapse your truck mirror when needed, how to brake effectively, etc. was kind of exciting. Knowing you have a 10,000 lb load behind you down a steep mountain is a new experience. When my first large semi-tractortrailer passed me on the left, I could feel the physics of the pull of my vehicle mass towards his. I call it the semi vortex adjustment. When two of them are simultaneously on either side of me I call that the semi-sandwich vortex adjustment. It feels similar to the feeling you get when an elevator drops ten floors too fast.
  3. Learn to drive forward only until you know how to back up with your tiny house. After my first day of driving I was physically exhausted. My hands and arms and right foot ached. It takes awhile to learn how, when and in what conditions and gears give you the safest, most comfortable and angst-free ride. That first night, I saw a gigantic truck stop with 165 spots to park and a path forward to exit. As one of the nation’s largest truck stops, which is an education in our country’s commerce, I pulled in next to militia shipments, stacked armored vehicles, loads of bicycles, food, building materials, you name it! The management gave me a free shower because I was the first ‘tiny house’ they had ever seen. Or maybe the stench of nervous driving was just a bit too much for them! LOL. I had a few hours of drinking my favorite wine outside on the chair and watched the experts ‘backing in’ to their spot from every conceivable beginning position. I learned a lot! Truckers loved my tiny, and they showed me some of their incredibly elaborate cab living spaces. I had some great conversations with trucker couples and drivers – real salt of the earth folks. Too scared to get stuck backing up, I made sure every place I went I saw the path forward to get out before I entered.
  4. Be diligent about checking bridge and underpass heights; yes, even on interstates. On the Pennsylvania Turnpike there are several old tunnels, bridges and overpasses. They are pretty good about giving you notice about 50 yards in advance. Other times, it is just a 6″x 10″ sign on the bridge. Be prepared to move over into the middle lane every time you see an arched bridge or tunnel. Getting off the interstate to get gas or food can also be tricky. Heights and the space to turn should be something you assess before turning in.
  5. Do not risk driving your precious load in bad weather. I had forgotten how dangerous the mountain road was up to the winery at Chalk Hill. I started up the mountain with no rain, then it began pouring. I could see each turn-off area was occupied by several trucks with no place for me to stop. The last third up to Summit Hill was in dense fog. With no place to turn off and traffic behind me, I white knuckled my way to the top. I DO NOT recommend driving your tiny house in this kind of weather, especially up a dangerous mountain. I’ve been up and down the mountain many times since then. On this mountain it is illegal to go down the mountain going anymore than 10 miles an hour. And that is enforced daily. Oh yeah, I’ll make sure its dry and sunny out when I leave!
  6. Take the time to rest, get out and enjoy the nature and unique places near you along the way. If you know my life story, you know I have had several close calls with death, Life is short, don’t forget to smell the roses, hike the mountains, share lovingly prepared meals with friends, dance and drink great wines.
  7. Being compassionate to others and caring for yourself is not an oxymoron. Giving that extra moment at the end of the day after hordes of tourists see your tiny to a curious wide-eyed child who has so many questions. Inviting a less fortunate ‘tiny house curious’ stranger to share a meal and their story with you inside your tiny. And also remembering to take time for yourself while you serve, educate and empower the public about your tiny house journey and the movement. For me, that means meditating or practicing yoga at sunrise or sunset. Or sharing wine and food with tiny house friends at a long table in the farm fields. Perhaps sketching and letting my imagination run free or just curling up with a good book listening to the rain on steel.

I look forward to every day of this adventure: the experiences, lessons, insights and people that await me on this journey will be one I will never forget!

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*I have always followed my dreams. I have been lucky to have had 3 successful stints in very different right and left hemisphere careers. I’m living my fourth intentional lifestyle design and am having the fun, joy and rewarding experience of facilitating and empowering others to do the same.

I have given sustainable lifestyle design classes and workshops, hands-on tiny house workshops, tiny house journey seminars, facilitated and helped other tiny house leaders in their workshops, spoken locally, regionally and nationally for over four years, and I love it!