Sunday, November 27, 2005

Solutions to Affordable Homes

We've been home nearly a month and acclimating to the traffic-choked streets and highways that I traverse is difficult. Why should I complain about the easy access to fine restaurants, excellent grocery stores, shopping spots within five miles either way? Why should I resist the material acoutrements in my kitchen , the space afforded in our home, use of two automobiles instead of one?

Living simply half the year in NY helps me appreciate what I've worked for ( accumulation of material things in a home paid for) and knowing that I can in an emergency or at my pleasure do without these acoutrements. I'm a bit upset over some of the hurricane "refugees" who complain of learning to live in less space or the lack of television in a hotel room--they've not tried mentally to decrease their "wants." Yes, they're stressed from the loss, but at the same time they should reaccess their lives and understand their present living is temporary and make the best of their time.

With the desperate need for housing, this is a good time for architects to design homes that utilize discarded materials. When in Taos, NM a few years ago, I had wanted to learn about building a house made from old tires and discarded soda cans. A company has built a community of homes set in the earth outside the town and all are solar powered and beautiful. Learn about Earthships in Taos, NM and around the globe at Granted, many homes built this way are expensive, but the theory of solar power and using alternative building products are applicable. Why aren't local architects and builders using this same principle? Those displaced already have mortgages and now must face a second one! Who wants to be beholden to two mortgages for the remainder of their lives?

Our daughter recently visited the small Alabama community that contains housing for lower economic families. These houses are designed and built by architectural students enrolled in the Rural Studio of University of Alabama. Amazing what beautiful structures have been conceived with easy-to-find materials. Why isn't this idea being utilized? We don't have many contractors with creative minds. I'm proud to say one architect, Sam Mockbee,(who lived just up the road in Canton) saw that need and started the Rural Studio many years ago. Look at the website for an interesting read.

We need to push the government to strive for economical ways to rebuild homes.

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