(lovely image by Matt Sewell)
Goood morning SuperForest!
Phew! It felt so good to write that confessional post. Like a big ol’ balloon of fear has been released! I highly recommend starting a blog, simply so that you can use it to say what you’re afraid of, and thus defuse the fear. Everyone should start a blog. For serious.
Here is the new situation SFJ has lucked into…
After living in NYC for three years, I have returned to Los Angeles, the city I was born in. I’m now living in my boyhood home, with my brother, my father, SuperForester Kate, and Baloo, the non-wonder dog. We five now find ourselves in a very interesting situation: Can we all share a house and live more sustainably together AND still all feel good and get along? Like, how far can you take the SuperForesting?
I realize that to be an effective an non-hypocritical SFJ, I must practice exactly what I preach and make my home The Environment. When I lived in New York, I lived alone, and was free to recycle and compost and build wild and crazy inventions, and make a mess, and not be in anyone’s way. Now there are other people to consider and so I’ve tried to move slowly and step lightly, making sure to clean a lot and do a lot of dishes. (When it comes to “saving the environment,” I cannot overstress the importance of cleaning and doing dishes. It may seem silly, but it’s vital. Start with the environment you see right in front of you, AKA your house/room/tent. Once you’ve finished that, move on to your block, then the entire neighborhood, in an ever-expanding circle of awesomeness.)
Now that I’m back home, in a house, with a yard, and sunlight, and nice weather, I’d very much like to explore a possibility: I’d very much like to see if I can take the SuperForesting to a higher level. I’d like to see if I and SuperForester Kate, and my brother, and father, and mother, and sister, (when they are in town) can transform our little house from one that consumes a great deal of energy to one that EXPORTS energy, or is at least self-sustaining. I want to see if we can LIVE SuperForest.
(living SuperForest involves a lot of leaping :) Image via thetravellerslounge)
I see so many ways that we could subtly alter how we are living that would allow us to live with a lighter footprint on the Earth. Since I arrived from New York, I’ve been overseeing the houses recycling, and started us composting, switched to non-petro cleaners, washing the laundry on cold, that sort of thing. (Must start hang drying!) I’ve been waking up early and seeing where the sunlight hits our yard makes me think that some raised bed gardens could be perfect and easy to set up. I’d love to turn off the sprinkler system and get rid of the lawns. Where can this house save water? How can it catch and hold water when it rains? What could we do to increase the houses energy efficiency? Would solar heaters work for us? Solar power? Better insulation?
So many questions!
But the biggest one is: How could all this be done with a minimum of expense. Buying as little as possible, preferably none. Using reclaimed and upcycled materials whenever possible. How could we all live beautiful, happy, healthy low energy lives? How much material could we save from getting tossed out, and instead use it to improve the quality of our lives?
Gardens would keep us outdoors more, and the exercise and fresh food would save us money and gas and help us live longer. I’ve been raking the leaves in the yard, and instead of putting them in the can for the city to deal with, I’ve just been piling them up as mulch at the base of the plants. This helps the plants by keeping water from evaporating out of the surrounding dirt, and the leaves break down into compost. Right now, we’ve got a gardener who comes and leaf blowers all of those leaves into a corner of the yard, then he cans them up, and gets them gone. But those leaves are valuable biomass (aka: dirt), or they would be, if given the opportunity. Right now, the soil in our yard is hard clay. I cannot help but think what the soil would be like if instead of leaf blowering all of those years of leaves away, the leaves had simply lain there, broken down naturally, and allowed the process nature has perfected to run its simple course.
We’d have dirt like an biodynamic farm on Maui! Mountainous piles of rich, black, earthy loam! Crawling with earthworms and beneficial bacteria! That would be dirt you could grow tomatoes in…
I’ve found myself in an incredible opportunity.
I live in this beautiful house with wonderful people, in an extraordinarily lucky situation. I want to serve this place and see if we can all transform this property, and by extension our very lives, together. And I want to share that journey with you. I want to garden my home myself, and clean it, and repair it, and work to keep it well. I want to see if love can transform this home into an oasis of peace and sustainability. And why not? The fixes are minute. Behavioral mostly. It’s amazing how simply one can save energy, when one is in the mindset of energy saving.
Let us explore together, and see if one home like many others can begin taking the baby steps of the life SuperForest.
Now, to ask Mummy if it’s okay…
Love to All,