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Squirrel Approved Adventure!

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Me, ziplining, courtesy Benjamin G. Philabaum

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of experiencing the Navitat Canopy Tour, a four hour adventure in the trees of Wrightwood, Ca, just 75 miles out of LA. This “Squirrel approved Adventure” includes 10 zip-lines, 2 repels through tree branches, bridges, and my personal favorite, sky-stairs.

Afraid of heights? Never fear, the friendly staff fasten you safely in a harness that you wear the whole time, and your tour guides are in charge of clipping you in and out of the zips, so you pretty much just enjoy the ride! At one point I even zip-lined alongside a really pretty blue bird, we were going the same speed.

Navitat’s platforms and zips are built in harmony with nature, and the tour guides do an excellent job of explaining how they minimized the impact on the trees, allowing them to continue to grow unaffected by our exploring from their mountaintop views. Of course all I could think about was how to build a tiny house with zip only access!

Bridge in the trees by April

Tips to plan your visit:

  • Get there early, Wrightwood is a cute little town up the mountain off of the I-15, walk around a little before your tour.
  • Wear pants! One member of our group didn’t, and it gets cold up there.
  • Keep your eyes open for the San Andreas fault line, you cross it on the way up!
  • Hydrate ahead of time, but know there are no bathroom breaks once you get started. Small water cups are provided twice along the tour, but you will still be thirsty.
  • Check out the Yodeler for some drinks and pizza after, it won’t disappoint!

Navitat also provides tours in Asheville, NC and they are possibly coming to a forest near you, with plans to open a new location each year for the next ten years. Learn more at Navitat.

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Tiny House Parking!

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Fantastic news! One of my favorite tiny house websites, Tiny House Listings, has added a new feature entitled, “Tiny House Parking” !!!

Tiny House Listings is like a craigslist dedicated solely to Tiny Houses. I spend a lot of time “shopping” around checking out the houses others have built and experiencing that horrible feeling you get when you wander in to a store you can’t afford and find something you really really like.

The new Tiny House Parking feature is a place where people who have land and are looking for extra income can list their space. It is great option for someone who wishes they had a guest home to rent out, but doesn’t want to spend the dough up front to build it.

But more importantly, Tiny House Parking is a way for people to find a place to put their tiny house. This has never been done before, mostly people park in their friend’s, or their friend’s friend’s backyards.

The best part is that anyone can put an ad up for 90 days-free! Check out mine here.

SXSW Eco Conference

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Ian Broyles

I discovered the South by Southwest Eco Conference inadvertently due to my burning desire to someday attend the SXSW Film and Music Festival (ideally with a film). This is the first year for their Eco Conference which is a three day event focusing on innovative solutions for sustainability and environmental issues.

While I’ll have to keep dreaming about attending the film version, I actually sat in on a couple of Eco lectures this morning. In my pajamas. From home.

Their live streaming keynote speakers and panels hold up their SXSW rep as being the premier destination for discovery.

So far, my favorite quote to come out of the conference was by Alex Steffen, “Time you’re walking is not time you’re wasting, it’s time you would have spent dead.” On compact communities and why walking may take a little more time than driving, but doesn’t actually cost you any.

This is a really cool convergence of new ideas and awesome people who are committed to sustainability. Between Texas Tiny Houses and SXSW Film and SXSW Eco Conference, my heart may very well belong to a state I’ve never stepped foot in.

The conference runs from October 4th- 6th, to watch live click here.

Maryland “Watershed” Wins 2011 Solar Decathlon

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The Department of Energy’s Biennial competition for the best solar powered home came to a close announcing The University of Maryland as its winner. All of the houses made by students from colleges around the globe were wonderfully innovative, extremely stylish, and I’d certainly take any of them! That being said, Maryland beat out the competition with high scores in each of the ten contests:

  • Engineering
  • Energy Balance
  • Comfort Zone
  • Hot Water
  • Market Appeal
  • Affordability
  • Home Entertainment
  • Architecture
  • Appliances
  • Communications

Maryland out shined the other homes by not only integrating solar, but also using water more creatively and efficiently.  “We’re really excited that our message and our mission goes beyond solar, but our story is also about water and how we can capture that resource and cycle it through our house.” explained Allyson Wilson of the Maryland team.

Features include a green roof, a wetland that runs through the home to filter the grey water, and an indoor waterfall that acts as a dehumidifier.  Of course now I am dreaming of how to include some of these fabulous ideas into my future tiny home.

Congratulations to the University of Maryland and all of the teams that went to Washington with their homes. I’ll be looking forward to the 2013 solar decathlon.

Swap ’till you Drop!

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Last night I attended my first “Swap ’till you drop!” Party. As risque as it sounds, it definitely erred more sustainable and less swinger. All in attendance brought things they didn’t use or wear anymore, my contributions included an espresso maker, a couple of purses and pairs of ripped jeans. Our lovely hostess had snacks and drinks, including champagne and while we all settled in, beverages in hand, we perused the second hand shop that had emerged amongst the merriment.

We were each given a coupon with a number corresponding with the number of items we had brought. The attendee who made the greatest contribution received a special gift, in this case, a pretty candle. When the time came, we all ran and grabbed the things we had seen earlier that we wanted. I snatched up a really cute navy dress and another pink one, a of couple books, a martini shaker, and a few other little diddys. No one payed any attention to how much our coupons were for, it was just a free for all, but I think it worked better that way.

We had a conflict resolution in place, if two women wanted the same item they would have to draw straws. This was never necessary since all the ladies were also conscious of what each other would want. By the end though we were jokingly drawing them over leftover items we didn’t really want, just to feign our own little cat fights. All of the leftover items are going to be donated to the salvation army.

“Swap ’till you drop!” was a really fun way to get rid of some stuff, find new treasures, and connect with good friends.

Solar Decathlon!

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Team Canada’s solar roof image – Solar Decathlon shines light on net zero-energy homes (photos) – CNET News.

The Solar Decathlon is in full swing- I can’t wait to see who wins!

Accepted!

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I’ve been accepted into the University of Wisconsin’s Sustainable Management program!!! I am very excited, this is a brand new, completely online Bachelor of Science Degree. I’m only taking two classes to start due to economic reasons, but I hope to be able to go full time in the future.

Sustainable Management is a relatively new field focusing on the triple bottom line- People, Planet, Profit. I can’t wait to learn how companies and organizations can change in order to sustain vibrant communities and a healthy planet.

I am suddenly very thankful for all of the community college classes I endured in order to make this possible. I had no idea why I was taking them at the time, but for some reason I hung in there and now I know what that reason was.

It’s not going to be easy, I am NOT a mathamagician and as far as science goes I took astronomy in community college, but I’m gonna make it work because someday I am going to have an incredibly rewarding job and sustainable future.