Israeli Invents Cardboard Bike!

Israeli Invents Cardboard Bike!

Creativity counts!  It’s exciting when you see someone take a resource such as recycled corrugated cardboard and create bikes out of it.  Folding the board in a particular way gives it great strength and then a coating (resin?) makes it waterproof.  A final coat of paint makes it spiffy…  He plans to retail it for only $20 making transportation easily accessible.  It can also take a small motor for those who need it as a commuter bike.

Aside | Posted on by | Leave a comment

Engineering Infallability

Here’s a question for you.  Are engineers gods?

I ask this in the spirit that for many years doctors were regarded as deific, both in the honor and respect lauded and, in their supposed infallibility.  If ever there was a health care failure, it was ruled an act of God, and set on the shelf.  Now that deaths due to doctors and hospitalization are published as annual figures, they’ve fallen to a lower cloud.  Health procedures have picked up percentage success rates to notify the public that just because you opt in for the medical path your doctor’s recommended, he’s really NOT responsible after all.  (Despite the high rate of torte cases every year, but that’s another subject.)

In local issues related to new sewers, river restoration projects, road design, bridges and dams, we turn to the engineering consultants with that same unquestionable focus we used to bestow upon doctors.   “Well, that’s what the engineer says”, becomes the standard answer when you challenge a civic decision, even when so-called common sense lights the warning lights.

Engineers are the answer men (mostly men, groan), and we are not keeping track of their answers.  Polite competition between firms keeps competing science from coming into play.  Once a local firm gets the civic contract, it’s a done deal and only their expert opinion weighs in. The only exception to this is when environmental impact statements are required and high-stake property owners pay to get a more favorable outcome.ImageThis topic comes to thought just after the Brown Bridge Dam drawdown failed and the Boardman River flooded, damaging more than 60 homes in the process.  The news reports say ‘we may never know why this happened’.  Which is ironic when the engineering project was never suspect.  Maybe this outcome should have been on the percentages list too?

Oh, well.  I guess it was an act of God???

http://record-eagle.com/local/x1618664503/Floods-cause-may-stay-mystery

and for my vast national audience:  check this out!  http://engineeringfailures.org/

Posted in Opinions?, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Being Local…

Last night I attended a talk by economist Michael Shuman in Traverse City.  His latest book is Local Dollars, Local Sense:  How to Shift Your Money from Wall Street to Main Street and Achieve Real Prosperity.  (These are my notes and reflections from his presentation 02OCT12 at the Haggerty Center on beautiful Grand Traverse Bay.)

Localization process?

1) Maximize local ownership [Check.  That’s what life in N. Michigan is all about!]

2) Maximize local self-reliance [Check.  Possible WITHIN a community like ours here.]

3) Spread the model of a ‘triple-bottom line success’.  [I’d never heard that before, success financially, success environmentally, success for the contributing labor force.  Check.  That’s something we can all agree on.]

Afterall, you cannot attract local businesses to your area if the whole picture is not complete.  Your beaches have to work:  Here it’s beaches and woods, anyway.

Return on the Dollar?

A common misconception is that when economic develop programs attract biz to the area, it will be GREAT.  huh?  Turns out that if you spend $100 at a BigBoxBookstore (such as the old Border’s)  only about $13.oo of that $100 stays in the local economy.  The rest wings it way far away.  Verses at a small independent shop?  $45 stays put.  Think of that.  Three times the dollar value by “attracting local biz”….an oxymoron to be sure because local biz is ALREADY here!  (This was originally a study of the Austen, TX market.)

Studies show the multiplier nationally is 2.6 more dollars staying put.  Instead of high level professional fees (legal, finance, accounting, marketing, etc) going elsewhere, local professionals get hired.  Local advertisers.  Local suppliers.  Local local local.

More jobs?

Keeping local, means keeping jobs.  Smart growth, entrepreneurship, public health, volunteerism, even voting improves directly proportionally to the vibrant, healthy local business economy.

Trading outside the ven-diagram?

There’s a mainstream economic bias that regards world trade as the prime economic stimulus for growth.  Whereas local growth, focuses first on meeting the market at home, then regionally, then to the world as enhanced trade.

Michael gave two exciting examples of growth “outside the box” of typical economic theory.

Value Added Yields a Horizontal Growth Spread in Vermont?

First, look at Hardwick, Vermont…a small (some would say tiny) community of less than 3,000.  This little farming community set out to become “THE BEST LOCAL FOOD COMMUNITY OF NEW ENGLAND”.  No small feat, although there were really not that many there, especially in cold, snowy, rocky, Vermont.

Organic, yes!  They worked on that.  Value-added product lines?  yes.  The local tofu maker ventured into the soy-cheese business.  They created biz-incubators where start-up companies could get a toe-hold in industrial kitchens.  Also, they loaned money to each other.  $300,000 and counting.  That infusion of local capital along with the spirited enterprise of a community with a mission, created….wait for it… 100 jobs.  THAT’s a lot in a little tiny town.  See the NY times article about them:  http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/08/dining/08verm.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor goes Vertical to add Dimension to their Business Model-

Faced with the desire to grow your already successful biz what do you do?  Franchise your model across country?  That’s what many business think is the next step.  However, the owners of Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor didn’t want to loose their very real connection to community and chose to grow deeper, instead of wider:  Nine new businesses under the Zingerman’s umbrella.

They needed bread?  Start a bakery.

Cakes for weddings and barmitzvahs?  Mail-order specialty cake biz.

Icecream? Check, have a creamery on site!

All that food making?  Make it a full fledged restaurant.

Coffee Roasting.  Yep.  Got that too.

And, since you are so good at the fine art of customer service?  Teach that as a module that can be marketed nationally.  All without leaving home.  Sigh.

Here is their website:  Go shopping.  http://www.zingermans.com/

——————————————————————————————-

Let’s get back to the consensus about full employment, good labor experiences, and great environments… and profitability.

We assume the bigger the biz, the more growth there is going to be.

Turns out, that’s only an assumption.  The truth is that when you compare biz greater than 500 employees and compare that to those with 100-499 and those even smaller with 1 -99 employees combined, not including the home-based businesses which account for 20% of our economy, there’s only been about a 2% growth in productivity in the larger group since 1990.  AND, that’s after all the globalization of the last decade or two.

(See Michael’s book:  The Smallmart Revolution.)

As to profitability, there’s exponentially more profitability in those sole-proprietorships, then joint partnerships over corporations.  Surprised? And, 2/3 of what these smaller ventures purchase is for local goods and local services.

As the price of oil increases, that becomes even more true since the trade-agreements tend to focus on non-durable goods (those for the consumer that last three years or less; wearing out.)  These goods are heavy and take a lot to ship.  Here’s the opportunity for the local economy to step up and compete.

Steps to take?

Planning:  Plug the holes.  What outside goods and services are missing from your local economy?

People:  Support the entrepreneaur.  Hear that.

Policy:  Be at least, policy neutral toward local business.  Remove roadblocks to success.

Traverse City Factoids

Employed:       44,648

Self-employed:  8.757  (Typical proportions)

Unemployed:     3,532  (Think it’s more than that. Count me too.)

Potential Jobs:    1,970 (Thru a self reliant economy)

Potential wages?  83 M.

Techniques – the how and why?

Provide systems that, get this, pay their own way.

Local foodie incubators are not a new idea (there are perhaps 1000 in the USA).  But have the successful new ventures create stock  and reward a 10% share to the incubator.  Now THAT’s new.

Purchasing:

Check out Tuscon Originals, a buying club for foodies.  http://www.tucsonoriginals.com/restaurants/  A built in reward system for those who eat locally (and who doesn’t do that?) building community, and purchasing power among restaurenteers.

Similar opportunities exist large and small to offer loyalty points.  Think of your barista’s coffee card system, only bigger.

Bernal Bucks. a very very local debit card system in the SF Bay area rewards local shoppers and brings capital back to the community.  https://bernalbucks.clearbon.net/

Local Procurement

While awarding contracts only to local businesses may be in conflict with the constitution and international trade agreements (are you scared now?)… what if you evaluate the ‘real cost’ of bidding when you include the cost of taking wages, saleries, services and goods outside the service area?

The Purse

Getting access to capital is all we hear about, yada, yada.  Where is all the money?

Turns out, its YOURS.  And, it’s locked up in your pension funds way far away from here in the big fortune 500 stockfunds and bonds building biz-bridges across country, not locally.  30 Trillion.  That’s a capital T.  Long term money tied up tightly.

Local banks don’t have pension funds you can invest in, right?  As Michael says:  “YOU GOT A PROBLEM!”

If there’s a way to shift even 1/2 of that from wall street to mainstreet, that would amount to $50,000 in capital available per every man, woman and child.  More children would have businesses if that money was available.  For sure.

Even when you look at stock market returns over the many, many years that typically we quote as having an 8% return, in actuality, the return is more like 2.6% including dividents and not counting the loss to inflation.  And, that’s generous.

Investor Clubs, Angel Investors

Thanks to government regulation, which aims to please by reducing risk for those unpracticed with large scale gambling, to be an “accredited investor” you have to have 200-300 K in income, 1M in wealth and sign numerous lines in an investor agreement that states:  “This is a risk, you could loose it all”.

Not so different from gambling, really.

Now when your granmother, or Michaels’ anywat,  goes to the casino with a wad of cash there are no similar protections.  She doesn’t sign anything warning of the dangers of throwing money away.  Why not let her invest in her local restaurant or start-up craft business? Such ‘gambling’ may actually come back to her with real rewards.

The securities and exchange laws protect the lawyers who earn their millions producing the boilerplate warnings which everybody signs but nobody reads (in their right minds anyway).

Specialized Certificate of Deposits

Some banks and credit unions have gone ahead and created a specialized CD that has a societal purpose (other than making the bank money).

Some $34,000,000 of investor’s capital has been put to use through the ‘Equal Exchange CD’ of Eastern Bank in Boston.  See their website:  http://www.equalexchange.coop/eecd  “In return for that risk, your money can be used for tremendous good. For example $2000 can buy, at Fair Trade prices, the complete coffee harvest of a typical family farm. That 5-acre farm, perhaps high in a remote Peruvian valley, might support 6-8 people. So with a $2000 CD you can help keep a family on their land, providing hope that they can improve life for their children. You earn a competitive interest rate, too.”

Co-op Investment

Weaver Street Market Co-op in Carboro, NC (where my daughter lives by the way) as a coop needed to expand and they successfully borrowed from their own members who earned 5-8% return on their investment.  http://www.weaverstreetmarket.coop/

LIONIZING FUNDS

See Port Townsend, WA who with James Frazier (a former options and hedge fund manager gone good) http://www.preservationnation.org/main-street/main-street-news/story-of-the-week/2012/120214locavesting/locavesting-a-model-to.html

By creating ‘pre-existing relationships’ between the investors and the investees, small funds can be gathered to capitalize new ventures and entrepreneurs.  There’s risk involved (remember you are not sitting at a black jack table) and the fine print can be interesting.

SOTW_2-14-12_PortTownsendWaterfront

Still, for all of its potential, LION operates in a sort of gray area, as far as securities laws are concerned. Unlike most private and angel investors, LION’s members are not necessarily accredited investors, who have the SEC’s blessing to wade into small, private deals that the agency considers risky. “We’re more going on the concept of the securities law exemption for nonpublic offerings,” explains Frazier, who is a registered investment advisor.

By that, he means the “private offering exemption” under Section 4(1) of the Securities Act. But what exactly constitutes a nonpublic offering is open to debate. Frazier points to a 1962 SEC ruling that attempts to clarify when such exemptions from registration are allowed. Traditionally, the private offering exemption has been available for “bank loans, private placements of securities with institutions and the promotion of a business venture to a few closely related persons,” the ruling explains. So, as long as the potential investors have a preexisting relationship and familiarity with the offerer of the securities, it can be considered a nonpublic offering. “In a community like ours,” says Frazier, “that’s usually if not always the case.”

Note:  There’s a group in Traverse City that meets the second Thurday of every month having great potlucks – and, oh, some investments get made between friends with close personal relationships.

Kicking Money

Kickstarter funding is pretty well known.  Your investment goes in as a gift really, except you may get a t-shirt, or a book or CD out of it.  Great for small ventures and easy to set up.

KIVA lending

Kiva lets you invest in needy projects.  You get your principal back after they’ve used it to change the world.  No interest tho.  Sorry, but you get bonus points for being an angel.

Slow Money – Slow Munis

Slow tax-exempt municiple funds to collatorlize loans from local lenders.  See the book by Woody Tash Slow Money.  Typically used to save soil, support local farms.  From Wiki:

Slow Money’s long-term objective is for one million investors to commit 1% of their assets to local food systems. Slow Money is incubating new intermediaries. One strategy is the I. Fund, with “I.” standing for “integral,” in which a new foundation charter mandates investment of assets that are consistent with charitable purposes. Another strategy is Slow Munis or tax-exempt bonds dedicated to local food systems. New funds dedicated to organic farmland are being organized. Food funds and “clubs” are being developed locally in many regions.[10]

Pre-Selling

I really like this one.  Sort of a lay-a-way investment strategy.

Awaken Coffee in Oakland, CA (where my son, Andrew, lives by the way) needed to expand and move shop.  They presold coffee subscriptions for $1000 each which were worth $1200 after the move.  They raised $100,000!  That’s a lot of coffee.  I hope croissants were included too.

That almost looks like Andrew in some ways -same rosy cheeks.  awaken cafe

Local Stock

Each state can have a local stock if purchased and traded at a local stock exchange.  No need to go to Chicago or New York.  How about an exchange here in town?  If there are enough business with stocks out there to exchange this begins to make sense.  Lots of SEC and State law to go through tho… they don’t make it easy.

Time out.

Take a breath.  the two of you who are reading this.  Michael?  My son, Andrew, the UC Grad Student in Policy and Economics.  breathe in, now out…..

Michael Shuman got to go to the Rose Garden to watch President Obama sign a law which he and many others worked hard to get through Congress.  It enables small investments of $2,000 or less, to be made by individuals.  Basically legalizing ‘Crowd Funding’.   It took more than 2-1/2 year to get this passed (DESPITE THE ECONOMIC HOLE WE NOW SIT IN) and it will take more time for the burearcrats to obscure the intent in their legaleze regualtions.  But, wheeeh…. a breeze is ablowin’.

http://www.startupexemption.com/crowdfunding-101#axzz28SEgUn8T

Self-Directed IRA’s

I’m running out of steam, except to note that the same laws that make it possible to have gold in your IRA, also make it possible to invest in your neighbor’s house.  That’s as simple as can be right?  See the “Dummies” book about it….LOTS OF POTENTIAL IN THIS ONE!

These comments are again, basically my notes from Tuesday night’s lecture.  Michael Shuman is a great speaker with lots of ideas that we should all be aware of…let the dialogue begin.  I think Traverse City is far the RICHER for his appearance here.

See his website:  www.cuttingedgecapital.com and his email: shuman@igc.org

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Natural Cottage Build – 2012

Image

Cob wall defines a small garden for the strawbale and timberframe guesthouse.  The garden wall will eventually have a green growing roof to shed water.  You see the wood supports for that roof.

Living small in a big way —

We hear sustainability preached far and wide these days….but how much does it really mean when it’s applied to plastic bottles of healthy cleaning solutions, high mileage cars loaded with batteries, and a host of consumer goods?  It’s still plastic, metal, and packaging, isn’t it?  What does it really mean to build sustainably?

Recently I had the opportunity to share in the hands-on build of a strawbale cottage.  I learned that I love working with wood timberframes, that cob is durable enough to withstand two hurricans, that a thatch roof is at least a 50 year roof, that the natural clay plasters structually carry the load to the foundation like a stressed-skin panel system …and most of all, that a community can form in just two weeks with like minded builders eating a lot of barley, vegetables and grits!

Everything that went into this little accessory building either came from the site, or pretty darn close.  The cottonwood timbers we used for the timberframe were from a neighbor, the straw, locally grown.  The thatching for the roof was gathered in the area the previous winter from wetlands nearby (with DNR approval).  There were some nails, a tiny bit of drywall, and twine, but hopefully they came to the site from the US at least.

This tiny building will serve as a guest house for the much larger Strawbale Sudio.  See www.strawbalestudio.org and www.naturalcottageproject.com.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Creating place on a small scale–

This gallery contains 1 photo.

As I write this I am sitting on a lovely covered porch perched over the Boardman River in Traverse City, Michigan.  It is my home of the  moment.  It’s actually a coffee shop/cafe called Morsels.  I recommend it for the … Continue reading

Gallery | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

http://www.ted.com/talks/ayah_bdeir_building_blocks_that_blink_beep_and_teach.html

Design Accessibility!  See how changing play into learning can change the world.  Electronics so easy to understand and USE, it’s child’s play….

Link | Posted on by | Leave a comment

Halfway to the North Pole!

Halfway to the North Pole!

Here in Sutton’s Bay, Michigan this sign proclaims: “You are SOMEWHERE”. I used to see it’s mate back in Oregon on the road to Salem, OR.

Wanting to be in Michigan instead, I would put my hand over my heart, thump it a few times…..(kinda like clicking my heels together), and think, Michigan.

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , | Leave a comment

AIA Advocates for the Construction Economy – Rebuild and renew!

Most people are so busy trying to save energy with their cars what they don’t realize is that buildings account for 40% of the energy use in this country. The American Institute of Architect’s [AIA] plan to lobby for a ‘Rebuild and Renew’ effort doesn’t place as great an emphasis on sustainable design as it should. But pressuring the financial sector to release funds for new development, cutting back government regulation of small business and infrastructure funding will help. We all know this, and knew this 2 years ago. Yet we have seen little movement to jump start the real economy – the world economy is still working thru the recession. We are no longer the big fish in a small pond. We are one of many markets trying to work out thru innovation and design a new post-recession world.

http://www.aia.org/advocacy/federal/index.htm

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The “Technium”

Kevin Kelly, the founding editor of ‘WIRED‘ magazine spoke last night here in Portland, Oregon at the Bagdad Theatre for the ‘Science Pub’, an event co-sponsered by Powell’s Books and OMSI [Oregon Museum of Science and Industry]…His new book?  “What Technology Wants”.   While it has a certain panache, to hear a great thinker talk about technology in the company of 300 beer drinking engineers, scientists, and wanna-be wonks like me,… he really got me thinking. Which is good, right?  Here are some concepts Kevin presented last night interspersed with my thoughts too.

Time to really look at the big picture of technology now. Kevin starts with a quote ‘ Technology is anything invented after your were born’… well, not really, so it seems though.  But we tend to forget how technology has shaped the past (gun powder, printing press, magnets, clocks),  shaped the way we think by reading (linear coding of alphabets), shaped our brain pathways…and will shape our future.

Just like plants like light, and tend to lean towards it….Does Technogy lean???  That’s really the issue here.

Biology, like technology, has tendencies. Complexity, increased diversity, specialization, mutual-ism, ubiquity and sentience just to start naming a few.  Turns out even computer code evolves. Microsoft Office, ubiquitous as it is, evolved code within itself. Codes created other codes with tendencies to write other codes… Tendency is probably not the right word, but ‘who knew?’.

If you can map families and classifications of biological systems (note that word), you can map systems of evolving technologies.  Kevin used the hammer to show how–from simple rocks bound to sticks, hammers evolved to ever increasing specialization all the way to that expensive space shuttle hammer-thingie. [my word].

Helmets? Yes, they can be said to evolve based on materials, region, economics, utility and utmost: safety for the noggin inside.

Technology, an extension of human evolution, can really be called the 7th Kingdom of life. THATS’ pretty bodacious, Kevin.  But it IS easy to make the point that one of our technologies, say the computer mouse, relies on hundreds of other technologies, which in turn rely on hundreds of technologies…ever try to make one?

Energy density: a new concept for me…like the sunflower which uses solar energy to grow and develop, technology uses energy. You knew that.  But did you know that technology uses 3/4 of the energy on our planet? Think of a car, all that technology and the energy used to move just one little person around.  The most energy dense creation, natural or invented, is a computer chip.  So much energy runs through it proportionately, that chip designers have to manage it to avoid explosions!  Didn’t know that.

You can leave the post now…I know some of your eyes are waxing over.  But I am going to continue now—you are excused.

Have to mention More’s Law now…you know, that chip capacity and technology will advance proportionatly along a straight line.  No matter how many people put their ‘all’ into a new one, no matter what economics or advantages one may apply, this More’s Law still governs.  What’s with that??? [me asking.]  Something pretty powerful in that law operating not just through past observations (before “they” even knew about the law but also off into the far future too.)

Just as there are recursive loops in genetics, or software… Translation? More than one set of flapping wings evolved in different species as a solution to flight (bats, birds, bugs). Technology evolves in the same way at different places and conditions…about the same time period.  The light bulb was patented by more than just Edison, there was more than one solution to the atomic bomb problem, there are more ways to skin a cat….(not that we do that).  I wonder, Kevin must know the 100th monkey story.  I am going to assume you do.  You don’t???

Well, on an island there are monkeys.  One day, a particularly smart monkey goes down to the water’s edge to wash his mango.  Soon other monkeys see that and copy it.  As soon as the 100th monkey adapts to this ‘new technology’ call it “clean”,… on another island, shabaamo, instantaneously all the monkeys start washing their mangoes.

I like to think of it, as ‘it’s time had come’…like with any good idea, it is a product of a time line. [my point.]  The principles of flight are eternal and have always existed, right?  But the right combination of desire, need, materials, adventure add up to winged machines. [my point again.] Kevin, I think you should explore this idea.  Maybe you do in your book, which I look forward to reading.

Ok, you can leave now…. if you really need to.

Technology also doesn’t really go away. Turns out all that old-timey technology of the Montgomery Ward Catelogue is still available, IF you have an intern to hunt them down like Kevin does.

The web was inevitable (although a singular system and I do worry about it going away, especially Facebook). The autodriven auto is also inevitable.  One million automobile accidental deaths a year until we turn the driving over to the machine completely.  We are technology, and ‘technology is us’…we are the first domesticated animals…(that’s Kevin).  Once we harnessed fire, our ovens became extended stomachs making it easier to process foods before indigestible. Our minds, the way we think, even our bodies are changing as we sit in front of screens for 8-10 hours a day.  I, myself, already resemble a tellitubby.  Warning, if you click on this video you WILL want to turn down the volume.  Although these tubbies have some pretty bright ‘technology for babies’ depicted. Programming future engineers to think in really, really bright color.

Now, there is somewhat of a moral issue here….Is it good?  Is it bad? Or is it simply inevitable?  I think Kevin would say it is inevitable.  Adding that some societies control technology for reasons of their own.  The high Amish for example may use high tech but in a way that enhances their close familial relationships. China may edit Facebook and the internet for political control.  But somehow, technology is a wave that comes onto shore eventually. (me).

And, that’s where Kevin Kelly wraps up his discussion. Technology as a cosmic force, a thread of increasing order.  Similiar to those star systems that are self sustaining for eons.  There’s some measure of confidence in his postulates that we will be self sustaining as well.  I sure hope so!

Kevin’s email is: kk@kk.org.  He is an organization.  Seems fitting.

Kevin, in case you are curious, I am the one who asked about the latent* potentialities of the human brain, and the value of thinking in terms of the year 3010 in order to reverse engineer ourselves.  Have you thought much about life one thousand years from now?  Beyond science fiction really, imagination is pulling us forward into new technologies…try it sometime.  A good way to spend a rainy Portland evening no doubt!

Kevin, Mr. Kelly, about that little startup publication: Wired.  It’s been a huge influence on me.  Thank you!  Your TED interview is here.

*Latent: present and capable of becoming though not now visible, obvious, active or symptomatic.

Posted in Great Information, Lectures, Opinions?, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Memory and Home ~

There’s been a lot of buzz around the movie “Inception”. You know the one with Leonardo DiCaprio. Without being a spoiler, I will say that there’s a lot of association with home, and memory. Although not the major premise of the film, it got me wondering…

Why we are so deeply imprinted with memories of home?  Much like salmon swimming up the streams their grandmother salmon traversed, we [may] go about recreating our sense of own unique home wherever we go. The same sense of home.

I know I do….

Where I live now, I have the same sort of terrace area with lots of potted geraniums, garden art, and comfy seating I’ve always had.  Even if the ‘terrace’ was a fire escape in San Francisco in my early 20’s.   It is here in the garden that I am most conscious of my recreating home,…well, garden.

Inside, true, the furniture, the art, the antiques, come with me wherever I go.  A certain sameness.  I lose a piece here or there, as I shift from coast to coast. I gain a piece as I find them along the way. Yet, the ‘essential’ home really does remain the same. It’s me. It’s my nest.  The epiphany?  Home is me.

Are you the same?

I fantasize of being a mid-century modern girl with a classic collection of wood dining room chairs, a swishy swedish modern table, a brilliantly hued couch, and perhaps a deep white shag rug. Well, that’s a little 60’s modern, isn’t it?

I think about moving again across country and ditching everything I own. I think about this. But, it won’t happen. Well, it could happen.  Could. This much I know too, even if I did, I would soon be finding the little things and colors and textures that spell out home to me.

There’s the concept of Feng Shui, which pretty much everyone knows a little about – there being few ‘real’ experts out there.  The most intriguing aspect to me is that one in which your home setting influences you, and not the other way around.  You add a mirror here where there are weird cut-off corners to your space, you add a wind chime there to clear some stagnant energy – and poof!  Your life moves on…

I do know when I lived in Boston in a lovely pied-a-terre, I tried some of those ideas.  In trying them, I did feel different.  But it is sort of a chicken and the egg quandary.  Does the desire precede the form?  The energy shift occur mentally or spiritually before the room reflects the shift?

Back to the film…. In dreams, we create spaces in which to act out our deeply held notions.  Vivid dreams of homes intrigue me. When I used to have rental properties, I had a particular preminiscious ‘landlord’ dream. Usually the very next day, dang, a tenant would call to say they were breaking their lease, or the water heater had blown, that sort of thing.  In these dreams, I’d be in a very well-defined home or condo, with all the features you might describe in a real estate advertisement.  I’d be there, usually with some ‘dream-land’ tenants, and realizing that “Yes, indeed, I do own this wonderful house”. Never-mind the fact that I’d completely forgotten that fact; Forgotten to make mortgage payments (which magically got paid by the renters on my behalf).  It got so that after one of these ‘landlord’ dreams, I’d just wait for the call the next day!

Designing is about dreaming, isn’t it?  If you have ever sketched out your ‘dream’ house, in some ways, you are creating memories on paper.  Creating future memories.  Scribing beliefs about home.

Gazing through home magazines, we  search page for a confirmation of self….”yes, that’s me”.  Or, “no, I could never like that chromed faux-bois table base, that persimmon colored chaise”.

Does your dream home have a walk-in pantry?  Does it have a lap pool out back?  Do you create rooms which flow from one to another, or perhaps are strung along a defining axis?  Do you dream in color or in space?

And, what does this say about you?  More to think on, definitely! See the movie in any case, there are luscious images of home and very architectural places.

Posted in Opinions?, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 2 Comments