Little House on a Small Planet (119)

pm119_620Builder and author Shay Salomon finds that the happiest home builders are often the ones with the smallest houses. They’re less costly to build and maintain, more likely to be finished, use fewer resources and help people simplify their lives. One version of “smaller” is to share a house, which can ease our loneliness while building our social network. Co-founder of the Small House Society, Shay notes that scaling down can enable a ratcheting up of our whole lifestyle, as we revalue quality over quantity. Declaring “Enough”, she says, is the most ecological thing one can do. Episode 129. []

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  1. Iselin Celestine says:

    Shay is remarkable in her calming presence and well-spoken communication. I am not surprised to learn about the ratio of vacant housing to homeless persons. Even as I realize that there are a number of relevant concerns, I think that this is a representative example of the extreme waste (and inexcusable lack of humanity) that is allowed in this country due to corporate/business, political/governmental, and even societal complicity. I find reaffirming the further conversation (comments) and honest personal admissions here. I, too, have known both greater inner greed and more conscientious/conscious choice. In earnestness, I think that there is virtually no end to our human material desires. Rather, at some point, we “simply” choose to honor other values more–and act accordingly. And Stuart–your humor is priceless:)

  2. Dear Kelli,

    I hear you loud and clear. GREED is an ugly word, but it does describe the main motivating force in the American economy. How sad it is to see once-proud America lurching from one crisis to the next. Peak Oil has taken a breather as collapsing economies reduce their oil demand, but at the first sign of any economic revival, Peak Oil will be back…

    Although I never bought into the BIG EVERYTHING American lifestyle, I saved and invested instead, I now plainly see that I was blinded by greed too. My hunger for more interest and dividends blinded me to the possibility of the financial hurricane that just hit us. I guess the “good times” are over, it’s back to good old honest work and a modest lifestyle.

  3. I absolutely love this. Since I was a kid when I thought of owning a home I wanted a small one room cabin. (totally against the grain I know-never wanted a McMansion!) I am studying to be an Art Therapist and most problems in American society are related to greed…gotta have a big house, big car, BIG everything and our families have fallen apart and now our economy has as well.
    This book and the ideals contained are priceless!

  4. Hey Stuart,

    Check out this woman and her house at my partner’s blog:

    Her name is Dee Williams and she is our inspiration. 🙂 My partner and I are planning to move into a 150 sqft trailer of a similar design. 🙂


  5. Stuart M. says:

    Another wonderful, inspiring conversation! I live in a fairly large house, by Japanese standards, that belongs to my wife. Whenever we are out and about, and I see a small house, I announce, “Watashi no uchi!” which means “That’s my house!” She invariably answers, “Well, you can go and live there by yourself!”

    I know one should never generalize, but I have serious doubts about whether women can live in a small house. I have had two wives and both could never throw away (or donate) old clothes, always more and more new clothes accumulate. This morning, I gouged my big toe on a wire clothes hanger that had been left on the bedroom floor. I picked it up and went to my wife’s closet to put it away. I couldn’t believe my eyes! The clothes were so tightly packed, I couldn’t squeeze in even one empty wire hanger! There is another closet in an upstairs bedroom which is equally packed to the bursting point. The kitchen is the same story. There are enough dishes in the closet to feed a small army! And yet, more dishes seem to appear every day. Sorry if this sounds like a lot of complaining, but I feel better already.

    Ms. Salomon makes the interesting point that New York City apartment dwellers use far less energy and resources than the typical American home. This is certainly true if one examines the utility meters, but I wonder whether all the energy that goes into, say, lighting the streets at night, powering the subways, transporting food and everything else, etc., has been added into the equation. There are also many other costs associated with city living that have nothing to do with energy/resource use like high crime, noise and stress levels. In my experience, living in an apartment can be every bit as isolating as living in a suburban home.

    I often get into a debate about which is more environmentally sound: living in a small town in the countryside or living in a city. Having to commute by car from the small town to one’s job in a big city is obviously a no-no. But if one were really able to live and work in that small town which maybe has only a few stores and a post office, how would that compare with living in an apartment in the big city? Many things like using a woodstove, installing solar panels or putting up a windmill generator are possible in a small town setting. Growing one’s own food and keeping a goat or two might also be possible. Now, tell me which lifestyle is better for the environment? Add in the other quality of life benefits and I think the cloice is easy, although I do admit I am somewhat of a culture vulture and would miss the art, music and other cultural offerings of the big city.


  1. […] 79. The Renter’s Manifesto 80. Living Large in a Tiny House 81. How To Arrange a Teeny, Tiny Apartment 82. Teeny Tiny Free Plans 83. Why Live in a Micro Home? 84. Little House on a Small Planet […]

  2. […] Here’s that interview – (it’s laced with conspiracy and kind of long, sorry) Peak Moment Conversations

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