Category Archives: Peace

Live Sustainably in Tiny Houses

energy-tiny-house-green-cropBy Marc Stapelberg

Compliments: Northern Star

SIMON Hartley is one of many forward-thinking residents of our region doing some impressive sustainable living experiments in their homes and yards.

Mr Hartley will open up his home to the public this month as part of Sustainable House Day, actually run over three days this year in a joint project between Lismore and Byron Shire Councils.

Live Sustainably in Tiny Houses Simon Hartley Goonellabah

At the main event in Bangalow, a suburb of “tiny houses” will pop up for the Sustainable House Day Expo, held on Saturday September 13.

These three homes are open this Sunday:
• 9am-noon. Richard Swinton and Cindy Thummell at 24 Ryces Dr, Clunes have retrofitted a 1980s project home.
• 10am-4pm. The Robinsons at 182 Bentley Rd, Tullera have built a new, low-cost sustainable home.
• 10am-4pm. Elaine Wood at 51 Cedar Dr, Dunoon has a solar passive steel-frame design.

These two homes are open next Sunday, September 14:
• 10am-4pm. Vanessa Tallon at 9 Keith St, Girards Hill has retrofitted a 1940s weatherboard cottage.
• 10am-4pm. Simon Hartley at 2/89 Figtree Dr, Goonellabah has a retrofitted brick duplex with intensive food production.

The popular tiny house movement is built on saving time, money, and the environment by dramatically reducing the size of our living spaces.

The event will include speakers on tiny houses, straw-bale building and a carbon neutral eco-village and information on repurposed shipping container housing, solar passive designs, aquaponics and retrofitting homes for energy efficiency.

Examples of “green” granny flat designs will also go on show, with the winner of Sustainable Small House Design Competition to be announced on the day.

There were 50 entries to the competition that gave designers a blank slate to create the best possible sustainable design.

“The competition was open to professional architects and designers, the community and young people,” Lismore City Council environment strategies officer Vanessa Tallon said.

“Some of the entries are unique and provide clever insight into how to build small and sustainable.”

Five locals are opening their homes for inspection on the Sunday before and the day after the expo.

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Service Space

peace-tiny-house-greenCompliments: Service Space

ServiceSpace is an all volunteer-run organization that leverages technology to inspire greater volunteerism. It’s a space to explore our own relationship with service and our interconnection with the rest of the world. ServiceSpace allows our inherent generosity to blossom out into small acts of service for the community around us. It’s a space to learn how outer change is closely tied to our own inner transformation. It’s about changing ourselves, to change the world.


ServiceSpace was conceived by volunteers, was built by volunteers, and is run by volunteers — all for the benefit of volunteers. Our projects range from a daily positive news service, to an acts-of-kindness portal, to a gift-economy restaurant. Regardless of the endeavor, we act in concert to create service opportunities for each other and to support each other’s service journeys.

In September of 2011, we formally changed our name from CharityFocus to ServiceSpace. Founded in 1999, ServiceSpace was originally started to help non-profits with technical services. Over the past dozen years, the organization has become an umbrella for many generosity-driven projects. Thus we have expanded our services from focusing just on helping charities, to encouraging everyday people to contribute in meaningful ways to the world around them. As the name suggests, our new expanded ServiceSpace platform allows people to stay connected with others interested in service, participate in service opportunities through any of our dozen projects, organize their own local service event using our tools, and stay connected to inspirational content. Above all, we believe in the inherent generosity of others and aim to ignite that spirit of service. Through our small, collective acts, we hope to transform ourselves and the world.

Visit the Service Space organization

Churches run into obstacles on path to hosting Tiny Houses

peace-tiny-house-greenBy Doug Erickson

Compliments: Wisconsin State Journal

Last October, Madison City Council members approved an ordinance change allowing religious institutions and nonprofit organizations to host people in tents or other temporary portable shelters on their premises.

One impetus was the “tiny house” movement, the effort by Occupy Madison Inc. to build a series of small structures on wheels for homeless people. The houses can be parked on city streets, but only if they are moved every 48 hours. Through the ordinance change, churches and other worship communities could provide longer-term sites.


Ten months later, no church is yet hosting a tiny house or homeless encampment, but it’s not for lack of interest or trying, said Brenda Konkel of Occupy Madison Inc.

“The churches that seem most willing to do it are the Downtown churches that don’t have a lot of space,” she said. “It’s the logistical issues that make it most difficult.”

In fairness to the churches, the urgency to find sites has diminished somewhat since last fall. In May, the City Council approved Occupy Madison’s plan to create a village of up to nine tiny houses on a site on East Johnson Street on the city’s East Side. Also, there is not yet a critical mass of tiny houses. Only four have been constructed.

“It’s been a little bit of a lower priority to find church sites,” Konkel said. “Not that we gave up or won’t be back, but until we get to that 10th house, we’re focused mainly on creating a community of tiny houses (at the East Johnson Street site).”

Several churches have spent considerable time and effort on possibly becoming hosts for tiny houses. Trinity Lutheran Church, 1904 Winnebago St., appears to have come the closest.

During Lent this year, the congregation held a series of educational forums on homelessness, with representatives from Occupy Madison among the guest speakers. At the end of Lent, the congregation discussed actions it could take to concretely aid the homeless, and hosting tiny houses was among them.

“We talked extensively about it, and there was definitely support from the whole congregation for having them here,” said the Rev. Sue Schneider. “We were all on board.”

Then a hitch developed. The parking lot adjacent to the church is small and used constantly for church functions and by the many community groups that meet at the church, so it wouldn’t work, Schneider said. The church instead wanted to place the tiny houses on the much larger, auxiliary parking lot it owns across the street.

But the current ordinance does not allow for that scenario. To host a tiny house, a parking lot must be on the church’s immediate premises, not off site, said Matt Tucker, city zoning administrator.

Lake Edge Lutheran Church, 4032 Monona Drive, also pursued the issue seriously.

In June, a church committee met with a number of people from Occupy Madison, including Konkel. Ultimately, the committee felt there were too many issues still to be worked out to move forward right now, said the Rev. Stephen Marsh.

The committee had concerns about the design of the tiny houses, such as whether the heating, ventilation and electrical systems are safe for the occupants, Marsh said. Also, the congregation would need to come to a consensus on several significant details, including whether to allow access to the church building and whether the occupants would be allowed to have alcohol on church property, something currently not allowed.

“We are not giving up, but we’re finding a few more obstacles than we anticipated,” Marsh said.

Lakeview Lutheran Church, 4001 Mandrake Road, which has a long history of helping the homeless, also has put the concept on hold.

“I like the entire idea, and I know there would be interest in this congregation, but I also know there would be some resistance in the neighborhood,” said the Rev. Dean Kirst.

The church saw that resistance in November 2012, when it opened a warming room with coffee for homeless people camping nearby at Lake View Hill Park. “We watched people stop and yell at that encampment, so we know there is opposition,” Kirst said.

The church hosts homeless families on site several weeks each year, providing meals and a safe place to sleep. It does this through an organization called The Road Home Dane County, which handles all of the management issues, from screening families to enforcing rules and responding to emergencies, Kirst said.

Hosting tiny houses would bring with it a greater level of responsibility, one the church has not had time to seriously consider, he said.

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Trash Around the World in Photos

peace-tiny-house-greenTiny House enthusiasts are supportive of various efforts to promote a greener earth for us and future generations. Part of that responsibility includes not being a litterbug. One site, Trash in Paradise, is helping by letting earth’s inhabitants post photos of trash-littered paradise locations to point out the travesty and to promote a cleaner, greener world by raising awareness of the litter travesty around the world.

From Trash in Paradise:

Whenever we travel, we always pick up our trash because we want other people to have the privilege to enjoy all the beautiful places in the world. We are very conscious of how much trash we produce and want to limit it as much as possible.

The purpose of this section is to display pictures of trash in paradises, so people can realize that even in the most beautiful locations, you can find pollution. Our future generations will be the ones to deal with all the problems caused by pollution and global warming.

Many places have been severely affected by this, especially the ocean. Not only do we depend on this earth but so do all other organisms in this world and it is our job to keep it clean and healthy. We need your help to show to the world what we “the humans” are doing to our planet.

If you have any pictures of trash in paradise or any image that can make people think about the damage we do by not picking up our trash, we will really appreciate it.


Visit Trash in Paradise for more information and spread the word by sharing this site with your friends.

Put Down the Cupcake: New Ban Hits School Bake Sales

peace-tiny-house-greenNew Requirements May Squeeze Out Gooey Fundraising Fare; Fat Standard

By Stephanie Armour

Compliments: Wall Street Journal

At Chapman School in Nebraska, resourceful students hawk pizza and cookie dough to raise money for school supplies, field trips and an eighth-grade excursion to Washington. They peddle chocolate bars to help fund the yearbook.

Schools-take-a-bite-out-of-doughnuts-and-other-unhealthy-fundraisersBut the sales won’t be so sweet starting this fall. Campus bake sales—a mainstay of school fundraisers—are going on a diet. A federal law that aims to curb childhood obesity means that, in dozens of states, bake sales must adhere to nutrition requirements that could replace cupcakes and brownies with fruit cups and granola bars.

Jeff Ellsworth, principal of the kindergarten through eighth-grade school in Chapman, Neb., isn’t quite sure how to break the news to the kids. “The chocolate bars are a big seller,” said Mr. Ellsworth.

The restrictions that took effect in July stem from the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act championed by first lady Michelle Obama and her “Let’s Move!” campaign. The law overhauled nutrition standards affecting more than 30 million children. Among the changes: fatty french fries were out, while baked sweet potato fries were deemed to be fine.

The law also required the U.S. Department of Agriculture to set standards for all food and beverages sold during the school day, which includes vending machines, snack carts and daytime fundraisers. It allowed for “infrequent” fundraisers, and states were allowed to decide how many bake sales they would have that didn’t meet nutrition standards.

Without state-approved exemptions, any treats sold would have to meet calorie, sodium, fat and other requirements. The law permits states to fine schools that don’t comply.

Forget about buttery, salty popcorn, for instance. Kernels sold on site during the day must contain no more than 230 milligrams of sodium per serving until 2016, when it drops even lower. No more than 35% of calories in an item can come from total fat.

A graphic put out by the USDA shows where some snacks stand.

Six chocolate sandwich cookies at 286 calories would be out, but a 4-ounce fruit cup with 100% juice at 68 calories would make the cut. Also out: a large doughnut at 242 calories and a 1.6 oz. chocolate bar with 235 calories.

Homemade fare is more challenging to measure, schools say.

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