A living laboratory for a sustainable human future.

Building Sanity

written by Arjuna da Silva

Learning to live together also means learning from one anothers’ mistakes. Learning to build with low budgets, limited time, and few professionals has been another learning curve. Still, quite a few successes in design and construction remain praiseworthy. Last issue we focused on tiny houses; this issue we look at larger projects that are standing the test of time

Walking down the old, sturdy stairs from the upper apartments in the Bellavia building, I admire the work, however rough and minimal, that was put into the structure all those years ago and modestly improved upon in the ensuing years. I’ve seen the development of this useful, sustainable living and work space that has remained a viable anchor for folks to co-own or rent. Twenty years of intensive use has yielded home and comfort for several families and expansion of the building’s housing is currently underway.

Building at Earthaven has run the gamut from houses like mine (Leela), the Stones’, Julie & Andy’s, VT, the Love House, and (next door at Full Circle) the Broadheads’—all high end for this end of the state road—and salvage-and-mud huts too tiny for two suitcases. I worry about the ones that need better ventilation; anyone can put on another blanket or another log, but the moisture  building materials can absorb is something we all need to pay attention to. There’s a lot to know about healthy bodies and healthy buildings, two streams of sufficiency we began traveling together 24 years ago.

As new folks transition into Full Membership and join pods, the next wave of building will occur for residential  neighborhoods and the commons. Skill, materials, and time will be precious categories. What will allow folks with limited funds, whose savings might be only enough to cover move-in expenses and buy-in costs, to create healthy living space?

VT—a good example

Good things are usually the result of good timing, luck, and some bold creativity. The timing of who had reason to be involved with whom certainly played a key role in the outcome of this vibrant, successful  housing experiment. With two of the three proposed buildings completed, a duplex and a set of apartments, there is room in this pod for expansion! What are the factors most residents base their positive assessments on?

When I think about how short our community lineages have become, I feel the push to help insure that knowledge, know-how, good strategies and ideas, as well as their results are passed along in ways that are usable, not just admired.

Earthaven is a community coming into a new self-awareness with lots of room for aligned individuals, and families to connect. Culture’s Edge is a conduit for projects, programs and practices we value for building mutual support and collective strength.


bellavia, leela, love house, VT

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