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In the US today, our standard of living reflects 4 times the earths resources and the population is about to double. Imagine twice as many people. If we consider old fashioned values, we all remember a different time, from our own lives or our families lives, a simpler time in some ways. Certainly, as a home design/build professional, I have been through the Solar 70"s, the greedy 80"s, the somewhat prosperous 90's and 00"s. Home building used to be done by individual builders who had reputations and quality was highly regarded.  Today we have large builders who see our farms and aquifers as opportunity to buy cheap land to build Hog homes.Back in the 70's corporations saw an opportunity to control people's lives and transfers became common.At around the same time, divorce increased housing needs and quality became too expensive. All we had known and learned about solar was forgotten. The documentary film, "Earth Day" , worth seeing, shows the politics of the 80's when Carter said we needed to sacrifice and Regan said, no we do not, not we Americans! We voted and the environmental movement of the 60's,70's and 80's disappeared.
Between the unbridled greed  at the expense of human health we are in a most critical time . Maybe an answer is in a simple choice, choose quality over quantity hence creating balance in lifestyle and future health.
It is not what we know but how we think that is the problem
No time for the homework ,but thank you for the suggestion. Our focus should be on a common mission. Once defined, solutions are easy. We seem to have ample ability to solve problems yet no effective leadership that can connect the dots . So, if we can solve the problems ,it must be another problem. This may be in how we see our connection to the way we interact with nature. Philosophically, can we continue to exploit the earth and expect healthy results for ourselves?  All of these issues directly impact our individual lives. A new system model is in order.
The US is suffering from a profit driven model in business that has been allowed to exploit the individual and the environment . Unfortunately, until we resolve this critical component to the proposed system, there will be continued band aid solutions, non long term.I suggest other countries, and there are many, have a better cultural and philosophical understanding of these connections. Their understanding is the result of connecting these dots of human connections to our environment and making choices that sees human health as more important than profit. Certainly, the profit is greater when we live in prosperity and balance to the individual.
It is really not what we know but how we think that is the problem.
Bulldozers await recovery to continue sprawl
The economic downturn, which we have experienced before, only delays the bulldozers. The big builders are cash heavy awaiting cheap land sales to prepare for more urban sprawl., Check out Toll Brothers on the NYSE. I believe the only way to avoid this destruction is to educate the general public.Unfortunately, change will happen because we decide, as consumers, developers want the cash,
It is true it takes time to change people's minds, individually and collectively. It is up to all of us to choose the healthiest solutions we have. Clearly, wind power is healthy and if we used utility lines and light poles, it would be amazing, immediately.
We know by blood testing that we have 500 times more pollutants in our blood than our grandmothers did (great grandmothers). In order to assure heath, our buildings need to be built well, be manageable,affordable and these mean sustainably.
When we think about where to live, live near where you work. That would help all of us. When you buy a house, buy one that is dry, sunny, with good HVAC and built with quality not quantity. Try to buy to restore, remodel reinvest in existing infrastructures.
Then take a deep breathe and relax!
Windmills , Nuclear , Urban Planning and Human health
There is no downside to wind power except noise. There is with nuclear. However, we are not at a time when one solution is enough. Actually, we really must stop our consumption model, change our attitude about how we live and downsize, create health and safe energy use and address our approach to all existing infrastructures that prevent this happening. As a professional builder, I have dealt with many restrictions. Urban planning should be redesigned to consider a much larger system dynamic to include human health and the interconnections between the existing built world and the possibilities. If we share a common goal of health, answers become more apparent for change.We need leadership, not opinion in areas of human health in our existing built world to sustain quality of life as the population will be doubling very soon
Can women's buying stuff be our salvation?

Imagine if you needed less. Had less , but lived better.

Imagine if you are personally responsible for singlehandedly destroying your own childs health through the lack of understanding how damaging the stuff you buy is ,to the air we breathe or the water we drink.

Last spring I saw a wonderful documentary film called "Earth Day". It is a story of the environmental movement of the 60's and 70's. The hard work, the progress of an entire generation, my generation which disappears as the political agenda of two past presidents asks Americans to choose. Jimmy Carter , the Nobel Prize winner and past President of the US understood the danger our personal consumption had on our health , seeing the connection between the environments health and our personal health. He spoke to us about learning to "sacrifice", his terminology was political suicide, the impact environmentally ,horrific. During those debates, another President, Ronald Regan said something like," Americans, we can have the American dream", which destroyed the course of our conservation awareness and the environmental movement  and  made our world a toxic place to live as greed and entitlements replaced common sense and survival, at least for some.

As we await the economy's recovery, large land developers and builders await the sound of the bulldozers tearing up our farms and aquifers. Unaware of the magnitude of their process, they build inexpensive, big hog homes that destroy our land, water, air and peace of mind. We then buy them and fill them with large, over sized furniture to fill the large excessive space, need to work to pay for the huge expence of a hog home and as divorce reaches astronomical levels, we feel helpless.

It is the US home that needs to be looked at. Women need much more information to help them know what they are buying and what impact that has on health, on everyones health. Women naturally care about this.

The next time you are asked to move, consider not. The next chance you buy a home, consider remodeling or moving into an urban area. The next time you enlarge, go to Ikea and add storage first. When you get in your car, be sure to do all the errands you can at one time. The next time you see higher pay, consider the disruption to your family and life, say no if you must move. Demand quality over quantity.

Women can change the outcome to the environmental disaster we are facing by purchasing smartly. In the end, it is the women who can recapture the qualtity of life we crave, simplify ladies and save the planet. It may be in your very own home that will make the shift occur!


What Europe does we need to do

Barcelona, Spain is a medevil city. This city ,like others prior to the urban sprawl of today, was centered around faith. There seems to be a natural connection between this spirit core and  the surrounding businesses and homes, an energetic quality that makes for a real community . It is stricking how we left this model and have created zoning that has no core or no inherent energy. It seems that after the invention of the car, urban sprawl became the norm.

Unfortunately, this shift in thinking is costing us our own health. The abuse of environment is directly related to personal health and sprawl is costly.

Along with this shift we got bigger homes, farther away from a core and often poorly built, all for the profits of some.

In Spain ,as other places in Europe ,remodeling of cities is underway but the difference is that people here live smaller but better.

Quality is the priority. Food is better, and portions are smaller. There are millions of bikes and convenience.

Drug stores have fewer, better products. And people hang clothes to dry and dishes are put in a drying rack.

The appliances are efficient, hot water is instant,  and people generally seem calmer, thiner, less cluttered.

I wonder , for myself why travel is  not  mandatory?

The arrogance of Americans has prevented us from looking at what others do better than we do .

Not to say Europe has all the solutions but it would really help if we all could realize they are really smart over here and we could learn some things from them. Like smaller and high quality is less stressful, affordable and leaves some time to enjoy life.

Heading out into the night to hear music in the Cathedral in the core.


Building as a part of the earth,air,sun and water

Just like people, buildings use natural elements. just like us, they need earth . We need earth that is healthy, not too much granite that has radon, water that makes for molds and wet basements, and we need gardens. Our bodies relate to everything that happens in the earth because we are sensitive to the same qualtity. Air can be overwhelming. Air can make a home breathe or it can create drafts. Windows must be placed to allow freah air to flow but not in places where damp or furious air moves. The sun can be overwhelming to some people, I am one of them. Sun is needed for heat and light but too much can drain away energy from some people.Glass is cold and hot and windows allow air to move. All this impacts the quality of life we have. Water is the builders nemesis. Found absolutely everywhere, it must be managed to guarantee a healthy building. So often homes are sited below water, on water or built with poor moisture management. All walls, floors and windows are places where water forms and can create bad health for the poeple in the building. I have often thought marriages are destroyed by bad buildings, companies are probably too.

Historically, buildings considered health to be the most important aspact of design and construction.

Today, urban sprawl pays no attention to the elements or how they impact the people who live there. Individuals must learn about health and buildings and their connection.

It's in my home in yours, my choice and yours

We spend alot of time politicizing , criticizing  and not much time examining our own choices. In America, capitalism allows us to decide who to support by how we spend our money. Simply put, if we don't like it , we stop buying it.

Health care and construction share a similar dynamic. Both are run by huge lobbyists with no consumer representation to protect the individual. In health care and in home ownership, it is up to the individual to learn about options.

Unfortunately, there was a time when ethics helped us.Quality was the goal of a builder or physician. Fair pay, community and a sense that the work itself had value in the execution added to personal satisfaction and less monetary profit. During these times, the individual is  much more protected.

Because these times no longer exist, the individual must look at options.

Today, our consumption reflects our opinions. Lost are the days of individual responsibility as today we expect others to be responsible for our food, health care, money, education and everything else imaginable.  If others do not provide us with what we expect, we sue for damages.

It seems the only remaining option is to show approval or disapproval by choosing how to purchase . Our money reflects our thinking and our money has huge power over the direction of so many things.

In homes, which is my area of expertise, we can choose to stop urban sprawl, saving farmland and aquafers . We can choose to decline a corporate move and reinvest in an existing community. We can choose to live in smaller , better built homes. We can choose to stop buying products that are made using chemicals, emit them or are not biodegradable..We can boycott companies that use labor in other countries and pay unfairly, or that ignore our global concerns about pollution and health. We can choose, day after day to simplify and show what we know to be true, that capitalism can support change through our consumption. At home we can make choices that will redefine the markets and shift the responsibility back to where it belongs, to us.

Home , health, and soccer Moms

Redesigning home may be the most important thing we do .Whether building, remodeling, renting or decorating, home choices fill our minds. I know for me, I spend time thinking about the garden, a small but fragrant herb one off my kitchen or I think about the windows and cleaning them for winter. So many simple tasks to keep it all together.

I have had difficulty with the superficial approach to how we live in our homes today. So often , the images and advice are too expensive, too unmanageable or just foolish. Home is really a place that should be a port in the storm from life. A place where our intimacy happens with family and friends.

I remember growing up in a neighborhood where we played with all the kids. Moving from house to house, we played for hours, rode bikes, sledded,laughed and went home, loved and tired. There were no seriously bad memories playing like this. Raising my own children, I watched as free time was replaced with structure, so much so there was no time for family on the weekend. As we all began rushing around, our childrens soccer awards filled the shelf and there was a great sense of loss. This business, in some way had replaced something much more valuable,imagination and creativity.

Homes today are frenzied environments, often too big to afford, both parents work, leaving an emptiness for everyone.

Home needs to be rediscovered by saying no. No to corporate moves, no to big, no to urban sprawl and no to soccer. With all the children I have known, and this is probably hundreds by now, I have never known a professional athlete. Never.

Home, our most sacred space needs to be redefined to include imagination and creativity by allowing unstructured time in a non stressful environment.

Why green fails

" Nature's God entitles them", written by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence meant something different than individual religious spins. Jefferson's words reflected a philosophy that directly challenges our thinking of God.

Jefferson was a man who had studied architecture and had brought classical enlightment to the US in designing Washington DC , his personal homes and the Unversity of Virginia. This architecture, the same found throughout the world, used sacred geometries which establish a philosophy that we are from and a part of nature.

Nature's God is reflective of seeing our connection to nature in life , death and rebirth, in a non symetric symmetry . This thinking is supported by many great scientists including Einstein, Feyman and Newton .

The green movement will fail  for one reason alone. We are prisioners of our thinking that we are better than nature or one another. We believe we are entitled beyond what we need  and think somehow, the God's we have created endorses this .

Abusing nature and others  for our own entitlements will be our fatal flaw. Some think we are fatally flawed and our future is gloomy. It seems to me, understanding what Jefferson and so many others have realized might hold the amswers we need.

Nature's God is green.

Women 's homes

Designing homes is a fantastic job. Building them is even better. Women make most decisions about home. Nest builders by heritage, they focus intently on so many decisions around homemaking. When one builds from scratch there are at least 5,000 questions. Most times it is the women who answer. Men seem to love basements, garages, fireplaces and grilles.Clients love to talk about memory and dream , recreating positive energy from the past and bringing it forward. The thing I love the most about designing homes is helping people find space that resonates within their souls. It is clear this can only be done when quality is more important than excessive statements. When design is done to deal with real needs, sustainability is really the only option.

I really wonder if people get this?

Thomas Jefferson and philosophy in design

Thomas Jefferson brought the classical movement to the Unites States. His architecture not only brought universal beauty here but it also held a language of philosophy in the sacred geometries used in the buildings and also in the placement and use of land. These patterns and proportions resonate with the human soul as they are exactly the same proportions found in the body. Like music, these forms are held , expressed and experienced . The connection between the health of the body is directly related to the bulit world  These harmonic patterns of geometry offer solutions to our current building practices. Using the tools of the master builders, the rubric they used always  considered our connection to the environment and our health as interdependent. Thomas Jefferson used classical philosophies as he wrote the Declaration of Independence but he also used them when designing and building.

In an industry today where pollutiona and urban sprawl fill our lungs and landscape, this rubric offers solutions in how to solve the environmental problems and our concern for our

personal wellness. Seeing connection, one never not sees connection.

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