Forty years ago, I was an AFS exchange student. I spent a year in the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium, living with the most wonderful host family imaginable, and essentially repeating my senior year of high school.

When I learned where I was headed, I began to form an idea in my head about what my year abroad would be like – to live in a tiny village in a predominately Catholic country, speak Dutch, eat new foods . . . Try as I might, I knew I couldn’t imagine it fully. I suspected, however, that at the end of the year, I’d return home with a different perspective on many areas of life.

drivewayOur house-building journey feels similar. All along the way, we’ve envisioned the architecture and design, the components of a living building and life in that home. But we’ll never know until we get there what it’s really like to keep our water and energy use and waste at net zero, to restore our land to health and productivity, to live with a heightened awareness of our connection to the earth. In the end, we’re sure we’ll live in a comfortable, well-designed home where we’ll welcome friends and family to share in the beauty of our surroundings and the produce from our land. We expect to have learned what it takes to live in a way that builds rather than destroys the environment. And we look forward to that.

In the meantime, we’re making our way through our red list vetting process. We’re working with the county health department to convince them that really, it would be safe and sane to flush toilets with harvested rainwater. And we’re nearing completion of construction documents . . . with a few new design thoughts yet to be implemented. Our team members remain hard-working, helpful, cheerful; without them this project would be impossible.

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