house plansSeveral of us met on Friday to schedule tours of our house during construction, giving people the opportunity to see the components: wall assemblies, insulation, mechanicals, and more. We casually and innocently tossed around labels for our potential audience, and joked about scheduling the post-construction open house for just before Tom and I “disappear into the bubble” for our LBC audit year.

I felt unsettled afterward as I pondered our labels for people like us and for the LBC process. We meant no disrespect, and the labels were not at all derogatory but only used in fun. But labeling anything creates categories, and these labels lean toward putting Tom and me in a special class: on the fringe, extreme, and doing something very few others could or would want to do.

But doesn’t everyone care about the health of the earth, really? I’ve not met anyone who truly does not care.

I have met people who are just beginning the journey that Tom and I have been on for several years. Our reading, study, and commitment to the Living Building Challenge have opened our eyes to ways we humans can disrupt ecosystems and degrade the environment – and to ways of mitigating and avoiding the damage. It seems we’re all in fact on the same quest, just at different places on the same road.

Knowledge gives us cause for action. Tom and I hope that our house project helps disseminate knowledge about the pitfalls of “normal” construction and about ways to build buildings and the environment simultaneously.

At the same time, knowledge can cause us to feel overwhelmed: What could I possibly do in the face of the enormity of our environmental problems that could make a difference? Again, Tom and I see our project as blazing the trail, lighting the path, showing others that things can be done by individuals and small groups to effect big changes in the manufacturing and construction industries and in the ways we carry on day-to-day life.

And as for the house tours during construction, tentative dates are September 25–26, October 24–25, and November 21–22, with a post-construction open house in the spring. Come see what we’re doing! Watch this space for more details.

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