DIY Ecology: Housing

This is the hardest area to explain, because it is far from the glamor of upscale apartments and suburbs. It will be a really bitter a difficult road, filled with anger and frustration, but I think that maybe with time, people will learn how to use these settlements in helpful ways. The problem is that we live in a culture that is 1)alienated and 2) not accustomed to DIY-living. Most people will gasp in horror at this edition of DE, because it is not as uniform as the current housing market system. Many will view this as asceticism or wanting to live in destitution. This is more than that. It is a speculation about the potential people have to transform their lives, and, it is something that people are doing now. I wouldn’t be able to write this had it not been for the information out there of people doing these types of things.

This is a term used to describe the process of occupying an unused and vacant building. Due to the financial crisis now, there are many such buildings, at least in my town. They are homes and businesses that were closed down. This brings to mind images of homeless folks and vandals breaking into buildings and doing what they please. It’s a potential situation, but I’d like to argue that most homeless people are trying to survive, they are not all crazy people who have lost all sense of reality. Vandals are probably already using vacant buildings for illicit purposes, but I disagree with the slippery slope belief that vandals will slowly come to take over all towns and become overlords by occupying buildings. Squats are used for many reasons, including as ad-hoc community centers, unofficially regulated co-housing, and meeting centers. In DE society (DE/DESociety), this is just more open and prevalent. For a while it the sheer number of squats actually joins competition in the housing market. As people decide to work with others to make ends meet in a squat, landlords try to do what they can to keep tenants by at first calling the police and ordering arrests. But the levels of people doing this grow to a number in which the only ways landlords can make money is if they provide low rents. Also, good people who before would not even consider trying to acquire a building, get together and occupy buildings to provide services to their community.

Amsterdam Squat

Classical music concert in squatted Berlin building

Taking over vacant lots
People start using these for makeshift homes, mobile home, and movable homes/classrooms.

Tent cities
These exist today. In DEsociety, they become community hubs and “illegitimate” homes just like squats. Once occupying space becomes commonplace, tent city dwellers either go to those places, or focus on interacting with others to make tent cities livable. With the wide spread of Food Not Bombs, and Lawn Gardens, tent cities have access to trading/doing minor chores for food. *I highly doubt people will allow folks to just take food from their lawn (unless it’s at night when theft goes unmonitored).* I also idealistically (well this whole series is an ideal) believe that in DE, the goal is to give and spread wealth without government, which should encourage people to be mindful of what they take. I don’t think that gardens will just be ravaged to nothing by squatters and tent city people.
On a less positive note there is one tent city in current times, in Arizona, being used as county jail grounds.

Tent city near a homeless shelter in Reno, NV

Shipping container homes and apartments

Home in Hawaii

This is my personal favorite in the category of alternative housing. People take retired shipping containers and convert them into homes or schools. It is cheaper than building a regular house from the ground up, or buying a regular house. They can be stacked and turned into apartments or multistory homes.

Retired Train-cars
This comes under the same concept as shipping containers. There are so many train-cars just sitting on tracks without a purpose because the transportation industry has upgraded to new designs. I saw real present-day examples of this home on a train ride from Vermont to California!

Living in busses/converting them into permanent homes
Same concept. So in DE, all of this reusing and recycling is commonplace.

Using scraps from old cars and airplanes in renovation/housing projects
In DE, people use any sturdy/stable material they can to build on a house. The result – houses that may not have the uniform appearance that stucco provides, but it’s still livable. There are all sort of things used for roofing, flooring, and walls.

Scrap Cities
These are places where most of the homes, schools, and businesses features reused and recycled materials. In DESociety they are on defunct military bases and abandoned shipping yards. It takes many years for these to be converted.

Then there are tiny houses, underground houses, earth houses, and much more. Many of these buildings in cities are open to graffiti and street art.


Posted on August 3, 2011, in Ecology, Grassroots & Open Source and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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