Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Hobbit Houses


As some of you know, my dream is to have a shared-resource community of like-minded people at some point in our future. (Possibly in Maui, Hawaii.) I've been designing this community in my mind for some time, and was thrilled to hear of the many similar communities popping up all over the world. Obviously, the time is ripe for this idea.

As our natural resources dwindle, and the need for affordable housing rises, we are faced with finding new ways of building eco-friendly communities. In my version of a shared-resources community one would live with others that have similar values and a desire to live in a sustainable environment. This would mean a shared garden, possibly shared living arrangements, maybe communal kitchens for canning, cooking, etc. My idea includes the sharing of cars, trucks, recreational equipment, and farm/gardening tools, but separate living/personal spaces. I like the idea of all ages in this community, as the elderly are often overlooked and underutilized. The very young often benefit from being with older members of society, and the middle years can benefit from household/childcare help while working outside of the community, or doing the heavy lifting, so to speak.

I am aware not all elderly people want to be around young people in their retirement, and in that case this would not be the best living arrangement for them. A senior community would be more fitting. In my world view there is room for all sorts of living arrangements, with no judgement intended.

I ran across this company yesterday while watching the "Cultural Creators" movie. It builds green homes for a fraction of a stick-built home using earth, air, fire and water. These natural elements  lower the carbon footprint of building materials, and actually are better able to withstand earthquakes. They stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

So what do you think? Can you see a planned community with these homes, or how about the one at the top? I love these homes as well. Or better yet, how about a community of all three? 

34 comments:

Brian Miller said...

nice...i think houses incorporated into the landscape using the earths own natural traits is a great idea...watched a show on it not too long back.

Nancy said...

Brian - And they are so affordable!

Midlife Jobhunter said...

Certainly would be good to have people work together to create better lives. A shared society of raising children and caring for elders. A break for those in between.

Nancy said...

Midlife - I think we have plus and minuses as we age, utilizing all the age groups has its advantages.

Here Under the Rainbow said...

Nancy - I share your longing for such a community. I came close to finding your described Utopia when I visited a farming community in Thailand. The people lived off the land as much as possible - growing their own vegetables, fishing in nearby rivers, intimating themselves with nature's medicine.

What I find most unusual is the bartering that took place. One neighbor lady who grew peppers would take some over to her neighbor who will swap her tomatoes for them. Everything is cooked and eaten on the same day.

There was this underlying serenity and security there because of the unshakeable confidence in their support system.

Nancy said...

Here - Yes! This exactly my thinking. Barter is a very big part - which makes it affordable for those that may not have much money. We all have gifts that could be shared.

CrazyCris said...

Wow! Those look fabulous! I could definitely see myself living in one of those...

I like your idea of community living, a return to agricultural and social roots kind of thing where indoors was personal and outdoors was communal and all ages were present and helped out. I think it would help elders feel useful and loved, and would help youngsters learn respect for their elders, learn teamword and how to think of others, their society, before themselves.

Paula said...

Great! I love this idea of community living and I have brought this up to my husband many times! I love those houses as well, I can say I never thought of that!! I hope you don't mind, but I am going to share your link on my Facebook!

Paula said...

Or maybe I can't share this on FB!! lol

Nancy said...

Chris - Exactly!

Paula - No problem - if you retype it, just link to the companies. :-)

Teresa - in the Middle Side of Life said...

i would love this as well. ron and i have often talked about this type of living arrangements.

Grandmother said...

Okay, I'm in. What's next? The houses were great and just think about the shared wisdom/ experience of the elders involved! I like having all generations around in a communtiy.

DJan said...

I lived for a few years in a commune during the 1970s. It had many strengths and also some drawbacks. I would definitely like to be in such a living arrangement as you describe here. Since I am not graced with grandchildren, I would definitely miss their presence in a community of older adults. Something like this seems much better to me.

Linda said...

nancy, such a great post! loved the photos--i agree that, in the ideal situation, this is, well, ideal...being far in the country without cities and people for so long would make such a transition difficult but there are so many advantages.

i am enjoying reading about what you find as you research so i hope you keep sharing. xx

Nancy said...

Teresa - I think it makes sense.

Grandmother - Love it! Now we just need to start somewhere...the houses are very inexpensive.

DJan - One of the things that seems to be happening is a move to much smaller families. Many adults are choosing to be childless, and this type of living arrangement puts emphasis on the family of humanity, which is wonderful for children and those without extended nuclear family. Also, it tends to put single people in a more familial environment. I really do see it as a template for future living.

Linda - I'm not sure they need to be too far from cities, maybe even communities within a city - or a city of these types of communities... LOL!

claudia said...

I have always been intrigued by communal living. I like the idea of the community garden and kitchen, shared equipment and cars, trucks etc. There are so many people with different talents, who could contribute to a community like this.
I love that very first house. Looks like my dream home to me!

ellen abbott said...

Oh I could definitely live in a community like that and I would love to live in any of those houses.

Rob-bear said...

I and some friends gave this concept some very considered thought about 40 years ago. Unfortunately, work took us in very different directions, and we've never got back together to follow up on that old idea.

Hope you can make you plan work!

maggie's garden said...

I'm in! Where can I sign up! I've been a subscriber to Intentional Communities online...and would love to be able to find a place to build one of these charming homes within a community of like minded people. Let me know when and where!!
Thanks for the earth homes link.

T said...

How about a combination of them all?
Trish

Pat said...

I don't think this is such a far-off idea. I like the idea of "community" and helping each other. Having use of cars in a "car pool". These are all great ideas!

leilani said...

Imagine living for the green of the planet instead of living for the green of money! Whole new world... =0D love this Nancy!

Murr Brewster said...

I love it. We have some tiny communities deliberately created right here in mid-urbia. I myself thoroughly expect that my larger-than-needed house will eventually shelter a few of my fellow aging women who have not done so well in the planning department. We've even picked out which vegetable beds we each want to be buried in. TMI?

Joanna said...

The one at the top is so cute. There's a new development going in down the road here called the Fernwood Urban Village. Co-housing is what they call it and it does have shared common areas including garden, dining room, kitchen, guest rooms etc. I think it's a wonderful idea although I'm not sure if I'm ready to do it yet.

Shrinky said...

It sounds idyllic, a sound step towards preserving our environment for future generations, as well as a healthy way to enjoy the most out of life!

GYPSYWOMAN said...

i've had visions of the same thing for years and years - even considered doing that sort of thing with my adult children - and we've talked about it many times - love the concept - i'm in!!!

Nancy said...

Claudia - I totally agree. People all come with different sets of skills. The top house was incredibly inexpensive, made mostly of wood they found.

Ellen - Okay, you are the resident artist!

Rob-bear - I wonder if those people are revisiting the idea? I know many of my friends considered communal living back in the day, and I often wonder if we will end up doing it in our golden years.

Maggies - You're in! Now to find a place to begin...

T - That's what I'm thinking. It would be very nice to have a community that is diverse in the way it blends into the landscape.

Pat - And much easier on the environment if everyone doesn't have to have an individual car. In Portland, OR they have ZIP-Cars - located all over the city for pick up, people just rent them for the day, week, whatever.

leilani - Exactly. With respect and reverence for Mother Earth.

Murr - Great idea, LOL! I highly suspect that many of these large homes we have built over the last two decades will eventually house more than one family, or in your instance, a group of like-minded individuals. It makes perfect sense.

Joanna - Is it owned by the people that live there, or by a corporation? I do think this is something we are going to see more and more of in the future. It is an evolution, I think, from massive consumerism to a more measured view of resources.

Shrinky - That's my thought. We know that children flourish in environments where the parents have support. The parents flourish when they do not have the total burden of raising a family, working, and trying to care for elderly family members. The elderly flourish when they feel needed, wanted, and are not isolated. From a developmental and lifespan point of view, it makes sense.

Gypsy - Yay! I think you might be seeing visions of the future, my friend.

Cole said...

Well, I have always thought those hobbit houses are just too cute!

I would love to have a cozy little place like that somewhere in the countryside. The benefit about living as you described, is the accountability factor.

Too often we take things for granted and it promotes laziness or a callous attitude in thinking someone else is going to fix it or buy it or provide. But in this scenario it is the domino effect, where each person shares and takes care of one another.

Working like this then becomes a necessity because you have to for by doing so it benefits your existence as well and then you have respect for all that is around you. Something our society is lacking nowadays.

It would be interesting psychologically to see how well that would work, it sounds good, but human nature always finds a way to twist it a bit in unexpected ways. Even those from the 60's gave up eventually. (But I think people back then didn't have a very good plan in creating an society such as this.)

Maybe there should be a reality show depicting it. A case study if you wish to work out the kinks. Hmmm...new idea for you Nancy, maybe?

Nancy said...

Cole - All good points. I've thought about the sociological and psychological implications of this type of community, and I think it goes back to "like-minded" and with that goes the reality factor - it won't be utopia, nor will it be perfect. But people who really want this type of lifestyle and live with the mindset that thought creates reality would do better than the people from the '60's, I think. In other words, if you know that your trail of thought is going in a bad direction regarding your fellow inhabitants, and that it will have possibly unintended consequences, then you tend to catch yourself. If you know that you create your own reality, you tend to move in directions that benefit you. I do think we will get to a point in human evolution where we will take full responsibility for our lives. We know so much more now through science. But I also think it is very important to have private and personal space.

susan said...

I ran across Simon Dale's wonderful house and his links to other self-built communities in England some months ago. I'd love to be part of such an arrangement but I'd have to know some of the others involved fairly well beforehand. Having experienced communal living when I was younger and knowing friends whose co-operative places failed would make me shy of commitment. Nevertheless, it's still a far better dream than the reality that greets most of us in urban environments.

Nancy said...

Susan - i agree. There would have to be a good vetting process on both sides. I also like the idea of a very porous system. Lots of people coming and going in the community is healthy.

Whitney Lee said...

We joke constantly with our friends about building on a piece of land, just us, sharing responsibility and reward. It's heartening to see that this is becoming a reality in some places. I definitely think that having ones own personal space would be of vital importance!

Nancy said...

Whitney - No doubt. I like alone time, and plenty of it, so for me boundaries would be important. But most people, in my family at least, feel the same way.

ben said...

Hello everyone, I wanted to ask someone knows these communities with houses in Europe?:)