Alternative Building


Two Northwest Cities Are Building Tiny Houses For The Homeless in Residential Backyards

Posted on April 27, 2017 by
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A new pilot program in Portland, OR, is exploring an unconventional way to reduce homelessness in the city. Relying on $350,000 in funding, the county will pay for the cost of building a tiny house in a homeowner’s backyard – under the condition that a homeless family can live there for five years. The program, called A Place… Read More


These Communities Offer On-Site Permaculture Workshops & Immersion Programs

Posted on March 9, 2017 by
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Curious about how you can apply permaculture principles in your community or ecovillage? There’s no better way than to visit a community in person and learn from hands-on workshops and immersion programs. Here are two very different programs – one an affordable “spring break” at a community in Washington state, the other a permaculture design… Read More


Are Seasteading Communities the Next Wave of Sustainable Living?

Posted on February 13, 2017 by
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Wayne Adams and Catherine King, two artists living in Tofino, Canada, couldn’t afford to buy a house of their own. Instead, they took their assets offshore — literally — and created a floating paradise off the coast of Vancouver Island called Freedom Cove. For over 20 years, they’ve been living off-grid on this brightly-colored collection of buildings and rafts.… Read More


French Documentary “Tomorrow” Explores Transition Projects All Over the World

Posted on February 9, 2017 by
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A new documentary made by a French filmmaking duo takes a look at transition projects in Europe and all over the world. Cyril Dion and Melanie Laurent set out to find practical solutions to the problems facing our planet. The result, called Tomorrow, tells the story of “pioneers who are re-inventing agriculture, energy, economy, democracy and education” in 10… Read More


ThePOOSH Connects Volunteers With Natural Building Projects

Posted on January 23, 2017 by
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Lots of intentional communities are connected with the WWOOFing network (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms). It’s a great way for volunteers to gain experience living and working on an organic farm in exchange for room and board. But have you heard of the POOSH network, which connects people interested in natural and sustainable building projects?… Read More


Taking the Systems View: climate change as a driver of SDG implementation

Posted on December 22, 2016 by
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This is a guest post by Dr. Daniel Christian Wahl, Head of Innovation at Gaia Education, which is based out of Findhorn Ecovillage. Once the doors closed on yet another United Nations climate gathering – this time in Marrakech – Paula Caballero, director of the climate program at the World Resource Institute, summed up a growing insight… Read More


Orange Splot LLC Is Creating New Community Housing in Portland

Posted on December 8, 2016 by
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Portland, Oregon, is known for being ahead of the curve when it comes to alternative housing and co-operative living. From the Tiny House Hotel to the Columbia Ecovillage cohousing community, there are dozens of locations in the city where you can see these innovative projects in action. One housing developer, Orange Splot, LLC, is leading the charge, with… Read More


Help Kickstart This Composting Toilet Research Project!

Posted on November 28, 2016 by
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Intentional communities can be the perfect testing ground for new sustainability practices – whether it’s an innovative greywater system or an aquaponics garden. At my community in Portland, we use our own composting toilet system, specifically intended to be safe and smell-free in a busy urban environment. Instead of flushing clean water down the train dozens of times each day, we… Read More


The Damanhur Community In Italy Has Its Own Currency and Constitution

Posted on November 21, 2016 by
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The community of Damanhur in northern Italy is known for the Temples of Humankind, a 5-story series of underground chambers built by residents of the community as a spiritual gathering place. Begun in 1978, they were discovered by authorities in the 1990s, and nearly shut down. Now, they’re open to the public and have become… Read More


Arcosanti Combines Architecture and Ecology in The Arizona Desert

Posted on November 17, 2016 by
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About 70 miles north of Phoenix, high in the Arizona desert, a blocky, concrete series of buildings rises out of the hillside. It looks like a cross between a futuristic museum and a desert village on Tatooine. But this isn’t your typical example of post-modernism. It’s an experiment in “arcology,” a style of design that… Read More


This Eco-Community in Peru is Known for Its Cone-Shaped Structures

Posted on September 12, 2016 by
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Just over an hour north of Lima, Peru, a circle of cone-shaped buildings rises beside a sandy beach. These structures are called “trulys,” and they’re part of a spiritual eco-village built by Hare Krishnas on the Peruvian coast. The village is a popular stopping place for travelers looking for a peaceful, meditative retreat in rural… Read More


A Free Documentary Series Shows You How To Live In A Tiny House Legally

Posted on September 8, 2016 by
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For many tiny house enthusiasts, building the house itself isn’t the hard part. There are lots of resources out there for designing and constructing a tiny house, as well as companies that will build the whole thing for you. More and more people are coming to see tiny homes as a viable living option. These… Read More


“Ecotopia” Art Installation Brings Visions of Permaculture to the London Design Festival

Posted on September 1, 2016 by
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From Sept. 17-25, 2016, the London Design Festival will feature an art installation inspired by Ernest Callenbach’s 1975 book Ecotopia. In the book, a journalist visits a newly-formed country in the Pacific Northwest that’s built on sustainable permaculture principles. The installation will explore ways that “Utopian thinking” can help us find solutions to our modern-day… Read More


At This Hawaiian Eco-Community, You Can Stay In A Bamboo Hut In A Volcanic Crater

Posted on August 29, 2016 by
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A few weeks ago – as the prospect of spending another winter here in rainy Portland began to dawn on me – I started looking into some travel opportunities in warmer climates. One of my goals as a blogger is to get to visit some of the intentional communities that I write about – and… Read More


A Planned City In Australia Will Feature Tesla-Powered Homes

Posted on August 25, 2016 by
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Planned communities have had a long and somewhat mixed history. From the Familistere in Guise, France, designed to house factory workers, to the Disney-fied Main Street of Celebration, Florida, they differ from cohousing projects and intentional communities in a major way: they’re generally created from the top-down, by developers and business owners, rather than by… Read More


KCET Visits the LA Eco-Village for A Look At Sustainable Urban Living

Posted on August 22, 2016 by
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When you hear about life in Los Angeles, you probably think about traffic, smog, and sprawling suburbs. But LA has a thriving network of intentional communities, many of which exist just under the radar of activity in neighborhoods like Silverlake, Mar Vista, and Koreatown. I spent several years living in the city and got to… Read More


This Alaska Community Took Its Own Approach To Treating Mental Illness

Posted on August 15, 2016 by
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The philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti once said, “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” It’s a quote often repeated by alternative healers and counter-cultural thinkers. In the 1980s, four families from Boston – who suffered from depression, schizophrenia, and other mental illnesses – put that philosophy to the… Read More


This TED Talk Shows How Ecovillages Can Bring About Global Change

Posted on August 4, 2016 by
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Last year, Kosha Joubert, President of the Global Ecovillage Network, delivered a powerful talk at TEDxGeneva on the impact of ecovillages around the globe. Joubert lived in South Africa as a child, spent time in Amsterdam as adult, and now lives at the Findhorn Ecovillage in Scotland. After studying cultural anthropology, she says she felt… Read More


How This French Philosopher Inspired An Early Version of Cohousing

Posted on July 23, 2016 by
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Although not as famous as some of his contemporaries, the French thinker Charles Fourier was one of the early visionaries of the intentional community movement. A utopian socialist, he proposed that society should be organized into Phalansteres, or “grand hotels,” each housing several hundred to several thousand people. At the peak of his popularity, he… Read More


The First YIMBY Conference Says Yes In My Backyard

Posted on July 21, 2016 by
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Many U.S. cities are in the middle of a housing crisis. Some, like San Francisco, have been struggling with it for years, while others, like Portland and Seattle, hope to avoid following the same trajectory. There are many factors at play, including high rates of migration to urban areas, and the impact of peer-to-peer homesharing… Read More


The Placemaking Movement is Turning Cities into Communities

Posted on July 8, 2016 by
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Over 15 years ago, a group of natural builders organized the first Village Building Convergence in Portland, OR. It’s partly the reason why the city is now dotted with colorful intersections, cob benches, and unconventional living spaces. According to the organizers, “We recognized that modern life and the structure of our cities often don’t create… Read More


NuMundo Hosts Southeast Bioregional Convergence in Asheville, July 9-10

Posted on June 27, 2016 by
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NuMundo wants to make it easier for travelers to connect with ecovillages and intentional communities around the world. Their site has dozens of listings in the U.S., Europe, South America, and more, many of which offer permaculture classes, natural building courses, and other hands-on, land-based experiences. NuMundo calls these locations “impact centers“: “An impact center… Read More


One of These 7 Finalists Will Be the First “Smart City” in the U.S.

Posted on June 23, 2016 by
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Last year, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced its “Smart City Challenge,” a contest that will award one mid-sized city with $50 million in funding to improve its transportation networks. The USDOT hopes the selected city will become a role model for implementing safer, more energy-efficient technology. Out of 78 entries, the USDOT has narrowed… Read More


NextGEN Hosts The Youth Ecovillage Summit in Quebec June 9-12

Posted on April 28, 2016 by
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NextGEN North America has opened registration for the third annual Youth Ecovillage Summit, which will take place in Quebec, Canada from June 9-12, 2016. The event will be hosted at La Cite Ecologique, an ecovillage two hours away from Montreal and Quebec City. According to NextGEN: “Over 30 years ago, La Cité Ecologique began as a… Read More


Portland’s Village Building Convergence Returns June 3-12

Posted on April 21, 2016 by
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For 16 years, the City Repair Project has been gathering annually for the Village Building Convergence, a 10-day event focusing on permaculture and placemaking in Portland, OR. Even residents who haven’t heard of the event have experienced its impact: its projects include “intersection repairs” that have created some of Portland’s most colorful and liveliest crossroads;… Read More


Best Friends Build Tiny House Village

Posted on May 26, 2015 by
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Best Friends Build Tiny House Village Living in the same town was not enough for four couples who have been best friends for 20 years. They decided to double down on their relationship and buy a little bit of land “in the middle of nowhere” on the Llano River in the Hill Country of Texas.… Read More


Couple Builds Cabin of Windows for $500

Posted on March 23, 2015 by
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A Cabin of Windows Wouldn’t it be cool if a house had a wall of windows, so it couldn’t confine the sunset to just one little space?   Lilah Horwitz and Nick Olson mused at this while watching a sunset on their first date. Just under 1 year later the two returned to those same… Read More


Beautiful Tiny Home costs couple $22,000

Posted on February 1, 2015 by
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How much space do you really need? This brave couple decided to radically change their approach to housing, to create something beautiful, elegant, functional, and affordable. “Andrew and Gabriella Morrison spent decades in the rat race, with their lives revolving around their finances and paying off a huge mortgage. They were sick of this lifestyle,… Read More


“Hoop House” Glides Open & Closed

Posted on April 14, 2013 by
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Vern Harris likes setting up hoop houses over his vegetable beds, but he doesn’t like the hassle of working under them. Most designs require lifting the plastic sides to get at the produce. So, Harris came up with hoops that glide on rails, making access as easy as pulling on two ropes. “Anybody who is even… Read More