Our Diary to Self Sustainability

You may be wondering why we are putting up a website and blogging about the trials and tribulations of inching towards our ‘green’ goals.  Mostly to connect with like minded people, offer Green and Sustainable Content we had a dilly of a time finding our selves, and bring hope to all the dreamers out there who want to live a Sustainable Lifestyle.  If our embarrassing moments succeed in either educating or entertaining you, that would be a bonus.

We’ll be including our decision making steps through journal entries in Our Diary.

It all starts with the first step… Deciding

To read more about our journey so far, scroll down to Recent Steps on Our Journey to Sustainability.

Image Credit: N.J. Lee

Recent steps on our sustainalbe journey

The Transition Town Initiative, an Effort Towards Sustainable Community Living

Nicole Chayka with Tamara Sunsong of Transition Victoria, at a Potluck Gathering in 100 Mile House, 2011, image by Monica Holy

In spring of 2011 a small group of people in 100 Mile House, B.C. threw together a pot luck dinner and assembled in a private home to meet and learn from Tamara Sunsong of Victoria’s ‘In Transition’ Group to talk about ‘transitioning away from oil dependence.’

Transition Victoria, a Transition Town, part of the Transition InitiativeTransition Culture, part of the Transition Town InitiativeTransition Network , part of the Transition InitiativeTransition United States, part of the Transition Initiative for Transition Towns
A Grassroots Movement the world over called ‘Transitioning Towns’ is taking this peak oil thing seriously.  The objective is for neighbours to come together to share ideas and create action plans to deal with the times to come.

We ourselves decided local Food Sovereignty was paramount.  We organized a Canning Party, and partnered with others to support our Meat Co-op by sharing Organically Raised Animals for our freezer this fall. Individually we each committed to growing a Garden and I found a supplier of fruit and nut trees able to thrive in our zone 2-4 growing season.

Although we ourselves don’t own land we have partnered with someone who does and are arranging to plant Fruit and Nut Trees to create a Small Orchard. By sharing the expenses, work and Harvest together everyone benefits.  Do what you can and see where that takes you.

Transition Network , part of the Transition InitiativeIf you would like to get a conversation started in YOUR neighbourhood no matter how big a town that might be…go to their website www.transitiontowns.org where among other things you will find the following:

“Transition Towns is a global grassroots movement supporting citizen action toward reducing fossil fuel dependence and building local community resilience and ecological sustainability.”
The Transition approach to energy descent is based on four assumptions:
1.    Life with less energy is inevitable and it is better to plan for it than be taken by surprise.
2.    We have lost the resilience to be able to cope with energy shocks.
3.    We have to act for ourselves and we have to act now.
4.    By unleashing the collective genius of the community we can design ways of living that are more enriching, satisfying and connected than the present.
In other words – we are all part of the solution.

Transition Towns apply six key principles to help them engage citizens with all kinds of interests in taking action to strengthen local resilience:

a)    Positive visioning – creation of tangible, clearly expressed and practical visions of the community beyond its present-day dependence on fossil fuels.
b)    Building partnerships and alliances – thinking of Transition as the glue or as a way of connecting the dots among stakeholders and organizations.
c)    Inclusion and Openness – making efforts to meet people wherever they may be on their path to resilience, in ways that encourage participation from the head, the hands or the heart.
d)    Building visible alternatives on the ground or “make it real” – working groups and their projects are key to acting out this principle.
e)    Inner transition – recognizing the challenges we face are not just caused by a mistake in our technologies but as a direct result of our world-view and belief systems.
f)      Letting it go where it wants to, or self-organization – this important principle means working with everyone so change happens at the most appropriate, practical and empowering levels; it means making plans but also being open to letting things evolve in unexpected ways; and it means that things happen when and as people step forward to make them happen.”

Check out these Links for further information:

Transition Victoria, a Transition Town, part of the Transition Initiative

Transition Victoria: http://transitionvictoria.ning.com/

Transition Network , part of the Transition Initiative

Transition Network: http://www.transitionnetwork.org/

Transition Culture, part of the Transition Town Initiative

Transition Culture: http://transitionculture.org/

Transition United States, part of the Transition Initiative for Transition Towns

Transition United States: http://www.transitionus.org/

Photo Credit: Monica Holy

Rattle Snakes and Getting Creative with Your Tent

Free range horses in Oliver, image by Monica HolyDriving on a 7ooo trek through BC to find ‘the’ perfect location for our Middle Earth Home Project that called out ‘If you Build it, They Will Come’, didn’t always provide the perfect tenting opportunity to set up camp for the night.

Parts of Oliver, British Columbia, can be as dry and sparse as a Spaghetti Western.  We’re walking a friend’s property, busy anticipating and envisioning  what her finished Dome Structure she was planning to build would look like.  The distinctive sound usually associated with a Nature Program on TV snapped us into instinctively dancing a side step and shoving each other out of harms way.

Looking down, we saw the ground looking like a giant pin cushion, riddled with holes each about 12 inches apart. It was late, our friend hadn’t showed, we had yet to pitch our tent, and we were surrounded by Rattle Snake Holes.

Where to pitch our tent?

We realized we’d need to get creative if we had any hopes of getting any sleep during the night.

Too many Rattle Snake holes to Tent on the ground, image by Monica Holy

After assessing the lack of any shelter on our friend’s lot of raw land, we decided we preferred being off the ground.

Too many Rattle Snake holes to Tent on the ground, so must get creative, image by Monica Holy

Sometimes getting creative, provides the most memorable moments of an adventure.

Image Credits: Monica Holy

Zero Carbon Footprint for a Green Sustainable Lifestyle, image by Monica Holy

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Nicole Chayka and Monica Holy going for an aerial view of the Landscape in search of land for Middle Earth Home, image by Monica HolyOkay…at the time we thought it was a good idea. We’d spent a lot of time crammed into the Jeep, effort, and $$ for gas trekking across the beautiful British Columbia landscape in search of the locale that called to us for our Middle Earth Home Project. We figured an aerial view from an airplane would be a short cut. Think of all the ground we could cover in such a short time! As the saying goes, you don’t know what you don’t know.

A pilot friend of  Nikki’s needed the flight hours, and offered the opportunity. It sounds good in theory, until you’re up there, fighting the lack of oxygen to stay awake. Thank goodness we weren’t flying the plane. Well, Sal actually let me, Monica, take the wheel for a brief moment, and I have to admit….very cool. However, you’ll not get me up in one of those contraptions again. Not enough between me and all that empty sky around us.

Flying over BC's Coastal Mountains, image by Monica Holy

The view was gorgeous, and I’m sure Nikki and my son enjoyed it before they passed out cold in the back of the 4 seater plane. I managed to hold it together long enough to get a few great shots, as you’ll rarely find me without my camera.

Everything was relatively fine while we were airborne, and then it happened. We had to return to the hanger…and land. What I didn’t know at the time, is that all that air pressure, and lack of oxygen while you’re up in the sky, is one thing. It’s another to return to the runway, where the air pressure, and one’s ‘innards’, return to normal. As I previously mentioned, Nikki and my son were passed out cold in the back seat, probably for the best. I swear for me it felt like a giant hand out of the clouds, wrapped itself around my body and …squeezed.

I don’t need to go into any further details other than to say thank goodness for the little brown bag Sal handed me. Unfortunately Nikki and my son coming to with a bolt and groaned in loud protest because they couldn’t leave the enclosed capsule fast enough.

Pilot Sal, taking us up for an aerial view of British Columbia, in our search for Middle Earth Home, image by Monica Holy

Like I said, you won’t get us up in one of those again, despite Sal reassuring us that it gets better each time you fly.

No thanks. Next!

I’ll switch to topographic maps instead.

Middle Earth Home website

Zero Carbon Footprint for a Green Sustainable Lifestyle, image by Monica Holy

Topless and Good Samaritans

Nicole Chayka at the wheel of Pearl the Wonder Jeep, as part of the Journey to search for suitable land to live off the grid for our Middle Earth Home Project, image by Monica Holy

Topless…imagine…(the Jeep….not the two girls), forestry roads, dust-grime-dirt on everything!!! 100km of pot holes, boulders, and bovine…we could have walked faster!  Never take someone’s word when they tell you a short cut, insist it’s paved, and rave about the view.  Good start to our 7000 km search for suitable land to create our Middle Earth Home.  Add to that a music festival in the middle of ‘No Vacancy’ signs… town… after town… after town.

Good Samaritan and Head Chef Tom in front of the Retallack Lodge, with Pearl the Wonder Jeep, image by Monica Holy
That’s how we finally stumbled across the ‘Host with the Most’-Tom, at the Retallack Lodge.  Not only did we receive a complete overhaul on the jeep the next day… but we were treated to an overhaul ourselves, from Sauna, Soak in the Hot Tub, to a Gourmet 3 course meal at Midnight. Did we mention he’s a Head Chef from Germany?

We also had our first introduction, to Micro Hydro, the force of running water from a stream that  generated the Electricity needed to run the Lodge. Very Cool.

Thank you Tom for your generosity.

Image credits: Monica Holy

Zero Carbon Footprint for a Green Sustainable Lifestyle, image by Monica Holy

The First Step, is Deciding

Photo 'Any Idea' by Max-BEvery Journey Starts with a Single Step:

The First Step is always the hardest. It’s a leap of faith, a dream, a thought that leads to an action.  You gotta conceive it in the ethers before you can bring it into form.

That sounds airy fairy doesn’t it?  If you think about it though it’s just common sense but if you want to quote ‘The Secret’ go ahead.  Someone has to think this stuff up before anything else can happen.  We agree.

That is pretty much the lifting off point for any dreamer so that’s how it all began for us too. Monica and I were sitting in our trusty Sahara YJ that we’ve nick named ‘Pearl-the Wonder Jeep’.  She is our trusty metallic steed and save the occasional trip to Art’s Auto we for the most part have nice things to say about her.

So it was on one such outing with the wind in our hair and bugs in our teeth (for Pearl is also a convertible) that we conceived The Great Canadian Dream.  Now the Great Canadian dream, at least in Ontario if you’ve never heard of it, is to have your place in town and to have your cottage out on a lake somewhere.  Preferably on a lake that still has fish.

So, the conversation sounded like this.  “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a little cottage?” says Trouble One.

“Yeah” says Trouble Two, “That would be delightful”.

“Let’s do it” says Trouble One.

“Yes, let’s.”  says Trouble Two

And at about this stage we’re sounding a little like the cartoon characters of chipmunks  Chip n’ Dale, but that’s only because we are after all Canadians, and therefore prone to being ridiculously cute and polite.  I’ll stop now.

How a cottage went from a cottage to a Rammed Earth Tire Dwelling in the middle of the Cariboo in central British Columbia will take a few more steps to fill you in on.  Seriously, you should never leave two artists alone on a camping trip for a weekend. As comedian George Carlin once said, “It’s my job to think up goofy shit.”

Namaste, and keep dreaming.

Image creidt Max-B

Zero Carbon Footprint for a Green Sustainable Lifestyle, image by Monica Holy

Our Long Range Plans for Middle Earth Home

Middle Earth Home may have started out as a small dream…a tiny, cute, cob cottage…However, the dream was fed some miracle grow and now we have something much bigger on our hands. It’s not the place we’re going to visit any longer. No, we plan on living there. For the region that we fell in love with we determined all the pros and cons of each type of structure, and decided that it came down to a bio dome or an Earth bermed/Rammed Home, and the cheerful indoor green house won! So now we have a vision of the space we’d like to create not just for ourselves, but also to be part of the local community.

The Land Will Call Out to You

Where should you build?  Where should you go? Many of us don’t know where to start. I’d have to say looking back (for this idea came to us sometime in 2005 when Monica first moved to the west coast of Canada) that had we known how long the journey would take, there is a damn…

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