Reflections on Right Sizing

“The foxes have holes, and the birds of heaven have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head,” and so it is today for many of his followers. Despite all the warnings about the snares laid by moneylenders, despite the fact that gage mort is literally translated as a pledge to give up one’s life, millions have lost their homes through mortgage exploits, and their quality of life through the service of debt.

Along the river banks and across the plains, archaeologists have unearthed abundant evidence of human practicality. The long evolutionary struggle is depicted in dwell time as our earliest ancestors enjoy the inspiration of mountain vistas and the tranquility of peaceful valleys. They also experienced the terror of lightning strikes, glacial advances, animal attacks, seismic events and lava flows.

Homo Erectus is constantly mobile as he steadily progresses through his gift of ingenuity. He seeks shelter in caves, from overhanging ledges and under the brush. By learning to fashion materials, such as clay, wood, and stone, early humans were able to move down from the treetops and out from the hillside grottoes to create family huts. The home had begun to take shape as the most basic human institution.

Then, as the ice advanced, man again appropriates the most practical shelter that nature has to offer. The comforts of home give way to necessity as protection from the elements drives him ever onward in search of more suitable provisions.

Flash forward a million years or so and consider the plight of today’s homo-sapiens. Extreme weather, internecine wars, and raging wildfires all continue and conspire to keep a great humanity unsettled. The voids are filled, as if by reflex, with stunted vegetation, outgassing trailers, and tent cities as the most desirable solutions are put off time and again.

Bloated governments have generated burdensome regulations that allow us to live simply only if we are tucked into very small sheds or build our houses on wheels. These influences are literally driving us into dwellings that are too costly to build, too large to heat or cool, and too burdensome to maintain. Politicians pay lip service to sustainability while erecting huge barriers to those who are sincerely trying to leave the smallest of footprints.

The art of living large in a small abode is intriguing to the upwardly mobile as well as those who have chosen, or have been forced, to downsize. In the first case, squandering precious resources on mortgage interest is one of the fastest ways to become a wage slave. In the second case, the escape from a debtor’s prison is liberating in more ways than one can imagine.

This is not to say that there is no value in stress. Sometimes having a tough, recurring nut to crack is precisely what’s needed to cure the ease drifting soul. But, for the highly motivated, for those whose enthusiasm truly emanates from en-theos (God within), there are higher callings.

Supporting the same entitled barons of financial sophistry who brought us the Great Swindle, known by the less discerning among us as the “Great Recession,” is a form of self-imposed detention. It saddles us with excessive drag. In contrast, a pay-as-you-go strategy is easier than one might think.

The TV that once occupied floor space can now hang on the wall, a cabinet door, or the front of a drawer. The oversized washers and dryers that are pushed by appliance stores in the U.S. can be replaced by a single more energy efficient under-the-counter unit, readily available in Europe or at U.S. RV stores. These compact combo units employ the same drum for both washing and drying. The range hood over your stove can be replaced by a combination hood, microwave and convection oven to save even more space.

Ask yourself, how many burners do you really use on your stove? How about supplementing with a guest’s hotplate or slow-cooker for the pot-luck seasonal bash? Could you eliminate cooking odors, and greasy films on the walls, by using the outside grill more often? Do you really need a big oven, the one you justified with the Thanksgiving turkey, if you’re now frying it outside anyway?

There are so many ways to get right-sized. If you’re reading the periodicals biblically, and the bible periodically, then find out how many of your favorite periodicals are now online. And, if you want to read your bible more often, download it to your tablet or smart phone. Who knows, you may even decide you prefer the page-white backlit display to your itty-bitty-book-light.

Ever wonder how many linear feet of shelf space you could eliminate by converting your music and books to digital form? What about that shoebox full of receipts? You could adopt a new policy of scannin’ and pitchin’ em. Some stores will even email them to you. Hard discs are cheap and they don’t seem to get any heavier when you fill them up.

Over half of the people who live in tiny houses have no mortgage. That’s twice as many as the average U.S. homeowner. Owners of small houses have more savings than the average homeowner. 89% of tiny house people have less credit card debt and 65% have no credit card debt at all while such dwellers are also earning $478 more annually than the average American. They are also twice as likely to have a master’s degree. It just goes to prove that less debt service gives us more time for gainful pursuits.

Everyone seems to have a different definition, of what constitutes small, but generally a “tiny house” is less than ten percent the size and cost of the average sized house currently built in the USA. Once a 30 year mortgage at a 4.25% interest rate is added to the cost of a “standard” 2,100 square foot house that sells for $272,000 the bill is $481,704. The $23,000 owner built tiny house is often built entirely from savings that would otherwise yield an insultingly low rate of return.

The home is the crowning achievement of human kind. The Living Crown (TLC) project within Ascension University and the Aevia Group is focused on this basic institution of human progress. We believe home building should be the essence and at the center of all educational effort.

When the Lord asks: “Where is the place of my dwelling?” we look to his handiwork, and a universe of nurturing infrastructure, for the answer. We are still at the creative stage of homebuilding and seek an understanding of just how a minimalist structure can support maximum functionality.

We are actively developing a rapid-deployment, fit-for-purpose product line featuring houses that float, rooms reinforced with carbon fiber, and suites that filter air and water through a unique circulatory system. They will be energy efficient as well as energy independent depending on a wide array of options. They can be pressed into service as houseboats, in-law suites, safe-rooms, stand-alone cabins, and emergency shelters. They will look and feel like cozy cottages.

We are witnessing a ceaseless progression in refining what has become society’s veritable foundation. And our focus on evolving science, best practices, and continuous improvement is motivated by our passion for improving the home and ennobling the home life. Alignment and integration within the various Ascension University fields of study insures our academic initiatives are conditioned by real-world experience, and that the applied technology is always cutting edge. We are fully engaged in the virtuous cycle and you can be too!

© 2013 Robert H. Kalk

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