Clean-energy quick-charging stations: How Michigan should use its share of the VW settlement.

Michigan’s electric grid is becoming progressively cleaner as the state invests in efficiency and in solar and wind potential, resources the state already possesses, as we reduce our dependence on out-of-state fossil fuels such as coal and gas. As Michigan considers how to support clean transportation with its share of the $2 billion set aside for electric car charging from the $18 billion VW settlement, it will be to our advantage to capitalize on our ever greener infrastructure that we already have and add more clean-energy quick-charging stations. Here are my thoughts.

– Ben BrownRead more

Tiny House Part Two


How large/small can you go in a tiny house and meet basic human needs?

While a tiny house maximum is often considered 400 square feet or less, what is the minimum square feet of space in a tiny house?

In our region, efficiency housing has been defined as 120 square feet for a single person and roughly double that for two people. Such housing could be seen as one type of tiny housing currently acceptable. Since there are currently four common ways to define/use a tiny dwelling it has been difficult to know how to set guidelines for tiny housing in Michigan. Other industrialized western countries are exploring the range of minimum housing while maintaining space for ADL’s.Read more

Ben’s Tiny House Part 3 – More Progress at Charles and Wallace

10.04.16… To Be Continued.

First of all, tiny houses are not for everyone. For many single or retired people tiny homes might offer these advantages… (and larger tiny houses in some situations might offer these to couples as well)

Bullet recap of Tiny House Homeownership Advantages:

  1. Makes safe space affordable from being trapped in abusive relationships.
  2. Option for privacy when multiple generations share same property.
  3. Space for solitude, contemplation or renewal.
  4. Reduction in retirement costs, time, expenses and upkeep compared to a large home.
  5. Opens housing market to people: those who work full time, but with minimum wage

    employment, those with college debt, new credit history, etc.

  6. Changes the economic power structure allowing more people ownership over indebtedness to


  7. Reduced costs allows better potential for financial savings.
  8. Smaller consumption of planets limited resources and easier to focus costs on efficiency and


  9. Even with minimal income can have greater financial security.

10. PEACE OF MIND with lower housing costs easier to sleep at night.

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To do my part in fighting the threat to our planet, I guard against my own rationalizations, and I make sure I repay what I owe to the Earth. So can you. Here’s how.

What I Owe the Earth

What I owe the Earth

“What I owe the Earth” by Ben Brown

Does what I do really matter? I’m just me! How much difference can I make? And, anyway, what debt do I owe to the planet?

Today we face a life-destroying threat, a danger more serious than the asteroid impact blamed for killing off so much life 65 million years ago. Most of us who recognize today’s threat blame a collection of forces beyond our control. I contend that the responsibility falls on all of us – you and me – individually. The longer we believe the current story being fed us, that our individual actions matter little, the more likely our destruction becomes.

Don’t fall for the idea that it’s them. It’s us. We all matter, and what each of us does today creates the future.

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Ben’s Tiny House Part 2 – Progress Report

The tiny house house movement will help heal the Earth. “Ben’s Tiny House Part 2” updates the first installment in the story of Kalamazoo Valley Habitat for Humanity’s tiny house pilot project. Part One gave dozens of reasons why a tiny house can be the right choice for many and is the right choice for me.

Ben’s tiny house progress report, September 26

Ben's tiny house - tiny footprint, huge space

Ben’s tiny house – tiny footprint, huge space

The past week has been a whirlwind of activities on the tiny house.

Last Monday September 19th, there was only the insulated foundation and form work that had been supporting it. Tuesday fantastic volunteers from Stryker unloaded the lumber delivery early in the morning. By noon we had organized the deliveries, plus performed dozens of tasks to prep the foundation for the sill plate and wall. The team built the north wall framing and, like a barn raising, we had it up and braced. By that evening the southern entry wall framing was built and raised into place.

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Tiny House, a Strategy to Heal the Earth – Part One

Tiny House Part One – Why Consider a Tiny House?

Tiny house photo: HGTV

Tiny house photo: HGTV

Housing, food production, and transportation account at this moment for some 60-70% of irreplaceable damage to the planet. Few individual citizens are asking themselves if they can take dramatic enough steps to reduce their own personal impacts to zero or even reverse their impact on climate change. With current technology, if we do not take huge steps now we can expect large portions of even the US to become uninhabitable within the lifetime of our children. One of these huge steps? The trend toward the tiny house.

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Bee Rescue Project – Part Two

Ben's bee rescue project begins with a swarm of bees

Previously, in Part One of Ben’s bee rescue project

On the evening of Saturday, June 4, People’s Food Co-op manager Chris Dilley notified Ben of a swarm of bees collecting in a spot that would be hazardous for bees, employees, and customers. Ben coaxed the swarm into a box and carried them home to the backyard at Fletcher House. Part One of Ben’s absorbing account of his concerns and the lengths he went to in providing a comfortable place for the bees to build their hive, takes us to June 7. Was he able to outfit the Warré Hive with everything the bees needed in time for them to survive a spell of unseasonably chilly days? And now… Part Two of Ben’s bee rescue project.

Bee Rescue Project – Part Two: Hive Becomes Home

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Bee Rescue Project – Part One

Bee Rescue Project: Swarm to Hive

Bee Rescue Diary, Saturday, June 4, 2016

Near the back garden - not the best place for the bees. Bee rescue needed.

Near the back garden at People’s Food Co-op, Kalamazoo – not the safest home for bees. Ben Brown has had experience with bees, so General Manager Chris Dilley gave Ben a bee rescue mission.

My friend Chris Dilley, General Manager at People’s Food Co-op of Kalamazoo, called me. His staff reported a bee swarm forming at the Co-op’s garden, just outside the back entrance – a hazardous place for the bees and for Co-op employees and customers. My mission: A bee rescue.

When I arrived at 7:00 pm, the swarm was about the size of a two-pound oatmeal box, forming around a branch about six feet high. Chris gave me permission to cut the branch to capture the swarm.

I hastily cleaned several Warré Hives and selected one to bring the swarm home in.Read more

Stories of Hope

A Chained Sleeping Giant Named Hope

Energy Efficiency and Clean Renewable Energy + You = Hope.

Getting to 80 Percent Clean Energy, by Ben Brown

Stories of Hope, by Ben Brown

When you take actions and speak in favor of…

  • clean air
  • pure water
  • an environmentally safe planet
  • the preservation of wilderness and ecologically diverse areas
  • clean energy generation
  • ways of living that heal the planet and restore its natural capacity

…you affirm, give witness, set a standard that all these things ARE important to life on this planet.

From the standpoint of legislators who have given their trust to people aligned with the fossil fuel and nuclear industries, you – whom they don’t know and don’t trust – are understood to give an opinion not based in “reality” when it comes to asking for support for clean energy and talking about climate change. This is similar to the time congress supported the tobacco industry and resisted legislation holding it accountable for destroying the health of American citizens. (See Merchants of Doubt, the book or the movie.) Legislators and even many doctors (given “vetted research” from the tobacco industry) saw public concern with smoking and cancer as coming from people who were misinformed.Read more

Getting to 80 Percent Clean Energy Costs Less Than You Think: More Stories Of Hope.

Moving away from fossil fuels and nuclear power and getting to 80 percent clean energy doesn’t take a miracle.

Getting to 80 Percent Clean Energy, by Ben Brown

Getting to 80 Percent Clean Energy, by Ben Brown

What would it take to get to an 80 percent clean energy economy? What if we are surrounded by opportunities for freedom from fossil fuels and nuclear accidents but, like people convinced they are dying in a freezer with no way out, simply pushing the latch would give us a chance at life? We are surrounded by opportunities. A clean, healthy future is freedom that brings life. Continuing to acquiesce to the death trap we are in right now would be hopelessness!

Push open your own personal door to hope, to a cleaner life and a cleaner Earth!

Bill Gates told us six years ago that to solve climate change “we need energy miracles.” He called for spending ten years and billions of research-and-development dollars “inventing and perfecting clean-energy technologies.” Then, after we come up with our miracles, the Gates plan calls for spending ten more years and billions more dollars deploying our miracles.

I disagree with Bill Gates. I agree instead with Joe Romm of Think Progress. Romm disagreed with Bill gates in 2010. Six years later, he has reiterated his disagreement.Read more