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. http://www.fosterswift.com/publications-Tiny-Houses-Municipal-Zoning-Michigan.html 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.

Read more

Mary Ann’s Solar Installation

Here is a description of how I decided to install solar panels.

Mary Ann went with solar power

“Mary Ann’s Solar Installation” by Mary Ann Renz

Tim Tesar, photographer for Mary Ann's solar installation

Photos by Tim Tesar

Mary Ann’s Solar Installation, by Mary Ann Renz.
Photos by Tim Tesar.

Solar WindsEditor’s note: For all the compelling reasons Mary Ann gives for going solar right now, this is a good time for you to contact Sierra Club Michigan Chapter’s solar installation partner Solar Winds Power Systems. And here are more reasons: Solar Winds has been vetted by Chapter. Sierra Club members get a discount on their installation. And Chapter gets a donation.

When I was preparing to sell my house in Mt. Pleasant, the realtor had me fill out a form on which one question was “If you were going to continue to live in the house, what changes would you make to it?” I answered that I might install solar panels. It would have been a difficult venture there, since my house was shaded by large maple trees and the roof was mostly flat, covered with a rubber membrane.

However, my desire to reduce my carbon footprint persisted after my move, and so I was glad to realize that with my house in Kalamazoo, the roof facing south was, for the most part, free of shade, so it could make a pretty ideal space for installing solar panels.

I imagined, however, that it might be too costly for me to take action now. I figured I’d need to wait until I had saved enough money to afford a solar installation.Read more

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.

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

Hydrocarbon Insanity

Some of us call it dirty energy. Some of us call it fossil fuels. I think we should call it hydrocarbon insanity.

Think about how insane this is…

Here are the convolutions we go through just to make electricity:

Hydrocarbon insanity

  • Hydrocarbons power the equipment that gets hydrocarbons out of the ground.
  • Hydrocarbons power the trucks and trains that deliver hydrocarbons to refineries and power plants.
  • Refineries turn hydrocarbons into gasoline and diesel fuel to power trucks and trains that deliver hydrocarbons to refineries, gas stations, and power plants.
  • Hydrocarbons power the equipment that builds pipelines to deliver more hydrocarbons to refineries and power plants.
  • Hydrocarbons power the equipment that builds and maintains the grid that delivers electricity to homes and businesses.
  • The only thing a power plant uses hydrocarbons for is to feed a fire that heats water. Steam from the water turns a turbine. The turbine cranks a generator that puts out electricity.

Even Rube Goldberg couldn’t have invented a crazier way to turn a light on.

Read more

My Governor is thinking about trashing his own administration’s studies on clean energy – and findings by many Michigan experts – and going with fossil fuel recommendations from Utah. Why?

 By Ben Brown

Ben Brown

Ben Brown

History shows that our eight-year commitment to clean energy has been good for Michigan’s economy.

Listening to the radio Friday as I was running an errand, I overheard that our Governor, who is concerned about our economic well being and who last year said he was ready to switch to clean energy, had changed his mind on having some sort of goal for our energy future and was planning on supporting the next several years with an energy plan that had no targets or goals beyond what the big utilities, like Consumers and DTE, thought were in their best interests.

I found that disheartening.Read more

The Fracking Linkletter © 7/11/2015

Craig Brainard - fracking, pipelines, good news.

By Craig Brainard

Hello again, Friends –
Right now, solar is the fastest growing source of new power in the US.
I could give you a bunch of statistics, but instead I’ll just pass along this great five-minute video from All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC, from Friday’s show.

Personal Solar in Saginaw

Personal Solar in Saginaw Photo credit: Saginaw News

Chris talks about the solar boom, its history, its causes and its future. Things look bright as the sun. (I love the quote from Elon Musk.)
(BTW, if you sit through an advertisement after the video, you can see more excellent clean energy clips from the show.)
Of course, the skunk at the party is opposition from utility operators who want to keep you paying big for their fossil fuel pollution power and their nuclear boondoggles. They are using their considerable wealth to throw obstacles in the way of the solar revolution.

Read more