Tag Archives: sustainable design

Where have I been? What’s going on?

Where have I been?
It’s a good question! I’ve been really busy the past two months, but haven’t made a ton of progress on the COMET. Other vintage camper people out there, have you ever tried polishing the pitted, foggy aluminum back up to a mirror finish? It takes forever! It also requires a large angle grinder, which I’m embarrassed to say I can’t really lift up in the first place (so it becomes Matt’s job). We’ve been working on it little by little, but it takes many hours and is a crappy job. It’s the one thing standing in between me and a beautiful exterior paint job (also Matt’s forte because he used to do fancy pin striping and decals on cars).

SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION ALERT:
www.planetqueenvintage.etsy.com
The reason I have been so busy is because I really need money to complete the COMET and I had to put a lot of time and energy into my Etsy shop, where I sell awesome vintage clothing. My shop is called Planet Queen Vintage (based on the T Rex song but also referencing awesome ladies that do cool stuff to positively impact the planet) and I would be so grateful if you guys took a minute to check out all the new stuff and hard work I’ve been putting into the shop the past few months. I added 100+ new items, took better photographs, and increased the overall awesomeness content. Bet you guys didn’t know I run a business on the side in addition to the COMET?! Vintage fashion is my secret weakness ( and vintage furniture, and sunglasses, and campers). All of the profits from the shop right now go DIRECTLY (like, every penny) into finishing the COMET. If you see something you like and decide to buy it, you will be helping me buy some non-toxic exterior paint, some photovoltaic components, and some other little things needed to complete this project. Take a look even if it’s just to give me a critique on the shop, I’d appreciate that too! If you see stuff you like, you can check back often because I add multiple new items every morning. Thank you nice readers!
www.planetqueenvintage.etsy.com

Over the summer, after the Tiny House Fair, I found myself really struggling to figure out where I fit in (me and the COMET both). What am I doing with this? Am I making a difference? I wasn’t really sure if I fit in with tiny house movement, after getting those discouraging comments (yes, I know the COMET isn’t a cedar sided 6-12 pitch roof home on wheels – who said it had to be? and yes, I know there are not yet solar panels on the top, its’ not finished!). I started getting frustrated and questioning my work and my whole life really (uh oh). Am I just another over privileged college kid doling out sermons about things I can’t possibly be know all the answers to (life lessons, how to be greener, how to be happy)? Do my blog posts and carefully curated photographs add to the fetishization of simple lifestyles that I’m finding make me more and more uncomfortable? Are tiny houses just becoming another commodity for consumers to purchase and own in addition to their “big” homes? It sounds kind of negative, but I just had to reflect on what I was doing and why, and how to be more honest with you guys and myself, and accept the limits to what myself and the COMET can accomplish. We’re not perfect, and that’s a hard thing to admit. I have to tow the camper with a gas guzzling truck, so is that trade off worth it? I want to educate people about sustainability in a fun, hands-on way with the COMET, but at the same time in order to spread the word and talk to all of these wonderful people I have to use a fossil fuel burning machine. There are lots of contradictions, I just have to be able to articulate them and then wait to see if a reconciliation can ever be reached.
On another note, I have been receiving lots of nice notes / messages from all of you, and I want to say that if I haven’t responded yet it is truthfully only because I want to give each and every response the time and energy it deserves. Sometimes that means it takes me a while to get back to your messages and emails, but I honestly appreciate and love each and every time someone takes a moment to email me. Let me know what you’re up to, ask a question, give me some feedback. I will respond, I just want to be able to give my full attention to all of your awesome inquiries. Keep ‘em coming! Thank you everyone for reading along with this journey that is WAY longer and WAY more complex than I thought it would be!! You all keep me going with every comment and email message I receive. You remind me why I have to stick out the difficult parts (angle grinding / polishing) so that I can do the awesome parts (meeting you all on the road, talking to you, and sharing camper stories!).

I also watched “Chasing Ice” the other day, and it filled me with urgency and purpose. It’s a very good documentary.

The past few months Matt’s been getting excited about survival techniques and survivalist skills – which is really awesome because we’ve been making lots of fires from scratch and improving our fire cooking cast-iron skillet skills. We’ve been talking a bit about the similarities and differences between “Survivalist” an “Sustainability” movements. I think after living out of the Honda Element car for two months in the spring we both just got into “survivalist” mode, and even though we’re back in the city currently we still like to do all the stuff we do when we’re camping for a long period of time.

I want to share some cool links with you all that I’ve been collecting the last few weeks, check them out if you have a moment:

This first one is a really awesome interview from the Etsy blog from a while ago. The interviewee is Frankie Moore Lappe, author of “Diet for a Small Planet”. She hits the nail on the head in talking about the problem with how we currently frame sustainability with language and diction like “reduce”, “avoid”, “limits”, “minimalize”. I’ll let you guys read the article then maybe I’ll post the essay I wrote two years ago about the problematic language of the sustainability movement so you can see the similarities + differences.

https://www.etsy.com/blog/en/2013/an-interview-with-frances-moore-lappe/#comment-880359

The next link is to a video of a guy’s conversion van (Sprinter) that I think is pretty neat. The one thing I don’t understand is having a toilet. I lived out of a car for months and I never once missed a toilet (THANK YOU P-STYLE FEMININE DIVERTER!) and I think it would make your living space more unpleasant than pleasant. Other than that, it has some neat ideas. Theoretically, I am sort of getting over the “squeeze as much into the tiny mobile thing as you possibly can” idea, but it’s cool nonetheless. I’m really into the mint green paint job.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bR0-Y5nHvQ8

Also, the amazing Robin Hayes from Build Tiny (http://build-tiny.com/) is hosting a workshop soon (October 10-13) in VA and you all should check it out. Robin is a really inspiring lady who I have met at multiple workshops all over the place. She is a carpenter, plumber, doer, maker, and all around amazing person to learn from. Everyone loves her and her skill and energy are sure to give you the start you need to get your tiny house or other building project on track. Also, dear friends Dee Williams and Lee Pera (Boneyard Studios) will be there helping out, and you need to meet these incredible, smart, (dare I day gorgeous?!) ladies. You won’t regret it!

http://build-tiny.com/ for more details.

Last thing:
I’m writing a book.
There. I said it out loud. Now I really have to do it.

I seriously wanted to steal this sign from Steve Harrell's house (tiny house listings, tiny house vacations). I'll have to paint one myself!

I seriously wanted to steal this sign from Steve Harrell’s house (tiny house listings, tiny house vacations). I’ll have to paint one myself!

love you all, keep me updated with your cool projects and thank you for reading as always

<3 Mariah

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Lots of Catching Up to Do!

Hello Readers!!
No, I have not died or given up on the project or the blog, I am just finally, for the first time in weeks and weeks, finding a free moment to do a post. Things have been CRAZY the last few weeks, trying desperately to get the COMET in shape for Tiny House Summer Camp and then the Brattleboro KOA Vintage Trailer Rally. Basically I have not had a moment to myself since I got back from Yestermorrow on June 15th. Every single day (no lie!) for the last 6 weeks has looked a lot like this: wake up at 6 AM, be outside working on the COMET by 6:30 AM, work work work, take a 10 minute lunch break at 1, then back to work until 9 PM or sometimes later if I had to. All just to get the COMET in towable, working order (not pretty) for Tiny House Summer Camp (which was amazing) and the rally a week later. Did I mention the temperature has not gone below 95 that whole time? Needless to say, by 10 pm I was exhausted and I knew I had to put the blog writing on hold if I was going to make it up to Vermont for these two events.
I want to THANK YOU for bearing with me the last few weeks as I put the pedal to the metal with the COMET in terms of progress, and was away from the website. It was actually really good to have a deadline and serious motivation for getting certain things done, and pushing myself that hard for the last 6 weeks makes the rest of the project, what still needs to be done, look like a breeze!

Tiny House Summer Camp – this photo is so tiny!

Inside of the COMET at Tiny House Summer Camp

But now I finally have a break, and no COMET events in the very near future, so I will be doing a LOT of catching up and filling you guys in this week. Expect to see step by step how the COMET went from a carpenter ant’s palace to a real, functioning tiny home (though it still needs a lot of work, I can at least stay in it for an extended period of time comfortably). I’ll also post about Tiny House Summer Camp and the KOA Vintage Trailer Rally, both of which were huge successes for first time events, and show lots of pictures!! It’s really interesting how the COMET fits into all of these different worlds and subcultures, somewhat seamlessly. Anyway, I’ll be catching up on the website this week so check back!

Looking ahead, I am working on putting together and curating an exhibit at the Madsonian Museum of Industrial Design (in Waitsfield, VT, right near Yestermorrow Design/Build School). The exhibit is all about the designs that make up our summer vacations – think vintage picnic baskets, a plaid Thermos, canoes, swimsuits, and more. The exhibit will have a one day grand opening, with a show that includes vintage boats, cars, surfboards, a vintage swimsuit fashion show, vintage trailers, and more, followed by an exhibit in the Museum that will be up for a few months. If you have any vintage Summer Vacation items that you would like to see in a museum exhibition, get in touch! Also, if you have a vintage trailer that you would like to bring to the one-day show (or a teardrop that would fit into the museum) do get in touch! The event is scheduled for September 16th.

Besides that, there is another vintage trailer rally in Salisbury Beach, MA in October this year that I’m planning on taking the COMET to. And another Tiny House Workshop with Derek Diedricksen in November (I think the dates are 2-3) at his home in Stoughton, MA. By November the COMET will be mostly complete – solar panels, bumper garden, and all the details of a lived-in tiny home. I’m looking forward to showing a more completed version of the COMET to people. I’m always a little nervous when people see her in the construction/mid-renovation state, I feel like I have to frantically explain that she will look better when she’s done, and that she isn’t complete so don’t judge it yet!

Anyway, lots more in the coming days. I’ve missed my daily writing routine and can’t wait to get back in the habit, I have lots to share!

**And a HUGE thank you to Derek Diedricksen of relaxshacks.com for making Tiny House Summer Camp so awesome, and another huge thank you to Beverly Kenney, owner of the Brattleboro North KOA, who planned and organized a very fun, super successful weekend of vintage trailer fun. If you are ever in the area, I highly suggest camping at Brattleboro North KOA. It’s gorgeous, less than 5 minutes from the wonderful downtown Brattleboro VT, and they have a pony that lives on the premises! Oh, and the game room has a Star Trek pinball machine. We were in heaven!**

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Yestermorrow Design/Build School: Ecological Design in The Built Environment

Hello!

As some of you readers may know, I attend Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Vermont for certain workshops and courses throughout this year as I work towards my Certificate in Sustainable Design/Building from the school (also, as I receive credit at my college). It’s not a full-time school like traditional college, but instead I take a few weeks here and there throughout the year to do very intense, immersive, hands-on courses. My coursework here helps me with The COMET – each class that I choose to take is directly related to an aspect of the project.

Today I start the most intensive course in the Certificate program (so I’ve heard), we call it “Core.” It’s technically titled Ecological Design in The Built Environment, and it is the basis of the curriculum here. It focuses on permaculture and sustainable community design, as well of the principles of design and basic design and drawing tools. It’s basically a semester long Design Fundamentals course packed into 3 very intense weeks (I think we have one day off).

Just wanted to let you guys know what I was up to for the next 3 weeks. I probably won’t be able to post as much while I’m here, but look for some updates and a few posts about stuff I’ve been meaning to talk about for a while. It’s very beautiful up here in Vermont this time of year, especially at Yestermorrow campus.

Wish me luck!

Thanks always for all of your support!

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Marmoleum Click flooring SketchUp model

Hello!

Yesterday I received my pallet full of goodies from the wonderful Green Building Supply. I got the UltraTouch denim insulation (which is so soft and squishy I want to make a bed out of it), lots of no-VOC paint for the interior and exterior, and my Marmoleum Click flooring! I’m really excited about the Marmoleum flooring – it’s antimicrobial, all natural, and really nice to step on. I know the flooring doesn’t go down until everything else is done, but I made up these models in SketchUp so I would know exactly how to lay out each panel (the Marmoleum I got comes in 12″ x 36″ planks).

I chose the black (“Lava”) and white (“Arabian Pearl”) because I felt like it would go with whatever color scheme (or lack there of, haha – I like to mix and match whatever I can find) I choose for the interior. I also think it’s a nice nod to the past, as many vintage campers had the classic 50′s-style black and white checkered linoleum floors. This design is a modern, updated version of those classic black and white tiles!

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Oh, and here’s a teaser for the DIY vacuum form table step-by-step DIY project, which is coming to CometCamper.wordpress.com very soon! It’s taking me a little bit to get the instructions and materials list together, because I’ve been so busy out in The COMET working every day, but a full DIY guide is on it’s way, I PROMISE!

That’s me, cutting out the frame for the plastic. Photo credit + moral support credit: Matt Carroll. Thanks, buddy!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Thank You Social Venture Fund!

I recently received another grant in support of The COMET project. The Social Venture Fund supports projects with social impact on a community. Thank You Social Venture Fund, your support will help make The COMET possible!!

As always, you can support The COMET, and education in sustainable design and living, by heading over to the “DONATE” page of this website and clicking the Donate button!

Thank You!!

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

London 2012

Hey readers!

I mentioned this yesterday, but just want to say that I’ll be traveling for the next few days and will only have limited internet access, so you won’t see as many posts as usual this week. I will post as often as I can, and will try to find some cool European caravans to take pictures of to show you all!

I’ll be visiting London, England, and will be going to the Design Museum London, where I will hopefully see some sustainable designer’s work, and I’ll post pictures of my favorite exhibits!

Like I said, when I return next week I’ll be back with a bang, so stay tuned. We’ll have our first guest post and some other neat stuff, and definitely a DIY project or two, so watch out!

The COMET has been really coming together this week, thanks to the help of many wonderful people/businesses helping me figure out what I need to make The COMET the best off-grid tiny mobile classroom/home ever! As I gather materials, I’ll post about what things I’ll be using in The COMET and why those things are particularly suited to a mobile tiny house. Hopefully it’ll be a little warmer out soon so I can start working outside and get down to business!

Thank you to everyone who’s been following my project and the blog, and everyone who’s been reading along. It means a lot to me!

XO

Mariah

Tagged , , , , ,

Sustainability on Wheels: Campers and the Tiny House Movement

“Vintage campers will save the Planet.” That’s a pretty bold statement. I do think vintage/used/old campers can play a role in the way people begin to think about their housing in relation to the environment, social responsibility, and sustainability. Vintage campers make ideal Tiny Houses. First of all, they are tiny (of course) and on wheels – two basic characteristics of most tiny houses. Even a large camper is a tiny house! Also, I think it is always better to re-use an existing structure than it is to build from scratch (the exception being if the existing structure is unhealthy or toxic in some way…moldy, asbestos, etc.) Using an existing trailer camper cuts down on waste and keeps these usable little homes out of the landfill. Often, there will be valuable materials that can be salvaged from the existing trailer. Of course, there is personal preference and style to account for: campers don’t look like miniaturized log homes or mini-mansions, they look like campers (though I have seen a camper re-done with shingle siding!). I’ll admit they aren’t perfect for everyone, but it’s definitely a really viable option for the future of housing.
Another thing to consider is cost. To build a tiny house from scratch will cost much more than retrofitting an existing structure (in most cases – depends on what you want to do of course). I’ve gotten campers in towable, totally restorable condition for less than $500. Sometimes a retrofit is a pain in the neck: campers are built from the bottom up, so it can be difficult to replace and repair things in the undercarriage area (but it has been done!). However, I think in terms of cost efficiency and eco-friendliness, making a tiny house out of an existing trailer is the best bet. Even if your tiny house was built out of entirely sustainable materials (which would be very expensive), it would still be using resources that an existing trailer has built into it. Buying the separate parts to build a camper would be much more expensive than purchasing one used.
Also, campers just look awesome!

Camper and tiny house!

Here’s a great example of a sustainable Tiny House on wheels (Taken from SunRay Kelley’s website: http://www.sunraykelley.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=61&Itemid=99). It’s a hybrid between a Class C camper and a vardo. It has elements of traditional homes (wooden siding, a back deck) but is still distinctly “camper”. SunRay Kelley is an inspiration for anyone interested in green building and alternative dwellings. Check out his website! http://www.sunraykelley.com/

To be continued….

What do you think? Totally green retrofit or build a tiny house from scratch? Which would you do?
Let me know in the comments!

Tagged , , , , , ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 205 other followers