I can't help but echo the sentiment in Daren's blog post. As a parent, I think about the future often, and what it holds for my children.
I am fortunate to have my own home. I have lived in it for 18 years. My husband and I bought the house we now live in the year that we got married. It was my paternal grandparents' house. My grandparents purchased the land and the acreage around it in the late 1940s and built their house in 1950. There they raised two boys–one, of course, was my dad.
My grandparents' house, 1950
In the 1970s, they gifted the lot next door to my parents and my parents built their house there. While their house was being built over the course of two years, my parents, sisters and I lived in the basement of my grandparents' house, in a one-bedroom apartment. It was a cramped space, but it was worth it to my parents to be able to save money and also be able to oversee the daily progress made on the building of their house. My dad and mom also worked on many aspects of the building of their house, with the help of friends and relatives. Although my mom would describe living with her in-laws as not an ideal situation, my sisters and I felt lucky to have our grandparents close by, just upstairs.
When we moved into our new house, it was reassuring knowing that my grandparents would not be far. I had the good fortune of growing up where I did, surrounded by beauty–the woods, a ravine, wildlife. The land around us slowly developed into a neighborhood, but we always had the best of many worlds. We were within minutes of a metropolitan area but enjoyed the benefits of being somewhat secluded. It always felt safe to me.
During my early twenties, I moved in and out of my parents house and eventually moved into a house with my boyfriend, Paul, where we lived for five years. We planned to get married and that year my grandma passed away (my grandpa had passed away years earlier). My dad asked us if we were interested in buying her house. Well, it needed work. Many things had gone into disrepair after my grandpa passed away, but the land and the possibilities we could not refuse.
Fast forward to now. We are here and it is now our house. My kids are growing up next to their grandparents. I get to drink coffee with my dad (when I have time.) Those are some of the perks of living here.
My house and yard
We have done so much to make this house our home. We have altered the physical structure and the cosmetic appearance, but we are far from being done. We have changed the landscape. Those are physical changes. But the seeds that have been sown here are the ones that make it a home. A marriage happened here. Three little ones were brought into this world while living here. We spent many late nights, pacing these floors with crying babies. First steps were taken and first words were spoken here. First day of school pictures were taken on these front steps. Lots of firsts.
The kiddos on our front steps
For eighteen years, my running routes have all been mapped out from this place. Homework projects, bedtime stories, and lots of snuggling have all happened here. Birthday parties, wedding and baby showers and many celebrations have taken place in this house. Laughter has filled this home. Ideas are generated here. Creativity happens here. Fights have been fought here. Tears have been cried. Hearts have soared high and also have been broken here. Healing has taken place here.
Sometimes we talk about moving. It has never been our ideal house. The house could be more efficient and sustainable. The layout is weird. The city is kind of going down the tubes. There are days I get so frustrated with the house and all of the projects I had hoped to be completed by now, but are still not done. Yet, it feels safe, familiar, and it still feels like home. It is my idea of shelter.
If I think about what shelter means to me, I see it all leads back to feeling like I am home, where I am safe and loved and free to be creative. I can be alone or I can be with my people. Either way, it is still home. These are the things I feel in my home right now, with my family close by. The things we have support the familiarity, but the bonds that we share provide us the shelter we need. The house is just the physical thing. Sometimes I wonder if I would feel the same if I lived anywhere else. I think if we did move, we might eventually feel the same feelings (maybe without all of the history) that we do now about a new place after some time has passed.
As I look to the future, I want safety for my family and myself, my kids' potential offspring and future generations, in general. Basic survival needs must be met. With the looming threats of poor air quality, scarcity of water, the earth's rising temperature, and our unpredictable weather, I can't help but to feel depressed. I have to be honest with you, Futures is really kicking me in the butt. I am trying to see possibilities and not hopelessness, but I am really struggling with it.
As I think about what shelter means to others, I know that we all have are own definitions. For those who are homeless, shelter can be a very simple concept–something to protect one's self from the elements, a place that is dry and warm. I also can't help but think of the trend of tiny houses, especially ones that are portable. I am trying to figure out how that might work in my life. Maybe, at some point, no one will own land, but just own their shelter. People could pick up when they want and go live wherever they want. We could all become nomads.
I think the future of shelter could be a hybrid of ideas. It could be something that grows and changes with our needs. My idea for future shelter is inspired by my ideas of home, temporary disaster shelter and tiny portable houses. I think it will be modular with specific modules for specific needs. Each side of the module will have a function. You will be able to add or subtract modules to customize for your needs.
Best case scenario:
People all get along and are concerned for the common good of all. We stop our obsessions with "things" and focus on what is really important: survival, love, connectedness. Land and resources are shared with the less fortunate. Everyone has shelter and some land. Homes are built by 100% sustainable methods. Air quality improves because people care about the future and we have no carbon emissions. Homes can adapt to the changing environment–they can float in the case of a flood, burrow when the need to go underground happens, fly when they need to move over things or move quickly. Homes can also change with the changing needs of their owners. For instance, grow with them when they need more space, or shrink when they need less. They might even be able to connect with others' homes when needed. They have filtration systems that clean the air when it becomes dirty. But there are vents to bring in air when fresh air is available. Energy for our homes is 100% clean. We all grow our own food on our homes and our land. There is enough food and water for everyone.
Worst case scenario:
We go back to a kind of feudal system, where there is the greatest divide of classes. Landowners, royalty and nobles have everything and those at the lowest rung of the system have nothing. Each man/woman for himself/herself. People starve and kill for food. The world becomes a very barbaric place. Wars are happening among the classes. The earth is dirty and uncared for. There is no clean drinking water, the air is toxic and earth cannot sustain the population. Disease runs rampant. People are dying everywhere.
1. Do you feel that everyone deserves the same things/opportunities? Equal chance for a home/shelter being one of them?
2. How would you feel about sharing your home or land to help others who are less fortunate?
3. How do you see the changing world affecting what our structures look like?
4. Is having a home a right or a privilege?