Archive for January, 2008

Small Living

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I’m thinking about moving this year. While paying my rent for January I was talking about some of my options with my apartment manager. In our conversation, the size of my current efficiency apartment came up: around 300 square feet! I basically have a nice dorm room/bedroom with a small kitchen on the other side of a wall cut out and short hallway with a closet and bathroom at the end. Part of my strategy is to use the outdoor veranda (first photo above) as living space when the weather is nice.

One reason for choosing the efficiency is that I’ve felt like I want to live “more in my community”. In Indiana when I was doing some work in community development I ran into some good books about community space. In the past, and also in other cultures, people haven’t been so “into” having their own private little mansions. People had smaller houses, lived in apartments or with family, had flats, and spent a lot more time at the local pub or cafe, museums, public parks…they actually lived in their communities and consequently felt more responsible for the spaces they shared with their neighbors.

In Indiana I had a three bedroom house on 3/4 of an acre and frankly, often felt overwhelmed at the personal expense and responsibility of maintaining our “little mansion”. Now that my son is grown and I live alone, I’m exploring small space living. I do feel cramped in my efficiency and sometimes downright depressed, but I still think there is value in finding new ways to live small. Maybe some day I’ll wind up in something like I saw in Wired this morning! (second photo above)

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Iowa Caucus Night

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I caucused at a local elementary school on Jan. 3. Before entering the school I tried to take some photos of the surrounding area. I live in a mixed area of very nice houses, starter homes and college student apartments. The one photo I didn’t get was of the trailer park where some local Hispanic men appear to live. That may have been significant, considering what happened later. As I entered the school, I was struck by what a neighborhood event the caucus was. The parking lot was full, but many people also walked to the school and even brought their children along to observe. Four years ago when I caucused here, the school was packed with around 300 people attending. 2008 brought around 480 eligible caucus voters and you could tell it was going to be a hot night as soon as you entered the door and saw the line of people waiting to register as first time participants.

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Once everyone got into the gym it became clear that we wouldn’t all fit, at least for very long, and it would be impossible for anyone to move, and so the first surprise of the night was that all the Obama people were asked to move to the media center. Even though I was standing for Edwards, I was rather dismayed at the Obama people being singled out, but as they streamed out of the gym, it did become clear that they had more supporters than any one else. The second surprise – at the end of the first round, someone announced that Richardson only needed two more people in order to be viable..would anyone be willing to move to Richardson…and two people did! The horse trading continued and the Obama floor managers did come in and out to keep track of what was happening. As an Edwards supporter, I think I counted off as number 11 or 12 about four times until the final numbers settled down to the following: Obama 200 something, Edwards 102, Clinton 80 something and Richardson 80 something.

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