Homelessness. The way of the future.

I didn’t mean for the title to stir up fears over your current mortgage situation (although, who am I to say that those fears are misplaced?). I want to talk a little bit about the green movement, as it’s been on my mind lately. I’m in a class called Green Building Technology, and the professor is very passionate about the push towards a more eco-friendly world, and with all of the stats that he pushes on us, it’s hard not to become passionate myself. Earlier today, we were talking about how the greenest kind of architecture is beautiful architecture, because it takes an insane amount of embodied energy to make building materials and generally speaking, people keep beautiful buildings around. Which led me to the question: what if really the greenest architecture is no architecture at all? Which of course (of course?) led me to think of the homeless.

So here’s my shpeel. I was originally going to put it as my facebook status, but it was apparently too long so it wanted me to make it a note, which, in format, looked curiously like a blog post, which in turn reminded me that I’m a part of this wonderful creation of Dave’s so I figured I’d put it on here instead. Annnnyway:

It’s funny how we give millions of dollars in tax credit to companies that make an effort to be green, when, ironically, the most environmentally friendly people are the homeless. Think about it. They are reducing our impact on the environment: they never drive, they are constantly supporting the public transportation system, they don’t waste tons of water on bathing (or on flushing for that matter, but that’s a whole other problem), they don’t waste energy being heated or air conditioned, they don’t have anything electronic to plug in (he says as he types this meaningless post on his energy hungry computer… with all of the lights in his house turned on. Hmm, BRB). They reuse all the time: old worn out jackets, cardboard boxes as houses, paper cups as money collectors, trash bag backpacks, old half-eaten food meals, etc. And they’re great recyclers too, as it constitutes a portion of their income!

I know it’s not their choice to be homeless, but I think we could still learn a thing or two from them about living more humbly to reduce our impact (or, in case your house does go into foreclosure, good for you for being a part of the solution!).

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6 Responses to Homelessness. The way of the future.

  1. Brian McElmurry says:

    Interesting. Sweet Lego link!

    • Joshua A Young says:

      That was sort of a joke, as it’s from Amanda’s last post.

      • Brian McElmurry says:

        I love Legos. I still have a huge box at my parents and played with them at xmas with my nephew. I made a sweet castle!

  2. David says:

    I think you should expand upon this idea and submit it to your professor :). Offensive as it may be, the logic behind the slogan “be green, be homeless” is quite sound. Recycling, re-using, retrofitting, re-purposing, and re-incorporating seem to be the principles behind much green architecture. Even though a new building might be significantly more efficient than an old one, the old one has the fact that it is already built going for it. Hence, it is better to not build new, but rather re-X the old.

    You take this idea to its logical conclusion by asserting that the greenest type of building would in fact be no building at all. This is patently true. Even so, such a “building” would seem to belong to the purely conceptual side of architectural theory, as John Cage’s “4’33″” (the totally silent composition) belongs to the purely conceptual side of musical theory. Practical applications might be limited.

    From another perspective, I imagine it would be of little consolation to the homeless–who remain, after all, without homes, and largely without hope–to be considered at the vanguard of the “green movement.” Sadly, disenfranchisement rarely tastes sweet to the disenfranchised. The deeper thrust of your piece seems to be that the situation of the contemporary homeless population has something powerful to tell us about our practices and our “good intentions.” If we as a society cannot house the least fortunate among us, then what is the moral status of our “green buildings,” anyway. With this deeper, sadder point, I would totally agree.

  3. Paige says:

    Are you at all familiar with the Freegan movement?

  4. Yes! The Freegans! I had totally forgot about them. The perfect shade of contemporary green: reducing our overall impact on the environment without all that complaining about their children going hungry and not having a safe place to sleep at night.

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