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How can we minimize construction waste? How can we reduce the toxicity of building products? In , I launched a freelance practice to design residential remodels from a sustainable perspective.

But in spite of the slowly growing interest in sustainability, I became discouraged. Too often my clients based their decisions on initial costs rather than long-term durability or doing good for the environment. My impressions come from several fronts. Smaller homes are gaining popularity.

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People are embracing sustainability as a means to address issues as diverse as human health, social justice, the energy crisis, and global warming. And the alternative architecture movement shows that more and more people are looking beyond the ordinary for ways of building that express their creativity and values. On all these fronts, people are reshaping the American dream house, introducing new concepts of what is possible and thinking harder about what they really want.

The local teacher, nurse, and tailor with whom I worked felt fortunate to build two-bedroom, square-foot houses for their families. Returning to the United States, I was asked to design a 1,square-foot addition to the 1,square-foot home of a near-retirement Silicon Valley couple.

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This set me off on some statistical research. The average size of a new American house doubled between and while, simultaneously, household size decreased.

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Thus, while in we provided about square feet per person, we now provide square feet. The allure of bigger houses, however, may be fading. Susanka, a Minnesota architect, writes what we all know to be true: that those great halls, formal dining rooms, and grand entryways in big houses remain deserted. People congregate in kitchens or seek intimate niches such as window seats or breakfast nooks.

Susanka suggests that, in designing or selecting new homes, we eliminate or shrink the rooms that we rarely use. She shows houses where living, dining, and kitchen areas are smaller and blended together, and she describes strategies for creating cozy homes that are made delightful by their efficiency, imaginativeness, and attention to detail.

Architects and developers are proving the marketability of smaller, more carefully designed homes. This cluster of small, detached houses doubles the population density yet maintains the style of a residential neighborhood.

Waking up from the American Dream – Thinking Beyond Infinite Growth

Look at all this space! The past months have shown us how little we understand the stories of one another, both our dreams and our fears. Sharing — and truly listening to — the stories that shape each of us is an important step forward — so we build a sense of shared understanding and humanity and ultimately connected communities that make the American Dream a possibility again for all families. June 26, Hannah Giorgis. March 25, Katharine Ferguson. Share 0. Add Your Comment. Key Points Families across the country have seen the chances of achieving the American dream decrease for themselves and their children.

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We, as a society, must change the rules of the game — so that all of our children can reach their full potential. Related Posts. US Government. Recommended Reading. The message in this film has moved past the identification and understanding of a problem and toward an analysis of it and how people can take action toward solving the problem. The overall message conveyed in this film is one of hope and optimism, but only if the viewer puts into motion solutions through their own actions. The single most-noticeable difference this time around is the absence of the original host, Barry Zwicker.

This proves to be an effective communication tool that easily weaves resounding thoughts with resonating emotions resulting in strongly-forged connections between the material and the viewer. In keeping with the style of the first film, there are numerous flashbacks to promotional video and cartoons dating back to the 50s and 60s where predictions of a grandiose future are envisioned as a world that will always have more.

This footage provides a time-capsuled reality check showing how there was never any consideration given to a future with less. These flashbacks also contrasted heavily with other archival footage that was taken from the 70s during the oil embargos when people did vocalize their concerns over resource limitations and how planning ahead would be prudent.

It may be the one thing that really undoes us eventually, our simple failure to pay attention. The only shortcoming of the film was the absence of discussion over global population growth and the effect that will have on resource use on our planet. This point has largely been ignored by our policy makers, especially when it comes to plans on addressing global warming.

With that aside, this prescient film is a must see.

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