This was written as a letter to friends:
I am primarily writing to share uploaded photos of our recent trip to Dragonbelly Farm…..and to let you know a bit about what is happening at this transition time in our lives. The primary purpose for our two week trip was to figure out the placement of our house which we hope to begin building late this sumer. Last Friday, I got the current version of the draft of our house, and I added that to the slide show. When I started this email, I was just going to just share the link to the photos….but then I started writing more about what is going on with us in this process.
It will be a kit house from Topsider Homes built in NC and shipped west and then erected by Doug Milholland of Blue Heron Construction, a local worker owned cooperative. That process will take it to “dry.” We will be finishing the house ourselves with the help of our long time caretaker and hopefully other friends. One of the main reasons I am interested in finishing it ourselves….besides saving money, hopefully, is then we do not have to buy all new materials and appliances, but can find things to reuse or repurpose….as well as unusual artistic pieces made of natural materials. We have also been guided in the design process by my friend, Ann Raab of Greenpod Development. If we had not ordered the kit house, she would have designed a house for us. I am sure she will be providing us lots of input in the finishing process and connecting us with local artists.
I am not sure exactly how the idea of building a kit house came about. I have always been attracted to octagons, and when I was researching them online, I came across this company. When I realized that a kit house built in a factory had the possibility of going up MUCH faster, it was quite appealing….considering both the weather in WA and our dual state lifestyle. I had talked with Doug about building us a house for about 20 years and always expected to be using alternative building materials, such as straw bale or rastra block. Here is an early video about a straw clay house on which Doug is the general contractor at the Port Townsend Ecovillage….about 20 miles north. (It is interesting to me that geographically, we are in the same relationship in CA to San Francisco as that relationship to Port Townsend in WA)
If you are interested in helping build the house or making the land even more beautiful…or visiting later, let us know. (Barter for a vacation;-), lots of vacations. Port Townsend is a great place for a holiday, as is the whole Olympic Peninsula. (We came for a vacation 25 years ago and ended up buying property there the next year. We only lived there a few years as we could not find work, and came back to California and made our lives here, but now that we are retired…..)
As part of the house, we expect to have two B&B rooms. The Avion trailer will also be available for guests. We will also have places for camping. Our land includes a 9 acre parcel and a 30 acre parcel. We are building on the smaller parcel and there is certainly room for more people to build as well. We are also considering setting up cabins or travel trailer spots on the larger parcel. After the house is built, I would also like to build a large yurt or similar for community gathering or retreat space, though we will be able to do small events in the house. I suspect we will use strawbale or similar to build a bathhouse with sauna and/or hottub. We have recently listed a room for rent through airbnb at our ecovillage in San Mateo, and would expect to do the same in WA.
We have been trying to sell shares/apartments in our community buildings at our San Mateo Ecovillage to help finance this effort. There has been interest, but no commitments yet. It has never been easy finding people who want to share our lifestyle with such an emphasis on sustainability as well as activism, but to find ones who also have the financial resources to buy property….and are not opting for a single family home, is specially challenging, particularly in this beautiful, but less than alternative lifestyle part of the bay area.
We don’t expect to totally leave California. We will divide our time between two homes as well as travel. We haven’t yet decided which will be our legal residence. If we change to WA, we will not have to pay state income tax on at least some of our income. If I change my state of residence, the biggest impact will be on my political work as I am very active with the Green Party in CA. I have some connections with the Green Party in WA, but it is a very different situation as it is not a party registration state.