San Francisco and Berkeley, CA: Little House on a Small Planet author slideshow/discussions this weekend
From: Raines Cohen (
Date: Sat, 27 Jan 2007 06:35:22 -0800 (PST)
[Things are really hopping in East Bay Cohousing in the Oakland- Berkeley (CA) area, with affordable purchase opportunities at Mariposa Grove cohousing in Oakland (mandatory open house this Sunday and next), a core group working on a North Oakland site, and, tonight and tomorrow, a talk/slideshow with an exciting book. I met this author at a Simplicity Conference late last year and highly recommend catching the show and buying her book -- very inspirational, helps lay the foundation for cohousing and community and provides an understanding of how housing has evolved around the world -- Raines]

East Bay Cohousing Presents
Little House on a Small Planet
in San Francisco and Berkeley this weekend
With Author Shay Salomon and Photographer Nigel Valdez

Tonight, downtown SF:

Tomorrow (1 pm), Berkeley cohousing:

RSVPs are essential if you're interested in either event.

Live in less space but have more room and enjoy it. Does that sound like a contradiction? Smart readers will discover that on the contrary, living small can free up your mind, your wallet, and your soul. With the cost of living rising, the environment suffering from excessive building, now is time to scale back. Join the small house movement.

In Shay Salomon's newly published book, with a foreward by Francis Moore Lappe, Little House on a Small Planet ( is a guidebook and an invitation, with floor plans, photographs, advice, and anecdotes. Discover how to build, remodel, redecorate, or just rethink your needs. Live close and simple and apply spiritual and social needs to your material desires. Pockets of people all over the continent are realizing the benefits of scaling down. You too can build a joyful, sane life that emphasizes home life over home maintenance.

Little House is split into three sections; building small houses, altering existing houses, and the politics of housing and lifestyle choices. The book is informative and hopeful, even empowering. Salomon takes a refreshing approach, instead of focusing intently on the problem of current housing trends, she provides the data needed to understand them, then spends her energy on drawing out solutions that each one of us can choose to follow through on.

In fact, the politics of housing is a theme threaded throughout the entire book. Reading news coverage after Hurricane Katrina, Salomon learned that in Houston, where many of the refugees were headed, 14% of all housing units (homes, apartments, duplexes, etc) were vacant. Salomon did some research on how this compares to the rest of the country. She found that in the year 2000 there were 10.4 million vacant units and 250,000 people sleeping in homeless shelters. This meant there were nearly 45 homes that were completely empty per person sleeping in shelters. Salomon asks, "How is it that we have a housing crisis? Maybe a homing crisis, or a sharing crisis, but this isn't a housing crisis. "

Shay Salomon is a carpenter and construction manager who coaches owner-builders towards a mortgage-free life. She has taught at least a hundred courses in carpentry, straw bale building, solar design, and women s building courses. A cofounder with Greg Johnson, Jay Shafer, and Nigel Valdez of the Small House Society (, she wrote Little House on the Small Planet , which chronicles the small house movement and offers advice to people who want to improve their life by living in far less space. The photographer for Little House, Nigel Valdez, chose pictures of real people on average days in their little houses. Nothing appears staged. People are relaxing with their kids, their feet up on the coffee table, or shaving in the bathtub, which happens to be in the kitchen. Shay Salomon and Nigel Valdez have worked on this project for 7 years.

The Santa Barbara Permaculture Network sponsors the event. For more information please call (805) 962-2571, or email margie [at],

Quotes about Housing from the book:

The Union of Concerned Scientists ranks housing third among destructive human enterprises, just after transportation and agriculture. But our housing need not be destructive. Again we can chose ! We can chose human scale, enhancing our connections with those we love. We can chose eco-scale, reducing our demand for the kind of energy that is disrupting life now and for future generations.

Construction has some alarming effects on the environment. Forty percent of all the raw materials humans consume, we use in construction. Building an average house adds seven tons of waste to the landfill! New house construction is arguably the single greatest threat to endangered species, even in areas where human population is on the decline, animals and plants are threatened each day, due to the construction of new houses. Might our houses feel more comfortable if they weren't so destructive.

Throughout North America building has been influenced by "green thinking", and houses have improved, but despite major advances in insulation and design, the typical house built today requires as much energy to heat and cool as one built in 1960. Why? Because it's bigger. House size and location are the greatest determinants of a home's effect on the environment. The challenge is to build a single family housing as efficient as a New York City apartment, which, on average uses a fraction of the energy of a typical detached house.

"At a time when the news is filled with stories of three-car garage McMansions, Shay Salomon offers a terrific corrective. LITTLE HOUSE ON A SMALL PLANET shows how smaller, cozier homes provide an antidote to America's epidemic of loneliness, by building community, saving energy and reducing our impact on the planet. If you've ever thought of scaling down, you have a good reason to read this book. If you haven't thought about it, you have an even better one!" - John de Graaf, PBS producer and author, AFFLUENZA: THE ALL-CONSUMING EPIDEMIC

Shay Salomon is a carpenter and construction manager who coaches owner-builders towards a mortgage-free life, and leads building and mindfullness workshops, usually for women. A cofounder, with Greg Johnson, Jay Shafer, and Nigel Valdez of the Small House Society, she wrote Little House on the Small Planet, which chronicles the small house movement and offers advise to people who want to improve their life by living in far less space

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