We're turning houses into homes by hosting work holidays and providing FREE workshops to anyone and everyone who is in the spirit of learning! We're learning, you're learning, we're all learning together what it means to create a healthy, green home...what could be better than that?
...a healthier, greener vision for Buffalo perhaps?
Just about a week ago, Megan and I hosted our first public meeting about our project. Nine wonderful people weathered the blistering cold to come by and share their thoughts, and we cannot express our appreciation enough. For me, the meeting was one of the first times I really got to speak with and listen to, at length, some longtime residents of our neighborhood.
Reflecting on my eight years at City Honors, it's amazing to think how little I really knew beyond the sidewalk connecting Summer-Best station, the school, and Masten Park, where we had gym class on nice days. Eight years (21 living in Buffalo generally) and it wasn't until mid-January of 2009, after knocking on doors with fingers and cookies frozen solid, that I could tell you where Laurel Street begins and ends. Eight years and it wasn't until last weekend, after our meeting, that I could explain why pruned hedges and privacy fences are of particular importance to our neighbors.
In fairness to my high school self, it's only been since discovering Urban Studies in college that I have developed a keen interest in getting to know a neighborhood, since returning to Buffalo that I have realized I never want to leave, and since meeting Megan that I have been drawn back to the East Side. So I feel pretty fortunate to be getting a second chance at really knowing this neighborhood, especially in the context of our project and the strengthening role I hope it will play.
What else? We determined our first workshops, combining a specific need in the house with a specific request of one of our neighbors and with specific restrictions imposed on us by the weather...
Sanding Your Hardwood Floors February 14th at 1pm or February 15th at 3pm At our house, 153 Eaton.
We also incorporated feedback from the meeting to adopt a workshop model, which we can hopefully begin using next weekend. The model devotes at least two workshops to every subject: the first is taught by a volunteer professional and the second (and third and fourth, if there is demand) is taught by one of us.
Plus Meg has been hard at work designing the workshop and it looks freakin' awesome! I can't wait to learn how to sand a floor!
Speaking of "demo," the last time my friend was over, the walls in the side entryway were still there. Poof! Now they're gone! It's amazing how quickly things can change. For instance, how I changed from being a full time student at a college in New York City to withdrawing for the semester and buying a house on the east side of Buffalo!
So even though I'm technically not enrolled this semester, I still consider myself an environmental policy major. Of course when I started this project I was really excited to make the materials choices as "green" as possible. Still, knowing what I know about environmental impacts, I am able to tell you virtually nothing about tried and true green materials. I did a little homework, searched through materials lists, and what I've come to realize in my researching is that there are so many options, so many brands! How can you possibly choose just one?
Well, why not try them all? My idea is to create a house that showcases all kinds of materials, all types of heating, insulation, etc. Included in that is a huge commitment to experimentation, creating non-conventional solutions to a greener lifestyle. How can we make a solar hot water system without paying 2000+ dollars? Can we try retrofitting a house and testing the efficiency of different types of insulation? In what ways can we recycle/conserve our water? Is it better to leave the systems you have and increase efficiency, or should you replace it?
All of these questions are the basis of very real experiments that will be conducted in the house over the next year. If you have an interest in this sort of thing or have an idea for a "back of the door" technique for greening a house, please contact me! Perhaps we can experiment with your inspiring ideas!