The message below is a post I originally sent to the public discussion forum for the Small House Society.

I felt it was worth sharing more broadly by posting it here for those who aren’t active in the discussion forum, and also for those involved in any kind of activism or social reform/transform efforts.

As we head into 2012, it’s a good reminder to stay united and focused on solutions, rather than being divided and arguing about problems.

~ Greg

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‘Tis the season…

Friends,

As we finish out the year of 2011, I think we have much to be thankful for. Since 2002, our online discussion group has had 9,881 messages posted. Most of those have offered practical solutions to small home design and construction. There have been excellent discussion threads about electrical systems, water sources, alternative energy, waste disposal, and many other topics.

It doesn’t come up often in this group, but occasionally the discussion gets off topic, stays off topic, and then people may begin to bicker about their own differing opinions about the economy, religion, or politics. I recognize that such conversations will likely always be present in society, but would like us all to make an effort to keep them off this discussion forum.

I know we’re all susceptible to feeling frustrated about the down economy and as we look for people to blame, it’s easy to point the finger at corporate fat-cats or political leaders present and past who are of a different political camp than our own. Heading into an election year, those inclinations will only increase.

As you know, the small house movement brings together people from differing economic, political, social, and cultural backgrounds. This presents challenges and opportunities. The challenge will be for us to stay united and focused on solutions, instead of divided as we complain about problems. The opportunity is that we can learn to respect each other’s differences and grow along the way.

A friend of mine who is well off financially (among the 1%) lives in a 4000 square foot home. He’s done some really innovative things to renovate the home and make it more sustainable. Yet, he still wants to live in something smaller and simpler. He’s also a big supporter of the small house movement. For others, smaller and simpler living isn’t a choice, but an economic necessity for survival. Some may choose small living not for financial reasons, or a desire to live simply, instead they choose small living because they believe a sustainable life is the only environmentally ethical way to live on this earth.

I’ve been involved in social activism for decades, and one thing I’ve learned is that problems are divisive, but solutions bring people together.

Here are some simple examples (among thousands)…

  • Starbucks is currently promoting their CreateJobsForUSA.org initiative. This program to create jobs brings people together. Rather than starting a movement complaining about unemployment, and blaming one political party or another, instead they are creating a movement that focuses on solutions.
  • NuruInternational.com is an organization dedicated to ending poverty. It was started by an ex-Marine with 7 years of military service and multiple tours of duty. He became disillusioned about war as an effective pathway to peace. Rather than starting up an “anti-war” organization he established a “create peace on earth” organization — and it’s working.

I’d like to think the Small House Society is similar to the above organizations. We’re not here to fight amongst ourselves as we complain about the problems and what caused (or causes) them, but instead we’re here to offer innovative, hopeful, and practical solutions to people seeking smaller, simpler, affordable, and sustainable living. We’re working toward creating sustainable communities where people can live simply with dignity, in harmony with each other and the earth.

Let’s try to keep our time and energy focused on solutions that help people, rather than problems that divide them.

We have a lot to be thankful for. I’m particularly grateful for the many contributions that all of you make to this discussion, and also in your own communities and social circles. We (the Small House Movement) need all of you. We need advocates for our movement from every walk of life — every economic, political, and religious persuasion. You are all ambassadors and representatives of this movement.

Thanks for all you do.

Greg

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