Comments on: Revisiting The Brother-In-Law on the Couch: Consolidating Housing in Hard Times http://sharonastyk.com/2008/09/02/revisiting-the-brother-in-law-on-the-couch-consolidating-housing-in-hard-times/ Sharon Astyk's Ruminations on an Ambiguous Future Fri, 02 Oct 2009 07:27:31 +0000 #?v=2.3.2 By: homebrewlibrarian http://sharonastyk.com/2008/09/02/revisiting-the-brother-in-law-on-the-couch-consolidating-housing-in-hard-times/#comment-9863 homebrewlibrarian Wed, 03 Sep 2008 19:03:08 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/09/02/revisiting-the-brother-in-law-on-the-couch-consolidating-housing-in-hard-times/#comment-9863 I live in 600 sq ft and my sister with her two oldest children (15 and 13) will be coming up for a visit next summer. I figure between my double bed in the bedroom, the single bed futon couch and a queen sized air mattress on the floor in the front room, we'll have everyone sleeping somewhere. I have one bathroom and very little furniture. I'll be able to sleep everyone and find enough places at the table for us to eat. Since she has very little money, we'll be eating home a lot and sharing my car. I see this as a trial run for "how many bodies can I cram in this space and we don't kill each other." I also expect us to be outside quite a bit and plan to recruit the kids (and my sister) to help out in the gardens. Should be interesting because I don't have a television and only one computer which I rarely use so the kids will be electronics free during that time. I do have packs of cards and a cribbage board and I'll be happy to take them to the library to pick out some books (I'm thankful all three are voracious readers). True, it's a very short term experiment (maybe 10 days) and it won't happen during a crisis but at least I'll have a better idea of what to plan for and expect. And thank God I have a year to prepare! Kerri in AK I live in 600 sq ft and my sister with her two oldest children (15 and 13) will be coming up for a visit next summer. I figure between my double bed in the bedroom, the single bed futon couch and a queen sized air mattress on the floor in the front room, we’ll have everyone sleeping somewhere. I have one bathroom and very little furniture. I’ll be able to sleep everyone and find enough places at the table for us to eat. Since she has very little money, we’ll be eating home a lot and sharing my car. I see this as a trial run for “how many bodies can I cram in this space and we don’t kill each other.” I also expect us to be outside quite a bit and plan to recruit the kids (and my sister) to help out in the gardens. Should be interesting because I don’t have a television and only one computer which I rarely use so the kids will be electronics free during that time. I do have packs of cards and a cribbage board and I’ll be happy to take them to the library to pick out some books (I’m thankful all three are voracious readers).

True, it’s a very short term experiment (maybe 10 days) and it won’t happen during a crisis but at least I’ll have a better idea of what to plan for and expect. And thank God I have a year to prepare!

Kerri in AK

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By: Tara http://sharonastyk.com/2008/09/02/revisiting-the-brother-in-law-on-the-couch-consolidating-housing-in-hard-times/#comment-9852 Tara Wed, 03 Sep 2008 16:39:44 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/09/02/revisiting-the-brother-in-law-on-the-couch-consolidating-housing-in-hard-times/#comment-9852 Good ideas, all - thanks! Good ideas, all - thanks!

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By: George http://sharonastyk.com/2008/09/02/revisiting-the-brother-in-law-on-the-couch-consolidating-housing-in-hard-times/#comment-9843 George Wed, 03 Sep 2008 14:20:05 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/09/02/revisiting-the-brother-in-law-on-the-couch-consolidating-housing-in-hard-times/#comment-9843 Tara, How about small cabins ? You talk about building a shed, is that not the same approximate space as a room in a house? Communal outdoor kitchens/eating areas can work if the weather is right think State and National park campgrounds for communal his/hers bathrooms and showers. If ya got the land like you say it can be done. How about Building a Barn? and putting in stalls? Think outside the 975 sq ft box :) George Tara,
How about small cabins ? You talk about building a shed, is that not the same approximate space as a room in a house? Communal outdoor kitchens/eating areas can work if the weather is right think State and National park campgrounds for communal his/hers bathrooms and showers. If ya got the land like you say it can be done. How about Building a Barn? and putting in stalls?
Think outside the 975 sq ft box :)
George

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By: Sharon http://sharonastyk.com/2008/09/02/revisiting-the-brother-in-law-on-the-couch-consolidating-housing-in-hard-times/#comment-9842 Sharon Wed, 03 Sep 2008 14:18:35 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/09/02/revisiting-the-brother-in-law-on-the-couch-consolidating-housing-in-hard-times/#comment-9842 Tara - I'd say it is generally easier to build something to house your stuff than to build something to house people, simply because people are pickier about temperatures ;-). This is a real issue - I'd figure that in a tough time, people don't need private bedrooms - you can live with folks camping on the living room floor, at least for a while. In the longer term - relocation of stuff, or perhaps the building of a small cabin for the people seems like a good idea. Sharon Tara - I’d say it is generally easier to build something to house your stuff than to build something to house people, simply because people are pickier about temperatures ;-). This is a real issue - I’d figure that in a tough time, people don’t need private bedrooms - you can live with folks camping on the living room floor, at least for a while. In the longer term - relocation of stuff, or perhaps the building of a small cabin for the people seems like a good idea.

Sharon

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By: Sarah http://sharonastyk.com/2008/09/02/revisiting-the-brother-in-law-on-the-couch-consolidating-housing-in-hard-times/#comment-9840 Sarah Wed, 03 Sep 2008 13:39:24 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/09/02/revisiting-the-brother-in-law-on-the-couch-consolidating-housing-in-hard-times/#comment-9840 Tara -- in a shorter-term emergency, you might want to invest in some tents and have people camp out in your yard, provided whatever the emergency was didn't result in it being too freezing or soggy outside. Everyone could hang out inside for much of the time, but you wouldn't have to find room for them to actually set up living space. I'm not really planning on taking people in for more than the short-term, either, since we're in an apartment, though we could consolidate our rooms and use the second bedroom for another person or couple if we really had to. If it came to that, what might actually make more sense would be to cut the apartment in half and have the bedrooms and kitchen be one "apartment" and put the new people in the (largeish) common space on the foldy couch...that gives one outside door apiece, and the bathroom is central enough that we could really stay out of each other's space pretty well except at mealtimes. Tara — in a shorter-term emergency, you might want to invest in some tents and have people camp out in your yard, provided whatever the emergency was didn’t result in it being too freezing or soggy outside. Everyone could hang out inside for much of the time, but you wouldn’t have to find room for them to actually set up living space.

I’m not really planning on taking people in for more than the short-term, either, since we’re in an apartment, though we could consolidate our rooms and use the second bedroom for another person or couple if we really had to. If it came to that, what might actually make more sense would be to cut the apartment in half and have the bedrooms and kitchen be one “apartment” and put the new people in the (largeish) common space on the foldy couch…that gives one outside door apiece, and the bathroom is central enough that we could really stay out of each other’s space pretty well except at mealtimes.

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By: Tara http://sharonastyk.com/2008/09/02/revisiting-the-brother-in-law-on-the-couch-consolidating-housing-in-hard-times/#comment-9838 Tara Wed, 03 Sep 2008 13:07:52 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/09/02/revisiting-the-brother-in-law-on-the-couch-consolidating-housing-in-hard-times/#comment-9838 There's one aspect of this that's been bugging me. My husband and I live in a very small house by today's standards (about 975 square feet). It has a nice open and usable floorplan, but it's an older house and has exactly ONE bedroom, and exactly ONE small closet. We do, however, have a lot of land, and are well-equipped to take people in. The problem is, we're absolutely busting at the seams with all the stuff that we've either purposely stored or opted to keep because of its usefulness. We have a lot of stuff, and nearly all of it is stuff we think we might need. So my question is, how do we fit anyone into our house (or indeed, go back to taking up only 250 square feet each)? Where is the line between having room to store "preparedness items" and having room to house people? We'd have to give up one at the expense of the other, no question. We are looking into building a shed to store some excess, but still... Perhaps in the era of the mega-house, this isn't a problem that most people have, but surely there are some folks out there like us that have a great place to keep people, except for the tiny accommodations? Maybe we (like a previous poster) could provide refuge for pets and livestock. :) There’s one aspect of this that’s been bugging me. My husband and I live in a very small house by today’s standards (about 975 square feet). It has a nice open and usable floorplan, but it’s an older house and has exactly ONE bedroom, and exactly ONE small closet. We do, however, have a lot of land, and are well-equipped to take people in. The problem is, we’re absolutely busting at the seams with all the stuff that we’ve either purposely stored or opted to keep because of its usefulness. We have a lot of stuff, and nearly all of it is stuff we think we might need. So my question is, how do we fit anyone into our house (or indeed, go back to taking up only 250 square feet each)? Where is the line between having room to store “preparedness items” and having room to house people? We’d have to give up one at the expense of the other, no question. We are looking into building a shed to store some excess, but still…

Perhaps in the era of the mega-house, this isn’t a problem that most people have, but surely there are some folks out there like us that have a great place to keep people, except for the tiny accommodations? Maybe we (like a previous poster) could provide refuge for pets and livestock. :)

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By: Sharon http://sharonastyk.com/2008/09/02/revisiting-the-brother-in-law-on-the-couch-consolidating-housing-in-hard-times/#comment-9836 Sharon Wed, 03 Sep 2008 12:56:50 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/09/02/revisiting-the-brother-in-law-on-the-couch-consolidating-housing-in-hard-times/#comment-9836 Daharja, I actually have written a number of times (and discussed at some length in the first BIL post) that it might be you moving. Because this class focuses on adapting-in-place, we covered where else we might go in a crisis earlier, and this is focusing on what happens if people come to you. Tomorrow's class will be on community building. The structure of the course is to cover a range of scenarios. Sharon Daharja, I actually have written a number of times (and discussed at some length in the first BIL post) that it might be you moving. Because this class focuses on adapting-in-place, we covered where else we might go in a crisis earlier, and this is focusing on what happens if people come to you. Tomorrow’s class will be on community building. The structure of the course is to cover a range of scenarios.

Sharon

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By: Clifton Park_Mom http://sharonastyk.com/2008/09/02/revisiting-the-brother-in-law-on-the-couch-consolidating-housing-in-hard-times/#comment-9834 Clifton Park_Mom Wed, 03 Sep 2008 12:23:42 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/09/02/revisiting-the-brother-in-law-on-the-couch-consolidating-housing-in-hard-times/#comment-9834 My DH & I bought a house last year with more space than we need (4 bedrooms and we only have one child -- foolish, I know), so I've gotten very comfortable with the idea of welcoming family to come live with us -- perhaps my parents (but preferably not his, thanks), or any of our siblings or friends. Not surprisingly though, when you mention this idea to people who are fully ingrained in the status quo (big homes, big cars, long commutes, expensive child care), be prepared for them to laugh at you and tell you how funny you are. I imagine most people would have to be in absolute dire straits before being willing to take this step. It's unfortunate. I think my daughter would really benefit from growing up around more of her extended family. My DH & I bought a house last year with more space than we need (4 bedrooms and we only have one child — foolish, I know), so I’ve gotten very comfortable with the idea of welcoming family to come live with us — perhaps my parents (but preferably not his, thanks), or any of our siblings or friends.

Not surprisingly though, when you mention this idea to people who are fully ingrained in the status quo (big homes, big cars, long commutes, expensive child care), be prepared for them to laugh at you and tell you how funny you are. I imagine most people would have to be in absolute dire straits before being willing to take this step. It’s unfortunate. I think my daughter would really benefit from growing up around more of her extended family.

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By: Daharja http://sharonastyk.com/2008/09/02/revisiting-the-brother-in-law-on-the-couch-consolidating-housing-in-hard-times/#comment-9821 Daharja Wed, 03 Sep 2008 02:47:48 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/09/02/revisiting-the-brother-in-law-on-the-couch-consolidating-housing-in-hard-times/#comment-9821 What I'm also saying (and didn't above) is that perhaps one of the most important skills is being able to persuade others to take you and your loved ones in, in case of terrible times. Bargaining skills and negotiating skills are worth far more, in ANY times, that being able to knit socks or have a spare room. What I’m also saying (and didn’t above) is that perhaps one of the most important skills is being able to persuade others to take you and your loved ones in, in case of terrible times.

Bargaining skills and negotiating skills are worth far more, in ANY times, that being able to knit socks or have a spare room.

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By: Daharja http://sharonastyk.com/2008/09/02/revisiting-the-brother-in-law-on-the-couch-consolidating-housing-in-hard-times/#comment-9820 Daharja Wed, 03 Sep 2008 02:46:15 +0000 http://sharonastyk.com/2008/09/02/revisiting-the-brother-in-law-on-the-couch-consolidating-housing-in-hard-times/#comment-9820 The issue I had with this post (and the older version) is that, once again, it assumed that others are the ones who had to move and we (the reader) are the ones who saved the day with our forethought and wisdom and planning and...yada yada... It's like the die off situation. If die-off happens, we always imagine it happening to other people. Not to us and our families, with other peple surviving instead. In the case of the above post, wha's to say that you would have people move in with you? And how would you feel if you have to move in with with your trailer-home bound relatives, because your farm is, say, repossessed by government officials and turned into a state growing area or a military possession? Stranger things have happened. I guess what I am saying is that in the future, nothing is certain. We can plan and create and make the perfect safe haven with off-grid facilities and a great food supply, then have it taken away by authorities when times get tough, or have to leave it when we steal across the border in the middle of the night with our toddlers, or when we are shot in the face by people less gun-shy than ourselves. Rather than being prepared with room for relatives who may or may not come to live with you, doesn't it make far more sense to be able to be flexible and sociable with the communities that we have, be able to work with people from all social strata willingly and positively, and be able to adapt to changing circumstances independently and in a focused way as times change? I think so. We don't know what the future will bring. But for now I'll focus on networking with my community and remaining debt-free and building social capital, rather than bothering with having spare rooms for possible hangers on in possible circumstances in possible futures that may or may not happen. The issue I had with this post (and the older version) is that, once again, it assumed that others are the ones who had to move and we (the reader) are the ones who saved the day with our forethought and wisdom and planning and…yada yada…

It’s like the die off situation. If die-off happens, we always imagine it happening to other people. Not to us and our families, with other peple surviving instead.

In the case of the above post, wha’s to say that you would have people move in with you? And how would you feel if you have to move in with with your trailer-home bound relatives, because your farm is, say, repossessed by government officials and turned into a state growing area or a military possession?

Stranger things have happened.

I guess what I am saying is that in the future, nothing is certain. We can plan and create and make the perfect safe haven with off-grid facilities and a great food supply, then have it taken away by authorities when times get tough, or have to leave it when we steal across the border in the middle of the night with our toddlers, or when we are shot in the face by people less gun-shy than ourselves.

Rather than being prepared with room for relatives who may or may not come to live with you, doesn’t it make far more sense to be able to be flexible and sociable with the communities that we have, be able to work with people from all social strata willingly and positively, and be able to adapt to changing circumstances independently and in a focused way as times change?

I think so.

We don’t know what the future will bring. But for now I’ll focus on networking with my community and remaining debt-free and building social capital, rather than bothering with having spare rooms for possible hangers on in possible circumstances in possible futures that may or may not happen.

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