Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Self-Actualized Home

Can you think about the water runoff of a home and ignore the foundation? Can you think about the foundation and ignore the ground? Can you think about the ground and ignore the plants? Can you think about the plants and ignore the people? Can you think about the people and ignore how they interact with each other; their dwellings and environment? What kind of thinking integrates these questions and their components? I think the anwer is self-actualized thinking. Self-actualized thinking is done by self-actualized people.

I've just read a pretty succinct article on BrainMeta that outlines the characteristics of a few so-called "self actualized" people.

In it, the German word "gemeinschaftsgefuhl" meaning "community feeling" or "social interest", was described as one of the traits self-actualized people had. I got to this page via StumbleUpon while winding down after a very intense walk/talk around Greenlake with a couple of wise men in the building/environment/design field.

Non-coincidentally since this was likely building for a while, the conversation I had with Mike Broili and Wayne Apostolik was centered around the burgeoning field of holistic dwellings, high-performance homes, and residential energy/resource conservation. (Wayne runs a firm called NorthWest HomeCrafters Inc, and Mike Broili runs a firm called Living Systems Design).

What we discovered (likely again) was the truth about how the building trades (most all of them) need to truly integrate their services for both new and retrofit/remodel homes. In particular, we agreed that there is really no way to do this right without doing it entirely, thoroughly, holistically. From the site, to the design, to the materials, to the methodologies, to the workmanship, to the vegetation, to the integration of the people in their homes and beyond.

For new homes, the USGBC's highest LEED standards are getting very good at this holistic integration approach, but the retrofit/remodel world is not yet on board. Perhaps it's because there is no single (or even usable multiple) methodology or terminology for bringing tradespeople into this systems-based model.

I posit the possibility that the direction is towards an ideal that works in the the social sciences and psychological world: that of "self-actualization".

If human dwellings and human beings are to improve, we need some serious goals to strive towards. "The self-actualized home" is where the self-actualized human should live. Some do so already, but this idea must be brought to the population as a whole, and not be limited to people who have spare time or spare money to pursue this seemingly lofty endeavor for themselves, their families, and their community.

Self-actualization is not self-ishness. In fact, quite the contrary, it's about the capacity to move beyond one's self and into the work of sharing our gifts with others in a healthy and progressive fashion. Full integration is what we're looking for, and it must consider the outside and the inside in a holistic (sorry to bludgeon you with the term) way. All the outsides and all the insides.

That's what's meant by the social term "gemeinschaftsgefuhl", and if we could add the environmental bridge between humans/communities and their dwelling spaces (outside and inside kinds of dwelling spaces), we'd have a really solid target to hit in the field of residential energy conservation.

At Campbell Energy, we are in the process of shooting at that goal, the full integration and self-actualization of people and their dwelling spaces. While doing so myself, I am promoting the idea itself and pushing this mountain of humanity in that direction. If we are to survive as a species, this is the way it must be done.

What do these self-actualized dwellings look like? They consider the entire ecosystem all at once, and integrate themselves with it and their inhabitants. The dwelling space is the conduit between the animals we are and the land we live on. This three-way integration is not new at all, look at a cave and you'll see the ancient evidence of it.

I'm actually hoping not to define the self-actualized dwelling myself, but to offer the idea up to my readers and get their feedback on it. If you feel compelled to describe the characteristics of a self-actualized dwelling, please leave a comment.

Deep Green Love,