Our family goes about life doing what needs to be done and things generally work out okay. There are ongoing challenges, of course, but we just deal with things as they come. In other words, we have a good life based on a can-do attitude and successfully learning how to deal with things. Seems simple enough to me.

So I was somewhat taken back by all the negativity on the recent $300 House design competition. Most people there are caring, good people who want to find sustainable solutions to help the world. That type of attitude and those kinds of people are what attracted me to the competition. I’ve seen my share of bad behavior on Internet forums, but by entering the design competition I suddenly found myself in the middle of things (in the crossfire), and this has made me increasingly aware of bad attitudes in the larger world. You’d think a competition such as this would be the last place to attract naysayers and people with ill intent, but alas, they seem to be everywhere.

One common theme I kept hearing was people saying “this won’t work”, “it’s too hard”, “it’s too difficult”, and so on. Well, you know what? Everything worthwhile is challenging and takes time and effort – school, work, relationships, even day to day life. So I want to take this opportunity to share some thoughts that hopefully will help others.

Here’s a true story about a man who built his own house with CEBs. You can decide if building with CEBs is “too much work”. (Same basic idea applies to building with earthbags, etc.) I know of a man who was diagnosed with cancer and told he had less than a year to live. He didn’t give up. He quit his job, moved to the countryside, bought a CEB press and built his own house by himself. He immersed himself in the rhythm of the work and quit worrying about things. He’s still alive about 12-15 years later and has built several other houses. (Not to belittle him, but he was weak and skinny from never having done physical work.) So if one guy with incurable cancer can do this, why can’t you?

So I’m saying building houses is a lot of work no matter how you do it. You need to develop a good can-do attitude. Learn as much as you can before starting and never give up. Build small, simple, pay with cash and add on later. If you can overcome the difficulties of building your own home for a few months or so then you’ll have a home for the rest of your life that’s paid for, while most everyone around you blows 1/3 of their working life to pay off a mortgage. (And many of those people will default and lose everything, but that’s another topic for another day.)


Comments

Can-Do Attitude Needed Part 1 — 35 Comments

  1. When the news on tv shows disasters such as the tornados that have torn through Tuscalousa Alabama, Joplin Missouri and others, I don’t see disaster, I see opportunity. You will notice that the stick-built homes were flattened, while brick and stone buildings stood, even though they may have lost their roofs. Earthbag homes would eliminate a lot of that damage potential, provided the roofs could be made in an ultra-strong fashion. Even an earthbag saferoom in a house would have saved many lives.

    We need more public exposure to earthbag construction, and a reality show that demonstrated the ease of construction, low cost, and durability under different conditions would be an excellent educational venue.

  2. Great post! All comments to me thus far have been positive, but I’m sure I’m in the minority.

    People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. ~ Chinese Proverb

  3. Wonderful post Mr. Geiger. I think that your $300 house is an amazing thing, right along with the rest of your earthbag structures. There is no motivation with the younger generation, from which I can only figure is caused by all of the new gadgets and instant gratification. A “click a button, it happens” mentality. I think that your earthbag houses will help teens do something worthwhile with their whole family, and realize what they can do with their hands and some elbow grease, along with providing life skills for those who need them. (And the earthbag houses are just plain cool.)
    We’re going to build an earthbag home sometime in the near future, so if there are any resources other than this website, your youtube page, and the Instructables page, could you please let me know?

    • As a 22 year old woman, I feel apart of “the new generation” of which you speak. I don’t think we’re unmotivated as a whole. There is immaturity, laziness and stupidity in every generation, but I’m met plenty of motivated young people determined to make this world a better one, and I include myself in that category. I’m studying natural resources, and hopefully will be able to work in a related field upon graduation and use that knowledge to help the planet. I plan on building my own earthbag home someday when I have land. They are plenty of socially and environmentally conscious minds in this generation. And then their are plenty of Snookies, the Snookies make more waves and grab more attention though.

      Our generation (in this country at least, assuming they have the resources to afford it) has been a bit spoiled by technolgy, you could argue this has led us to expect instant gratification, but you could also argue that our generation is one that has had the most access to information at their fingertips. Researching almost any topic is easier that it has ever been. Our generation is also one that is spending more of their time writing than ever. The sharing of ideas is easier than ever. I’m not saying our generation is better than any other, I rather think thats a silly notion but ours has it’s flaws and strengths.

      Like every generation before and every generation after, ours will be criticized by the older generation for being lazy, stupid, short sighted, ruined by the technology we utilize to make our lives easier. The older generation has more experience, but time washes our memories and they forget what it’s like to be young. It’s the way of humans, and I’m certain it’ll never change. Give me two decades, I’ll be talking about them kids these days.

      • I know what you mean about being able to research anything and everything. There is a man named Marcin Jakubowski who is compiling everything that you need to know in order to start a civilization. It’s on a wiki, http://www.openfarmtech.com, and I’d love to see things from this website on there. I’d put it there myself, but I’m by no means an expert on this. I understand what you mean about how technology is helping us along, and I agree that it can be a good thing. The only problem, as with everything, is achieving a proper balance between technology and working with your hands.

        Issac Asimov once dreamed aloud that every child could have all of humanity’s knowledge at his or her fingertips. They could just input a query into their link at home to this vast repository of knowledge, and receive an answer. If they so wished, they could look further, delve deeper! They could satisfy their hunger for knowledge at their own pace, and learn as much or as little as they wanted.
        It’s amazing that that became a reality, all the way from ARPANET to the “web” that we know and love. It’s an amazing tool, though it could be argued that it’s taking precedence over real life. I heard that “Technology Dependence” is actually a treatable syndrome now. But I digress, I apologize…

        I believe that you’re correct on the laziness and immaturity in every generation, and that the bad eggs usually stand out from the good ones. I also agree with you that this nation has been a bit spoiled by technology. Older folks talk about the younger generation being rowdy and bad, and not how they were in their younger days from generation to generation, and I hope that you’re right. I hope that it’s just perception being blurred, though I’m not yet old enough to tell for true.

        I’m glad that there are plenty of environmentally conscious minds nowadays, and that’s most certainly important. Recycle whenever you can, pick up trash if you see it lying around, and do your best to take care of the world. Those are all very important things, but that’s not my main concern for this generation. My main concern is what’s happen politically. The government giving out unrepayable loans, and they now have that threat hanging over businesses, such as GM. I’m worried about the government effectively owning businesses. More than that, I’m worried about the free health care. President Regan gave warnings about free health care to whoever would listen, as a warning for the future. Once the health care was controlled by the government, then they could tell the doctors where to live. When people get used to that idea, then they move on up, and branch out.

        My concerns on the younger generation are apathy, and not being aware of the world around them. Whether I’m right or not on the above paragraph isn’t the issue, the issue is that the younger generation doesn’t know enough to either disprove me or agree with me. Information may flow more freely than it ever has before, but no matter how free the information flows, it can’t make one bit of difference if nobody is willing to read it.

        Read well, be smart, and God bless.

  4. From Erich:
    10,000 posts like this one every day from 10,000 people and we’ll finally live in the world we hoped for…

    Bravo!

    Dr. Owen wrestles world and world submits.

  5. Nice post! Anything worthwhile takes a lot of work. Keep on plugging away! I also liked your survivor earthbag tv show idea. I think it could sell to HGTV. But I can’t afford cable… so I’ll have to see it when it comes to you-tube.

    BTW, 15 years until I retire. I’d like to have your thoughts on whether earthbag would work just a little north of Seattle….

    • Thanks. Can you tell me more about HGTV? I pretty much quit watching TV about 10 years ago. And before that I quit watching TV for about 12-15 years, so I am way behind the curve on what’s happening on TV. I call it an idiot box and routinely encourage people to stop watching.

      And yes, you can build in rainy climates. I live in a tropical area and others are building in tropical areas with lots of rain. Use wide roof overhangs and build a good roof. Drape a piece of plastic on top of the wall so any roof leaks will run down the sides.

        • Okay, I think I heard of this about 10 years ago. I think was at someone’s house and they were flipping channels. But the homes they show are high end. This doesn’t seem like the right market. (I would want to show low cost ways of building.)

      • They have some low end design shows…. like “Design on a Dime!” They go to garage sales and flea markets and buy stuff and paint. They reupholster…. etc…..

        They do have lower cost shows…. Especially in this economy…. The real forte of the HGTV network is the before and after…. something created or changed….

        I think it would sell…. I’d pitch it if I were trying to be an earthbag disciple… Heck if I were trying to make a million or become a TV personality, I’d pitch it…. Nothing ventured, nothing gained…. or as my dear deceased mother used to say, “Can’t never could!”

        • Good points. I think you’re right. TV shows will adapt to changing conditions. They almost have to. But have you seen anything related to dirt cheap natural building? From what I see it’s mostly high end “green architecture” that costs as much or more than typical houses.

      • I think it’s perfect because it is different. (But it fits the mold bc there is a before and after, something created or changed.) Heck, If you only got one season, it’d still get your message out there. I’d be more concerned with not getting compensated or the idea getting stolen…. If I were you I’d forward your you tube videos for an example… (If you get a tv show, send for me…. I’ll be a survivor/competitor! hahaha)

  6. You are SO right! That attitude can take a man further than muscle or education or even money. I was raised in a house where the most common refrain we heard was, “Can’t never could do anything.” I’ve seen that prove itself true time and time again.

    I would love to see your survivor-type show come to pass. That would change a lot of perceptions about earthbag building.

    Your blog is excellent and I always look forward to reading it. Keep up the good work!

  7. Good for you! Can-do attitude is the most important thing in the world and I wish it lived in the core of more people. That attitude will take a man much further than education or muscle ever can.

    I was raised in a house where the most common chastisement from our parents was, “Can’t never could do anything.” I have seen this prove itself time and time again over the years in my life and in the lives of others.

    I believe your idea of a survivor-type show would change the way a lot people perceive earthbag building. You keep up the good work. You’re brilliant!

  8. Thank you for going the distance with your endeavors for sharing your entries with the world at large, even if there are so many whiners. You and Patti and the others who entered this contest with your amazing ideas are to be commended. You all planted many seeds. MANY SOULS were touched by these seeds.

    • Amazing response. Thank you very much. I’ve been taking a beating lately with people bashing my ideas. I even started taking things a little personally. Watching one of my designs suddenly drop 10, 15 points in an hour sort of feels like a punch in the gut. This is still happening by the way, even after they canned that one guy for vote rigging.

  9. Follow up comment:

    Owen, someone once said “I believe it is not possible that man will fly for another 50 years.”

    —Wilbur Wright, 1901

    Change comes slow. That’s why we need hard working visionaries like you to lead the way.

  10. Thanx for the pearls of wisdom Owen

    That is why I come to this site – I learn something new every day

    I am also gathering info to build my own house

    We need more people like you to make this planet a better place

    Go well

  11. Well said Owen.

    Many people today give evidence of anxiety over their uncertain future by voicing those fears as negativity and criticism.

    You reached a broader audience there and from each new spark, fires of insight, understanding and commitment will always grow. Fear is hard for people to deal with… until they walk into the middle of it.

    You are an important part of a movement that will sweep over the world. Being out front means sometimes having to walk through valleys where no path leads the way.

    Keep on keeping on! One day at a time…

    • Wow, what a response! I just woke up and I’m rubbing my eyes looking at 11 responses to this one post. Usually only 1-2 people reply. I try to keep on subject about earthbags, but sometimes stray off on related topics. Never would have guessed so many people would like this. Thank you.

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