Thursday, October 10, 2019

Home. Ownership.

I never wanted to own a home. In fact, for most of my adult life I wanted to not own a home. It seemed to be an act simultaneously stressful and full of hubris. Who am I to take a piece of the earth from others' use? Who am I to impose, on the future me, where I'll live and where I'll dump hundreds of thousands of my hard-earned dollars?

My little piece of the earth, center of that highlighted circle. Teton Valley, Wydaho. 10/8/2019

There are billions and billions of us on this earth, most lusting after our own, or way more than our own, share of the earth. It felt a humble thing to opt out of home ownership.

  • The earth's surface area is 509.6 million square kilometers.
  • 71% of that is water. 
  • 148.3 million square kilometers of land.
  • About 10% of that is covered in ice. 
  • About 40% is used for agriculture
  • I'd really like to see at least half of what's left set aside as open space, for sharing and for wildlife and recreation and all the other valuable attributes of open space. 
  • That leaves about 37 million square kilometers. 
  • There are currently 7.7 billion people on earth. 
Given the above, that leaves us .0048 square kilometers (4800 square meters) per person to live on. Super rough calculations, I know. However, it happens to line up, exactly, with what I (and the bank...) own. 1.2 acres is 4856 square meters. I sort of stumbled into home ownership. I won't bore you with the details, but it unfolded in a non-traditional manner and took me by surprise. It has cost me more than it should have, but it has proven to be a great blessing in many other ways. I very much appreciate my space, my land, and all it provides. I also understand certain realities and the great privilege this space is. 

I take care of my land. There are fewer invasive species than when I moved here. There is less trash in the yard than when I took possession. Nonetheless, my ambivalence continues. I love the security home ownership provides. Mountain town housing is notoriously vulnerable. Housing is super expensive. And landlords are always looking to further optimize their investment with new tenants or higher rents or sale to someone else. Roommates are transient, at best. To have "escaped" that is a blessing. 

On the other hand, the "house projects" are never ending. And my hovering sense of responsibility ("guilt" might be more accurate) just won't go away. I'm responsible for more space than I am really entitled to. We live in a global culture. Despite the rationalized math above, I claim more of the earth than average. I claim more than the next generation can claim. 

I work to increase the utility and livability of this space. The house itself is small. I'm tackling projects, slowly, that further reduce the resources demanded. I brainstorm and implement ways of increasing the utility of this space to more people. Two of us live here now. We try hard to get others to share the space with us. We store other people's stuff when it makes sense. We rent it on Air Bnb every other chance we get. I'm further brainstorming ways of decreasing the per-person footprint here. Nonetheless, it is a special privilege to own my own piece of the earth.

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