Solutions for Self-Reliance

Weekend Edition: Is your Home a Box or a Dynamo?


I have to admit.  I sometimes fall into the trap of thinking about my home in the traditional way.

What’s the traditional way of thinking about a home?   To see it as a box.

A very big box that holds a family’s things.  A box that can be decorated both inside and out.  A box that needs constant repair to maintain its box-hood.

If you really think about it.  A static, decorated box isn’t really a home.  It’s a mausoleum.  It adorns you and your family in your repose.

The new way of thinking about a home is as a dynamo:

A dynamic, living system that produces food, energy, water, and much more.  A system that helps you to actively respond to changes in the global economy and environment, particularly as they careen out of control.  A productive asset you actively participate in managing.  An asset that grows more valuable the worse the things get.

Here’s a question to think about.

We all know how to value a box home.  It has a market value based on how big it is, how well it is decorated, and where it is located.

How do you value a home that is a dynamo?

The old ways of measuring value will remain, but with a twist.

  • Location matter.  However, its value won’t based on its proximity to a city or based on the quality of the school system (as it is today), but more on the resilience and cohesiveness of the community it is located in.  If you do work in the global economy: telecommute.
  • Aesthetics is still important.  Who wants to live in a dump?
  • Size.  Size won’t be valued by counting bathrooms and the amount of living area.  In fact, a very large home (unless it is fully utilized via a big family group) will be seen as a liability, since it is expensive to care for.  Size, instead, will be more of a measure of productive capacity — catchment, arable land, food forest, etc.

As we become more sophisticated in valuing dynamos, I suspect we will add some of the following measures:

  • How much it provides you with independence (meets your basic needs).
  • The amount of money it saves you (not quite the same thing as independence).
  • The income it makes for you.
  • The quality of its production.
  • The degree of integration of the home into a community production system.
  • How secure the productive capacity is.

If you have another way to value a dynamo, please share it.

Your one step ahead of the box analyst,



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