Building of the week: the half-house

Love love love this idea and another possibility is to build a simple one story and have it prep’ed to add another…

Make Wealth History

Architecture is often the preserve of the elite. Many of the world’s leading architects work on flagship developments for the richest in society, and RIBA’s house of the year was built for Lord Rothschild, after all. Most of the rest of us make do with off-the-shelf boxes, so I’m always interested in architects that want to work for the poorest.

Alejandro Aravena is one of those. He’s built over a thousand homes for ordinary people in Chile, with thousands more in the pipeline. His practice, Elemental, has projects all over the world, but their speciality is social housing. In particular, Aravena has become known for the half-house.

The idea was hatched in 2003, when he was asked to build 100 houses for low income families in Iquique, Chile. When his team did the maths on the government’s budget for the programme, they realised there was no way to make…

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When common sense and being human doesn’t prevail

The best in the west is not always the best…

I am always a long believer that the west has more to learn from Africa than it does helping Africa. I know my life if significantly ‘richer’ from having spent some time in parts of Africa. I have learnt invaluable lessons on resilience, resourcefulness, community, sharing, etc…

IMG_0593 (1024x512)This learning and these perspective turned into total frustration in the past week or so. I got news that the Happy, simply self-sufficient tiny home that I built with a group of volunteers in Australia in June last year will need to be moved. It needs to be moved because of ‘litigation and insurance concerns’. I have agreed with the group and I even understand where they are coming from and why, and if I was in their position I would be making the same decision so I don’t have ill feelings towards them or the eco village community. What it does though is sicken me to the bottom of my heart that humanity and common sense cannot prevail.

20141215_160406 (1024x768)It have been 1000x harder taking this news while being in South Sudan where common sense, personal responsibility and being human is still the normal way of life. Example: if you trip on the footpath (if there is one or there is one without most of it missing) you are the unlucky one and it is your fault for not watching out more closely while walking. Even if you are in a building that was not well made and it collapses on your head you are unlucky but still it is your personal responsibility.

I do agree there needs to be standards and we should try to meet those standards but in the end if you have made a decision to walk down the street or enter into a place, you are responsible for the consequences – just as humans had been until about 100 years ago in the west and as they mostly are in place like here in South Sudan.

When the line really goes off the chart for common sense and into pure inhuman, made-up, artificial, this-has-somehow-become-the-ridiculous-norm territory is when litigation and insurance worries override human common sense. If you stay in the Happy, simply home and in the very highly unlikely minuscule chance you get hurt, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean for it to happen but you are responsible as you took the choice to stay there. If it was because of my fault I would be a good human and help where possible and apologise appropriately. What I wouldn’t do is go beyond that owing you all I have, forever. Accidents happen and unlucky consequences should be dealt with as a human not as a programed inhuman money-wanting victim role-play. I certainly know that there are a lot of people dead, maimed or hurt in South Sudan because of accidents and unlucky situations but their natural mandate is to not make others and the system a victim along with them.

20150322_190139 (1024x540)Western countries should use setting standards as a good service tool for communities to try and lessen accidents where possible but what we have is a system to create fear, scare people and allow the worst case scenario to dictate decisions and actions.

I don’t want to continue this rant as I could for a long time and a lot of people would probably follow along agreeing with me. So referencing my current surroundings in South Sudan  – I love the way of life in the countries I have been in Africa. It is sometimes raw, rough and unforgiving but it is real.

20150322_082745 (1024x768)I am very sad that the Happy, simply home won’t remain in the eco village and I wish being human and self-responsibility won at the end of the day. The best news is the Happy, simply home might have found a new wonderful spot so you will be welcome to stay – as long as you take responsibility for yourself!

Putting It All Together (with bumps)

Hi Folks Far and Wide!

It has been a cruising start to the year with youth empowerment work in Malaysia, family and fun in Australia, creative conversations for Polio Points, dengue fever throughout my body and also in preparation for departure for Stop Transmission of Polio (STOP) program in South Sudan very soon…

This blog post is an attempt to pull all of my blogs into one central spot but to still maintain all the other blogs, each with their specific train of thought and purpose. So if you are a follower of any one of these blogs:

I will now be blogging on each of those blogs but they will always be doubled up on this blog site ( ) .

Therefore if you wish to follow all of these blogs at once I suggest you subscribe to the Teaspoons of Change blog ( )!

Lastly I was very lucky to be on a podcast interview with a great guy and purveyor of interesting people doing interesting things – Joel from Smart and Simple Matters and SimpleRev. Our nearly hour-long conversation was a nice chance for me to lay out the patchwork of diverse and passionate things I get to do in life from polio eradication to youth empowerment to living in tiny houses when possible and to anything and everything to ensure I do what I can to see an end to extreme poverty…

Here is a link to the podcast if you are keen and it is a good chance for me to try and tie a few things together and put them in at least one funnel where they can then splash and land as they need from there…  Be sure to check out the other amazing podcasts on there as well!

Will be in touch next from all things polio eradication in South Sudan from next week! Hope to add more experiences (and photos) for the next 4 months…

One of the most important graphs in the world

This is why I love the Happy, simply – a sustainable lifestyle model and education project. If we are overusing the planet there are wonderful alternatives. Happy, simply isn’t just about living simpler and better for people and the planet it is also about celebrating that kind of lifestyle that is richer for the soul, spiritually, for communities and of course for our finite resources…
Continued economic growth isn’t possible on our planet plus it doesn’t make us happier anyway… so why do we continue with this failed system…?

A good follow on this this graph and blog from Make Wealth History is the next post on Simplicity History from my other favourite resource – The Simplicity Institute:

In personal news I have completed my Teaspoons of Change 1000km walk and 800km bike ride in Japan and will write a special Happy, simply reflection on the journey… but for now you can see some pics and posts here

Make Wealth History

Last week the 2014 edition of the Living Planet Report was released. I’ve written about this annual report from WWF and the Footprint Network before. I’ve probably mentioned it just about every year that I’ve been writing the blog, because every year it updates this graph:

This is one of the most important graphs in the world. It’s worth looking at it every year.


It shows, in case you haven’t seen it before, humanity’s ecological footprint. That’s the red line, and it includes our drawdown of renewable natural resources such as timber and fish, and our use of the earth’s systems to absorb and process our waste.

The green line, or green area in this case, is the earth’s biocapacity. This is the amount of resources and services that the earth can sustainably provide.

It can provide more resources, as the line shows – you can overshoot biocapacity. You just…

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And so I transition out of Happy, simply into Teaspoons of Change… I will try to put in the odd blog around happiness and simplicity (Happy, simply) but for the next few months I will dedicating my time, energy and certainly my efforts to a 1500km walk I will be doing in Japan called Teaspoons of Change – Personal choices, decisions and actions that have a positive impact on people and the planet creating teaspoons of change! Please see the about blog and follow along as you like and you can also jump on Facebook for a look if you like Join me along the walk to see those little things that can make a difference (like living in a tiny self-sufficient home!)…

Teaspoons of Change: better for people & planet - Walk in Japan


The starting point for Teaspoons of Change…

Why, what is it, who am I…

Teaspoons of Change – personal choices, decisions and actions that have a positive impact on people and the planet

TeaspoonsOfChange1_wText worldTeaspoons of Change is designed to be a global awareness and advocacy resource where the focus is not so much on ‘helping’ others, but taking positive, significant and impacting; choices, decisions and actions in out own daily lives.

Through the sharing of ideas and experiences, Teaspoons of Change aims to promote small changes in our choices, decisions and actions that have a positive impact on people and the planet.

max help min harm

Change is challenging, but small ‘teaspoons’ of change are easier to swallow and quickly add up to create important and significant impact.

My focus will not just be on ‘helping the world’ but also how each of our choices, decisions and actions can minimise harm to have 

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Happy, simply Online Video on the ABC

Sorry for another delay between blogs but my real life work of youth empowerment and global awareness seems to have taken over…

Good news is we have a 2min feature video from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) online:

A lovely look at the home and the collaboration that goes into it!

I also love that it really picked up on the essence of Happy, simply not that it is to live like poor people or to save money but that it is a richer way to live with more people, health, connectedness to community and the other aspects that I enjoy about Happy, simply living.

Living more with less and where less is more 🙂

Hope you enjoy the video and thank you Brett from the ABC who really took the time to come and speak, listen, learn and understand why we were putting this home together (and he also then came back again later with a door knob to contribute!).