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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 01-17-08, 11:06 AM   #1
makeinu
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mobile homes

The other day I was thinking about public transit, biking, and location and it dawned on me that just about any place in America can be easily accessible by bike and/or public transit so long as you can cherry pick your starting point. The biggest excuse I hear from people defending their lack of environmentally friendly transportation choices is that their hands are tied because of the inconvenient location of their home. The answer I generally give is that if you truly care about improving your personal energy efficiency then you need to be committed enough to move to the right location.

However, now I'm starting to wonder, do you really need to be committed? What if moving your home was easy enough that it didn't require any commitment? What about mobile homes? Surely it makes more sense to drive 10 or 20 miles once a month to be within comfortable biking distance of your job than to commute by auto 20 or 30 miles every day. Found a better place to get groceries on the other side of the county? No problem, simply "move" halfway between it and your job.

Sure, you'll need to use some energy to accomplish the move, but how much energy would you waste moving the contents of a conventional home. Moreover, how much energy would you waste by living in a conventional home and not moving to optimize your energy usage? For example, how much energy do you waste by not being located in a sunny location in the winter and a shady location in the summer? How much energy do you waste by not living within biking distance of a local farmer during harvest season or a good high school for the years when your child is of age?

Merchants, employers, and society in general change over time. What is optimal today may not be optimal tomorrow and although a small home in a densely populated area might theoretically be the most efficient living arrangement, it might not be adaptable enough to maintain that efficiency in the face of changing circumstances. Advances in energy efficiency go unimplemented in densely populated areas like NYC where soaring real estate prices ensure that decrepit 150 year old buildings remain inefficient and unrenovated. Moreover, societal habits and government spending are both biased against living in densely populated areas. Government subsidy of the roads makes it easy for people to run away from community issues instead of confronting them, contributing to blight and urban decay in otherwise ideal densely populated areas; Public transit and bicycle facilities are neglected in lieu of roads. So why not use the roads to our advantage? Why limit yourself to a small conveniently located apartment in the city when you can have a small conveniently located mobile apartment anywhere?

Granted, in terms of basic utilities mobile homes probably aren't particularly efficient, but with a little technology that might be fixable. There may also be legal issues with parking in one place for too long. Does anyone have information on these things? Is anyone aware of any studies which have considered the energy efficiency of such a mode of living?

I know there is a community of RVers out there, but my impression has always been that these are mostly retired folks looking to spend all their time traveling. To me the most striking advantage of this mode of living is for people that have a responsibility to be somewhere like a job or a school.

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Old 01-17-08, 12:11 PM   #2
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A few "unintended consequences" jump right out at me:

1. RVs are very small and many people would have difficult time adjusting to the cramped conditions. Add a spouse and kids, and you have a tough situation.

2. If you live where it gets hot or cold, an RV might require more energy to heat or cool than an apartment or even a whole house since the have much less insulation.

3. Because RVs much be constructed out of lighter weight materials than fixed dwellings, maintenance costs are pretty high.

4. Priced any reasonably sized RV lately?
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Old 01-17-08, 12:45 PM   #3
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Easier said than done. One reason for not living in a mobile home is the thing itself, not just the location. The more like a house they are, the harder to move. So most of them don't get moved from place to place, they get parked and left like a house.

Mobile homes tend to be in cheaper land areas, which usually puts them out away from metro areas. You can't stack 'em, so you get as much sprawl, maybe more, than with individual houses.

Here in Texas, I think you can go buy 2 acres in the country and put a mobile home on it. Where we lived in Colorado, you couldn't subdivide anything smaller than 40 acres, as I recall, so you either had a farm or lived in town.

You don't always have just one wage-earner to a house, and not eveyrone wants to move their kids from school to school just for ease of bike commuting, either.
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Old 01-17-08, 12:47 PM   #4
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5. Where do I park my RV? Am I going to sleep/eat just outside of work? (While I would love this, the reaction from boss and co-workers would probably be.... not so positive)
5a. "No overnight camping" signs.
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Old 01-17-08, 12:51 PM   #5
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I read that some airline employees live in RVs that they park in the long term lot. I don't know how they hook into power, water and sewer.
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Old 01-17-08, 12:54 PM   #6
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A few "unintended consequences" jump right out at me:

1. RVs are very small and many people would have difficult time adjusting to the cramped conditions. Add a spouse and kids, and you have a tough situation.

2. If you live where it gets hot or cold, an RV might require more energy to heat or cool than an apartment or even a whole house since the have much less insulation.

3. Because RVs much be constructed out of lighter weight materials than fixed dwellings, maintenance costs are pretty high.

4. Priced any reasonably sized RV lately?
In terms of a comparison to conventional urban living:
1. Have you seen some of the apartments people live in in NYC? I've seen some pretty spacious RVs or RV-like home/vehicles.
2. Why does an RV need to have much less insulation? According to the site for this year-round sustainable trailer-home the only problem with putting proper insulation in an RV is that most are intended for seasonal use. Moreover, as I already mentioned, how much energy can be reclaimed by the ability to change location with season (as opposed to a conventional fixed location home which must compromise between locations for summer and winter). Lastly, I assure you that most of the apartments in NYC are very very poorly insulated. Dense population and fixed structures guarantee that renovating to implement the latest technological developments in energy efficiency is economically unfavorable.
3. Good point. However, I wonder how much of a problem this would be with quality construction designed to be used as a primary home. We see the same problem with bicycles. Since bicycles are intended primarily for recreation (or poor people) they aren't as durable as cars. However, I have no doubt that bicycles could be just as durable given the same price range and economies of scale that cars have. Remember, RVs use less material overall. So to some extent it should be possible to trade quantity for quality.
4. Have you priced a piece of nice urban real estate lately? If anything it seems the problem with RVs are that there isn't enough available at the upper end.

After looking over some of the information at http://sustain.ca/ it seems that the biggest issue with using mobile homes to dynamically optimize location/population-density is legal. It seems that in much of North America there are legal issues when trying to live in a vehicle of any kind...even on private property. So even if the ideal mobile home were available, staying in it while parked on public roads seems out of the question. You could park it, but you'd have to sleep somewhere else, which is a shame since one of the nice things about this idea was that it could actually mesh with reality (as opposed to simply telling the population to stop sprawling....yeah like they will listen).
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Old 01-17-08, 01:15 PM   #7
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You are correct that one of America's biggest problems is that most of us live in locations that are completely unreasonable. But I don't think mobile homes are a workable or necessary solution. Gentrify!
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Old 01-17-08, 01:24 PM   #8
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Easier said than done. One reason for not living in a mobile home is the thing itself, not just the location. The more like a house they are, the harder to move. So most of them don't get moved from place to place, they get parked and left like a house.

Mobile homes tend to be in cheaper land areas, which usually puts them out away from metro areas. You can't stack 'em, so you get as much sprawl, maybe more, than with individual houses.

Here in Texas, I think you can go buy 2 acres in the country and put a mobile home on it. Where we lived in Colorado, you couldn't subdivide anything smaller than 40 acres, as I recall, so you either had a farm or lived in town.

You don't always have just one wage-earner to a house, and not eveyrone wants to move their kids from school to school just for ease of bike commuting, either.
Sprawl is only a problem because the wider the area that people work/live in the less likely home/work will be easily accessible by bike/transit. If people could easily adjust the location of their homes by a few miles then sprawl would not be a problem. Sprawl is like playing the lotto: if you could repick your numbers after the winning numbers were announced then it wouldn't matter what the odds were.

About the moving the kids from school to school, I don't think you're understanding me. A mobile home is a solution to that problem, not a cause. Normally if you want to move closer to work your options are limited, but if you had a mobile home that you could park on public streets then you could move exactly halfway between your job and where your kids go to school. In cases where there are multiple locations (such as multiple wage earners) you can live in the middle of all locations. In fact, sprawl would actually help the process because it would make it unlikely that anyone else would be using your optimal location.

It seems the real problem is legal. Like you said, you can't put your RV just anywhere. There are designated areas which are just as limiting as laying a foundation.

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5. Where do I park my RV? Am I going to sleep/eat just outside of work? (While I would love this, the reaction from boss and co-workers would probably be.... not so positive)
5a. "No overnight camping" signs.
5. Where do you park your car? Boss/coworkers might not like if you park in front, so why not park a mile away? Or three miles away? They don't need to know and, besides, you'd likely want to be close to other things too (like living in the center of town....only every person's town is unique).
5a. Yup, that's the problem. I still like the idea, but it's clearly limited by the same political BS as every other environmental solution. Although something designed to look discrete could work such as: http://www.terracross.com/

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I read that some airline employees live in RVs that they park in the long term lot. I don't know how they hook into power, water and sewer.
I doubt they have one of these, but the trailer home made by http://sustain.ca/ is designed to be 100% solar powered. Water and sewer is obviously an issue, but not insurmountable considering the fact that even NYC had public showers less than 100 years ago and even planes and trains have toilets. I imagine that a judicious choice of location would make it easy.
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Old 01-17-08, 02:14 PM   #9
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You are correct that one of America's biggest problems is that most of us live in locations that are completely unreasonable. But I don't think mobile homes are a workable or necessary solution. Gentrify!
There are problems with gentrifying:
1. It requires commitment. For most people regentrifying an urban area means that they have to quit their jobs and make their children change schools. A realistic solution needs gradual stepping stones, not radical change. Mobile homes solve this problem by being a more gradual shift from the present norm. Yes, they are smaller than typical suburban homes, but so are urban apartments/condos. The difference is that a mobile home doesn't require a suburbanite to move far from their current location. They can gradually move little by little to a more accessible location; Even give up and move back to their old home without much trouble (an important psychological safety net).
2. The economics makes it difficult to maintain efficiency in densely populated areas. It's simple supply and demand. Smaller geographic area is smaller supply, which for constant demand drives prices up. That's less money spent on good windows, good insulation, energy efficient appliances, etc, especially when folks are renting instead of buying (as is naturally favored by high rise apartment buildings). At the same time, landlords have less incentive to lower energy expenses for tenants by installing good windows, insulation, etc. Landlords don't need to try to attract tenants with lower energy expenses because demand exceeds supply. Mobile homes are the opposite. Access to large sources of power is technologically problematic, encouraging conservation and self sufficiency. At the same time land in sparsely populated suburbia is cheap (maybe even free as suburban roads rarely have parking meters), leading to extra cash which would provide the best return when spent on enhancing conservation and self sufficiency.
3. Farming needs to be done in rural areas anyway. Transporting food requires energy. Living close to the farm minimizes this kind of waste. Mobile homes can be located closer to farms than urban homes. Owners of mobile homes can even own their own tracts of land within biking distance which they can check on periodically (or dynamically move closer to during harvest).
4. With so much empty land surrounding the cities, it's too easy to escape. When problems arise the easiest thing for people to do is run away. This leaves no one to solve the societal problems leading to blight and urban decay. Mobile homes allow people to spread out as evenly as possible. When the population density is homogenous there is no where to escape (problems are likely to be the same everywhere), which forces people to actually confront crime and poverty instead of leaving them to grow and fester.

Remember that even in the face of suburban sprawl, most auto trips are under 5 miles. Problem is that those trips are usually stops along the way. The ultimate destination is likely 10 or 20 miles followed by a return trip home. Put home in the middle and the ultimate destination will be close to the average 5 miles, which is about what you'd get in an urban environment anyway. The difference is that urban regentrification increases the probability that a randomly selected destination will be within 5 miles while optimization of mobile home location guarantees that the particular destinations a given individual needs to reach are within 5 miles. In light of the four issues numbered above, I think that mobile homes is a more workable solution. Why do you think that gentrification is more workable?

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Old 01-17-08, 02:32 PM   #10
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Personally, I think you've lost your mind.

- sprawl is not a problem?
- suburban living is more efficient than high-density?

You go plant your mobile home beside a farm (to get your low transportation food) and you've just assured yourself that nothing else of value will exist within that hundred, or more, acres.

Put yourself in a dense rural apartment and you can walk to everything you need. From your mobile home, you'd get to walk to.... another mobile home, or a farm, or maybe another farm.

BTW, what condition will your mobile home be in when it's the age of those NYC apartments? You can't act like you're motivated by environmental concerns, then put everyone in disposable homes.
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Old 01-17-08, 03:40 PM   #11
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Personally, I think you've lost your mind.

- sprawl is not a problem?
- suburban living is more efficient than high-density?
I know your kneejerk reaction is that sprawl is bad and low density is bad, but I challenge you to rigorously justify the notion that sprawl is bad without appealing to the premise of randomly oriented travel.

Sprawl is normally considered bad because traveling long distances requires more energy, but low density does not in it self imply that long distances need to be traveled. Consider, for example, a preautomobile group of firemen. If highest density always implied the least amount of travel then the most efficient way for them to get water from the well to the burning house would be to huddle in a group and all carry the buckets over together. However, this is clearly not the most efficient way. The most efficient way is to spread out in a line from the well to the house and pass buckets along.

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You go plant your mobile home beside a farm (to get your low transportation food) and you've just assured yourself that nothing else of value will exist within that hundred, or more, acres.

Put yourself in a dense rural apartment and you can walk to everything you need. From your mobile home, you'd get to walk to.... another mobile home, or a farm, or maybe another farm.
You're misunderstanding me. I'm not proposing that anyone live in a mobile home in a rural area. What I was proposing was for people to live in mobile homes in suburban areas, which are closer to rural areas.

The premise is that people should live in between the places they need to be. Live in the middle instead of at the extremes. Living right beside a farm would be the opposite.

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BTW, what condition will your mobile home be in when it's the age of those NYC apartments? You can't act like you're motivated by environmental concerns, then put everyone in disposable homes.
I don't have a mobile home nor do I own a 150 year old apartment building in NYC. However, I don't see any reason why a mobile home would need to be inherently more disposable or unsustainable than any other kind of home. Which type of home is less disposable or more sustainable would depend on the particulars. However, all things being equal, the mobile home is superior because it's more amenable to upgrading with newer technology. That's not to say that anything should necessarily be upgraded. Just that it never hurts to have the option in case it turns out that at some point upgrading to a better technology would be more environmentally friendly than using something less efficient and indisposable for eternity.
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Old 01-17-08, 05:00 PM   #12
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I read that some airline employees live in RVs that they park in the long term lot. I don't know how they hook into power, water and sewer.
Been there done that! (My bride is a Sr Flight Attendant) Her uncle had a small Class C RV that was parked in the employee overflow lot, he used it, my wife used it, and her cousin used it (not all at the same time...usually!). They are self contained, on board generator to run the A/C, furnaces are 12 volt and LP. With judicious use of the water and waste you can go a couple of weeks between having to dump and refill with water. Most truck stops have dump stations for RV's. FWIW we were looking at a small RV based on the Dodge/Mercedes Sprinter van for my wife to use for when she has back to back trips, and then for us to use on vacations. The Sprinter RV has a smaller footprint than my dually pickup and gets better mileage to boot. Compact living is not for the average American...they have too much crap, but it can be done.

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Old 01-17-08, 07:58 PM   #13
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You put a lot of thought into this.

Lets talk about New York City for instance. I lived new New York City my whole life. I can also live in a trailer park if I want to. Why not?

1. Apartments are cheap -- I never lived in New York City but there are plenty of cheap apartments in the Bronx, Brooklyn, New Jersey etc. I understand if you want to live in the city, you're going to pay big bucks. I commute an hour and half each day but you get used to it after a while. I've never paid more the $750.00 a month in rent. It's possible.

2. Mobile Homes become Trailer Park slums -- There's a small trailer park about 3 miles from where I live and the town is closing it down because they want to get rid of the slum. If you put a bunch of trailer parks together and 25 years later, it becomes a slum.
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Old 01-17-08, 08:13 PM   #14
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And apartments never go downhill either? FWIW I have seen a few (and that is a very few) trailer parks that have survived the ravages of time, but they were definitely the exception.

I will be interested to see what transpires in the next few years. My grandparent's on my mothers side lived in the same house for over 60 years. My parents were rolling stones, we had moved 13 times by the time I was in the 7th grade, but haven't moved in in the past 35 years.

Unfortunately that appears to be the job market for a large portion of the US public. Perhaps we will return to the ways of 75 years ago when most of the US population lived and died within a 50 mile radius of where they were born? Not sure what mechanism will trigger that, perhaps economic disaster and high energy prices?

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Old 01-17-08, 08:19 PM   #15
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There seems to be some confusion between mobile homes and RV's up there- two entirely different things. I've never known a family to live in an RV permanently.
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Old 01-17-08, 08:38 PM   #16
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There seems to be some confusion between mobile homes and RV's up there- two entirely different things. I've never known a family to live in an RV permanently.
I know of one family...but they are on their 3rd or 4th RV. People have spent extended periods of time living on boats...not much difference in terms of the available interior space. In some cases many people are moving their homes with them. We have several guys in our company that own decent sized fifth wheel travel trailers and stay in them year round, moving to where the jobs are at any given time. At least one of them doesn't own a house, he does have an out building with hookups at his parent's place in TN.

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Old 01-17-08, 09:10 PM   #17
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I know your kneejerk reaction is that sprawl is bad and low density is bad, but I challenge you to rigorously justify the notion that sprawl is bad without appealing to the premise of randomly oriented travel.

Sprawl is normally considered bad because traveling long distances requires more energy, but low density does not in it self imply that long distances need to be traveled.

The premise is that people should live in between the places they need to be. Live in the middle instead of at the extremes. Living right beside a farm would be the opposite.
I agree with you to the extent that I think housing mobility is a good thing - I just see housing rental as a better solution to mobile houses given the current design of most cities (at least the ones I have lived in).

From a transportation standpoint, our car trips to work, and to the stores seem to be the most inefficient aspect - compared to say, bringing the food in from the farm to a central location.
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Old 01-18-08, 07:48 AM   #18
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You put a lot of thought into this.

Lets talk about New York City for instance. I lived new New York City my whole life. I can also live in a trailer park if I want to. Why not?

1. Apartments are cheap -- I never lived in New York City but there are plenty of cheap apartments in the Bronx, Brooklyn, New Jersey etc. I understand if you want to live in the city, you're going to pay big bucks. I commute an hour and half each day but you get used to it after a while. I've never paid more the $750.00 a month in rent. It's possible.

2. Mobile Homes become Trailer Park slums -- There's a small trailer park about 3 miles from where I live and the town is closing it down because they want to get rid of the slum. If you put a bunch of trailer parks together and 25 years later, it becomes a slum.
1. $750 a month is obviously very cheap for an apartment in NYC, but relative to where most Americans live that is extremely expensive. If used on public real estate, living in a mobile home like the ones sold at sustain.ca should cost more like $75/month.

2. Obviously the idea won't work if folks have to put their mobile homes in designated areas because it hinders the mobility aspect. The notion is that people should put their homes just about anywhere just as they put their cars just about anywhere. The notion is that rather than using the infrastructure of free real estate provided by the government to park cars and wasting energy by traveling further and further distances, people should use it to park their mobile homes in an environmentally optimal way. Unfortunately, there are a lot of legal barriers. Although you're legally allowed to park a car almost anywhere in exurban America, you're not legally allowed to park a human body inside that car; Forget a bus sized automotive like an RV. Even parking a human body inside a home without a foundation on private property is legally problematic in some places.

Of course, law and reality do not always coincide. It may very well be possible to park and live in an RV on most American streets without hassle provided it's sufficiently camouflaged, but that can be a big risk if you're depending on living a few blocks from the bus stop, or a few miles bike ride to get to work. Moving over a mile here or a mile there would not be devastating for a committed individual looking to experiment with alternative living, but I imagine that if one started having problems with the law it would very quickly become difficult to park anywhere in the vicinity. If I were single then I'd consider experimenting with it, but at this point in my life I need the law on my side to justify making this kind of investment.

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Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
I know of one family...but they are on their 3rd or 4th RV. People have spent extended periods of time living on boats...not much difference in terms of the available interior space. In some cases many people are moving their homes with them. We have several guys in our company that own decent sized fifth wheel travel trailers and stay in them year round, moving to where the jobs are at any given time. At least one of them doesn't own a house, he does have an out building with hookups at his parent's place in TN.

Aaron
What part of the country is this?

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Originally Posted by StephenH View Post
There seems to be some confusion between mobile homes and RV's up there- two entirely different things. I've never known a family to live in an RV permanently.
I'm talking about a "mobile home" in the literal sense. I'm not necessarily talking about any particular kind of vehicle/home currently available on the market, but a practicable vehicle that could easily be built. The following three "mobile homes" all meet some of the needs for this project:
http://www.unicat.net/
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007...s_what_cri.php
http://sustain.ca/

However, none of them are quite right. The Unicat is rugged, secure, and discreet. The Magna is spacious and somewhat camouflaged (it looks like a charter bus). The Sustain Minihome is selfsufficient and environmentally sound. Ideally what we need is something that functions like the Sustain Minihome, looks like the Magna on the outside, and is as rugged and secure as the Unicat. This seems feasible, but I haven't seen it marketed yet and there are, of course, still the legal problems.

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Originally Posted by JeffS View Post
I agree with you to the extent that I think housing mobility is a good thing - I just see housing rental as a better solution to mobile houses given the current design of most cities (at least the ones I have lived in).

From a transportation standpoint, our car trips to work, and to the stores seem to be the most inefficient aspect - compared to say, bringing the food in from the farm to a central location.
But that is exactly the point. Most Americans don't live in cities, but in suburbs and the economy of land guarantees it's going to stay that way.

Whatever seems to be the most inefficient aspect of people's lives on average is irrelevant. Each individual has different needs and requirements. The key idea is to optimize the efficiency of each individual rather than having a fixed policy which is optimal for the average individual, but only mediocre for any particular individual. If Sally Stockbroker would be more efficient living closer to the city then she can park her home closer to the city, but if Freddy Farmer would be more efficient living closer to the farm then he can park his home closer to the farm. Moreover, both can adjust as the most efficient location morphs with the world economy, climate/weather, technological advances, etc.

Housing rental is obviously not mobile enough. Although I haven't conducted any scientific studies, in my experience the number one excuse that people have for not abandoning their cars is that they can't or won't move to a more convenient location. Either there are not enough homes available in their optimal location or relocating is just too much trouble. Folks have no problem, however, relocating their automobiles 5-10 times a day. We need people to move their homes more and their cars less and the obvious solution is to make their homes more like their cars and their cars more like their homes.

Last edited by makeinu; 01-18-08 at 08:03 AM.
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Old 01-18-08, 09:02 AM   #19
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I know your kneejerk reaction is that sprawl is bad and low density is bad, but I challenge you to rigorously justify the notion that sprawl is bad without appealing to the premise of randomly oriented travel.

Sprawl is normally considered bad because traveling long distances requires more energy, but low density does not in it self imply that long distances need to be traveled. Consider, for example, a preautomobile group of firemen. If highest density always implied the least amount of travel then the most efficient way for them to get water from the well to the burning house would be to huddle in a group and all carry the buckets over together. However, this is clearly not the most efficient way. The most efficient way is to spread out in a line from the well to the house and pass buckets along.
First off, I can't help but think you are trolling with this idea, except that most trolls use one liners rather than multiple paragraphs in the opening post.

Urban Sprawl and suburbia is the scourge of the earth. It is not at all a part of any anwser to any of our environmental problems. And there is no way that every citizen in your environmental utopia is going to join the volunteer fire department and pass buckets along when a fire breaks out.

This is the sort of thing that one person could do if they were so inclined, but to expect many people to do so is a dream. If you are really into protecting the environment, maybe you ought to move into a city (even if it requires commitment) and work to get the city to enact environmentally responsible laws. In the city, you will find many like minded citizens to help you in your grass roots movement. Out in the suburbs in your mobile home, you'd be a loner passed off as a unabomber-like eccentric.
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Old 01-18-08, 10:02 AM   #20
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Mobile, semi-nomadic living seems to work out well for some retired people. I hear tales of huge RV parks for snowbirds scattered all around south Texas.

In the event of a big economic disruption, I'd expect to see quite a few people giving up on fixed homes, going nomadic, living in RVs and searching for work wherever they can find it. "The Grapes of Wrath", 21st century version.
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Old 01-18-08, 10:04 AM   #21
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this just comes down to the fact that the "American way of life" involves:

a house in the 'burbs with a grill, a nice lawn, hopefully a pool;

2 cars in the garage

1 if not 2 jobs 30-90 minutes away

2-3 kids who are picked up & dropped off by their parents at school (what the hell is that about anyway? walk or ride the dam bus dammitt!)

A lifestyle based on consuming every bit of available income & then some (look at the proposed "solution" to our current economic bad news: a gift of money from the government so consumers will go SPEND IT and thus SAVE US ALL FROM DISASTER!)

A conviction that it's a God-given right to live as above,

And finally, never feeling satisfied by it all

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Old 01-18-08, 11:19 AM   #22
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Urban Sprawl and suburbia is the scourge of the earth. It is not at all a part of any anwser to any of our environmental problems. And there is no way that every citizen in your environmental utopia is going to join the volunteer fire department and pass buckets along when a fire breaks out.

This is the sort of thing that one person could do if they were so inclined, but to expect many people to do so is a dream. If you are really into protecting the environment, maybe you ought to move into a city (even if it requires commitment) and work to get the city to enact environmentally responsible laws. In the city, you will find many like minded citizens to help you in your grass roots movement. Out in the suburbs in your mobile home, you'd be a loner passed off as a unabomber-like eccentric.
As with Jeff, I challenge you to give any kind of justification for your kneejerk reaction that sprawl is, by necessity, an environmental bane. I am in no way proposing some kind of environmental utopia. On the contrary my proposal is something that can be accomplished one individual at a time without the need to transform cities, have a great exodus of population, or even change job or school district. My example of a volunteer fire department was only meant to illustrate the very real fact that sprawl in itself does not imply increased travel. The key notion has absolutely nothing to do with fire departments, utopian cooperation, or any other kind of idealistic nonsense. The key notion is that while density is measured by area, travel is measured by distance and the two are only linked when travel is haphazardly oriented in all directions.

For your information I've been a city dweller for many years now and I assure you that isolation to small homogenous communities is not the answer. If you want to inspire others then you need to live among them and show them what can be done one baby step at a time. Isolating yourself amongst likeminded radicals is exactly the opposite and it only guarantees the pervasion of ignorance elsewhere. Laws are meaningless without economic and societal support and for those you need to be a neighbor to the world, not some self righteous hipster regentrifying the ghetto.

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this just comes down to the fact that the "American way of life" involves:

a house in the 'burbs with a grill, a nice lawn, hopefully a pool;

2 cars in the garage

1 if not 2 jobs 30-90 minutes away

2-3 kids who are picked up & dropped off by their parents at school (what the hell is that about anyway? walk or ride the dam bus dammitt!)

A lifestyle based on consuming every bit of available income & then some (look at the proposed "solution" to our current economic bad news: a gift of money from the government so consumers will go SPEND IT and thus SAVE US ALL FROM DISASTER!)

A conviction that it's a God-given right to live as above,

And finally, never feeling satisfied by it all

None of this is a problem as long as those pick-ups, drop-offs, and 30-90 minute trips are by pedal or solar car. The problem is when that 90 minute trip is also a 60 mile trip. That's when you start needing to abuse natural resources.
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Old 01-18-08, 11:48 AM   #23
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I'd have to guess that a real problem would be if many people started doing this. There's not a lot of space for legal RV parking as it is--if more people adopted this idea, the most excellent space you might find for your situation might already be taken, and if a lot of people do this, then you're back to some kind of sprawl/suburbia as the good places get taken early and you start having to park farther and farther away from where you actually want to be--chances are if you want to be there, so do many others.

Plus, at this point there are all kinds of zoning laws against stuff like this. And living a mobile lifestyle certainly doesn't encourage the kind of the extended engagement with local politics that would convince people to change laws to fit this new paradigm.

Although I thought WalMart will let you park your RV in their lots for free?

If I was going to do it, I'd go with one of these:
http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/
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Old 01-18-08, 11:51 AM   #24
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It costs a fortune to move a mobile home, and they depreciate so rapidly you wouldn't want to do it.
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Old 01-18-08, 11:54 AM   #25
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my buddy lives in a rv he got for 1000 bucks on craigslist and hes converting it to veggie oil
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