#1: Selling my books for sustainability, and for S

Yesterday, I made my first step towards creating a sustainable home and community

I packed up boxes of books and put them into my shed because I don’t want my neighbour, S, to move out of our block of flats.

Most of these books will have to go if I want to start changing the way I live.


You see, S, who bought her flat as a single mother 30 years ago, cannot afford the common funds levies that we need to keep our block of flats in tip-top condition. She is the matriarch of our little block; sweeping away the leaves from outside our doors every week, thinking of ways to improve our spaces, and keeping harmony among the residents.

None of my fellow residents are wealthy professionals.

And this is why we need to achieve change, repair and renewal without adding costs.


So, on Sunday September 7th, during Sustainable House Day celebrations, I plan to hold a “garage sale” of the books and other unused belongings that are currently filling my cupboards, shelves and storage.

With whatever money I raise, I want to co-create a community space in our nine flats, by inviting everyone to discuss what we would love most of all in one of our common spaces. Also, selling my junk also means I won’t need to pay for more shelving in my home.

So, this is my first step towards ensuring that S can stay.

And do what?

We might create a shady, sheltered spot where we can sit and chat or rest. We might build a bench seat in our front garden to invite passers-by to have a break on their journey, or perhaps make a little veggie garden we can all share. Or perhaps we’ll create something together that I haven’t even thought of.

We could put solar panels on the roof of our block and to grow veggies up our walls to save money and energy. I want to replace and repair whatever is broken with new, sustainable materials and products.

A new conviction

I became convinced that we can do this, without resorting to raising the rates, after listening to the extraordinary work of David Engwicht at last week’s Making Cities Liveable conference in the beach-side location of Kingscliff. Engwicht has created amazing change using junk from people’s sheds.

I’m not talking about any kind of charity, here. I am simply saying that we all have cupboards of stuff we don’t need, and David Engwicht showed me that I can use that junk to start making transforming my future into a sustainable one.

A lot rests on whether or not I can succeed in this project. I believe passionately that how we design our homes, suburbs, towns and cities can save our planet from the awful fate towards which it is heading.

I don’t want my suburb to turn into one that neither S nor I can afford. I want it to be diverse, home-made, and inclusive.


Of course, I realise that change starts with me, but last week I found out a little about how I might go about making those changes.

So, I am starting with me, my home, my block of flats, and my street, and to grow from and serve the community that is already living here.

I welcome your comments.

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