Sunday, February 24, 2008

Farsighted Vision

As you may have guessed by now, I get crushes on people quite easily. All they have to do is bat their eyelashes, knock me out with some paradigm-shifting, visionary ideas and all I want to do is sit at their feet and beg for more. Because it's people who think outside the box that really turn my crank, individuals like Muhammad Yunus, Hanan Ashrawi and Al Gore who don't let the way things are keep them from imagining, and then working to accomplish, what might be.

And as of yesterday I've added Michelle Kaufmann to the list of my personal heroes. She and her firm, Michelle Kaufmann Designs, have taken the idea of prefabricated housing, combined it with stunning design and a sustainable, environmentally sound process and come up with something that is turning the way we think about building homes on its head.

She has developed five principles of sustainable design that her firm uses on all its projects: smart design, eco materials, energy efficiency, water conservation and creating a healthy environment. What's remarkable is not just that, for instance, the end product is a home built from green materials, but that every step has been vetted to insure that it is produced in an environmentally and socially sustainable way.

She believes that the way we build homes is broken, wasteful of resources and not sustainable. And that the way we sell homes is misleading and environmentally disastrous. She asks questions like, "How have McMansions come to embody the American Dream? Why are these cookie cutter, energy hording monster homes that force us into our cars and away from our families for hours a day so desirable that we are bankrupting ourselves just to possess one, if only for a fleeting moment? Can’t we as a nation dream of something better and aspire to something higher? Can’t we dream of homes that don’t just look good from the outside but that are also good for our health, our souls, and the environment?"

You can get more of this on the firm's website and from her blog. Can you see why I can't get enough?

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