Collecting the tools of a sustainable, self-directed life

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25- Buying Time

In high school, I fantasized about being a big-city businesswoman who made trailblazing decisions during the day, gourmet meals at her beautiful country-suburban home at night and furniture in her backyard studio on the weekends. My creativity was highly-valued and…

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22- Evaluating Philly, Part Two

Having identified an affordable plot in Philly to build a tiny home on, I realize that evaluation can’t stop there. I have to address my reasons for this simple living experiment: autonomy, community and sustainability. With these values in mind, how might life in Philadelphia look like the one I have now? How might it look different?

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21- Evaluating Philly, Part One

When I started investigating tiny living in 2013, finding a place to do legality was a major feat. But as I take a look at the landscape today, I realize that there are many more ways to evaluate a place for your lifestyle design.

Although I didn’t before, I started my Philly evaluation with a search of vacant residential plots at the local tax auction.

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20- Replicability

When crowds of people shout their solutions in the midst of a problem, we get a cacophony of discord. But when they offer solutions supported by replicated data, we can form consensus and make change together.

Scientifically speaking, replicability—the ability to repeat an experiment with statistically-similar results—is how we

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19- This Autonomous Life

Last month on my drive from Texas back to New York, I stopped at my father’s place for a few days. Sitting across from me one morning, he took a slow sip of his coffee, smiled and said, “You know Rae-Rae, you are really something else.”

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18- Tips for Purchasing Land at Tax Auction

In April of 2017, I purchased my first piece of land at a county tax auction. I had previously searched for years using every (traditional) method I could find. Two years after purchasing at my first auction, here are my tips for those seeking to do the same:

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17- One Year In

Moving into my camper last October, I planned to spend the next year setting up routines, taming my land, building a home and writing every day.

One year in, I’ve gone through several routines, tamed about a tenth of my land, made a few improvements to

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15- Finding Your Place, Part Three

After letting go of my old life, I went to Dallas to plan and prepare my new one. 

The third stage of change, which Martha Beck called the Hero’s Saga, began in November of 2016, when I decided that one of the two wooded plots with a stream in Kingston would be the site for my home.

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14- Finding Your Place, Part Two

In Finding Your Own North Star, Martha Beck reveals how change forces us to let go of our identities one after another and to birth someone new. I couldn’t have found my place without this painful process of change.

I started my last job in July of 2012. I was only a week in when I stopped wearing makeup and suits. That was…

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13- Finding Your Place, Part One

One of the first questions people ask when meeting me is: “Wow… so how did you find your place?”

Sometimes the question is purely functional, as in, how did you even hear about your town? At others it’s more figurative, i.e., how did you know your place would nurture and grow your vision? And then there are…

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12- The Valley

Last week marked one year with my own little slice of the Hudson Valley. Although the purchase was finalized July 12th, I wasn't notified until August 6th. During those few weeks, I re-learned a lesson that would make the coming year much easier…

As with most things for me, the lesson started with a plan. In this one,  by July 31st I would: transition tenants out of my NYC and Dallas properties, sell the condo in Dallas, close the lease in NYC and confirm my temporary

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11- Declaration of Non-Independence

Independence is a cornerstone of the American ethos. Its essence—separate, self-directed, unaided, flourishing success—seeps from the storied founding we celebrate on the Fourth of July to the self-reliant, bootstrapping moral imperative demanded of its citizens. This independence is a legend I overvalued for…

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09- Wages and the City

While states have made improvements, cities are making some of the most revolutionary wage changes. To date, at least“41 localities have adopted minimum wages above their state minimum wage.” Seattle-Tacoma, Nassau County, NY and Flagstaff, AZ have set their minimum wages $2.25 above, $0.75 above and $0.75 below the living wage…

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07- Low-Income Expenditure. High-Income Patterns.

The three largest expenses for most Americans are housing, transportation and food.

In addition to detailing how average and median households spend in these three areas, the BLS’s Consumer Expenditure report (CE) groups US household into groups by income deciles (10 equal intervals, from lowest…

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06- Money, Power and Structure

Hard work pays and a good steward saves. 

At least that’s what I learned getting allowance as a child. At a time when my parents fulfilled my three lowest needs, it was easy to see how financial success and woe resulted from individual virtue. As an adult, I’d see more…

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