Where I Live, and What I Live For


How to start a blog about sustainability and living intentionally? Henry David Thoreau is often my muse.

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and to see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived,” he writes in his book Walden: (or Life in the Woods), in a chapter named Where I Lived, and What I Lived For.

I’ve come to realize that where we live dictates so much of how we live, and subsequently what we live for. Culture – our narrative, our values and meaning,  exist in place. That is why I was very intentional about choosing Flagstaff, Arizona as the place to make my home and my life. Something about it just felt… right.

My husband has asked me numerous times why I’m so dead-set on living my entire life in Flagstaff when there are plenty of other beautiful and wild places to explore, quaint town centres to wander through, nurturing communities to set down roots within. I tell him that it’s just like falling in love – there are plenty of other attractive and wonderful people out there, but for reasons we’ll never quite understand we get stuck on one.

Back in 2009, my husband and I discovered Tumbleweed Tiny Homes. Jay Shafer’s designs not only changed the way I think about the purpose of a home, but, more importantly, the life one can live when they have minimal expenses/debt, minimal items to maintain, and minimal impact on the planet. What comes with this life is a freedom that equates to time – and the choice of how to spend it.

I refuse to participate in the rat race. I want more time to devote to caring for my loved ones and bettering my community. One of the ways I’d like to do this is by developing what I am calling an “eco-village,” somewhere in the Flagstaff area, consisting of (likely portable) alternative housing and shared common space that is maintained by the residents in a sustainable manner. And I’d like to call it Bristlecone Community.

This blog will document the process of planning and building my family’s dwelling, creating human-powered and off-grid solutions for comfort and health, finding a suitable location that could support sustainable means of transportation, communicating with City personnel, offering educational opportunities to the greater Flagstaff community, and recruiting others to share in the experience of intentional living.

What is intentional living? I think this blog post lays it out quite well. It’s being able to know who we are and what we value, and to form a lifestyle consistent with that. We are often too busy, or too afraid, to contemplate and confront the items “at odds with each other” in our lives, the items that don’t mesh with the values we claim to have. We compartmentalize, isolate, and separate.

Intentional living seeks to pull skeletons out of closets and give them a proper burial. It is bringing every aspect of “the self” into the light, holding it up against our hopes and plans for the world, and weaving the pieces together to make something beautiful… where nothing is threatening to tear the whole thing apart. It is the embodiment of community within an individual.

Intentional living does not look the same for everyone. I believe that the world’s many and varied spiritual and philosophical paths (and subsequent formation of intentional communities) have value in that they can connect us to each other, and to something bigger and deeper that many of our societal norms can often distract us from.

The idea of Bristlecone Community is a manifestation of the deepest desires of my heart – enjoying life with loved ones, (re)connecting with the earth, inspiring and encouraging others along the way, and having time.

And so begins a journey. Columnist Chris Geiger reminds us that “All journeys eventually end in the same place – home.”