The Better Earth Institute

Addressing Homelessness/Low Income Without Charity

I have not yet achieved my goal of providing low cost housing, but I have looked into land costs, shelter, and infrastructure.

It appears that the same economic rules apply to constructing homes andbuying land as do to most commodities – the more you buy in the fewer transactions the better your per unit cost.

We live in relatively more expensive neighborhoods here. But the rules still apply – if many people join together to say invest in building an apartment complex instead of each individual waiting to buy until after its completion – they can save tremendously.

However, many people have nearly no cash and no credit so buying an apartment here even at 50% off (not sure what the markup is on apartments in a large building are), would still not be feasible.

However, the USA has plenty of areas including places within a few hours drive of here where standard neighborhood size parcels of land could cost as little as $500. (Say a fifth of an acre at $2,500 an acre) In actuality there are properties selling for around $5,000,000 for 5,000 acres ($1,000 per acre). I understand these properties are usually not already legally set up for parceling – but all this would require is sufficient local support (counties signing off on it).

So factually, we could say that land costs $200-$500 for an ample site in rural California. Infrastructure may or may not cost a lot more per site depending. I personally do not believe in the inherent superiority of indoor plumbing and electricity – especially not when cost efficiency and sustainability are key overall – this could be up to the individuals.

I believe we will get great returns by truly looking into what a minimalist design for home and shelter looks like – and to legalize it for year round living; currently, I believe in all counties in California, to legally live somewhere year round on property one owns you must have a legal residence which conforms to a number of standards.

I don’t know exactly what the least expensive way to meet the current standards are – but I believe that working on whatever will meet those standards as inexpensively and eco friendly as possible will yield the most benefits for the most people without having to involve any charity whatsoever – while facilitating that which many charities and municipalities aspire to do – help the less fortunate or less economically able achieve land and/or home ownership.

At the same time, I think we would gain to modify zoning at least in certain areas so that people could live in simpler shelters of their choosing provided they abide by some kind of health/environmental standards.

I think we need to facilitate access to the simpler ways of living our ancestors lived. If a person wants to work the land and get the fruit of their labor and not be an employee for life – they need access to land.

It’s hard to provide value to others, but it’s not necessarily hard to provide value for yourself – gathering food, growing food, building simple shelter, hunting, fishing – these are skills most people can employ if they have access to land.

It’s harder to sell services or products especially when you have to compete with others.

So for a lot of people who are competing and making it… but still feel competitive and a loss of power when their money goes somewhere they don’t expect to get a return from… it makes sense why many charities don’t attract sustained interest. Especially here… it costs $1000 just for a single room for a month in a lot of places here. That money could buy an acre of land elsewhere.

So I would propose building a village that prioritizes efficient design and truly low cost living – aiming for something like less than $5,000 per entire unit of legitimate shelter and land. I’m rather confident that a budget of say $200,000,000 could easily facilitate 40,000 sustainable elegant very simple homes in an area within 4 hours of here.

Perhaps there will be less paved roads in this town, and there will not be six electric sockets in each room, less insulation, and much smaller than 1,500 square feet per home, but I believe it will be an awesome opportunity for those living there and a great return on investment. Buyers could also potentially get loans with $1,000 down and pay like $50 a month or so.

If people lived there in a similar density as Menlo Park or Palo Alto – the land cost might be $5,000,000 for 5,000 acres (and have plenty of open space) and leave $195,000,000 for homes.

So… what can $195 million do if you have 5,000 acres paid off and you want to maximize adequate simple sustainable homes/shelters and minimize cost/materials/pollution?

That’s the question I would like to see the experts answer.

Btw, as I understand it the city of SF spent around $241,000,000 in one year on their homeless problem of around 6-7,000 people.

So the money is here and already being spent on an annual basis – as some kind of charity of sorts.

The idea I describe doesn’t require charity – but I could see a type of charity where people who do have $5,000 or much more could help make the commitment to the initial purchases and contracts so that communication can occur with counties and builders and planners of infrastructure etc… it may take a while to get commitments from say 40,000 people to put down $5,000 each – but I have no doubt that if a legal year round residence were available in California for $5,000 there would be no problem whatsoever selling 40,000 units.

So again, the question is what can $5,000 really do per unit if part of some huge construction deal?

Or even without some big deal. If we ignore zoning for a second and just think of ideal function and cost effectiveness – what can we get? What can people make?

School bus renovation with rain catchment and solar shower? That sounds cool to me!

Greenways

I had a dream that I now interpret a certain way. In the dream I thought about this same plan I have discussed for years now – to put together a string of properties that lay less than day’s distance between them – by walking, bicycling, or some other fossil-fuel free method. And on each property to have some kind of natural shelter and gardening taking place. Many people join and walk or cycle or whatever this shared path and it connects the world.
 
In the dream, I attempt to draw the map of the west coast, but then realize the map is of the east coast and New York and then I realize it connects to North Dakota.
 
So here’s my thought:
 
A string of properties from wherever to the DAPL spot so that people can travel to this spot WITHOUT fossil fuels. And that their travels will actually bring life to the spots they touch instead of trash and throw away failed activism where we say “WE WANT OIL, but bring it around the back hush hush – not right to the front”
 
Interestingly, Bismarck North Dakota sits around 1,600 miles from San Francisco. It is also around 1,600 miles from Los Angeles. It is also around 1,600 miles from New York city. It is also around 1,600 miles from New Orleans. It is also around 1,600 miles from Atlanta, Georgia.
 
At the most, if people were to purchase the string of properties from one center to Bismarck, the cost would be $800,000 – a string of 160 $5,000 properties. Thus each property could average 10 miles of distance from place to place.
 
If the properties were more distant from each other say 30 miles (a reasonable travel by bicycle for most reasonably fit people), the total initial cost of this project would be around $266,000 – to purchase a string of properties from a city center such as NYC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New Orleans, or San Antonio (just 1,400 miles away).
 
There will at least be a cost for property tax and possibly other local fees. On an annual basis, it would be good to attempt to generate at least $100,000.
 
I believe that many people would pay $1,000 annually to have access to a string of 50+ campsites and community gardens across the country not only for the thrill of taking part in this endeavor, but in the genuine value of having a method of transportation and ability to camp in this exciting way.
 
I also believe that people who would do this would often wish to have their friends or partners join them. So they could easily come in 2’s or more.
 
Furthermore, with strict rules on “pack it in pack it out” an application process that ensures we find people who have true commitments to green living – we can see to it that compost piles grow on each spot instead of bad trash – and see this eventually leading to a blossoming in fertility.
 
The next level of investment can occur for the addition of some basic amenities and improvements such as: composting toilet(s),water catchment and storage, planting plants that will provide value, and do not require much if any human input of nutrients, and secure storage containers for a variety of goods ranging from food to tools to musical instruments.
 
Once this next level gets proven, we can add residences.
 
Basically need 100 people with around $3,500 each and ability to pay $1,000 annually to connect each string.
 
Recap: String of minimal cost rural properties facilitating camping/cycling/sustainable travel across the country.
 

About the better social platforms

We made an app with paid aid from a professional programmer to give us another way to socialize and communicate – without interruption ads/distractions/and all kinds of unknown things.

It has a unique feature you could describe as a “chat visualizer” (thanks Ian Crossland for the phrase). Although private messages can get sent to anyone anywhere, currently this social platform functions with people messaging those close to them on the map. The map does NOT force people to be next to their gps coordinates and currently people simply get spawned near 0,0 on the map and then can pick their positions. It’s got a glitch right now where multiple people can occupy the same square at once. Please don’t do this without consent. So when you spawn the first time, please pick an empty spot to move to.

Currently operating at this address:
http://betterearthinstitute.org/blokchat

Looks better on desktop, but totally functional on mobile right now.

It has 5 ways to communicate right now.

1. You can click on someone’s image and either read their profile or send them a message
2. You can chat in a regular group chat like a chatroom
3. You can message in a way where you see what people type as they type and also you can delete your message (they aren’t sent to each other’s inboxes but rather “shown to each other”
4. You can post “notes” by double-clicking on a square and then you can post anything you want like a status, a blog post, an embedded video etc…
5. You can change your avatar. your avatar = your public picture so you can make it something with text if you like or a picture that says something or just whatever picture you wish to represent you

Part of the idea is NOT necessarily to keep people on the site all the time, but rather to help facilitate real world communication between people NOT try to track and manipulate them into becoming consumers.

There ARE some plans for monetization, but they will be different. ALSO we expect to develop ways for people to truly OWN their own communities. Once we are more developed.

Anyhow, would love to have you join.
http://betterearthinstitute.org/blokchat

Also, we have another platform for putting out a message to be seen connected to your actual location on earth. http://betterearthinstitute.org/communication

You have your own note to write in

We will gladly accept contributions as they will greatly help at the moment.
https://www.paypal.me/betterearthinstitute

What makes a home? Pt. 1

We intend to deconstruct and reconstruct the foundations of “affordable/sustainable housing”. We have seen many attempts at “green” architecture that although elegant and possibly environmentally sustainable – often carry a price tag that will limit implementation only to a relative few who can afford to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for a house.

We have looked around the globe a bit and seen that what makes a home varies tremendously in design, cost, sustainability, and satisfaction of those that live inside.

We fundamentally believe that the vast majority of people can be completely happy with homes that cost much less than $20,000. That’s right. $20,000. Not $200,000. Not $2,000,000. $20,000. Less than $20,000. $20,000 or less homes means that for those buying on loan, their monthly payments could be around $100 per month.

Obviously, more money could potentially be spent on a home – but we have an urgency towards mass implementation that we believe will follow from massive accessibility.

We have seen homes that cost $20,000 in the USA and are beautiful, elegant, more sustainable. The cost of $20,000 is for that single home – NOT as part of a massive contract to build 100 or 1,000 or more similar homes. We have not yet done all the work to estimate accurately what the price would be, but we expect that on 100 or 1,000 home contracts the price may reduce anywhere from 25% to 50%. Truthfully, it does not matter so much about decreasing the cost from $20,000 – more important would be to get lenders so that people could potentially pay $100 per month to own these homes.

Why?

Because we wish to facilitate these changes – we need people to do this. We need people to live in manners that pollute less and produce more good. Expensive homes in expensive areas without access to a “green” life – can only help so many people. By working together to “subsidize” green living – we can see to it that these changes happen.

Decreasing the cost of living, decreases the money needed, decreasing the need to earn money, decreases the need of production – which in general means decreasing pollution. However, the purpose is not to decrease income or productivity – if anything we could say the opposite – by providing home ownership and land access – a lot more productivity can occur.

Many people struggle to become productive since they can not simply do things like gather food, grow food, hunt, build with their own efforts, collect resources directly. As technology continues to progress, competing in the marketplace can become more challenging for individuals – however, for individuals who have direct access to land, water, plants, minerals, and animals – competition does not necessarily need to matter. One farmer produces 10,000 pounds on his acre another produces 15,000 pounds… even though the former may be considered “non-competitive” in certain respects… they still produced 10,000 pounds.

Today there seem to be deep conflicts about wealth. The millionaires versus people “only” earning $45,000 per year. Well… what does $45,000 per year mean when you could outright buy a home for $20,000? What does $45,000 per year mean when you have already paid off your home AND you have access to land that has a natural source of potable water AND have enough water to grow enough food for your family? If you ask me, that $45,000 equals HYPER-wealthy.

IN FACT, I would see that $45,000 income ON TOP of a paid off beautiful and sufficient sustainable home on acreage as obviously wealthier than someone earning $100,000 in a place where rent/mortgage equals $70,000 per year AND they have no acreage, no independent water supply, etc… Especially when one considers that the mortgage may be on a million dollar + home such that the owner actually now has a very serious commitment to continuing to earn that money annually OR serious concern that their property value does not fall significantly.

On the other hand, the person that owns land and home that are fully paid off and purchased for less than the price of many new cars – does not need to worry about this investment depreciating. Especially now. As it is, a person could rent out this house for $250 per month and would be making a great return on investment. $3000 annually for a $20,000 investment. In fact, they potentially could do this on loan. So if they qualify for a $20k loan to build this home, they could build it, pay $100 per month to pay the mortgage and get $250 per month from the rent. They could rent it for a much higher price probably, but the point is it’s very very doable.

 

How can we make things better?

We want to answer these questions.

  • How can we make things better for ourselves?
  • How can we make things better for others?
  • How can we make things better for ourselves as individuals?
  • How can we make things better for others as individuals?

We have come to a number of relatively standard conclusions to these questions that have great implications for ourselves as individuals and as members of a global society in which our actions affect others.

We base most of these on biology and ecology since these categories are somewhat involuntary. It appears we cannot choose to simply breathe something other than air or eat something other than food to live. We must breathe air, we must have water, we must have shelter. The quality of these things matter, and the way we live can affect others’ access and quality.

According to the World Health Organization, some 6-7 million people died in 2015 due to environmental pollution. We are all affected by this. The so-called rich people living in dense urban areas are affected by this. Their quality of life, we argue, is significantly altered for the worse by this pollution – even though some people might view them as somehow the benefactors of the polluting economies because those in these urban areas may have more money.

At the Better Earth Institute, we value the basics first. We value access to clean water. We value access to fresh and healthy food. We value access to space, privacy, freedom from intrusion, safety, and the right for people to self determination.

Our analysis shows a large mass of people that could greatly improve their lives if only they’d make different choices, and another mass of people that could be more easily characterized as enslaved by economies, borders, wars, and lack of access to space to grow food.

We don’t know exactly what we can accomplish as an organization, but we know that we can help every single person that comes to us and that every single person that comes to us can help someone else.

We also do not wish to be seen as a purist or philanthropic organization. In many ways our purpose has been derived through logical analysis of pathways towards accomplishing the selfish goal of having a future for ourselves as grandparents and great grandparents and so forth.

Because if we do not solve the pollution problem, then what will be our fate? And how can we solve the pollution problem if we do not cooperate with others and influence their behaviors? What if we can not force a person to not pollute? It is our working expectation that as an organization we will have no way to force a person to do something that they do not wish to do.

Thus, we must work persuasively.

Thankfully, we expect that our biology will act persuasively for others as it acts persuasively to ourselves. We like to breathe fresh air, not stale or polluted. We believe we speak for most people on this. We like to drink clean water. We believe we speak for most people on this. We like to eat healthy food. Well… you can’t win them all.

But jokes aside, we believe that most people really do want to do what’s best for their bodies and simply some people have a different sense of what’s best based on their experience. We believe that health truly offers the greatest physical experiences of pleasure and so even a hedonist or drug abuser could be persuaded towards healthy behaviors since those would provide the most pleasure.

We believe that no person in their right mind seeks out pain and disease, and yet we know that certain choices will lead to all of those results. So we aim to work with these people and find out what’s the missing link?

We investigate. What information are people lacking? What information do they have that’s misleading?

We implement. Perhaps we simply tell people what we think they need to know, but we know that’s not always enough. We know that for some people it’s not about “knowing” it’s about “doing” and we also know that many people need help to do things. It’s not simply enough to say “acquire more healthy food” because some people don’t have access or the will to access.

We’re here to determine what it is and we believe that for the most part there’s a hyper abundance of low-hanging fruit for people to pick to not only improve their lives, but to begin making a positive impact on others’ lives and to become part of something much greater.