He had an epiphany while living in a dumpster. And it could help change the future of housing.

He was living in a dumpster when the idea first came to him.

His name's Jeff Wilson — Dr. Jeff Wilson, actually. He's a professor at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas, known fondly on campus as "Professor Dumpster."


Photo by Jeff Wilson/Wikimedia Commons.

Wilson made himself the guinea pig in a year-long experiment on sustainable living.

He traded a 3,000-square-foot home and most of his worldly possessions for a spartan 33-square-foot living space created in a big green dumpster.

Wilson's experiment eventually became a nonprofit called The Dumpster Project that "invites learners of all ages to rethink sustainability through the quirky task of turning a dumpster into a home." Photos (exterior, interior) by Unilarity/Wikimedia Commons.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Wilson said the experience made him happier than he's ever been. He was unburdened by the weights of adulthood, saving big on rent and utilities, doing less housework, cutting his commute down to near-nonexistence, and just having less stuff to clutter his space and mind.

Living in a dumpster may not be for everyone, but Wilson thinks smart home engineering can yield the same benefits.

Case in point: tiny houses. They're exactly what they sound like — homes of varying tininess, often pictured in bucolic ruralities.

Photo by Benjamin Chun/Flickr.

Some are craftily adapted from materials not typically used with home building.

Photo by ROLU/Flickr.

And some are designed to go with you when you want to move.

Photo by Guillaume Dutilh/Wikimedia Commons.

Tiny houses are gaining more attention as a viable housing alternative, which is great news for a few reasons.

They're an option — for the crafty and willing — with affordable housing growing scarcer as cities sell out their locals for higher bidders. Then there are some, like Wilson, who just want to live simpler, less materially crowded and wasteful lives.

Wilson's verve for simple living became an entrepreneurial mission — to build a new generation of smart homes.

His company is called Kasita, but they're not building homes for country living. They're bringing the tiny house movement to the city — although, in a press statement, they say they don't call what they're building "tiny houses":

"The Kasita completely reimagines the home with industrial design at its core. There's nothing quite like it out there. The Kasita does not contain a loft, Murphy bed, pitched roof, or wheels. It's designed from the ground up as opposed to an adaptation of an existing structure intended to store and transport merchandise (but we have lots of love and respect for our friends in the Tiny House and container communities!)."

Their 208-square-foot design slides into multi-level structures called "racks," which connect to municipal utilities like electricity and plumbing.

The first rack is scheduled to open in Austin in 2016, and plans are underway to build them in 10 more cities by 2017.

With Kasita, you can move your entire home to any city with a rack. All you have to do is make a call, schedule a big-rig pickup, and off it'll go to your next destination.

Kasitas are equipped with all the amenities of a modern home, including a kitchen with a cooktop, convection oven, and dishwasher; a bathroom with a walk-in shower; and a combined washer and dryer unit.

The walls use a special tile system that lets you customize the space to your needs.

Plus, they'll have voice-activated components like lighting, entertainment, and a hidden queen-size bed that rolls out on your command, like a boss at bedtime.

To make Kasita an affordable housing opportunity, they're building community partnerships for creative land use.

They haven't yet announced pricing for buyers, but one of their stated goals is to offer rentals at half the market rate of standard studio apartments. In the country's most rapidly gentrifying cities, that could add up to serious savings.

Housing may be an internationally recognized human right, but not enough is being done to ensure everyone has access to it. Until then, it's encouraging to know there are businesses out there like Kasita that aren't just in the business of making things worse.

Kasita won't stop the housing crisis dead in its tracks. But if it proves successful, it could help inspire the kind of innovation we need to eventually send it flying off its rails.

Image by 5540867 from Pixabay

Figuring out what to do for a mom on Mother's Day can be a tricky thing. There's the standard flowers or candy, of course, and taking her out to a nice brunch is a fairly universal winner. But what do moms really want?

Speaking from experience—my kids range from age 12 to 20—a lot depends on the stage of motherhood. What I wanted when my kids were little is different than what I want now, and I'm sure when my kids are grown and gone I'll want something different again.

We asked our readers to share what they want for Mother's Day, and while the answers were varied, there were some common themes that emerged.

Moms of young kids want a break.

When your kids are little, motherhood is relentless. Precious and adorable, yes. Wonderful and rewarding, absolutely. But it's a LOT. And it's a lot all the fricking time.

Most moms I know would love the gift of alone time, either away at a hotel or Airbnb or in their own home with no one else around. Time alone is a priceless commodity at this stage, especially if it comes with someone else taking care of cleaning, making sure the kids are fed and safe and occupied, doing the laundry, etc.

This is especially true after more than a year of pandemic living, where we moms have spent more time than usual at home with our offspring. While in some ways that's been great, again, it's a lot.

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Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
True

The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

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