+

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 — withaffordable 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.

Brandon Conway sounds remarkably like Michael Jackson when he sings.

When Michael Jackson died 13 years ago, the pop music world lost a legend. However markedly mysterious and controversial his personal life was, his contributions to music will go down in history as some of the most influential of all time.

Part of what made him such a beloved singer was the uniqueness of his voice. From the time he was a young child singing lead for The Jackson 5, his high-pitched vocals stood out. Hearing him sing live was impressive, his pitch-perfect performances always entertaining.

No one could ever really be compared to MJ, or so we thought. Out of the blue, a guy showed up on TikTok recently with a casual performance that sounds so much like the King of Pop it's blowing people away.

Keep ReadingShow less
Health

A 100-year-old neurologist who's still working shares his secrets to longevity

Guinness World Records named him 'world's oldest practicing doctor.'

Dr. Howard Tucker from St. Vincent Charity Medical Center.

Dr. Howard Tucker added another honor to his illustrious career last year when the Guinness Book of World Records named him the world’s oldest practicing doctor. At the time, the neurologist was 99 years old and still seeing patients.

Now, at the age of 100, he told TODAY he recently stopped seeing patients but keeps himself busy teaching medical residents at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, twice a week.

Dr. Tucker believes his long career is a major reason for his incredible longevity. “I look upon retirement as the enemy of longevity,” Tucker told TODAY.

The doctor was born in 1922, graduated from The Ohio State University College of Medicine in 1947 and served as a Navy neurologist during the Korean War. “Anyone who was discharged from the Navy for neurological reasons, if his residence was east of the Mississippi, I had to examine him before he could be discharged,” Tucker told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

How breastfeeding actually works is seriously awe-inspiring

Let's take a moment to marvel at this miraculous process.

A viral video shows what's happening beneath the surface when a baby breastfeeds.

Let me start by saying I don't care whether you breastfeed or not. Everyone's circumstances are different, no one needs to explain why they did or didn't breastfeed their babies and we'd all be better off with far fewer judgments across the baby-feeding spectrum.

With that disclaimer out of the way, can we at least all agree that breastfeeding is freaking awesome?

I mean, the whole biological process of growing an entire human practically from scratch is mind-blowing all by itself. But the fact that our bodies then create food to feed that human, with a whole system for how and when that food gets made and released, is just so cool.

Keep ReadingShow less