Heroes

It's not an elaborate treehouse — it's a new affordable housing concept.

This Dutch architect's big idea makes even our 'greenest' cities look gray.

It's not an elaborate treehouse — it's a new affordable housing concept.

What kinds of places do you think of when it comes to "green" cities?

If you're like me, you're probably imagining places with subways and solar panels, electric cars and urban farms. And you'd be right. Those things are important for a city to be considered "green."

A 2015 study of the nation's 150 largest cities by Nerd Wallet ranked eco-friendliness by looking at where people live, how they get around the city, where their energy comes from, and the quality of the air. Some examples of the nation's greenest cities include...


San Francisco

Obviously. Overachiever.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Washington, D.C.

I guess it's not all dirty, filthy politics.

Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.

Honolulu

Take me there. Now.

Photo by Prayitno Photography/Flickr.

New York City

Believe it or not.

Photo by Loretín/Flickr.

But what if I told you green cities could look like this:

Image by OAS1S.

This is OAS1S, the brain baby of Dutch architect Raimond de Hullu.

It's his template for building cities that are green in the truest sense of the word. In an interview with Fast Company, De Hullu explained his vision:

"We need a new building typology that goes beyond the usual technical sustainability. We need a 100% green concept, not only technically but visually as well, and which is desirable plus affordable at the same time."

De Hullu envisions buildings that take after trees, nature's original skyscrapers...

Image by OAS1S.

...and communities that blend with forests.

Image by OAS1S.

He imagines neighborhoods built entirely from recycled materials that function completely off-grid with solar energy and on-site water systems.

Image by OAS1S.

And best of all, he wants OAS1S to be an affordable housing opportunity. For everyone.

Image by OAS1S.

To achieve that, he wants these communities to be set up as land trusts. Under this model, a community nonprofit is formed to buy and own land, and the homes built on that land are owned by the occupants. According to the Democracy Collaborative:

"By separating the ownership of land and housing, this innovative approach prevents market factors from causing prices to rise significantly, and hence guarantees that housing will remain affordable for future generations."

OAS1S is still only a concept, but de Hullu is searching for a suitable place for a pilot community.

He hopes the first location can be in an established city, which would be great for visibility, especially if it proves an effective model.

Image by OAS1S.

But he also sees value in piloting OAS1S in a less developed vacation setting.

Image by OAS1S.

Either way, de Hullu wants the essence of the project to remain "constructing a true balance between architecture and nature."

De Hullu's goal is simple: build communities that are good for people and good for the planet.

Image by OAS1S.

And the last thing, which I cannot stress enough, is that we could live in tree houses!

How cool would that be?

Watch an overview of OAS1S:

Photo: Canva

We're nearly a year into the pandemic, and what a year it has been. We've gone through the struggles of shutdowns, the trauma of mass death, the seemingly fleeting "We're all in this together" phase, the mind-boggling denial and deluge of misinformation, the constantly frustrating uncertainty, and the ongoing question of when we're going to get to resume some sense of normalcy.

It's been a lot. It's been emotionally and mentally exhausting. And at this point, many of us have hit a wall of pandemic fatigue that's hard to describe. We're just done with all of it, but we know we still have to keep going.

Poet Donna Ashworth has put this "done" feeling into words that are resonating with so many of us. While it seems like we should want to talk to people we love more than ever right now, we've sort of lost the will to socialize pandemically. We're tired of Zoom calls. Getting together masked and socially distanced is doable—we've been doing it—but it sucks. In the wintry north (and recently south) the weather is too crappy to get together outside. So many of us have just gone quiet.

If that sounds like you, you're not alone. As Ashworth wrote:

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After years of service as a military nurse in the naval Marine Corps, Los Angeles, California-resident Rhonda Jackson became one of the 37,000 retired veterans in the U.S. who are currently experiencing homelessness — roughly eight percent of the entire homeless population.

"I was living in a one-bedroom apartment with no heat for two years," Jackson said. "The Department of Veterans Affairs was doing everything they could to help but I was not in a good situation."

One day in 2019, Jackson felt a sudden sense of hope for a better living arrangement when she caught wind of the ongoing construction of Veteran's Village in Carson, California — a 51-unit affordable housing development with one, two and three-bedroom apartments and supportive services to residents through a partnership with U.S.VETS.

Her feelings of hope quickly blossomed into a vision for her future when she learned that Veteran's Village was taking applications for residents to move in later that year after construction was complete.

"I was entered into a lottery and I just said to myself, 'Okay, this is going to work out,'" Jackson said. "The next thing I knew, I had won the lottery — in more ways than one."

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Dr. Who / YouTube

It's incredible to imagine that Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime. "The Red Vineyard" sold in Brussels a few months before his death for just 400 Francs.

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via Walt Disney Television / Flickr and jilhervas / Flickr

There comes a moment in everyone's social media life when they get stressed because they've been followed by an authority figure. When your boss, mother, or priest starts following you, social media immediately becomes a lot less fun.

When that happens, it's time to stop posting photos of yourself partying it up with an adult beverage. You gotta hold back on some of your saltier takes, and you have to start minding your language. Also, you have to be very careful about the posts you're tagged in.

Model, TV personality, and author Chrissy Teigen has been suffering through a mega-dose of this form of social media stress since January 20 when President Joe Biden followed her on Twitter. His follow came after Teigen made the request.

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