Urban Adaptation

Sustainable urban living, rural dreams, and daily change for a homemade life.

Posts Tagged ‘The Anyway Project

The Anyway Project – March

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I’m not sure where March went, and it strikes me that I might not have updated for February, but here I am again with The Anyway Project, and reminding myself that slowly and surely isn’t a bad way to work towards something at all.

Domestic Infrastructure: I’ve added more things to the goodwill pile, to make room for the things that I feel are more important to have for living a more sustainable life, and I’m slowly but surely getting the piles out of here bit by bit.  I’ve rearranged some furniture, and gotten rid of chair that was un-sittable it was so uncomfortable, and made a bit more room in the main living area.

We’ve simplified the kitchen, which has been remarkably helpful.  I’ve gotten rid of a bunch of things that we don’t need, and we’ve put away some others, so we only have enough dishes for a few meals, which makes washing dishes easier and ensures that they don’t pile up as badly anymore.

Next month: Simplify the bedroom and bathroom by getting rid of extraneous clothes and other sundry things.  Get more of the donations out to Goodwill so they’re not taking up space here anymore.  Plan for a move – I have no idea if we will be moving, but acting like we will helps me to decide what to keep, makes me more ruthless, and helps me get into the mindset of moving if we do go through with it.

Household Economy: This month, I was a bit over where I wanted to be.  An extra shopping trip, a gift to my brother, and one larger-than-usual purchase (more on that later) put me a bit over where I wanted to be.  While I’m still living within my means, I’ve been trying to be extra-frugal, which didn’t happen as much as I wanted this month.

As a new computer is winging its way towards me (a replacement, effectively meaning that I just have to pay for the extended warranty and a cable to transfer files, meaning that I will have a new computer far less than I thought), I’ve been considering ways that I can set up and use my computer to bring in a bit more money.  I’m considering summer freelance work, and some more of my own writing, and hopefully finding some ways to make a bit of extra income on the side.

Next month: Cut the budget again (more on this later, but I’m looking to cut down on extraneous spending even further).  Set up the new computer for maximum functionality, and look into open-source or inexpensive programs that will help with either the academic work, some extra freelance or creative work, or come of both.

Also, I need to keep working on academic work.  Finishing the dissertation means I can stop paying tuition, which would be a very good thing.  I’m hoping it will also make it easier to find a job, which would also be a very good thing.  So that’s a priority, as is doing a few other things that will help my academic standing.

Resource Consumption: Happily, with a few more low-watt CFLs and more awareness of the fridge door, we’ve cut down our energy usage by a bit (although we’re still on the warpath, and I think another power bar that can be turned off might be in order).

We’ve been trying to buy foods in less packaging – more bulk, more produce – and I’ve been working on making a set of reusable produce bags.  I’ve also started saving up glass jars – salsa jars appear to be the perfect size for making yogurt in (one of my upcoming projects, I think), so they’re going to be reused.  I’ve also started on the “no ‘poo” hair thing again, so I’m buying less shampoo and conditioner, and using baking soda and apple cider vinegar instead.  They live in the shower in a reused chocolate syrup bottle and a reused soda bottle, respectively.

The purchase that I mentioned above falls in here too.  I bought a used bike trailer that attaches to my existing bike so I can haul things with out the bus, or renting a car.  For $75 it seemed like a reasonable way to try and see if this works for us before investing the big bucks.  If it works well, great.  If it doesn’t, at most I’m out the money, but could probably resell the trailer.  I’m hoping the trailer will fit into the Anyway Project in a few ways.  First, from a resource standpoint, I hope to need less oil and gas.  This should also help the household economy if I can spend less money on the bus (when my bus pass runs out), on car rentals (when I have things to move), or on purchases (if it’s easier to get to places with better quality items, or better prices).  I’m also hoping it will help my health if I wind up biking more.  I also think it will help with getting more local foods – getting to the farmer’s market will be easier, and so will the flour mill, which is bikeable but somewhat far from the bus routes.

Next month: Get used to using the trailer, probably to help remove some of the remaining piles of stuff from the apartment (which will happily also help to make room for the trailer, which is larger than I thought it would be).  Make some more reusable shopping bags.  Research for setting up a worm composter.

Cottage Industry and Subsistence: Still no real industry here, although I have started seeing what I can start / grow inside.  Radishes, peas, spinach, cucumber, dill, and basil have all been started inside.

While it’s still high tech, I’m considering (and pricing) ways that I can set up my computer to create a bit more of a business.  I’m a good writer and editor and, as I mentioned earlier, a bit of freelance work here and there wouldn’t be such a bad thing, and I’m also considering whether there’s anything I can contribute to the growing body of literature on living more sustainably, although that will likely just take on the guise of more blog posts.

Next month: I’d like to plant some more, and hopefully start setting up some containers for gardening outside.

Family and Community: I haven’t done great on community, although I’ve been to more local events on things like climate change and labour issues.

Next month:  More events, hopefully that I can bike to.

Outside Work: I still think the priority needs to be academic work, but as mentioned above, I’m considering some freelance or other work that can be done from home, possibly over the summer, and considering ways that I can maximize the sudden boon of a new computer to help with this.

Next month: Keep on keepin’ on, I guess.

Time and Happiness: I’ve made a lot more time for running and biking recently, which keeps me saner and calmer and healthier, all of which are good things.  The Boy and I have also been experimenting with new recipes together, which is lovely, and going for at least a few long walks a week, which I love.

Neck month: Yet more keep on keepin’ on.  More walks, more biking, more running.  Maybe some meditation.



Written by Jenn

March 26, 2011 at 4:10 pm

November in review

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With a bust schedule, I didn’t quite accomplish everything that I wanted, but I did pretty well, all told.

With my little 10×30 project, I got the requisite number of things boxed up and ready to go out for donation.  There’s still a lot more to do, but a box of books and many bags of clothes later and the apartment feels a bit better.  I’m looking forward to doing more, and am considering having a repeat performance this month.

For The Anyway Project, I had a few successes as well.   The kitchen was cleared out further, and some clutter was removed from the apartment.  We had the landlords come in and do some weatherproofing, which will hopefully make it less draughty in here.

Financially, I managed to save about 45 percent of my income this month, up from the 20 percent that I was aiming for.  This won’t be possible every month, but this was a good start.  I cut back even the limited shopping that I already do to accomplish this, and I’m pleased with the results.

Tracking resource consumption has been somewhat more difficult than I thought, so I’m still trying to figure this one out, and considering ways to lower it even when there isn’t an actual measure available to work from.  I’m also still a bit stumped on taking on extra work, both in terms of what to do and how to fit that in right now, but I’m looking into some opportunities.

Family and community took a bit of a beating this month as I didn’t get out that much for various reasons.  On the up side, though, I have been more focused on spending money locally, which I hope is helpful from a community perspective.

I’ve managed to keep outside commitments to a minimum in order to keep focusing on the most important things right now – dissertation, teaching, and job search.  I have started a few of my own projects that mesh well with my values, though, so that’s a nice break at the end of the day sometimes as well.

And finally, in terms of time and happiness, I’ve been working on eating a bit better, exercising more – I walk to campus a few times a week now – and taking more time just to rest and relax.

Up next?  Planning out what I want to work on for the next month.  While December’s usually interrupted by holidays and a visit home, I’m considering ways that I can keep up with working through this life that I lead a bit more.


The Anyway Project – November goals

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Since it seems I can’t redesign my entire life in the span of a weekend (or even a month, I imagine, or longer), I’m plotting out some goals for this month for The Anyway Project.  The categories have changed a bit, but the ideas are still the same.  Given that things are still busy and that I still have a lot of writing, grading, and other sundry things to take care of, I think one or two things at most in each category will be a darn good start.

Domestic Infrastructure:

Get the kitchen cleared out, both in terms of food and other things that are kicking around in there that aren’t really needed (I have an awful lot of pots and cookbooks that aren’t really used).  I am, of course, still working to declutter the apartment as well.  This is also the time to winterproof as much as possible, so we’ll be fixing up the shrink plastic as much as possible and looking for ways to better insulate what’s left around here.

Household Economy:

I’m aiming to not only stay on track with my existing budget, but to cut down expenses and spending by another 10 percent in order to increase my savings this month.  I’ve also added a new category into my budget for putting towards purchases that help with sustainability and that hopefully will cut costs as well, so I’m planning on doing some research about the best investments to make.

Resource Consumption:

I’m going to start tracking my resource consumption here as well as I can (some resources are arranged through the landlords, though, and I can’t get a completely accurate read on them).  That said, I can do a better job of tracking my electricity usage and using less of it, as well as setting a timer for shorter showers, and taking them less frequently.  With respect to getting around, my mileage is all on public transit, which isn’t horrible, but I’m also setting a goal of walking or biking at least once a week when I normally would have taken the bus.  I’m considering starting in on the Riot for Austerity again, but it’s still under consideration.

Cottage Industry and Subsistence:

This one, I’ll admit, has me a bit stumped.  Although I see the value, I’m not sure I’m in a position right now to take on extra work in a cottage industry sense.  Nor do I know what to do at this point, so this one needs some thought.  I think I might instead focus on finishing the dissertation so that it’s done and over with and I can focus my energies in other directions (and stop paying tuition).  For subsistence, though, I’m looking into my options for some indoor growing.  This may be a bust, but then again it may not, and I’d like to get set up for that a bit more this month (this might be a good use for that new budget category).

Family and Community:

There are a number of organizations focused on sustainability and related concerns in town that I haven’t yet had much to do with.  So, this month I’m going to make an effort to get out to at least a few of their events and maybe even meet some people.  I’d also like to continue focusing on spending money – when I do spend money, that is – on local people and businesses.

Outside Work:

With October over, some of my outside work commitments have dissipated.  I’d like to keep it this way, and for now only focus on the dissertation and anything that’s important to either my future academic life or my future farm life (this has been working well thus far).   This is especially true, I think, in terms of sticking to those commitments that  mesh with my values.  To that end, I’ve got my eye on some projects that go somewhat beyond my usual work and start to engage with topics like food security and urban planning.  Now that the crazy period is over, I’d like to transition my research into some new work that matches my values and ideals a bit more.

Time and Happiness:

More exercise, better eating habits, more time on the couch knitting and reading.  That’s really about it.

That seems like a long list in some ways, but it also feels rather manageable, and some of these goals are things I’m already working my way through.  Some, of course, will take longer than a month, but it’s nice to know that there are specific goals to be met both right now and a ways down the road as well.

Written by Jenn

November 9, 2010 at 1:09 pm

10×30 and The Anyway Project

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This week has not lent itself to the starting of projects like I’d imagined it would.  In addition to starting my 10×30 decluttering project and The Anyway Project, I was hoping to do some NaNoWriMo, as well as the academic-type equivalent.  I’ve done okay on the academic, but between a late-running project and utter exhaustion, the others took a back seat.

Until today.

After a sleep in until after noon, today, glory be, is the first day I’ve felt really human in awhile now.  I’ve taken the weekend off, and I’m feeling inspired and ready to go and catch up on the things that slipped by the wayside (the promise of Thai food for dinner, a rare treat, is also helping the motivation.

For The Anyway Project, Sharon’s set up seven categories that I’ve been giving some thought to:  Domestic Economy, Household Economy, Resource Consumption, Farm and Subsistence, Family and Community, Outside Work, and Time and Happiness.  While I have plans for all of them, the focus right now seems to be on domestic economy – really focusing on my home and how it can be better set up to meet my needs.  In some ways, this comes down to a lot of decluttering.  But as I get rid of things, I also want to consider if there’s anything home needs to make it more functionable or suitable (insulation comes to mind, which is another project on the books), as well as ways in which it can be better organized to work better for the ways that we use it.

Right now, I think this comes down to a few things.  First, it gets cold in here in the winter, and this is something that needs to be addressed.  We’ve started, but have a few other things to try as well.  I’d also like to make sure that there’s room for people to come over.  And, with people coming over, anything that helps up keep the place tidy enough that there isn’t a last minute scrable to clean before they arrive would also be lovely.  Finally, with a few projects in mind for this year – worm composter, more baking and cooking, and possibly some attempts at indoor growing over the winter, I need appropriate spaces, so clearing and arranging them now would be helpful.

These are just a few things – I’m sure more will come up as I actually tackle the work.  But for now, I’m off to find some things I can get rid of, tackle the dishes, and try to make this place just a bit tidier and less full by the end of the day today.

Written by Jenn

November 6, 2010 at 1:55 pm

In for a penny

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In support of a few November efforts (The Anyway Project and 10×30), I’ve also decided to have another month of no spending beyond the basics.

I hesitate to call this a project unto itself.  While I suppose it is, as cutting back on spending can be a challenge, it’s really to facilitate tightening up my finances a bit more and not bringing anything new into the apartment as I try to clear some things out.  Beyond possibly needing a few work clothes and having my eye on a very few specific books, there’s nothing that I need right now, and working from within a framework of “enough” should help to keep spending and clutter at bay as I work through a few different areas of life.

And so, let the games begin.  The goal?  Basically, no spending on anything beyond rent, utilities, and food for the month.  I’m also looking for ways to reduce these costs a bit more as well, but that’s another post for another time.  I also have more to say about both projects, but it’s late here, and sleep beckons.  So for now, I rest content in the decision to cut back shopping (well, what little left that I do in the way of shopping, anyway) that little bit more, and to hopefully reap the rewards.

Written by Jenn

November 3, 2010 at 2:11 am

The anyway project

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Sharon has graciously posted her outline of The Anyway Project (AKA Whole Life Redesign).  I’ve looked it over!  I’m inspired!  I’m ready to go!  And…I’m so tired that I fell asleep on the loveseat this afternoon, which is no easy feat.  So, at this point I don’t have much to say other than I’m excited to jump in and start getting things in order.

I see this as a year-long plan, although it could be a year of staying in place, or a year of moving (the possibility of the latter has already factored into the projects that I’m currently taking on).  While it might take a bit to find the groove, I think this whole idea is incredibly worthwhile, both for its practical elements and for the exceedingly compelling “theory of anyway” that’s set out.

There are seven categories to work through, some that are very applicable to my present circumstances, some that are perhaps a bit less so.  I think the first step will be to figure out what areas I’m most interested in working on and which ones will fit me best or help me out the most, then work from there, but really, I’m just excited about the whole thing and really focusing in.


Written by Jenn

November 2, 2010 at 3:15 pm