What’s the first thing you should do when you commit to living a more sane and energy-efficient life? “Inventory your possessions” and figure out what you can live with and what you can’t live without. That was the painful advice home designer and artist Michael Pease gave to empty-nesters Alan Dickman and Sue Burden-Dickman, who downsized from a large conventional house to an efficient new 1,300-square-foot living space in June.
The Dickman home at 2812 Spring Blvd. is one of a dozen inspiring places that will be open to the public for one day only during the fourth annual BRING Home and Garden Tour from 10 am to 4 pm Sunday, Sept. 16. Tickets, available at any of the sites, are $10 each or $18 for two or $100 for groups up to 15.
“We told Mike [Pease] we wanted both the view and to live in the garden,” says Alan Dickman, who is director of Environmental Studies at the UO Department of Biology. “He went to great lengths to bring us slowly into the house with entryways and multiple decks out in back that sent us down into the landscape.”
As green as the Dickmans tried to be, the home is still mostly new construction requiring tons of new materials. “The house is green but still resource intensive,” says Dickman, “so we feel like we have a responsibility to make it last a long time.” The contractor was James McDonald of Ecobuilding Collaborative.
The theme of the tour this year is “The Art of Sustainable Living” and “the tour is really an essential part of our educational program,” says BRING Executive Director Julie Daniel. “BRING is at heart a social change organization. We’re about changing people’s behavior. Our mission is to help people understand how the stuff we use shapes the planet we share.”
Just talking about changing behavior doesn’t quite do the job, she says. Instead, she likes to “give real-world examples of what other people are doing, and be able to see first-hand what it looks like on the ground to live sustainably.”
These tours are popular, she says, because “we are all inherently nosy; we all want to see what our neighbors are doing.” And in the process, she says, we can become inspired to create something interesting and valuable in our own homes and gardens.
Greenhouses, edible gardens, backyard poultry, roof gardens, small houses, a super tiny house and secondary dwelling units (SDUs) are also featured in the tour. One SDU, built by Solar Assist contractor Scott Crawford in collaboration with architect Will Dixon, is at 2510A 14th Ave. and is a “balance of function, form, sustainability, budget and sunlight.” The 644-square-foot house has hydronic radiant heat and “stack” ventilation.
Crawford says the building was not cheap to construct, even with “repurposed” materials, but it was “all done above board. I know people who have done it in their backyards without permits for much, much less, but I was able to do it over time and it worked out pretty well.”
Also at the Crawford house Sunday, Oakleigh Meadow Cohousing will be presenting a slide show with discussion about their community development at 10 am, noon and 2 pm.
BRING tour organizer Shirley Perez West says about 500 people showed up last year for the tour and she hopes to see even more this year. “This year it’s all about living large in small spaces,” she says, and adds, “many of the 12 sites will host builders, designers and community experts on sustainable living.” Experts will be available on composting, solar energy, propagating mushrooms, aging in place and more.
A limited number tickets of for those with low income are available through the city of Eugene at the Atrium Building across from the downtown LTD station. See bringrecycling.org for online tickets and a complete schedule.
Many of the 12 sites on the BRING tour will host builders, designers, and community experts on sustainable living.
• Representatives from Oregon Tilth will be at Site #1 throughout the day.
• Master Composters will be on hand to share information about Bokashi and other composting methods at site #1 and will hold composting workshops at site #10 throughout the day: 10:30 am and 2 pm will be sheet mulching; 11:30 am and 3 pm will beBokashi; 12:30 pm will be how to build and turn a compost pile.
• Representatives from Ecobuilding Cooperative of Oregon will be at sites #3 and #4.
• Representatives from the Green Store, Lovinger/Robertson and Studio-E Architecture will be available to answer questions and lead tours at site #3.
• Representatives from Solar Assist will be on at site #4.
• The owner/architect will discuss designing for aging in place at site #5 as well as representatives from Greenleaf Design Build.
• The owner/architect will talk about the remodel/addition at site #7.
• A “Backyard Cottages” workshop will be given at site #8 at 11 a.m. and 3 pm by Rainbow Valley Design and Construction experts Alec Daker and Steve Gab.
• The Eugene Backyard Farmer will be on hand all day at site #9 to answer questions about raising backyard animals.
• A sale of used gardening books will be at site #9.
• The Mushroomery will conduct workshops at 1 3 pm on propagating mushrooms in your garden at site #11.
• Glory Bee Foods will have samples of their products and information about their work at site #11.
• Garden designer Heiko Koester will lead guided tours of the garden at site #11.
• Representatives from Oakleigh Meadow Cohousing will be on hand to answer questions at site #12 and will give presentations at 11 am and 2 pm. — Information provided by BRING