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Haiti, Revisited.

Soon after the quake in Haiti a contribution of $50 was made from my direction to help those poor souls. That minuscule donation went to the Red Cross and in total the organization received about a half a billion dollars from concerned people and organizations. They have spent over $150 million of it. That’s a good thing.

Doctors Without Borders has spent about $70 million dollars of the $112 million it received in donations. That is a good thing as well.

Let me give you some stats. There were 220,000 Haitians killed, 300,000 injured and at least a million left homeless. Today, there are 1.5 million in displacement camps living in mostly squalid conditions. Thievery, violence and rape are rampant events within those camps (which are full of vulnerable people like women and kids). Toilets? try getting in line behind 19 others, because there is one toilet to every 20 people in these camps–which estimates put at around 1300 spread out across the rubble-laden landscape.

It has turned into a Wild West of sorts, but I guess it was expected in a way. It’s generally a monumental task to rebuilt a small town devastated by a natural disaster–let alone an isolated country surrounded by water.

Guess how much money of the pledged $5.3 billion made by prominent countries (including the United States) has arrived to help rebuild Haiti? 2%. The four countries which have contributed as of July are Brazil, Norway, Estonia and Australia. The United States and Venezuela, pledging $1.15 billion and $1.32 billion respectively, have yet to send a penny. It’s been 7 months now since the January 12th quake.

I am not sure how to take it all, or if I should be surprised at the slow response of our U.S. government because most of the money is tied up inside the notoriously sluggish congressional appropriations process. Not only that, the money was committed for the 2010-2011 fiscal year, so nothing immediate. Come on, congress… get a move on it.

The topic of Haiti was brought up on this site soon after the quake because a lot of people had a bright idea of using shipping containers as sturdy housing. Ideas flew across the net from many sources and websites that shipping container homes could be the answer, not the end-all-solve-all, but a possible solution. None of it came to fruition of course, but at least our thoughts and ideas were valiant. The viability of just setting down containers and cutting out some openings and having people live in them is ludicrous, especially in the Caribbean. It would be adding insult to injury. Converted containers would just plain be unreasonable because of cost of transport and for the converted, ready-to-use units themselves. Where would the money come from? The U.S. government? Nah… sending shipping containers was, in retrospect, just a fantasy.

Still, we offered ideas soon after the tragedy because we gave a damn then–and still do (hopefully). If you could see the misery on the Haitian faces today, you would re-ignite your compassion for these poor people. Get off your asses, congress. Obama? Wyclef? Someone???

Want to see a starkly real existence (if you can call it that)? Take a look at some images here (VERY GRAPHIC): http://www.haitian-truth.org/photo-gallery-of-aftermath-in-haiti/ (opens new window).

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Seoul Has Got Flair. Thanks, Germany?

I woke up this morning to an email from an “M” stating that my site didn’t have any link or article pointing to their site. I checked out the link in the email and to my surprise,¬† an amazing structure revealed itself in 3/10ths of a second (thanks DSL). My hazy morning eyes sprung wide. I was in awe. It’s was a rapid succession of images to cultural hotbed located Seoul, South Korea. Made from 28 shipping containers, Platoon Kunsthalle is basically a stage for something profound to occur; which could come by way of a street artist doing a live painting to a crowd sipping on Heinekens to a performance by a DJ weaving together sounds of the Temptations with T-Pain, maybe a little sprinkling of the Chemical Brothers.

The structure, or work of art depending on how you view it, can be set up anywhere, anytime as proclaimed on the site. The Deutsche-influenced fortress owes its creation to the genius of the mother ship of minds headquartered in Berlin. I encourage you to check it out and see what some vision mixed with a little entrepreneurial spirit can spawn!

Platoon Kunsthalle (opens new window)

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A Texas Containerist Paradise? Quite Possibly.

I think I may have found a sort of Shangri-La for those of us dreaming of doing anything we want with a piece of property–building what the heck we want without kissing the asses of the building department to push an idea through. Oh yes… This is a really good find I am going to share with you…

This past winter, I drove from California to Florida not only because I am nuts, but also because I love to drive and see what this great country of ours (if you are American) has to offer. On my way, I made it to El Paso from Los Angeles in about 11 hours I believe, but had no intentions on staying there because El Paso isn’t on the top of my list of favorite cities. No, I kept driving. Eventually, I stayed in Fort Stockton, Texas, which is about an additional three hours of driving beyond El Paso on Interstate 10. So unfortunately on the first pass, I totally missed seeing the wonderful would-be Shangri-La for containerists and alternative home builders–it was about 10 P.M.

Two weeks later, my drive back from Florida was different. It was daytime when I drove through it: Hudspeth County, Texas. It was not the Texas we picture when we think of the state. No cows. No flat, ugly brown dirt-laden stretches of land. No tall grasses. No oil rigs that I can remember. No junky homes or trash strewn about. The landscape was rather beautiful. Mountains, clean air, and gorgeous shrubbery and flora. Quite possibly one of the most ideal places to build whatever the hell you want without any worries, and never regret it. No snoopy neighbors, bad terrain, traffic or any of the things that could hinder one’s creative inner builder… oh, and hell yeah, no building inspectors! Hudspeth County, Texas has NO BUILDING CODES.

It that it? Was that all I had to say? Nope. How many places in the U.S. can you get a 10-acre parcel for about $3k? Not too many. You can start a ranch, compound or even an off-grid community. There is so much land for sale there that you can do whatever you want! Hell, start a town and name it after yourself. Grow crops with the abundant underground water in the area. Amenities? Nah. If you had amenities of a normal city, you would likely have codes, so take your pick. It’s not that bad really. You will have to drive a bit to get the things you need. El Paso is near, so there is your answer.

Well, I thought I would just share this with you, the present and future containerists like myself. I love fanning the flames of inspiration. I want to get your imagination flowing with the following link to some land in the area. Have a great time dreaming and wishing:

Cheap Land in Hudspeth County, TX (opens new window)

Here is a sample Craigslist ad for shipping containers in El Paso, TX. The container would be about an hour away from your property if you ever decided on a parcel in Hudspeth County. You could have a container sitting on 10 acres of land you own for about $5000 total.


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Emergency Shelters for Haiti: Yes! But Not So Fast…

Uncle-Sam-I-Want-You_1

I want¬† to emphasize again as I had first done in my other post about Haiti that I am saddened by the events that have befallen the people there. It’s a tragedy. I really hope things smooth out for the citizens of Haiti; with prospects of “normal” life and a discernible recovery happening in the […]

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The First Containerist

Oscar the Grouch -- The First Containerist.

I wish I could take credit for being the original containerist, but there have been many before myself with the concept. Our ancestors have been using any and all materials available since the dawn of time to keep them sheltered from sun, snow, rain and cold. They lived in tree trunks, hollowed out bushes, holes […]

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Cool Truck Lift for Shipping Containers

Container-Lifter-2

I like technology and mechanical marvels. We have come a long way since Henry Ford developed a way to mass-produce mechanical parts for automobiles, as well as the assembly of cars themselves. Humans are so innovative and come up with some amazing things. Who knows what the next hundred years will bring. I was picturing […]

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Haiti: A Nightmare Come True

Devastation in Haiti

First of all, it breaks my heart seeing these poor people on television. It’s hard to watch… surreal in a sense. Sadly, its real and not just some bad nightmare we wake from. Haiti is a stone’s throw from Florida and if anyone wants a taste of reality, hop on a flight and you are […]

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The Arkhaus Initiative

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When you have a site that is focused on a certain theme, you eventually attract like-minded people. One fine day, I got a “hey” from a lovely person named Jen patting me on the back for my website, along with a link to a website she operated with a cool dude named Trevor. I kindly […]

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Open Casting Call! Who Has a Container House Being Constructed?

announcing

There is nothing more fascinating to a containerist than a currently-being-built container home! Who out there is constructing a container home? I am talking right now… this minute… a site with a container on it, being built. We all want to know what it’s like and how you feel about it. Please reply to this […]

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Why We Love Container Homes

piggy-bank

After running this site and communicating with the VAST numbers of people interested in container home building, I would have to say that besides the out-of-the-box thinking (no pun intended) of living inside a converted shipping container once used to ship goods across the world, price is the other key ingredient. Many emails have come […]

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