So I thought I’d share some information and let ya’ll in on a plan I have had, and with it I have a little (or very long) story to tell you…
As of just two months ago, my boxes were all packed and I was ready to move down south to one of my favorite places on the planet. I purchased some land down there and I have major plans for it, including building up a small plant-based farm, and animal sanctuary as mentioned in my recent memoir The Irony of the Well and living off grid. The area has always been dear to me and I have extensive history there. Not only have I gone camping, exploring and gathering watercress (radish relative excellent in salads and on sandwiches where fresh is the only way to go; store bought doesn’t even count since is no comparison to fresh), but I also did my internship for university at the Native American reservation down there; for there I am in my element.
I have sacrificed a lot for this plan. I was gone for an entire month-away from my dog! I became depressed without him knowing that he was depressed without me and he couldn’t figure out why I suddenly disappeared. My days off were spent exploring the desert and canyon on my bike, and trying to photograph snakes, and although I knew my dog was well cared for and I was submerged fully in my work, enjoyed it, and having given it a lot of time, energy and thought, the nights were still long, lonely and difficult.
Anyway, drum roll….
In that town I had planned to run for mayor!
I did all my homework, having found out the requirements in order to run for mayor long before hand. I found out that one year residency is required, which I was prepared for. I am ten years into this plan, and five years into it financially. I have worked and saved hard, doing my best to make sure all bases have been covered.
I had a modified shipping container home (see all the photos below at the end of this post) and had it delivered to the property. The plan was to live on bare bones basics with my dog, cat and I in this tiny home for that first year so that I could run for mayor as planned. For water, the plan was to use three 2,500 gallon storage tanks, (see photos). In rural areas, there are hydrants where primary water can be purchased and these tanks filled. My plan was to continue to fill my three tanks as needed, (hopefully rarely). This is not a biggie, since I live lightly on the earth and conserve water carefully like second nature anyway, (seems to fit in the desert of Utah, right?) I had saved up my money and was prepared to hunker down, live lightly, simplify and make it count for that one year to declare my intention to run the following June and do my best for the election in November.
With my boxes packed and my buddy’s truck/trailer ready to make the big move, I found out that there were some major hangups. That’s to be expected, right? During a big move, being very stressful, one always runs into minor bumps or problems during the process, so no biggie. That is normal. The hangups grew bigger though, and they turned out to be a big wiry mess.
For example, the water tanks were discontinued during the 90’s and shipping water to store in them is no longer allowed. Instead, one is now required to dig a well. This can easily run into $80,000. Yes, and being freshly graduated from university, I don’t have that kind of fat stacks lying around. This particular spot in a very rural area does not have city water connection, so wells are now the only option. Takes on a whole new meaning to the name of my memoir The Irony of the Well
Ha ha you may be laughing at the irony and the title of my book, but this is no joke. I did not plan this. This is new territory for me and I am learning as I go. Off the top of my head I don’t know the specs about modern well installation!
You know how I love to live lightly on the earth. The plan was to use the tanks for water and have graywater go out to the garden and few xeriscaped landscape plants. However, I found out graywater is not allowed unless there is first a septic system installed for it to drain into, which is easily another $5,000. Then, I found out a composting toilet system is not disallowed. since only flushable water is allowed (in a desert, I might add) and no water shipped in to store in the tanks, that eliminates the plan to make use of graywater until the septic system could be installed. Graywater is a water conservative method designed to save and recycle precious H20, such as in a desert state; graywater is shower, dish water, etc) and here it is not allowed unless there is a septic system, which defeats the whole purpose of graywater. Yet, a composting toilet is not disallowed. I ran into multiple antiquated laws that were probably written into the law books when slavery was still being practiced also. The laws that didn’t make sense with someone who was trying to be environmentally responsible and green. It is also concerning that local laws restrict the amount of water that a person can collect. Yes, you and I are limited by local laws on the amount what we can collect and store in terms of water that falls from the sky…
Rain is water; water is life; Utah is a desert. You should be able to collect as much rain/snow from the sky as needed for you and your family.
In the 1800’s nobody was trying to live green or be environmentally responsible. There was not a need for it then. There is now… That is the difference.
After that first year, I was going to find a job in the local community and start building up my homestead gradually. But at this point you already know where this is going. Fresh out of university, I can’t just cough up $50,000 for them to dig a hole and then another 30,000 (at least) to have them install a well; not to mention the required solar pump to power it. If you’ve read my second memoir, The Irony of the Well you know why I dislike debt and I won’t make that same mistake again, and being a Dave Ramsey fan who actually follows the steps. Now I see why people go into oodles of debt for a basic need, a shelter. It’s because things like septic tanks, water, sewage, wells cost a fortune and they tack all these onto the loan. Likewise, now I am again reminded of why doing it the way nearly everyone does it with oodles of debt is such a mistake. While I was very disappointed on not being able to continue with my plan (after being 5 years into it), I’m glad I didn’t take out more loans, going into more debt.
See, this is exactly what I described in my memoir. The infrastructure alone of society keeps people corralled, in or out of a place depending on how much money they have, or further, how much money they are precalculated to make, from the skyscraping top to the bottom…
Certain areas keep people out by keeping prices sky high for the basics such as water and shelter. You have to be almost a millionaire to move to a nice area. From bottom to top, the prices are already determined. Meanwhile homelessness is on the rise and the inequality gap grows ever wider. I talk all about this from firsthand experience in my second memoir, The Irony of the Well
That title now has multiple meanings in and out of the literal and the metaphorical all across the scale of all seriousness, to whimsical; while there may be a hint of sarcasm here and there, this is no joke.
Well, I hope to continue my plan with my land someday sooner than later, living there on the plant-based farm, not the mayor part, but for now, fresh out of university it’s just not an option. I’d have to sell a lot of books to have enough money to buy $80,000 worth of water (even though I already use five times less than the average person) coming from the installation of a well.
I have been continuing to apply for jobs in my field having graduated and then COVID hit two months after graduation. It is currently slim pickings in the job market.
As far as being mr. mayor, that’s it. It was a one time shot; it’s not like I’m wanting to become a politician or something. I do want real change though, and while we citizens definitely play a large role in making the desired change, (you can’t complain if you’re not willing to do your part in making the change you want to see), the well-being of people and planet covers a lot of ground, and as I learned fairly recently, at some point that involves elected officials, getting the good ones in and the bad ones out. If we can get government back to what it is supposed to be and to where it is trustworthy again, it can be an integral part of making real change that is fair for everyone. It seems like a great time to start doing that, and I was ready to serve and do my small part.
It’s all water under the bridge now so I can have fun in sharing some details about my plan. I was only going to run for four years. The reason for this was going to be based on the quote by Mark Twain:
“Like diapers, politicians should be changed often, and for the same reason.”
First and foremost as mayor, I was going to acknowledge that truth every single day-that nobody is beyond the power going straight to their head. This is one of the main things that ruins elected officials, and people for that matter. I was to share that quote often as central to my office and asking the people to both accept and encourage my resignation after four years. It was to hopefully put a new perspective on the body currently referred to as politics, the very entity that nobody likes and nobody trusts, and that is just a huge part of the problem, which must change.
Everything is so different now; technology ensures changes so fast that a generation that was once thirty years is now more like five years. A new world and reality has been installed for us to be softly forced into compliance. It is not my America and it is not my Utah.
I see changes that need to take place and what needs to be accomplished. I had plans on how to do that at least on a small scale while mayor, but I am leaving my hopes in the hands of others for these glaring social discrepancies and antiquated laws to begin to change in America.
With that, let me briefly summarize: I still insist that more parties are needed as a real option instead of just Republican or Democrat. (Staples, O. 2020). I really like the green party, and I am registered as unaffiliated, having disliked the tricks, manipulation, corruption and secrecy that both parties have shown. The both sides of Mr. Utah in me keeps me in the middle as unaffiliated with either party, but slightly more to the left or liberal; but please don’t call me that because I don’t fit that media-created bipolar extreme negative label either. May you see here that media has been part of the problem.
Here’s the thing: Since I care about the environment, more medical coverage, especially for those with mental health issues, and since I want to see diversity, that is, people with disabilities, of color, and with varied sexual orientation thrive also, where the gigantic canopy of monopolized and hidden funds wielded by the elite billionaire class are regulated so they are not allowed to dominate most available funds. They do their dirty work secretively, wielding power, buying elections, dodging taxes and responsibility; they can afford and should be mandated to more evenly distribute some of those billions of dollars, especially in taxes (like, as in not manipulating everything in their favor so it is at the expense of everyone and everything else) so that more abundance is available for the remainder of U.S citizens, (this is why I wanted Bernie Sanders; he would have fixed these problems); that currently leaves only one party-Democratic.
Those values certainly haven’t been a priority of the Republican party. That’s just it; the problem is big here in America, but it is actually a world wide problem because these gigantic industries, multinational corporations and rich individuals control almost everything and they are working (and buying) toward total domination, total control.
One person I know goes as far as to say that Republicans are either rich, and forever trying to monopolize the market or stupid; “it is always either one of the two,” this person says. I find the latter word harsh; I believe the better way to say it is either “rich or brainwashed”, with a definite tendency toward extreme tunnel vision from living in a deliberately small world. Deliberate ignorance and its ever accompanying states of justification and denial are not effective.
It is fine and natural to want to keep close to you what is most dear. It is another thing to insist that others feel and live the same with attached expectations and if they don’t, they’re just going to hell. The answer lies in the philosophy of harm reduction. Allowing others to live and let live and, as long as it does no harm to let others learn to be a responsible adult also.
Taking the time to understand and appreciate what another holds sacred, even if different from yours does not lessen what is most sacred to you. Diversity, encouraging differences as long as no harm is inflicted. Isn’t this the beginning steps into humans realizing that not everyone can or should live the exact same way? Isn’t this okay??
I submit that its a resounding yes to both, and it can be done.
However, the vastness of options is just the pro and just the con. This is because the flip side of that is the currently divided America has each side striving for two different things where not everyone has the same priorites or values. Nearly every stance can be an act of war on the priorities of another. People must be allowed their own freedom to choose, learning and time table through the school of life. You can choose to let others be a responsible adult. Assumptions often don’t work, and insisting that others are babies that need spoon feeding doesn’t allow them to become an adult. If the persistent view continues (as others needing careful baby food) then let them learn to walk by occasionally falling down by taking risks and making mistakes, and having an opportunity to learn from them. This is wisdom gained; it is part of life.
The Tory Act as part of American history was created for the purpose of helping people to be rehabilitated, informed and to not sympathize with tyranny after the Revolutionary War. (History.com)
It again seems fitting to have something similar set into place following the events of this year and the past two decades-we’ll say since computers began to dominate. The broken record being deeply instilled into us, earn, buy, earn buy and the manipulation have taken their toll on collective mental health and everyone needs and deserves the chance to process, reconsider, and to slow down, stop and think about what it means and should mean to live in a free country and to take the necessary time to think about what is acceptable vs what is not acceptable.
Humans living differently as long as it does no harm; I’ve been saying it for a decade. The current model and attached expectations puts a high standard that if you can’t jump high enough for a slam dunk instantly with the others you’re SOL and left behind on the sidelines.
Revision is needed. There is wisdom in diversity and in people voluntarily living differently. This must be on a volunteer basis and as a free choice. Maybe we are not all supposed to want and have the same. For example, in addition to not eating meat, using less water, not driving much (all by choice) in my writing I have said also that I am one who has decided to not have children. I am not saying that is the path for everyone, just for me. Maybe there are others also. I’m okay with this; sometimes I wonder if others are, and that is the funny part, but the point is this is voluntary. There should be incentives and rewards up the wazoo for someone who chooses to live this lightly on the earth; after all it is a way of life that is clean where if all people did just a few of these there would be less pollution, less disease, no deforestation, more fresh water and more food for everyone. It would be sustainable. These incentives should include lower health insurance premiums, tax incentives, and green credits or tokens. After all, we are nearly carbon neutral; those few like me are very light on this planet. But currently there are not incentives, and it is only seen as odd. Obviously, this means that my life is different and I am thus able to give back to society and to experience a sense of community, (which we all need) in different ways. Food for thought…
WIth all this being said I submit that there is hope through Mitt Romney. You can say whatever you want about this republican from Utah, but in the end he is a good person.
Can the same be said for most elected officials today???
That is an open question that I will let you ponder for yourself.
We need more good people as elected officials. Good and evil are quite evenly matched in this day, and it is concerning. The entire year of 2020 and what we have witnessed in the past 2 weeks should make you ask several questions.
Yes, Romney would be able to correct the mess, and the stark division so apparent today in America. Mitt Romney showed such integrity and courage, to vote his conscience for impeachment, knowing he would pay a huge personal price for it. I did not vote for Romney in 2012. I have to trust myself and the nature of things at the time, and I don’t believe it was the right time. It is the right time now, however. So here I am having recently officially declared my voter status as independent, going with neither of the only two parties that actually count, (that’s bogus) with any regularity usually insisting on the green party (actually on the ballot as an option) and that I would vote for Mitt Romney this time in a flash. Good people as elected officials, we desperately need them.
I believe it was the late senator McCain (Republican) that said he no longer recognized his own party. Yes, both parties have gone crazy-quite literally it seems.
Patrick Kennedy is a democrat I would vote for. He is one politician who is open about his own experiences and is an advocate for mental health issues. I am not a fan of encouraging every person to just pop pills for life, but mental health coverage, awareness and support, and equal opportunity advocated by Kennedy is a step in the right direction.
Remember that mental health applies to everyone and is a normal part of health just like exercise, diet and dental hygiene. Don’t for one second make the mistake in thinking that you are above mental health issues, or that they do not apply to you. Does eating well and exercise apply to you?? Brushing your teeth?
After all, it is now generally accepted in discussions on politics that voting and politicians is essentially “your vote for the lesser of two evils.”
What happened ever so gradually in America for that to be okay? How is this acceptable???
If you’ve taken nothing from 2020, may you take that this is indeed a time to stop, rethink and look around. Times have changed right under our blinking eyes.
So there is my story about the one snapshot chance to run for mayor that I was prepared to take but since I was at least $80,000 short and unwilling to go into that much debt, (always a big mistake), it’s onto the next stage. I wish the same for you that you can live out your hopes and dreams, see your favorite places and meet those special people that wait for you. Let’s hope we can put our heads together and in this currently unstable world, figure it out sooner than later.
See the photos below:
Staples, O. 2020. Irony of the Well
That is part 1. Part 2 is that I need to come out of the closet about something. It is long overdue. I am going to state it right here shortly so stay tuned.
Below are the photos of the shipping container home, its interior, the three water tanks and the storage barn. The container has steel sliding doors for the windows and the front door. Being metal, it is basically fire proof. Check that out!!
It takes on a whole new meaning for the word green handy man ay? Ha ha ha
BTW, since I am no longer buying it and going through with this part of the plan (unless I sell a whole bunch of books between now and then) it is for sale. You can contact the seller at: