NOTE: Images in this archived article have been removed.
This is like something out of every kid’s fantasy. Geoff de Ruiter, a graduate student at University of Northern British Columbia has the perfect getaway: a tiny treehouse on Pender island in British Columbia. The house features a bedroom loft, small sitting area, kitchen and composting toilet.
Geoff de Ruiter used lots of recycled materials for the project, including the railings made from wood found on the property and hardwood floors from Habitat For Humanity. Photo credit: Geoff de Ruiter
De Ruiter, a PhD candidate studying bio-energy and carbon management, splits his time between Pender Island and Prince George, where the university is located. He paid $35,000 for the property and spent another $8,200 to build his house. “One of the original reasonings for this was place stability. So if everything goes wrong in my life, all I have to do is basically pay my property taxes and I own everything outright,” de Ruiter told Huffington Post. “Stability to me is also sustainability. Because it means we are not needing to forever chase resources.”
The grad student used lots of recycled materials for the project, including the railings made from wood found on the property and hardwood floors from Habitat For Humanity. For heating and electric, de Ruiter’s neighbors graciously let him run a single power cord up to his home, powering his mini-fridge, two lightbulbs and an electric heater. For showers, he takes a 15-minute walk to the marina/pub downtown.
The treehouse has a simple, but beautiful rustic design. Photo credit: Geoff de Ruiter
Clearly, de Ruiter’s self-sufficient lifestyle has a lighter impact than most. By sharing resources with his neighbors, he is also building stronger community. “I think it needs to be legitimized by municipalities and cities, de Ruiter told Huffington Post. “When you live in a tiny house, you have to live outside of it more. And that means enjoying your community more.”
What kind of ancestor do I want to be? What do I love too much to lose? What must I pick up and carry into the future? Across the days after our meeting, I realized Dr. Kimmerer’s questions weren’t just thought experiments, but heart experiments.