A suburbia for the homeless exists and they can live there foreve

(CNN)The world looks a little brighter from the front porch of your own home.

It’s a sight more than 200 formerly homeless people are waking up to each morning at the Community First! Village in Austin, Texas.
And they can take their time getting used to it; residents are invited to stay for the rest of their lives.
A resident looks out from the top deck of his new home in the Community First! Village in Austin, Texas.

Community First! Village is built and run by the nonprofit Mobile Loaves & Fishesto lift the most chronically homeless off the streets and into a place they can call home.
They live in about 100 RVs and 125 micro homes arranged on streets with names like “Peaceful Path” and “Goodness Way.”
Heavy machinery has broken ground on the neighboring 24 acres to add another 310 housing units. When complete, Mobile Loaves and Fishes believes it will be able to provide permanent homes for approximately 40% of the chronically homeless in Austin.
Community First! Village is a 51-acre master planned community for the chronically homeless.

Building a community that cares for each other

Providing a home is not enough, according to founder Alan Graham.
“We believe that housing will never solve homelessness, but community will,” Graham told CNN.
“Because within each of us innately are two fundamental human desires to be fully and wholly loved and to be fully and wholly known and just stuffing somebody into a shelter or a house with four walls and a roof is nowhere near sufficient. It’s all about the relationship here.”
Mobile Loaves & Fishes founder Alan Graham stands in front of the organic farm in the heart of the Community First! Village.

The 51-acre planned village was designed to create a sense of community. The homes are “micro” on purpose, providing just enough comfort and privacy but small enough to encourage the owners to step outside. There they find front porches dotted along stone-paved paths that lead to community kitchens, laundry and wash rooms, meeting halls, playgrounds, a dog park, a barber shop, an outdoor movie theater, a medical facility and a community market.
All the facilities and amenities througout Community First! Village are accessible by paved pathways that meander throughout the neighborhood.

“What you’re seeing is a 250-bedroom, 18-million-dollar mansion,” Graham explains. “And so you come out of your bedroom and down the hallway metaphorically is the media room or the kitchen. They’re going to see people at the shared kitchens, the movie theater or out in front of the community market just spending time with each other. So it’s really that human interaction that is so critically important. And when that happens, relationships begin to form, and that becomes the power of community.”
New residents might initially keep to themselves, but it is hard to resist the smell of Texas barbecue on the grill, or the sight of fresh vegetables grown on site and being sliced for the community potluck dinner. Hearing the rhythmic tunes of a jam session in Unity Hall is an open invitation to take a seat, tap a foot, and maybe even add a voice to the chorus.
Jam sessions are both scheduled and impromptu gatherings in Unity Hall.

The village also includes an art studio, an artisan blacksmithing shop, glassblowing, beekeeping, a community garden and a car care shop. These hobbies teach new skills and become a source of dignified income.
“We offer a number of micro-enterprise opportunities on this property that in the past two years has distributed over one million dollars to the neighbors that live in this community,” says Graham. “From the bed and breakfast, movie theater and car care business to the pottery, jewelry making, blacksmithing and organic farming operation. All of this is being done by the men and women that are here.”
The paintings and works of pottery made by residents in the on-site art studio can be sold in the popular community market.

In the heart of the village is a large community center called Unity Hall where administrators, staff and counselors put together daily activities, counseling services, job placement and mentoring to help residents find their way.
“These men and women coming into our community thrive once they rediscover a purpose in their life,” Graham tells CNN. “They need to feel valued as human beings.”

A movement to end homelessness

Mobile Loaves & Fishes hopes its efforts will launch a movement across the United States; a compassionate answer to homelessness.
Every quarter, they host a three-day symposium in Austin that teaches attendees how to build similar communities in their cities.
Similar ideas have already taken hold. Tiny houses have been used to tackle homelessness from Seattle to New York.
For Mobile Loaves & Fishes, it starts with seeing the homeless as members of the community.
All the micro homes in Community First! Village offer front porches to encourage neighbors to get to know each other.

“These are our neighbors. It’s all about the community being inspired into a lifestyle, a service with this person,” Graham says. “And that starts by going into a relationship with them. So roll the window down, say hello. Go break bread with them at McDonald’s. It starts by seeing one another.”

A filter that turns saltwater into freshwater just got an upgrade | Science News

desalination plant in Dubai

Smoothing out the rough patches of a material widely used to filter saltwater could make producing freshwater more affordable, researchers report in the Aug. 17 Science.

Desalination plants around the world typically strain salt out of seawater by pumping it through films made of polyamide — a synthetic polymer riddled with tiny pores that allow water molecules to squeeze through, but not sodium ions. But organic matter, along with some other waterborne particles like calcium sulfate, can accumulate in the pockmarked surfaces of those films, preventing water from passing through the pores (SN: 8/20/16, p. 22). Plant operators must replace the membranes frequently or install expensive equipment to remove these contaminants before they reach the filters.

Now researchers have made a supersmooth version without the divots that trap troublesome particles. That could cut costs for producing freshwater, making desalination more broadly accessible. Hundreds of millions of people already rely on desalinated water for drinking, cooking and watering crops, and the need for freshwater is only increasing (SN: 8/18/18, p. 14).

Manufacturers normally create salt-filtering films by dipping porous plastic sheets into chemical baths that contain the molecular ingredients of polyamide. These molecules glom onto the sheet, building up a thin polymer membrane. But that technique doesn’t allow much control over the membrane’s texture, says Jeffrey McCutcheon, a chemical engineer at the University of Connecticut in Storrs.

McCutcheon and colleagues made their version by spraying the polyamide building blocks, molecular layer by layer, onto sheets of aluminum foil. These polyamide films can be up to 40 times smoother than their commercial counterparts.

Such ultrasmooth surfaces should reduce the amount of gunk that accumulates on the films, McCutcheon says, though his team has yet to test exactly how clean its films stay over time.

Ironed out

Typical polyamide films for filtering saltwater (shown in the scanning electron microscopy image to the left) have rugged, pockmarked surfaces that trap organic material and other particles, clogging the filter. New, ultrasmooth polyamide membranes (right) could avoid that problem.

a microscopic image of two polyamide films for filtering saltwater

 

Source: A filter that turns saltwater into freshwater just got an upgrade | Science News

New Story + ICON – 3D Printed Homes

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The home was unveiled in March 2018 in Austin, TX and was built using a prototype of the mobile printer we are creating for New Story and the developing world.

The production version of the printer will have the ability to print a single story, 600-800 square foot home in under 24 hours for less than $4,000. As a part of this effort, ICON has developed cutting-edge materials tested to the most recognized standards of safety, comfort and resiliency and is designed to function with nearly zero waste production methods and work under unpredictable constraints (limited water, power, and labor infrastructure) to tackle housing shortages.

Source: New Story — ICON