to the home of the Vehicle for Change, an innovative housing and travel solution for people disabled by environmental illness, and a model for sustainable and non-toxic living.
It's also the vehicle that will carry me to the next stage of my life as an activist writer and artist, including my national radio blog, Letters from Earth, broadcast on Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio.
My name is Aurora Levins Morales. I started designing the Vehicle in 2010, when I became homeless as a result of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, which I prefer to call Environmental Illness. Many people have contributed their expertise and imagination to the Vehicle's design. You can read about my journey with this project on my blog. Click on the button below to go there.
New and improved!
This blog will now focus on the specific designs, materials, procedures and tools I chose for the Vehicle and why, with ongoing updates on what is and isn't working. The story of my travels will be on my personal and professional home site.
My first post is about how I'm dealing with electromagnetic fields in the Vehicle. I will be following this with detailed reviews of all my major systems: the photovoltaic array that provides my electricity, and my waste disposal, lighting, heating, and water filtration systems. If you have questions about any aspect of the design, construction or operation of the Vehicle, please write and I'll do my best to answer.
I am also working on an eBook with my architect, Johnson Osband, which will collect a lot of information along with diagrams and drawings, and make it possible for others to build their own non-toxic Vehicles for a lot less money than it cost me.
I update the different sections of this site as I find new resources, figure out solutions to design or materials problems, and make choices.
You can explore some of the designs other people came up with as they thought about the problems I was trying to solve. To learn more about the Vehicle, and the questions I must answer to build it, browse through the sections on Universal Design, Materials, Systems, and Interior.
Mobility addresses the actual vehicle that will move my house around, the fuels it will use, and the places I want to go. Finances, provides links to the project spending plan, crowdfunding campaigns, my in-kind donations wish list, information about how and why to become a sponsoring business, and the current financial status of the project.
Finally, questions, comments, ideas, resources? Drop me a line. You can also visit my Pinterest page to see a wealth of resources, people and ideas connected to this project.
Each item in the menu above has a main page as well as a drop down menu of additional topics. Enjoy your explorations.
Picture of the week:
For more photos and drawings visit the new gallery page.
News on Wheels
November 3, 2016
Well it turns out it's not easy to maintain a blog when you're driving 5000 miles! I left Western Massachusetts on September 18, drve across New York State, Ontario, Michigan--with a stop in Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis and then six days at Standing Rock, five in Glendive, Montana waiting for a repair, crossed Wyoming north to south, which was stunningly beautiful, and then on to Salt Lake City, where I waited for more repairs. At that point I decide to head south instead of crossing Donner Pass, so I passed through Hurricane Utah (thank you to Robert and the other kind folks there who helped me out,) through Las Vegas and around the south end of the mountains into California, staying one night in Barstow and one at Mercey Hot Springs. I've been in Berkeley for the last two weeks, with the support of Kriss Worthington, a city council member who advocated for me with the rest of the council and got me a special parking permit. Tomorrow I head south again to speak at UCLA and see family, and will be back in the Bay Area on the 11th. It's been amazing living and traveling in the Vehicle, figuring out what to tweek and also how much more I have to shed in the way of excess belongings! But I have weathered 23 degree weather in Montana, thanks to the marvelous Kimberly wood stove, and warm nights in So Cal thanks to my six bedroom windows. I've cooked on the wood stove and in crock pots and toaster ovens, eaten a LOT of jerky and meat bars, and learned to love truck stops. Stay tuned!
August 24, 2016
It's been a rough and chaotic month, hauling truckloads of things between three fairly distant locations--lots of 2-3 hour drives. But PV Squared has completed installation of my photovoltaic system and I am now fully sun powered. Tomorrow I relocate to Bug Hill Farm in Ashfield, MA. I'm a little daunted at the moment by the thought of low hanging branches, though I scouted the road carefully last weekend and it looks passable. The same high ceilings that protect me from claustrophobia mean that I have a 13'4" outside height, which is just 2" shy of most overpasses and electrical and phone cables. Check out some new interior photos in the gallery, by the wonderful Linda Haas.
July 24, 2016
I've been too busy to write! I am sitting in the Vehicle, surrounded by boxes, in Essex Junction, Vermont, at the 56th Escapades, where I just completed RV Boot Camp. I've learned a tremendous amount about RV safety, and also what drawers, cabinets and other items need extra latches and bungee cords to prevent opening in transit. Right now I'm in love with my windows, which tip out from a top hinge so air gets in and rain doesn't, and my Solatube daylighting system that keeps the Vehicle brightly lit even in gloomy weather.
July 13, 2016
Yesterday I met with Maya Fulford at PV Squared in Greenfield and went over the solar plan. I'm really excited. They will have my AC power hooked up in time for me to go to my first Escapades--big gatherings of RVers, where I'll be getting driving lessons. Then I'll bring the Vehicle back to them to finish installation of the lithium batteries. And then I can MOVE IN!!!!
Sunday, July 10, 2016
On Thursday afternoon, my architect Johnson Osband and I broke a small bottle of champagne over the nose of the Vehicle, I moved a bunch of my belongings into the cabinets and shelves of the interior, and Friday morning it was towed to Greenfield, MA so that PV2 (Pioneer Valley Photovoltaic) can install my solar energy system. In the meanwhile I am staying in Millerton, NY with the adventurous lefty Jewish chicken farmers of Linke Fliegel (Left Wing in Yiddish) where I'm earning my keep by cooking for my friends.
July 1, 2016
On Tuesday the Vehicle will be towed to a weighing station and then to the open lot at U-Haul where the last of the rooftop work will be completed, and we'll break a bottle of kombucha over its nose. Then I will rush to get it registered, so it can be insured, and tow it to Greenfield Wednesday or Thursday to start solar installation.
June 26, 2016
We're doing the last bits of interior work--final switches and plugs, hooking up the propane tanks to the water heater, sealing tile, putting straps up to hold things onto shelves. Sometime in the next week we'll tow the vehicle out of its garage into the open air to finish off the rooftop items, and then we'll weigh it and send it off to Greenfield to get solarized!
June 17, 2016
Today I drove two hours to Greenfield, MA to meet with PV2, the solar company that will be installing my solar power system.
The tile is in! Beautiful golden yellow counters and Mexican floor tiles with a gorgeous pattern of terra cotta, ivory, green and golden yellow to match the counters. So is the greenhouse!
The acoustic ceiling has been installed, along with the emergency egress door. The final woodwork is pretty much in place and the last of the electrical work is nearly done. We're talking to two potential solar installers, figuring out where to put the propane tanks for the water heater and working on finishing the tile work. The barn door separating the wet room from the kitchen is finished and my architect and I are figuring out the cargo netting that will keep things from falling off shelves when I drive.
This week I'll be visiting my first potential parking place in Western Massachusetts. I'm very grateful to Marta Rivera Monclova for housing me while I'm between homes, and I admit Im tired of living out of my suitcase.
Insurance is still a huge challenge. We're waiting for a company out of Oregon to finish lining up their New England coverage. I can't drive the Vehicle until it's insured, so we may have to get it towed and insured as freight. But I still need to insure it to live in it.
The floors are beautifully finished, shelving and cabinets all in place, and the interior looks gorgeous. We just took delivery of the acoustic ceiling panels from Filzfelt, which will be installed soon. We're working on finishing the egress door from my bedroom, the final interior electrical wiring and once the greenhouse wall is in place, we'll be able to prep the floor for tile.
We're really getting close to the end. Yesterday I bought the truck that will tow the Vehicle and I have ordered my Automated Safety Hitch for added safety and control. As we wrestle with insurance and RV driver training and solar panel installation, it's also time to firm up my first destination.
I have a book to finish and want to be in one place while I finish it, and also need to rest and workout some of the early kinks in little house living (at 32 feet it's not really tiny.) So I'm looking for places to spend a few months in Western Massachusetts. I'm hoping to find a farming project to highlight as part of Letters from Earth.
Letters from Earth
My audio blog project, Letters from Earth will document my travels through inner and outer landscapes of damage and resilience, linking my body and the planet, disability justice and environmental justice, and the possibilities of true sustainability, which requires the most inclusive and comprehensive social justice. A blend of prose poetry commentary and ambient sound, Letters from Earth will be broadcast on Pacifica Radio starting later this spring.
Welcome New Sponsors!
Unforgettable Fire, makers of the amazing Kimberly wood stove, are now sponsors of the Vehicle. The Kimberly is an incredibly compact, efficient, and clean burning stove, perfectly designed to heat tiny and not so tiny homes without causing any indoor air pollution. They are giving me a significant discount on my stove and stove pipe.
Pureffect Water Filters has sold me an advance unit of a water filter not generally available until early next year. As a small, family owned business, they're not in a position to discount their units, but getting mine now instead of later makes a huge difference for me, and I'm so impressed by their filters that I've decided to become an affiliate and help make them more widely available.
Thank you, U-Haul of Somerville for providing a construction site and helping unload materials as they arrive. George and Teresa go way above and beyond.
Support the Vehicle for Change