Find Out Which Celebrity Is Building Solar-Powered Homes for Native Americans
This article was originally published by NationSwell, a website dedicated to sharing the stories of innovative Americans who are working to move the country forward.
When Brad Pitt isn’t jet-setting from one exotic movie location to another and being a dad of six, he actually has some time to run a non-profit.
Now, they’re making it right at Fort Deck, MT, home to the Sioux and the Assiniboine nations. According to an announcement, the non-profit has partnered with the tribes to build 20 super green homes for residents whose income levels are at or below 60 percent the area’s mean income, with a percentage of the homes reserved for seniors and disabled veterans.
Additionally, through a Low Income Housing Tax Credit Rent-to-Own program, residents will actually buy their homes after 15 years of renting.
These LEED Platinum, solar-powered homes will have three or four bedrooms and two or three bathrooms each, and built with certified Cradle-to-Cradle vendors, which means they’re developed responsibly and use reclaimed materials. It’s certainly a big improvement from some of the current homes on the reservation, which are rife with black mold and structural problems, resulting in high utility bills due to inefficient design.
The design team includes Make It Right staff, architects from Architecture for Humanity, GRAFT, Living Homes, Method Homes, Sustainable Native Communities Collaborative and William McDonough + Partners and low-income homeownership experts from Neighborworks America.
During the planning stages, organizers met with family members and community leaders about their needs and vision for these new homes, as well how the builders can preserve the culture of the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes (such as doorways that face the east or north and using tribally significant colors).
“We are enthusiastic about these home designs that reflect traditional life ways while exemplifying deep green public-impact architecture,” said Architecture for Humanity architect Nathaniel Corum.
Fort Deck, America’s ninth-largest Native American reservation, has more than 6,000 tribe members living on the 2-million-acre reservation. Currently, more than 600 people are waiting for housing, which means overcrowding is all too common.
“We hear stories from people who have nine families living in a five bedroom home and take ‘sleeping shifts’ to share the limited beds,” writes Make It Right communications director Taylor Royle. “Most homes are smaller, one or two bedrooms. We [met] a woman who shares a two bedroom home with her elderly mother and her brother’s family—she and her three children sleep on the floor in the living room.”
Besides the housing shortage, the Washington Post reported that the unemployment is more than 50 percent—about three out of every four children live in poverty—and there are widespread problems with alcohol and methamphetamines in the community.
It will take much more than building these green homes to fix the reservation’s problems, but it takes steps like these to “make it right.” The project, which will start construction this year, will also include a sustainable master plan for the entire reservation.
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By Jeff Masters, Ph.D.
Earth had its second-warmest year on record in 2020, just 0.02 degrees Celsius (0.04°F) behind the record set in 2016, and 0.98 degrees Celsius (1.76°F) above the 20th-century average, NOAA reported January 14.
Figure 1. Departure of temperature from average for 2020, the second-warmest year the globe has seen since record-keeping began in 1880, according to NOAA. Record-high annual temperatures over land and ocean surfaces were measured across parts of Europe, Asia, southern North America, South America, and across parts of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans. No land or ocean areas were record cold for the year. NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information
Figure 2. Total ocean heat content (OHC) in the top 2000 meters from 1958-2020. Cheng et al., Upper Ocean Temperatures Hit Record High in 2020, Advances in Atmospheric Sciences
Figure 3. Departure of sea surface temperature from average in the benchmark Niño 3.4 region of the eastern tropical Pacific (5°N-5°S, 170°W-120°W). Sea surface temperature were approximately one degree Celsius below average over the past month, characteristic of moderate La Niña conditions. Tropical Tidbits
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