Monday, June 11, 2007

Eco House

After reading about it in my my new favorite blog I convinced Laura to check out the new display home for Eco Urban a green building company that just started her in St. Louis. Upon certification the house will be the fifth one in the nation to get a Platinum LEED certification.

The idea behind the house in great. The houses are modular, everything is sourced inside of a 500 mile radius and it takes 60-75 days from start to finish to get one and you get a tax credit for owning it. Local lenders are lined up to give special mortgage rates for the houses because it saves an average of $300 a month in heating bills in the winter and a few hundred in the summer for electricity, freeing up money for a bigger loan.

There are about 30 houses slated to be built in St. Louis city, most of them on lots bought from the city. Because St. Louis city is less than half the population it was 75 years ago, there are many blocks that have vacant lots where foreclosed homes were reclaimed by the city and bulldozed down. On those blocks today you'll see some people holding on to their 120 year old houses, some of those houses boarded up and crumbling and some really ugly, poorly built apartment buildings falling to pieces after only thirty or forty years. EcoUrban has decided to buy up the cheap lots (for about $1500 apiece) and build their houses there.

I talked to Lunchtruck yesterday about it and he asked if it was all about gentrification. In Brooklyn, it would be pretty much that, because there's always 100% occupancy and putting something in somewhere is a zero sum game. In this case though, these are lots that no one is using or wants, on blocks where no one is investing and houses that are cutting edge.

Laura and I drove around some of the proposed sites, and while I'm sure the investment will help things along, the neighborhoods are a little too sketchy to think about moving in. For now, an Ecourban home is slated to be a the second house we buy, not the first.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Corporate Charity

Doing the full-on job search can wear you down. Flooding the internet with tweaked versions of your resume, sending corny cover letters in the blind hope that you'll be able to get a proper sit-down. Once the sit down happens, it's a high stakes structured improv and I've been falling back on my theatre training. I now do vocal warm-ups, take costume very seriously, write down objectives (what I want the other person to feel) and plan out specific actions and talking points get my message across.

The format of the interview can be a little too much give and not enough take. Most of the time you're on the defensive, answering questionse in what you can only hope is the right way, hoping that you don't get dry mouth, trip up or say "you know" too many times. After being the one to ask the questions they make a show of turning turning the tables and ask:

"So, do you have any more questions about our company?"

To which I've taken to responding with:

"Can you tell me what kinds of Philanthropic work your company does?"

The reaction is priceless. They'll falter for a few seconds, say something vague about sending nice things to the Troops around the holidays and mention something they might have heard third-hand about an event that they provided food for. Hopefully, it makes me a memorable candidate, and beyond that maybe they'll in turn ask someone else if there's a program. I don't know how effective that question is overall, for my sake though, it makes me feel good to stump the questioner.