Latest Entries »

An exciting new development at Ripples!

Brief Update: Our previous option to buy land didn’t work out.  We accepted the asking price, but the owner may have changed her mind since we never heard back.  Besides, and much more importantly, our mission did not mesh with hers (on conservation or sustainability). We have vetted approximately 10 locations since 2012. This new possible location is the closest mission match we have found so far, and we’re especially appreciative that our potential partners are interested in Ripples!

We’re strongly considering a partnership with an amazing conservation land trust, and we’d like to locate Ripples there. This is an astonishingly beautiful place worth preserving for generations.  Many native species make their home here in the upland forests and sandstone glades, including bald eagles, osprey, many species of songbirds, bobcats, coyote, Barbara’s Buttons and Ozark Chinquapin among many other native plants. The waterfall and the many creeks that flow across the land are breathtakingly gorgeous – it’s a very special place. Sorry we can’t yet post any photos; enjoy our word painting for now :) We’re respecting the caretakers’ privacy and not revealing names, but also continuing to pursue transparency and the democratic process at Ripples by sharing this and making your feedback, as always, part of our decision. This is only to get feedback from you on the general geographic location possibility.

You might already know that last year we were considering protecting 5.5 acres much closer to Fayetteville.  At this other location, we’d be part of the effort to protect over 400 acres! This is a fantastic opportunity for Ripples to do so much more than we’ve done in the past for conservation. Remember the little bitty area we got certified as National Wildlife Habitat by selling cookies? Imagine the good we can do for the Earth with hundreds of acres. We’d be teaming up with extremely knowledgeable conservationists and naturalists who would be supporting our goal of sustainability, unlike other locations we’ve evaluated.

Driving Distance and Accessibility

If we locate Ripples earthbag home and educational center there, it will be about one hour east of Fayetteville, about 30 minutes from Eureka Springs, and 4.5 hours from St. Louis, Missouri. I know the O’Neill’s in Berryville will be happy about this! Our Eureka Springs network and Save the Ozarks folks will have more opportunities to partner with Ripples at this location. The St. Louis folks would have roughly an hour cut off their trip and the drive would be more scenic. Our friends in Fort Smith and those south of Fayetteville would have a bit longer drive, though.

Getting to the land itself is accessible for the average car and the area surrounding the small parking space is very enjoyable even for those who cannot walk or want a more leisurely experience. It really is gorgeous! However, the entire acreage is not 100% accessible and there is a good chance that Ripples will be located 3 creeks away from a nice road, which means only certain vehicles could get to the house itself and during high water we will be stranded or inaccessible. (Note: disaster plans have been part of Ripples’ strategy since the beginning, so don’t worry about us.)

Location FAQ

Expand All || Collapse All


  1. Do you still need people to help you build the house?
    Yes! We need all kinds of volunteers and appreciate your help. It should be an educational, fun and rewarding experience. In addition to helping us have a home to live in, your assistance will actually help us to help many people around the world in the next several decades and beyond.
    click here to close
  2. Do I need frequent car access to your location?
    No. The educational material and video tours of the home and native habitat will be accessible online. (Podcasts, blog, wikis, videos, articles, visual presentations, etc) We’d love to have you visit in small groups if you’d like an in-person tour or to help us build!
    click here to close
  3. Will you help people access your location through carpooling or other methods?
    Yes, we will encourage carpooling and may be able to provide free transportation to Ripples. Right now, we’re brainstorming options.
    click here to close
  4. Does the type of home you build matter if the educational center is mostly online?
    The online material is coming from our personal lifestyle and choice of sustainable home – we want to share what we’re doing in a way that’s easy for people to replicate all or part of it. The type of house we build will determine the online content. We’d like to help other off-grid families document their process and share with Ripples network through the educational center, too.
    click here to close
  5. Why does the location of your house have to be outside city limits?
    Cities often have restrictive building codes that don’t allow things like very small homes, composting toilets, greywater recycling, earthbag walls, etc. We considered fighting the building codes but decided to transition to a sustainable lifestyle now instead of later, which necessitated building outside of restricted areas.
    click here to close
  6. Will I be able to camp or stay overnight at your house so I can stay a weekend?
    Yes, but options are still being worked out and are only possibilities – perhaps a guest house, or tent camping.
    click here to close
  7. Why are small groups better for Ripples than large groups at your location?
    Because the home is so small (about 472 sq ft) and the space around it is meant for native habitat protection, it’s best to limit foot traffic or it will be very hard to protect the area. It will also be hard for people to hear us speak during tours if the group is too large. We plan on hosting presentations at city centers like libraries so that people can get a “tour” without having to visit, but we also welcome families and small groups who want a hands-on experience.
    click here to close
  8. How is Ripples different from community centers in cities?
    Community centers based in cities are meant to be centrally located for high foot traffic, and their primary goal is a space for people to come together. Ripples encourages our global network to come together online, and our physical location is primarily meant to be a way for us (personally) to share what we’re trying to do to make ripples with our own lifestyle and home, such as conservation and sustainable living.
    click here to close
  9. How is Ripples different from places like the Ozark Natural Science Center?
    ONSC is a wonderful, large facility designed for school groups seeking environmental science educational opportunities in fields like birding, botany, etc. Ripples is a unique approach to making a difference in the world with one’s lifestyle choices, and this method can be applied to fields like global health or poverty as well as the environment. Our home and office are meant to be a living demo site for us to share, through educational materials, our approach to a sustainable lifestyle so that future families have an easier time making this transition. We also share what others are doing with their urban sustainable lifestyles or alternatives to earthbag building, such as straw bale construction or earthships.
    click here to close
  10. Are you really off-grid if you have internet and an online educational center?
    The online educational center (and our current website including this blog post) is run off 100% solar power through AISO. The home & office itself seeks to reduce or eliminate dependence on non-renewable utilities. See this post on going off-grid for more detail.
    click here to close

Collapse All



Doing good is good. Doing good effectively is amazing.

Ever wonder why “Small Droplets. Big Waves.” is our slogan? Here’s why:

Small Droplets, Big Waves is our way of summarizing the idea of maximizing our positive impact on the world.  We want to make bigger ripples and make small droplets go further.  In short, we want to do the most good.  This is the basic underlying concept of Effective Altruism, according to Holly Morgan with the Centre for Effective Altruism. “Effective altruism is all about combining empathy, reason and evidence. By carefully considering what we value, and by working together to find the best ways of achieving that, we can each do an amazing amount of good.” Source

Our friend Jay Quigley recently gave an excellent presentation on Effective Altruism:

View full article »

There are at least 8 accepted definitions of “grid” and “off-grid.”

If you’re not sure which definitions Ripples operates under, it can get confusing!  One reader asks, “Why are you planning to use internet and social media if you’re going off-grid? Isn’t that hypocritical?” Here is our answer. View full article »

A brief history of where we’ve been, and where we are now.


  1. We wanted to  make a difference with our lifestyle choices.
  2. By sharing resources, we could help more people make a difference.
  3. Then we wanted to inspire others as well as sharing their inspiration with the world.
  4. Helping non-profit organizations expands our positive impact.
  5. We want to use our private house for multiple public purposes (an office & educational center).
  6. Becoming a global network helps everyone learn from each other.
  7. Our goals are sustainability education and non-profit capacity building in every field. View full article »

Meet Puddle, the pika determined to make you smile!

We believe living sustainably doesn’t have to be discouraging or difficult – it can even be fun.  We’ve been working to brainstorm various ways Ripples can provide critical information to individuals wanting to make a difference, and organizations wanting to maximize their difference.  One point that’s emerged is the need for humor and a supportive community.  People need to laugh a little when they’re learning, and remember that others are learning, too – it’s ok not to know something, and it’s ok to fail when trying something new.

Visit the National Wildlife Federation's page on American Pika

Visit the National Wildlife Federation’s Pika Page

American Pika are cute and adorable mascots of a sustainable planet.  As “canaries in the coal mine,” rising global temperatures cause their mountaintop habitats to shrink and predators to increase their abundance at higher elevations.  “The American pika, a diurnal species of pika, is found in the mountains of western North America, usually in boulder fields at or above the tree line. They are herbivorous, smaller relatives of rabbits and hares.” They are “considered to be one of the best early warning systems for detecting global warming in the western United States.” -Wikipedia View full article »

Who wants to avoid sales? WE DO!

To be clear: sales have their benefits and drawbacks.  For example, you can save money while destroying the less privileged world that produced the product.  But a hidden downside of sales is that they tend to make it far easier to purchase something we don’t want.  We just bought a huge case of veggie burgers, three per box.  When easily reheated food like that is laying around, we find ourselves eating LOTS of frozen pre-packaged veggie burgers (and wraps, and burritos, and french fries…).  This is where the power of books and reading recommendations can help a family successfully live a healthier lifestyle.

The truth is that the “sale” was actually hiding the money we lost on the purchase.  It would be far cheaper to produce a superior, healthier veggie burger at home in large batches, freezing them for later.  For those like us who are transitioning to a sustainable lifestyle and trying to eat outside the box, here’s a book that should help: View full article »

Rings of Love, Not Pain

Would he gather the courage to officially, “traditionally” propose to me? I wasn’t sure. It seemed that a natural spring reflecting our wedding color, teal, would be a perfect spot for a proposal – even one about seven years late. But we had walked passed the spring, shivering slightly in the autumn evening, and were now driving away from Blue Springs Heritage Center. View full article »

Our Holiday Wiki is ready!

Calendar of Important Dates

Calendar of Important Dates

We invite you to share in our journey to create healthy traditions around holidays, seasonal activities, and date nights with our wiki, Craft My Holidays.  This is important to Ripples because the majority of holidays focus on consumer goods and unsustainable activities that create injustice worldwide.  We don’t only need a sustainable house, but a way to celebrate holidays in it!  Have an idea to improve the wiki?  Please do tell!  Wikis are designed to be a collaborative process.  We have a few more holidays left to fill in for November, but most of these dates contain content. The following are various ways to celebrate being alive and in love – click the words to go to that page in our wiki.  We hope you’ll delight in these ideas and that they bring more joy to your life!

Be an Angel Day
Birthdays, Amanda & Ryan
Book Lover’s Day
Cook Something Bold Day
Date Nights
Dream Come True Day
Earth Day (USA)
Equinox and Solstice
Evergreen Day
Friendship Day
Groundhog Day
Hike for World Peace Day
Hug Day
Love Your Pet Day
Migratory Bird Day
New Year’s Eve
No Housework Day
Parent’s Days
Positive Thinking Day
Puzzle Day
St. Patrick’s Day
Sweetest Day
Teddy Bear Picnic Day
Thank a Mail Carrier Day
Valentine’s Day

Struggling to find land, build a homestead, recycle, or get off-grid?

Yeah, we are, too.

Many of you have told me that, apart from genuinely caring about adopting a sustainable lifestyle, you’ve been evicted, lost all or part of your home to a fire, can’t seem to get support for recycling at your workplace, have neighbors that are loathesome in their blockade of your garden, are truly challenged by self-employment, and the big one of the week – are stressed about finding raw land to build your family’s homestead.  Getting inspired, uplifted, and supported by a community of ripple-makers is part of what we’re here to do! Today I wanted to share with you an inspirational slideshow I created on MindBloom.  Every day I start work by watching this video, and modify it to better cope with current stressors.  It’s a reminder to play, to be disciplined, to become healthier.  And if you feel you could be happier in life, check out Happify.  It’s an extremely quick game-based way to rewire your brain to “think happy thoughts” and become more resilient to stress.  We all know that ripple-makers have stress!  Even positive changes in society are often brought about through chaos and conflict.  So click to watch my 3 minute video on what inspires me, and tell us in the comments below:

What inspires you to continue making ripples in the world?

Bags You Can Fill with Dreams

The first deliveries of salvaged bags have arrived in our living room!

I was an enthusiastic, if not inwardly resistant, recipient of these bags, which we found on our doorstep thanks to the efforts of Cindi with Green Acres Eco Village and Saddlebock Brewery near Goshen on Hywy 45.  Having cold feet (and I do have very cold feet even in summer) about the actual building process, I felt akin to a bride pondering how she could possibly know what life would be like after 30 years of marriage, shuffling her fancy shoes sideways towards the alter instead of straight down the aisle like a woman who knows what she wants.  I wasn’t built to build buildings, and I’m not really sure I’m capable of it. But the building phase aside – Ripples itself, behind-the-scenes, is what I’m made of.

The more practical reason for my hesitation was: Where are we gonna put all these bags?! View full article »