Have you seen the thought-provoking and heart-ripping TED talk by photographer Iwan Baan ? If not, I highly recommend it. It celebrates "humanity's ability to survive and make a home - anywhere." The talk puts up the example of Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, where nearly 70 percent of the population lives in slums. And yet they make it work for their families and have happy lives.
I found this video at a time when I'm downsizing to a small condo in an effort to live more simply and sustainably, as I mused about at the beginning of the year in this post. Instead of feeling cramped and less 'worthy' I feel gratitude and peace at being able to carve out a small and lovely space that I can make my own. Having less stuff and a smaller financial commitment is a stress relief. And really, 700 square feet of space is all I need so why take up more?
A house is a structure that provides shelter. A home is a space that provides emotional support and safety from the outside world. Sometimes we single folks can feel a little lonely when we hear over and over that "home is where your loved ones are." We may not have the luxury of living with others or even living in the same city or country as loved ones. So I cling to the concept of making your home a refuge by making it beautiful with the things we love and cherish. And those things will be different for everyone. It's not about copying the trends in magazines or buying modern furniture. It's about what makes you feel good when you walk in the door.
The photos by Baan prove that this feeling of making wherever you are your 'home' is a universal feeling. They show that even in structures that can't really be called houses, people make lovely homes. It's humbling and inspiring.
An unfinished office tower in Caracas where families have moved in and communities have developed.
One of the homes in the unfinished tower.
A community in Cairo, Egypt where garbage collecting and recycling is the main source of income.
An elaborate home inside one of the buildings in that community.