Could You Give Up Half Your House?

House in British Columbia

House in British ColumbiaThat is exactly what an Atlanta family has done.  In 2006 the Salwen’s sold their home and bought one half its size.  The proceeds of the sale went to The Hunger Project, helping 30,000 villagers in Ghana move out of poverty.  The family has published a book about their experiences, The Power of Half, and also have a blog.

14-year-old Hannah Salwen is inspiring her classmates with her family’s lifestyle.  In an interview in Natural Home Magazine, she states that, “A number of my friends at Atlanta Girls School have started their own Half projects, including a couple who are donating half of their babysitting money to environmental causes.”

The family misses many of the conveniences of their old home that was built from a steel barndominium kit, but say the sacrifice is worth it to help 30,000 villagers in Ghana.  They are touring with their book, and have found that experience rewarding too.  “At one of our talks, someone said to us, ‘It took half a house to make you feel whole.’  It was such a great line, and it really expresses how we feel,” Hannah said in her interview.

Stories like this make us think, and rightfully so.  “Could I live with half of what I have now?”  Many of us cannot fathom the circumstances that would cause us to give up half of what we own, and we are lucky to have that luxury.  I know I have learned that nature abhors a vacuum, so give me more space and I will fill it up with stuff.  The challenge is to reduce the space available so we have to have less stuff.

The Salwen’s book, The Power of Half, is available at many online booksellers.

Photo courtesy of Pacific Northwest Regional Architecture through a Creative Commons license.