My previous post centered on regulations to force bloggers to disclose seemingly small-fry issues, like whether they were comped with an ebook for reviewing independently published authors.
Thursday’s paper ran a story from the New York Times on a more weighty and poignant regulatory issue. The article, “Marin County battles hippie holdout,” tells of David Lee Hoffman, an entrepreneur of artisan teas, who designed and built 30 structures during the 40 years he lived on a rural hillside. Inspired by youthful treks through Tibet and Nepal, Hoffman, 67, and his wife, Ratchanee, have tried to create a sustainable, non-polluting, homestead. In the process, by ignoring repeated notices of violations of county building codes, they racked up $200,000 in fines and have just been ordered to vacate their home until the violations are fixed. The case is now before a judge. http://www.sacbee.com/2012/04/26/4443307/hippie-askldj-flaksj-dfklaj-sdlfkj.html
The Hoffman homestead contains such fanciful structures as the Worm Palace, a Solar Power Shower Tower, and a moat, which is integral to recycling household water. One of the county’s chief concerns is their method for disposing of human waste, which uses worm colonies to help turn human waste into humus. Composting toilets are not legal in Marin. The county also says it’s worried about an excess of rain, which could flood the moat and send the gray water into nearby creeks.
Hoffman says, “I did what I felt was right. My love of the planet is greater than my fear of the law.”
There’s nothing simple about the regulations that govern our lives, and many of them serve us well. I like clean water and knowing the content of the food I eat. I want pure aspirin when I have a headache, and I want to trust the odometer when I shop for a used car. If I buy a hot dog during a ballgame, I don’t want to have to think , of Upton Sinclair’s, The Jungle. And I might not want to live downstream from the night soil in the Hoffmans’ garden.
Most of us know, in the corners of our awareness, that many of our problems are beyond the capacity of our current institutions. We know that business as usual is part of the problem. That regulators do not create solutions. As Einstein said, “One cannot alter a condition with the same mind that created it in the first place.”
How do we enable people like the Hoffmans, willing to devote their lives to imagining new ways of living? If we fine and evict people for living their dreams, pretty soon we’re going to run short of dreamers.