URTV program: Carl Mumpower supports urban homesteaders

Steve Arpin has been developing his home as a hub of sustainability, using solar panels, permaculture gardening, compost and innovative building techniques to live in harmony with the patch of land surrounding his suburban West Asheville residence. As a collective house, this urban homestead also provides a space for community. Tonight, Arpin’s home will be featured in a program produced by Aceem Scott for URTV. The channel 20 show will air at 7 p.m. on Friday night, July 6, and 7 p.m. next Thursday, July 12.

Arpin and his fellow homesteaders ran into some problems with the city last fall, when building inspectors discovered that some people were living in outbuildings. They also had to give up their beehive, ducks and goats because of city ordinances. (For the in-depth story, see Our House, That Was Where We Used to Sleep, April 24 Xpress.) The TV program touches on the issues with city regulations, and includes interviews with Council members Carl Mumpower, Brownie Newman and Robin Cape, all of whom have expressed support for Arpin’s household.

But what’s perhaps even more interesting is the success this community household has had in developing a sustainable living space in an urban context, using more do-it-yourself chutzpah than fancy green technology. “People basically are quite shocked that you could live this way in the city — the two just don’t fit together in their minds,” says Arpin.

— Rebecca Bowe, editorial assistant


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9 thoughts on “URTV program: Carl Mumpower supports urban homesteaders

  1. stevegreen

    it’s great to see the xPress giving some attention to this issue. Mr arpin’s house is an amazing, inspiring example of TRUE, local sustainability, as ms bowe puts it. if we had more individuals and groups who were able, allowed, encouraged to put into practice here in the city what any intelligent, educated person knows, we as a city could be living an amazing experience here in the southeast.

    the rediculously antiquated laws that keep experienced, knowledgeable individuals from creating and sustaining real examples of environmental responsibility need to be changed.

    with Global Climate Change becoming the new media buzzword, and with the obvious, immediate examples of how this climate change is effecting us locally, national, and around the world (notice it hasnt really rained this year? water catchment should be encouraged, if not required), our local government officials need to wake up and see that the practices being implemented at the Arpin household for more than five years now should be readily accepted and learned from.

    just think what this city could be like if we were producing 10 percent of our food needs within city limits. maybe even 25%. That would be an incredible step in the right direction. local food production, animal husbandry (it is legal to have chickens within city limits, with certain limitations) and truly green building practices like passive and active solar, composting toilets and grey-water systems, along with water catchment (as opposed to LEED certified green appliances and other silliness) could make asheville the leader in a movement that must occur if cities are to thrive in the transitions occurring in our planet’s weather patterns.

    why doesnt city council take the steps necesary to usher asheville into this new era?

    thanks express, for keeping some light on this process, and thanks aprinhouse for taking the high road and showing the rest of us how it can be done!!!!


  2. John Buckley

    Adjusting to a life without store-bought solutions is our only avenue. How many can buy that hybrid car, solar panel systems costing $thousands, certified “green” lumber and appliances? Growing food, learning about chickens, goats and cows will feed us better. We’d also better learn to play music again, brew our own beer, and grow our own marijuana – create our own entertainment. The glossy two-dimensional life splashed across TV and magazines is not possible for most. We can and are creating something much better — the new American Dream.

  3. steve green

    well, mr buckly, as mr arpins issue illustrates, we first have to change the laws so that we can do those things without having years of work thrown out the window when some uptight, out of town landlord calls the city to complain. (as was the case at arpinhouse.)

  4. Jargon

    The point of the headline was that Mumpower supports the efforts of the people in this house and their rights as property owners to do as they wish w/ their property, instead of getting tangled up in red tape. I remember the original story Xpress did on the “urban homesteaders,” which was quite good, and I recall Mumpower played a more prominent role in that write-up. The headline was a throwback to that, I believe.

  5. John Buckley

    Mr. Green … changing laws is the approach encouraged by those who control the process. Conversely, using marijuana is a good example of people deciding for themselves. I suggest knowing the law and working around it. Don’t fight authority, simply make it too tiresome for inspectors and whoever to show up. If ducks need fencing then fence the whole property. Rather than building unapproved structures, erect temporary (unregulated) structures. Always be a good neighbor and the neighborhood will support and protect you.

  6. steve green

    yes yes yes, absolutely, buckly. do we feel we are disagreeing?

    i only wish to express that, in line with the original article of this thread, the local city government is something we as citizens can have some effect on, and many of the current council, even mumpower, more or less agree that these types of things need to be de-criminalized.

    it is one thing to try to get the federal government to allow something, and a whole ‘nother thing to change existing laws at a local level. unless you have concrete examples of how people have ‘overwhelmed the government” at the local level, i will continue to do work on both sides. living what feels true to me, while understanding how local laws and regulations work. the city council is a far cry from seante and the white house. anarchy doesnt mean we cant work with local government.

    dont get me wrong, i’m all for ignoring the law, and arpinhouse was very successful, as are may others in asheville, at getting away with it for a long time. but they eventually run into red tape.

    what steve arpin has done with that red tape, is make an issue of it and get council and more importantly, the community to deal with it. they ignored the law for years, and because of that had to bend over backwards to accomodate the cities existing laws when attention was finally paid to what they were doing. so noiw, because of his vision and tenacity, we as a community have something to rally around as an example of why minds, attitudes, and yes, laws, need to be changed.

    i personally would like to see these local ordinances and whatnot changed so that we dont have to sneak around and hide our ducks, or what have you. otherwise, you always run the risk of having years of work run down the drain.

    the reason i make the distinction between legalized and decriminalized, is because i understand your perception of getting ‘permission’ from city government to do these things. that’s not my point. i only mean to say that when WE as voting citizens make these zoning ordanances more freindly to our sense of true sustainability, then we as a community can make enourmous steps in the right direction, as opposed to the baby steps we must take now.

    this is not to say i want the city to be in charge of distributing ducks, or issuing permits for chickens, i mean the laws need to get out of the way so that we can do these things without hiding.

    and your example of marijuana seems a good example of this as well. you can decide for yourself to grow all the pot you want, but until it is decriminalized, the cops can still bust you. thats just how it is. places like california (lowest priority for police in san francisco) and colorado (up to three ounces is legal over the age of 18 in denver) have seen marijuana decriminalized by city councils, which then allows people to grow, keep, smoke the pot. it isnt just years and years of growers just growing, it’s years and years of activist working to change the laws. you cant have one without the other.

    so please, by all means, overwhelm the government with your ducks and cob houses, but you may find it productive to petition council as well, so that real progress can be made.

  7. John Buckley

    Mr Green, thank you for expanding upon your perceptions – indeed, we are not disagreeing, not at all. People in Asheville are fortunate to have a workable (somewhat) political environment. I live west, near Waynesville, which is focused upon retirees who drive the expensive housing development market and tourists who bring cash. “We” pretend it is and will remain a scene from the 1950s. Composting toilets, chickens, permaculture are things totally unknown. Humanure would create a public panic. Conservation of any kind is unknown, unspoken. Any change would only come from a coup d’état. Sadly, I can’t find anything positive to say, hence my avoidance of anything involving government. I now wonder what the “Art of War” recommends?

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