This is Vallibus.
~1200 sq. ft. one-story frame house built god-knows-when, extensively remodeled throughout the '70s and '80s. Situated next to a year-round creek on a little over four acres of mostly steep forest in Washington County, Virginia. Nestled in-between Holston Mountain to the southeast, and Clinch Mountain to the northwest.
I purchased this property in February 2017 after selling my condo in Minneapolis. The reasons are many and varied, some good, some bad, some prudent, and some absurd. Some I'm still discovering.
Why Vallibus? It's the ancient Latin-ish form of my surname, Vance. Vallibus in Rome, de Vaux in Gaul, Vaux in Normandy, Vans in Scotland, and Vance in Ireland and the New World. This is all super pretentious, of course; my family is mostly unremarkable Scots/Irish mutts (with some German from my mother's side) as far back into history as I can find.
But it sounds cool. And the domain name (vallib.us) was available.
More than a piece of land and a house, Vallibus is sort of an aesthetic and philosophy project. I'm fumbling around at the slimy interface between nature and technology, agriculture and automation, futurism and Luddism. Questions I'm interested in include:
- What are the true costs of living a healthy life?
- If the benefits of automation are to be withheld from the common man and exploited by the upper classes, can we still automate on the scale of the individual and family, and reclaim the increased leisure promised—yet never realized—by mid-century visionaries?
- What does the hermit's life look like in the twenty-first century? Is it culturally relative?
- Is culture our friend?
- How much consumption is required to have a fulfilling life? What kinds of relationships?
- What constitutes a fulfilling life anyway?
In addition to all that pseudo-philosophical bullshit, I'm trying to expand my horizons and learn some practical skills that don't exclusively involve sitting at a keyboard all day. I can probably count on one hand the number of people who will follow this blog, but I like having a blog in 2017. It's almost kinda retro at this point, and sort of a big middle finger to frenetic Valley culture.
I also want to document my projects' failures—and maybe even some successes—for the benefit of random internet people, who I have benefitted from so much over the years. Besides, back before Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and Amazon and, yes, even before Google, that's what the internet was: a simple method, writ large, to share ideas among many people. To provide access to tools.
That's all the manifesto you get for now. Here's a baby turtle.