Houseboats: Place Based Living in the 'burgh

My apartment is detached completely from the outside world. My windows go into a hallway, as does my door. While extremely cozy, I often feel like I am underground or in a vault. It is an ideal price, size, and location for my life at the moment, but I can start to feel early signs of cabin fever when at home for too long.

The thing I miss the most by living in my underground home is the lack of running water. There is a stream right outside the back of the building, but I can never hear it. People will talk about gigantic storms from the night before at work while I just nod; being oblivious to any meteorological event during my slumber.

If my secluded habitation is the epitome of disconnection from the outside world, what would be the opposite? While staying in a tent is nice for camping, it is not something one can do for years on end without some serious tolls on the body and mind.

What if you lived on the river?


Recently a good friend of mine linked me an article about the house boats that used to be in Pittsburgh. I highly recommend reading it, for it goes into the history and challenges of living on the river. All of the pictures in this post are from the article posted below. But this post is more to explore modern living, and what it means for place based education.


Imagine waking up, each morning, being able to tell the weather without opening your eyes. Even without listening. The motion you would feel could tell you if the river was calm or rocky. While the dams along all of Pittsburgh's rivers moderate the flow, during the spring especially all three rivers surge and recede with spring rains and summer heat.

1941 Allegheny River scene.jpg

One of the biggest reasons why I see people in general not care about the environment is because of their own disconnection from it. When I lived in two national parks, I was well aware of what was happening around me. I spent time getting to know the trees, rocks, and birds on a daily basis. Being awoken by a woodpecker at six in the morning, while frustrating at times, reminded me that I was, and still am, in a larger world that just me.

While we can't all reside on the rivers, what ways are you connected to the outdoors from inside your own home? Is there a bird you can hear from your bedroom? A stream you can see from your kitchen?