Sarah Susanka Speaks at the Center for the Environment

Sarah Susanka

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Sarah Susanka, the author of numerous books, including “The Not So Big House” and “The Not So Big Life,” leads the “Not So Big” movement to redefine the American home and lifestyle.   She contends that such a philosophy is the first step toward sustainability and can positively affect both personal well being and the health of the planet as a whole.


Susanka has appeared on TV and radio programs, including Oprah, Diane Rehm, and Charlie Rose.  U.S. News and World Report named her an “innovator in American culture” and Newsweek selected her in 2000 as a “top newsmaker.”  In 2007, she received the Anne Morrow Lindbergh Award from the Lindbergh Foundation for “outstanding individual achievement demonstrating a spirit of initiative and exemplifying great dedication toward making positive contributions to our world.”  In 2009, Builder Magazine honored her as one of their Top 30 Innovators for her impact on the home building industry.


Q&A with Sarah Susanka

Sarah Susanka, an architect and pioneer of the “Not So Big” philosophy, spoke recently with Juanita Teschner of the Center for the Environment at Catawba College. This is a compilation of an edited transcript of that conversation plus information from Susanka’s office.


tl_files/cfte/images/Speakers/2010.3.16_Sarah_Susanka/2010.3.16_Sarah_Susanka_DSC_0022.JPGQ: How did the “Not So Big” philosophy come about?

A: I started to realize both in my practice as a residential architect and as a human being that there was often a simpler and more elegant way to do things. So if I’m talking about a house, it is smaller but higher quality and actually lives larger as a result. It’s a different type of “moreness.” So I started with houses, but it very quickly became apparent to me that that was also how I went about living my life. I noticed that I was one of the many millions who were overly busy. I had a hard time figuring out how to find the time to pursue the things I was passionate about. One night after having an extremely busy day at the office, I suddenly realized that if I didn’t make time to do what I loved to do, which was writing, it would never happen. And the only person who could make a shift in my life was me. It struck me like a two-by-four. In a certain fashion, everything I have written came about as a result of that moment.

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