The Stickiness of an Idea

Keith Howard | Thursday, April 16, 2015

April 16, 2015

“Stickiness” as a concept outside of materials engineering has been given short shrift. Consider the German word Ohrwurm,  or “ear worm,” a catchy piece of music that burrows through your ear and into your brain. Typically, although not always, this ohrwurm is annoying (think of effective jingles) although some of the most effective ones are drawn from art (the first eight notes of Beethoven’s Fifth). Ear worms are distinct from memes, but take advantage of the same stickiness—and once stuck, they will not let go.

The Liberty Home concept appears to have initial stickiness, at least as judged by the response I receive every time I talk either formally or casually. Without wanting to come across as sexist, I have found both men and women incredibly excited about the possibilities, although their excitement takes two different paths.

Men, hearing about Liberty Homes, sit forward on their seats, eyes wide open as they dream about the coolest tree house they could have built as kids. They offer to help out with construction and most offer creative ideas they may have been storing up since childhood—a neat way to make a hammock that doubles as a fruit basket, one-way glass so nobody can see in or a combination foot-bath and soup tureen. Ideas all, some of them good.

Women, on the other hand, also sit forward and gaze dreamily, appearing to think fondly of the dollhouse they never had. Energy and excitement flow from them as they offer to help, describing in great detail the window treatments they imagine, the wall coverings making use of natural fibers and impressed designs and the faux walls cleverly created by curtains.

Our hope is this is the first of many Liberty Homes, and that men and women alike will have the chance to make flesh their childhood dreams. Until then, here’s a quick update on the order of construction. A fuller schedule will appear once Dan D., the project foreman, is able to put together a work calendar.

  • Wiring strung
  • Insulation installed
  • Windows/skylights cut out and installed
  • Floors/walls installed
  • Furniture built and/or installed
  • Roll out to a site for the next year
  • Gather and synthesize data for future projects

Finally, we have had some response to our call for space on which to site the Liberty Home for the year, but we are still seeking the perfect place. Ideally, we’d like the following:


    1. Privately owned property available for very modest rent


      Town/state-owned property


      Institution (e.g., college, veterans organization, wildlife group, etc.) property


    1. Located within a 30-minute drive to Manchester


  1. Offering some privacy. Lucy the dog is particularly adamant about this.


The Liberty Home is completely self-sufficient and self-contained, so there is no need at all for electricity, sewer or water availability. An unused meadow or car-accessible clearing in woods would be absolutely perfect. If you know of such a spot, please be in touch with us right away. Our goal is to be off-site by June 1. We look forward to hearing from you.

-Keith Howard

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