Urban Living in…downtown Junction?

There has been a lot of community and business leader interest in the revitalization of downtown Junction. And one of the ideas being floated is that of converting old buildings to a mixed use purpose. See the article link below about the old post office in downtown Dallas now being used as apartments and lofts.

http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2011/11/03/people-call-downtown-dallas-post-office-home/

You’ve heard the line “Everything old is new again” no doubt and it seems as if a trend to urban living is taking hold throughout our nation. This trend has been more evident in large cities such as Dallas, San Francisco and New York City, but is beginning to show up in smaller towns as well.

Traditionally in the last half century, many people in the United States have moved to suburban housing to rear children and enjoy life, but this was not always the case. Immigrants to the East Coast and westward originally set up shops with housing in the same units in order to be close to their businesses and neighbors.  This concept lost favor over the years as people became more financially successful and longed for open yards, recreation and separate single family houses.

With high fuel costs impacting commuting from home to job and more ‘empty-nesters’ feeling isolated in big suburban houses, a groundswell of interest in a walkable community atmosphere is emerging.

We in Junction have the perfect opportunity to expand this concept. First, the town is rather small and easy to navigate. We have two rivers and plenty of recreation opportunities including kayaking (the fastest growing sport in America), fishing, hunting, birding, hiking, camping and much more.

Using our existing structures in a new way is not only smart, it is eminently do-able. There have been a number of meetings recently with business owners, citizens and community leaders to explore ways to create a vibrant atmosphere with goods and services and great people interaction. We invite your ideas and solicit input from people who have interest in building this Walkable Community concept with all of us.

In the past month, four new businesses have opened including a new hospital, a doughnut franchise, a Chinese take out and our winery. Joe and I are thrilled at the prospect of revitalization. Come see the changes in Junction!

Jeanie

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Garage conversion in France – perfect for our community

Below you will see a link to an ingenious conversion – a tiny 431 sq. ft. dark garage in Bordeaux, France is turned into a light, airy and beautifully workable space.
http://www.mnn.com/your-home/remodeling-design/blogs/abandoned-garage-reborn-as-airy-pied-%C3%A0-terre?hpt=hp_bn11
With no running water, very little electricity and a historical ordinance against touching the roof, a wonderful living space with sliding doors, a beautiful patio and everything one needs was created.
I can envision similar conversions or newly built structures in Junction – perhaps a number of small houses in a circle on some empty lots. Add parking in the back, a community garden in the middle of the circle,. golf cart and walking paths and you have instant neighborhoods.
And if one were to build using SIP (structurally insulated panels) such as our winery and bistro have been constructed from, add a small solar panel, wind turbine and water collection system, one could be off the grid. Our winery is built of SIP and even with keeping it a chilly 60 degrees and cooling the bistro area during the hot summer months, the electricity bill is startlingly tiny!!  It’s amazing.
An exciting development – I saw my first street legal golf cart yesterday on a street near our house. Thank you, City of Junction, for passing that ordinance.
I invite you to consider bringing your ideas, talent and families to Junction to help us create a Walkable Community concept that really works. We need your energy, new businesses, families of all ages and a willingness to do things together.
The winery and bistro is weeks away from opening – we are thrilled at the enthusiasm and people stopping by to buy wine out of our cases and visit. Please stop by when you can. And I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Jeanie

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Nearly there!

August is coming to a close and I am happy to report that the Junction Rivers Winery & Bistro is nearly ready for wine tastings and noshing.  The winery itself is completed and we are making wine from various Texas grapes. The drought and heat have taken their toll on this year’s crop and we have been chasing all over the State to pick up and in some cases, help pick and weigh grapes.

It’s true that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. We purchased a second pickup truck, a used one with a big bad boy diesel engine to tow the new 18′ trailer and tons of grapes. Little did we know that the air conditioner needed to be replaced – until, that is, we took possession of  the truck so we could leave the next day. We drove 6+ hours to a vineyard between Austin and Houston, in 110 degrees, windows down, guzzling ice water and praying for a breath of air.  I dubbed it the Hotter than Hell on Wheels Grape Tour. And it was.  But interestingly, we decided to make it part of the adventure and not to get stressed. Actually I think we were too wilted to get stressed!

The next Saturday afternoon we started out for a vineyard just south of the Oklahoma border, air conditioner blasting  and within an hour, the truck sputtered to a stop.  Turns out the front fuel tank gauge didn’t work and we got vapor lock. After a few minor miracles in rescue and repair, we were back on the road. Honestly, Joe and I had to laugh and say, “We can either get upset or we can relax and bless the grapes, the vineyards and owners, the truck and whole process.” We decided to relax and have fun.

Back to the winery/bistro. This week we will drive to Dallas to pick up furniture for the bistro and some kitchen equipment and the intention is to have the Wine Tasting Room open by next weekend. … Or Labor Day. :) )  My new motto is “Arbitrary deadlines can be changed.”

Our wines for this year are already bottled and just waiting to be delivered. We have had a number of meetings with our chef/consultant about designing a simple and  delicious menu.

Please stay tuned. Things are really starting to roll now!

Jeanie

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Progress in Junction

Joe and I are proud to announce that the Junction Rivers Winery and Bistro is nearing completion, however our tentative opening date has been moved to August, 2011.  If you have ever built a structure and/or started a new business venture, you can relate to the many ‘bumps on the road’ in construction, finding vendors, ordering supplies and the myriad details involved. We have the added opportunity and challenge of making it ecologically sound and energy efficient. The winery and bistro is the anchor for our vision of a Walkable Community.

The other anchor is our new home two blocks away.  We are renovating an office building and adding an energy efficient wing for living space, including solar panels, wind turbines, a water recollection system (just like the winery/bistro) and using highly energy efficient SIP construction. Moving from a ranch to a small, green home in town is an adjustment but we are literally ‘walking our talk’ by being the first to embrace the walkable concept.

We are very encouraged by the enthusiasm from the City of Junction as they get behind the idea of expanding living spaces and opening new businesses.

Please feel free to join the discussion of our concept and especially be thinking about cottage type industries that you could own. We see a need for many goods and services to complement the businesses already operating in Junction. These include locally made foods such as artisan cheeses, fresh vegetables, goat meat sources; a vision and eye center, specialty stores and much much more.

We are excited. And we cannot do this alone. If you have a desire to live with fresh air, plentiful water, beautiful surroundings and develop a supportive neighborhood, we invite you to participate.

With gratitude,

Jeanie

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Thriving not just surviving

The tragedy that is unfolding in one of the world’s most technologically advanced countries with a stable economy leads me to think about our Walkable Community Project.

How quickly everything for basic living necessities has devolved in Japan as the world rushes to help the survivors get through another day.  I was awakened the other night by a huge thunderclap and lightening shining like a searchlight. My first thought was to marvel at the storm’s fury, followed by thoughts of millions of people across the Pacific huddled with no food, water, shelter or transportation. Added to that is the reality of radiation poisoning as reactor after reactor melts down. My short frightening awakening by the storm is nothing compared to what others are experiencing now.

While I’m not a DoomsDay person, anyone can see that few of us could survive under that sort of devastation and deprivation. The vision we have  of a real community with plenty of water, fresh air and land to grow crops locally is resonating with many others.  People are seeing the value of taking steps to ensure a way of life that is thriving, not just surviving.

Today I spoke to two friends in Fort Worth who have successful businesses and own a couple of homes- and they are excited to think about our Walkable Community. They, like many others,  bring talent, heart and  humor with their vision and enthusiam.

The world is shifting and changing in many ways. From the geological crush of tectonic plates, the global economy taking hit after hit with increased fuel and food costs, and the uncertainty of continued fuel and energy, it is clear that things cannot remain the same. Added to this mix is the fact that so many familes are spread out all over the country and world and would love to have a supportive community to live and work in ~one with people who care about one another.

This is a reality that lifts my heart and encourages us to build the project.

Joe and I are making big progress on the winery and bistro. The old building came down this week and the lot is cleared. Contractors are busily getting ready to lay the foundation, build the walls and ceilings and do plumbing and electrical work.  Joe has also been busy giving a number of Power Point presentations to various organizations in Junction and we are getting good feedback.

But we are only two people. If you feel inclined to consider being a part of this exciting and comforting venture, please let us know by writing your own reply to our blogs.

Our intention is to be on the leading edge of this idea to provide a safe and happy environment within the city structure to allow others to thrive and not just survive. We’d love to hear from you!

Jeanie Brosius

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Green Kitchen Technology

Jeanie and I met with food and kitchen consultants in Dallas, Texas this past week to view and  discuss the newest concepts in green kitchen technology . There are many new and exciting options for new businesses.  Click on the link below and and you can see one of the many options available today.    We are determined to make a difference in the winery and the bistro.  I have always been told that if you do things the way they have always been done, you can expect the same results.   We are discovering new options and we will make a difference by the choices we make in life and business.

Green Kitchen Concepts

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Business can be fun

I have worked as President and Chief Operating Officer for a large company and have owned a number of my own businesses.  Today working for a large corporation is not fun.   There is a constant pressure to improve the bottom line.  Cash flow is the order of the day.  To meet the demands of Wall Street you must increase revenue by acquisitions or by increased pricing.  The pressure on corporations demands growth.

Owning your own business is not easy but the only one you have to please is yourself.  Sometimes building a business is fun and rewarding.  Currently we are running radio ads throughout the Texas Hill County for dog training.  You can listen to our radio ad by logging on to http://www.kingcarepetcenter.com/audio_gallery and clicking on Radio Ad .  Ed Chandler is a DJ from the Ranch Radio Station in Kerrville.  Ed has a morning radio program and has a wide and loyal following.  Ed has sent us his dog Mojo for training.  Every day Ed is going to call the King-Care Pet Center for live updates on how Mojo is doing.  We are posting daily videos of Mojo’s progress on our website.  You can check out Mojo’s progress by logging on to  http://www.kingcarepetcenter.com and then clicking on Mojo’s Progress.  Check out Mojo’s videos.  I just posted one on Mojo’s week 1 progress for the week.  It is  a funny video and was fun to do.

This is what I mean when I said, business can be fun !  I hope that you will join us in the “Walkable  Community Project” by developing your own business in Junction.

See ya at the Junction Rivers Winery ~

Joe King

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Economics of a Walkable Community

Let me share some thoughts on the economics of a walkable community.  My home is approximately 15 miles from Junction.  My pickup gets 15 miles per gallon.  A gallon of gas today cost $3.07 in Junction.  A round trip from the ranch property to town and back cost me approximately  $6.14.  I make the trip every day and on somedays make 2 trips.  On an annual basis this adds up to a least $2,241 per year for fuel.

I am told that gasoline could hit the $5/gallon mark very soon, possibly this year.  When gas hits the $5 /gallon mark the economics of a round trip changes dramatically.  My annual fuel cost increases to approximately $3,650 per year.  If I live and work in a “Walkable Community” that cost goes away.

Secondly, let’s look at the price of electrical energy.  I just received the January bill from Perdernales Electric.  My electric bill for January was $476.42.  I used 4,670 kWh at $.06506 per kWh.  January was an extremely cold month and I ran heaters in the house, barn, and guest quarters 24 hours/day to keep pipes from freezing.  January was not a typical month but it illustrates our desire to become less dependent on the electrical grid.

Our plans for living in a “Walkable Community” include two fundamental changes in life-style.  One -reduce our dependence on automobiles.  Two – make the move to alternative energy such as wind and solar.  We plan on using Structural Insulated Panels  (SIP) in the house and winery.  I will insert a photo of a SIP in this post so you can see how they are made.  We are currently working on making wind generators and solar heating panels to use at the Kennel, Winery and House. Slowly, we will move toward less and less dependence upon the electrical grid.

Jeanie and I encourage others to make this move with us.  Living and working in a “Walkable Community,” reducing dependence upon traditional energy sources and using green technology.  This is not an easy decision to make, but the concept is right, the time right and the place is right.

See ya at the Junction Rivers Winery ~

Joe King

Structural Insulaed Panels:

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Junction Rivers Winery Floor Plan

I am posting a photo of the Junction Rivers Winery floor plan.  As it currently stands, the winery is a 2600 square foot building that will contain a winery, tasting room, gift shop, indoor-outdoor dining, and …  a few surprises.   You can view the floor plans using the following link:

http://www.junctionriverswinery.com/winery_floor_plan

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Progress Report

The following post is a progress report on the walkable community concept:

We are moving forward with a number of Walkable Community components.  Dr. Greg Bogard and I are  working on building wind generators and solar heating panels for the house on 8th street, the winery and the kennel.   Jeanie and I have floor plans for the building on 8th street and for the Junction Rivers Winery.  We have applied for a  federal license for the winery and will follow that with state licensing requirements.  We have quotes on building costs, pad estimates, plumbing, electrical, and winery equipment.  I have hired a winemaker for the winery.

The building on 8th street is 2 blocks from the winery, kennel and clinic.  Jeanie and I are determined to move away from our dependence upon the electrical grid and supply a majority of  our power needs using wind and solar energy.  This project is not only  a vision of a Walkable Community but also of a Green Community.  We are encouraging others to follow our lead on using alternative energy and living within a walkable distance of their business.  This will allow us to move away from our total dependence on automobiles.  We hope that others will grasp the vision and join us in making this vision reality.

In the days ahead we will be posting floor plans of the winery, progress reports on our alternative energy initiatives, and photos and videos displaying the beauty of Junction.  The junctionriverswinery.com website has a photo and video album of Junction. We will be posting photos and videos of our progress as we move forward. We have had comments from people as far away as North Carolina on the Walkable Community concept.  The idea is right, the time is right and the place is right.

There are a number of people reading this blog and the entire concept is drawing attention to the validity of the Walkable Community Project. We welcome your comments and thoughts.

Joe King

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