The House We Live In:
A Fantasy by Amy Knight

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A Series on Building the Sustainable Home in Tucson, Arizona


This weekend I went to an event–a little gathering/fundraiser/preview performance–for a local group called ChamberLab. They play classical-type music, but mostly their own original compositions. They use classic chamber music instruments, strings and woodwinds, but often in unusual combinations and situations. 

This is one of the things that I love about Tucson. This city is so full of creative people who just make things happen. They’re creative and they’re ambitious and this city gives them space to try new things, in a way that a busier, more expensive city or a smaller town might not. Chris Black and the folks behind ChamberLab didn’t wait for someone to say, Would you please make this thing and I will pay you? They did what they wanted to be doing and drummed up support along the way and are steadily building an audience. Tucson is providing that audience. I’m so glad I’m building a home here.

Someone who was introducing the musicians spoke at the event on Sunday about the group, describing the various unusual venues where they’d performed, and said, “They’d probably play in your living room if you asked them to.” There was laughter, but the group’s leader said yes, they would. 

And so a small fantasy was born. While they played, I imagined them in the living room of my new house, the couch perhaps pushed out of the way, the dining room doors open to the courtyard, a couple of bottles of wine open on the kitchen island, and all of my favorite people, and even people I don’t know yet, my people’s people, looking around, listening, talking to one another, playing with my crazy dogs, opening cupboards to see what they’re made out of, lifting the hatch to the cistern to see how it works. 

All the while there is music, written and performed by my neighbors in this city who are creating it as they go, spreading their art to places and people who didn’t know they wanted it, connecting us to one another and to where we are.



Amy Knight is the fiction editor for In this weekly series, she chronicles the process of designing and building an eco-friendly house in Tucson, Arizona. The series will explore both how it’s done and what it means, from the perspective of someone who wants to do the right thing but knows almost nothing about sustainable building. Look for new posts every Monday. You can email Amy at or leave a comment here. Visit her website, or follow her on twitter @amypknight.

Image of cello courtesy Pixabay. is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.