My partner, who is almost, or perhaps more excited than I am about this adventure bought me the book “Tiny Homes, Simple Shelter” for Christmas/Solstice. Edited by Lloyd Kahn. If you haven’t seen it, and are a tiny house lover, you should definitely have a look. (not all of them are on wheels, but they are all under 500 sf and each as different as it’s builder).
So I wanted to write this post about inspiration, because when one, such as myself who has very little building experience decides to build a tiny house, it is in part because I’ve seen that others “with little or no building experience” are doing the same thing. I am in love with people who decide “to do it anyway”. I’m have a lot of Aries in my astrology, so I know this is an Aries trait—being good at starting things that others would deem “outside my box”. But, really, it is only too easy in this world, to let someone else do it for you or to not have time in a busy life to figure it out. Especially, when it comes to the most basic human needs—growing food, getting water, creating shelter. Not that we shouldn’t ask for help. I’m all about community, but community is different than each of us having our little specialized niche and not knowing how to live outside that niche.
It is a political act to share knowledge, trade skills (and goods), ask for neighborly help (give neighborly help), and learn basic survival skills. It is political because it frees us from a system that often exploits land and people. It gives us choice about where to put our energy and what to support. It uses less resources because it creates tighter systems of energy exchange, and more energy stays in the system (for those of you unfamiliar with permaculture lingo: it’s the idea that for instance, if we use wood harvested responsibly from our land to heat our homes we save the resources it would take to bring it from elsewhere. And if we harvest well, we will increase the health of our forest. Which will create more wood/energy over a long time…there might even be some to share or trade with a neighbor, say, for apples or apple pies).
So, here are some of the homes that have wet my appetite.
Little Yellow Door built by Ella, is definitely one of my favorite tiny houses AND it is built by a young woman who had little experience and a lot of help and enthusiasm from her family/community (like ME!). AND I love that she gave her house a name immediately.
There is something about giving some “thing” a name that gives it a living presence even before it exists in the material world. We, in the West, don’t tend to give much thought to the world of what we consider “objects”. But in the indigenous world, most every”thing” is thought of an animate, possessing it’s own spirit and presence (see the book “Spell of the Sensuous” if you want a really good read on this way of understanding). That is a powerful way to be in the world. Thanks, Ella!
The Hobbit House is a Cob Home in Wales built for about 3000 pounds by Simon Dale, who at the time had very little building experience. I love this house because it is so beautifully integrated into the land, because he used so much of what was there and what he could find as materials, and because it is a hobbit house (and I am a hobbit. Enough said.)
Jenine’s Tiny Houses. Jenine Alexander has built 2 or 3 houses now, and I like her houses because they are built of largely salvaged materials and I like her thinking about how she chooses to use what she does—one of her houses uses denim cotton insulation. She is a woman and a traveling puppeteer/clown (which I have also been at another point in my life). She is definitely an out of the box thinker.
The Tiny House Family is a family of 4 living in a tiny house (in rural Virginia, I think).
I love it that a family has chosen this lifestyle. My neighbors said to me, “that’s fine and good to build a tiny house if it is just you” and I’m even keeping my house MINE (as in, not inviting my partner to join me in making it “ours”. That’s another conversation about intimacy Frida and Diego style). In any case, I was inspired by their story—loosing their house, having the courage to make other choices, and inspired by the house itself. It’s the only house I’ve seen with a full loft, and I’ve taken quite a few ideas from it for my own design. They also salvaged many of the materials (though the builder was quite experienced when he began.)
Mudgirls is not a house persay, or a just a business. It is a way of life, a philosophy manifested in every day work. Mudgirls is a collective of women in BC who build houses together made of mud and earthen materials. They teach affordable workshops, they offer childcare at their workshops and good local food. I get the sense they care a lot for each other. Community at it’s finest. Thanks Mudgirls.
That’s my list for now. There are so MANY others. So many people making different choices, dis-arming themselves with life building and life honoring skills. I read an article in Communities Magazine recently, about a member of Earth Haven. He was talking about how his family of origin has thought he was crazy for what they saw as him stepping down a wrung on the ladder of class and privilege to stand more firmly on the sacred earth.
So, my question, to leave myself and you with for the evening IS
Does your life exist because your privilege puts you on the shoulders of others? Are others doing your dirty work? How much of your own dirty work are you doing and are you willing to learn how again, those forgotten simple skills of your ancestors that made their world real? Are those shoulders that you stand upon getting paid the same wage as you or at least a fair wage, at best? Are you willing to climb down and stand on the earth again?
Hard questions. Perhaps. I find that much of what I am doing in this life is trying to climb back down onto the earth again.