A year ago I was just settling in to calling it a “movement” and before that it was just my weird obsession. Now it’s in the New Yorker: The rise of the tiny-house movement. Creative downsizing is taking hold in the hearts and minds of Americans these days, if nothing else than by necessity.
I like how the author Alec Wilkinson makes a distinction between the various types of people who are moving into tiny spaces. In my own words I’ve condensed the categories here:
- Young people who cannot conceive of being able to afford a “real” house or supersized rent in a big city.
- Older people who are done with home ownership, trying to keep some semblance of savings, or are empty nesters.
- All idealists who are seeking a lighter footprint and privileged enough to design their own lifestyle.
In combination, this movement is made up of some fascinating people, some of whom are mentioned in the article. Photo above is Jay Shafer with his wife and son and Tumbleweed House, photograph by Jeff Minton.
But I want to highlight a couple of folks who do not get as much press attention as Jay. These are wonderful women whom I am pleased to call my friends.
Tammy Strobel, rowdykittens.com
A couple of years ago Tammy was a new blogger on the tiny house scene. Now she is one of the top. Last year she was featured in the New York Times, on the Today Show, and other major media outlets.
Tammy and her partner Logan had us over for dinner recently in their small Portland apartment and showed us pictures of their tiny house being built. Less than 100 square feet, the work of art they’ve commissioned should be finished this fall.
Cheers to Tammy and Logan for their commitment to social change and their personal follow through. Tammy has even been able to earn a living through her writing. I look forward to hearing more from them as they move into their tiny house and explore simple living as a couple.
Dee Williams, portlandalternativedwellings.com
A true hero, Dee is the lay-person who built her own 84 square foot house and has been living in it for the past 7 years. Affectionately called “The Little House” she opens it up for tours and speaks to kids about voluntary simplicity and sustainability. Positive change begins at home, she says, and she means that literally.
I love all the attention she has been getting, on the cover of Yes!Magazine, in TIME Magazine, on NPR, on NBC Nightly News, etc. but my favorite so far is her TEDx talk in Portland last May.
Dee has written an incredibly helpful book called Go House Go: How to build a tiny house on wheels and I highly recommend it if you’re considering doing it on your own. It is hands down the most helpful thing I’ve read for tiny house wannabes — that is, people who are planning to build a little house on a trailer. (Also, a building workshop is not a bad idea either.)
Give it up for the ladies! Keep an eye on them. As the Dalai Lama said in a lecture two years ago, “The world will be saved by the Western woman.”