The long awaited update… thank you for your patience

One of my biggest fears was that we’d finish the house and I would stop writing because I wouldn’t have the same push or motivation to share our latest building progress. I guess that fear manifested. So, here I am, eh-um, yes, 7 months later, ready to give you an update on Tiny House (non)living.

Since we were obviously not getting anywhere with Code Enforcement, we decided to take it up the ladder of City Officials and found 2 individuals who were respectful, kind and very reasonable to talk to. It was a 180 degree turn from the Code Enforcement officer who was rude, dismissive and avoided answering any questions by talking himself in “because I said so” circles.¬† So, with a little help from our friends (yep, it really is all in who you know…) we were able to get our story in front of the City Manager & the Director of Community Development. They found nothing illegal with parking the Tiny House in the driveway, apologized for the hassle we had experienced with Code Enforcement and closed the case. Yay!

A big thank you to all who helped to decipher city code, offered legal advice, suggested people we should talk to in gathering more information, those who spoke to city officials & those in the public sector who practice open communication with their residents in hopes of building a better community. Also, a big thank you to all of you who are following our progress and are putting good vibes out into the universe for us! We couldn’t have done this without your words of wisdom & support. Time for a group hug!

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The catch is, although it’s legal for us to park the trailer in the driveway indefinitely, city code makes it illegal for us to live in it. So, our dear friend Mr. Krug, who has been gracious enough to offer us his driveway for the Tiny House, has also opened up his home and rented us a bedroom with complete use of the kitchen and bathroom in the front house. We are extremely grateful for this opportunity as it has given us a soft place to land after our first confrontation in the evolving experience of ‘Where can I legally park my Tiny House’? If we were in a situation where we were forced to park on the street and needed to move every 3 days, I don’t think I’d function well from day to day. Being at Chip’s has offered us a reprieve from the year & a half of building, gave us security of place for the time being and a sense of home we were looking for (without actually living in our tiny home). Thank you Chip!!

So, what are we doing with the Tiny House?

In order to tame the withdrawals of not being in the house every day, I started using it as my office/yoga studio/walk-in closet. I enjoy reading in the loft, meditating, and turning up the spacer heater, lighting candles & stretching (which I don’t do often enough). Aaron & I watch movies in there too. It’s a great hide-out space; like the cushion fort you built in the living room of your childhood home (only this is a bit more structurally sound). Lu, our tiny cat, likes hanging out in there too. It’s perfect for a temperamental creature who loves dark, enclosed spaces, especially when she has access to all the nooks and crannies. She’s even learned to use her litter box in the closet & crawl out through her own little porthole.

I was pretty bummed that I’d have to wait to use the kitchen in our house; in protest (and curiosity to see if it would fit) I moved all of our “pantry food” into the Tiny House. I’ve spent the last 7 months slowly moving it back to the main house, piece by piece. I’ve really enjoyed using the kitchen in Chip’s house. It’s beautiful… the tile is from the 50′s, there’s an old-school gas stove with a grill-top between the burners (great for quesadillas!) and a large ceramic sink to do the dishes. Having the kitchen to ourselves has been awesome; I spend many of my days off in there and have been thoroughly enjoying it! And there are bonuses!

Bonus #1: there’s a record player in the next room with shelves full of albums from the 70′s. Sweet!! Bonus #2: the large double-sided fridge/freezer¬†doesn’t work, so we moved our Tiny House fridge into his kitchen. We’ve been honing our grocery-shopping skills and practicing for the big time, folks! For me, the most exciting part about Tiny House (non)living has been watching us eat all the left-overs before they are pushed to the back of the fridge and lost in the depths of “eww… do I really want to open this container” land. I’ve struggled with this (ashamedly) for years and so happy that the solution to this awful & wasteful habit was to buy a smaller fridge! Composting also helps with the guilt.

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So, that’s the basics. Other than working, we’ve been gardening, spending time at home tinkering with projects and helping Chip out with odds and ends, creating art, cooking, cleaning and organizing our artist space at Whole House Building Supply. We saw Garrison Keillor with friends at the Mountain Winery and traveled to see family and friends in Oregon, South Dakota & Wisconsin; trips which included 2 weddings and a family reunion. Now that we’re back home for the time-being and after my half-year hiatus, I’m relived – and a bit nervous- to be slowly working my way back to the blogosphere. It’s been nice to take a break and catch up with myself again but hope to get back on track with regular updates and thoughts of Tiny House (non)living.

Best wishes to you all as we head into colder temperatures and longer nights! Thank you for your continued love and support!

 

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A Big Day for Tiny

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http://www.tinyhousehotel.com/

Portland, OR. further cemented it’s Status among the hip cities this month when our Countries’ very first “Tiny House Hotel” opened for business in the Aberta Arts District. Some might disregard this event as an anomaly that “keeps the town weird”…

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and I certainly wouldn’t argue against the weirdness of Portland… A town where Tall Bicycle Jousting does not require a release of liability waiver, and emergency medical care is defined as “two shots of jack Daniels administered regardless of consciousness” by the organizers of the event

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Weirdness aside… I consider the Opening of the “Caravan Motor Hotel” to be a major milestone for the “Tiny House Movement.” From here on out, people will walk into banks, or approach private investors with solid business plans that have been tried, tested, and found viable.

Food Trucks Provide a great example. What food trucks? you may ask … well .. they are coming soon to a city near you… at first it was “weird” to build a Gourmet food truck … but now …

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Yeah … “Roach Coaches” have been around for over a century now in one form or another… the essence being a mobile kitchen designed to cater to work crews. A tragic life to be the butt of jokes about poor sanitation and bad taste….

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the cooking of local feral wildlife….

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and the harvesting of human organs for export…

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but in case you haven’t heard… Food Trucks are now “In.”

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These trucks are serving a variety of foods and fusion foodstuffs, with menus as diverse as an entire cities’ food offerings condensed to one parking lot.

The point that I am trying to make is that people are walking into banks and meetings with private investors to get loans to buy or build food-trucks…. because they are profitable.

http://photos.oregonlive.com/photo-essay/2013/08/tiny_house_hotel_opens_in_port.html

And people are flocking to the Caravan… to live in under 100 sqft at $125/night

Maybe the novelty will wear off and this business will crumble… (or at least end up towing it’s major assets somewhere else) I don’t think so, though. I think they will set the stage by which we judge our own success.

There isn’t “more to life” than just doing what you need to do to get by… there’s less to life than you might think. It seems to me that the more I let go of, the better off I am… physically, emotionally, spiritually… financially …

Try to den up for a night in a tiny house on wheels… you just might wake up in the next county over … or … just maybe … you will wake up in an entirely new world.

http://earthfix.opb.org/communities/article/worlds-first-tiny-house-hotel-in-portland-gets-a-g/
http://shine.yahoo.com/healthy-living/worlds-first-tiny-house-hotel-opens-portland-185200077.html
http://inhabitat.com/caravan-hotel-uss-first-tiny-house-hotel-opens-in-portland/
http://www.mnn.com/your-home/remodeling-design/blogs/try-tiny-house-living-on-for-size-at-portlands-newest-hotel

To all that came before us: thanks for the inspiration.
To all that come behind us: have a good build.

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An Argument for Simplicity

Do you want to create positive dialogue in your neighborhood about Climate Change? Most people I speak with agree that Climate Change is a big issue, but say that they are completely powerless and our best hope is “science” to save us from our certain doom… and many people seem convinced that the next ice age will be the day after tomorrow… it does seem rather alarming, doesn’t it?

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Parking our Micro-House in the front yard of a 1950′s suburban development was one way to get some conversation brewing. In front of this modest house sits the only structure on the whole block (or in the whole city for that matter) that protrudes past the required fifteen foot site setback. We even ended up having a bit of a climate change discussion with the Department of Community Development because of it. Code Enforcement ultimately agreed that our house was not an illegal dwelling unit, but was indeed a travel trailer (but it was against city ordinances to actually live in it.) Turns out that living a more sustainable lifestyle is against the law. It certainly isn’t a good model for increasing suburban density near the traffic corridor; It’s a Menace to Public Health.

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Telling people that they will have to cut back and consume less is a tough sell. Ever try telling someone that they are going to have to give up meat and dairy and learn how to sort their trash? When people step inside the Micro-House, though, they really get a vision for how nice a simple life could be. In a neighborhood where a 1000 sqft house goes for 250k, Candace and I get to tell people we own our own home outright, and paid less per square foot to do it. Our house takes Minutes to clean (even if it is totally messy) Requires a fraction of the energy to heat and light ($20/month in propane for cooking/hot water … $15 electricity for heating/lighting/ventilation). I own less stuff and don’t have to deal with clutter because everything has a place. The money we save on rent enables us to do cool things like rent an artists workspace (where all the clutter goes) and work fewer hours so that we can spend more time doing things we like to do (like cluttering the workshop.) So tell me… would you rather live in a tiny house, or a 2500 square foot debtors prison? Would you rather live in a rolling cabin built with loving care from recycled materials? Or would you rather live in town-homes designed for speedy construction, and to maximize the ratio of square footage to material cost?

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Many neighbors come by and tour the house. Neighbors meet other Neighbors in our front yard because of the house. About 1 out of 20 express a desire to live in one. Most people share their contact information with us to be informed of “Tiny House Parties” and “Tiny House Concerts.”

Also, I get to practice civil disobedience and Occupy something. The rent we do pay goes directly to a homeowner in need and not some faceless trust or property management corporation. Win-Win-Win.

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