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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3 Responses to An Argument for Simplicity

  1. paula says:

    I’m curious to hear how you plan to respond to the violation notice…this is one of my fears, although you don’t sound too nervous. Good luck with everything!

  2. Linton says:

    I wish you the best in your meaningful adventure to rid yourself of the clutter and cost hanging over most Americans heads and weighing them down. Please check out our modular cabins at http://www.amishcabincompany.com They are built in an off-grid facility on an Amish farm in Kentucky and delivered fully assembled and ready for same day use. 5 cabin models available in various sizes, each meeting Kentucky construction code and inspected in shop during construction. Energy efficient 3Ht insulation and beautiful eastern white pine everywhere- floor to ceiling, exterior and interior walls, all kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Thanks.

  3. Making the movement move! So proud of you guys. My partner and I were just talking around some similar issues as we get set to complete our first tiny home. Nikki had mentioned that she felt like even if you “own” something, you don’t have the right avoid having someone tell you to “cease and desist”.

    Congratulations on continuing to build community and live your values!

    If you’re interested, come and check out our progress at http://www.ourtinyhome.us

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