A Big Day for Tiny


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”…


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


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 …


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….


the cooking of local feral wildlife….


and the harvesting of human organs for export…


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


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.


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.


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?


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.


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?

aaron th and people barns

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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The Tiny Housing Crisis: Part II

When people hear the phrase “economic security,” an immediate association is made of vast amounts of cash, or a bank account with 7 digits on the good side of the decimal. A million dollars isn’t what it used to be. When I hear the term “economic security,” I think in terms of food, water, shelter, opportunities, education, public health and safety, and strong social institutions. This is what “economic security” and “the wealth of nations” looks like, not a briefcase full of paper.

Our tiny home is one of a growing number of such dwellings that have been designed for mobility, durability, aesthetics, and customized for the habits, needs, and lifestyle of the occupants. The Modular housing model will indeed be making an economic impact in the near future across a wide demographic range. The next decade promises a growing population who will need end-of-life care, and as we are confronted with the cost of this endeavor, simple dwellings will step into this economic niche in a variety of ways. A spare bedroom can be quickly set up to provide a non-intrusive nurses unit; especially in Alzheimer and Dementia cases where removing a patient from familiar surroundings promotes acceleration of symptoms. Caretakers can live on-site and quickly earn enough money to buy their own tiny home. Many people will choose to provide care to their parents directly, and a tiny house can provide an “instant in-law-unit.”

College Graduates are moving back home at an alarming rate, burdened with vast student debt while entering a competitive job market where labor is exported and undervalued.

Businesses are downsizing their offices, and small business owners need affordable office space; separating business from home-life is important… imagine how easy that could be (and how much gas money you would save) if the driveway is your “business zone.” Artists, writers, artisans, and hobbyists alike already benefit from their tiny backyard sanctuaries.

Community Level Discussions on increasing Urban Density near the transit corridor are dominated by developers, Realtors, and builders. In the meantime, thousands of people are living in overcrowded units. So people are living in illegal dwelling units, some of which are unsafe and many lacking sanitation… but an accessory structure doesn’t attract much attention if it is under 100 sq ft and does not have plumbing or electricity. http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/development/2013/05/san-francisco-likely-has-tens-thousands-people-living-under-stairs Honestly, wouldn’t you rather have people living in your neighbors’ driveway?

We are realizing that a single weather event can displace hundreds of thousands or more individuals within a matter of hours. A well co-ordinated dispatch of housing, complete with supplies can be trucked in within days; providing immediate relief to those displaced, as well as short term accommodations for aid-workers and those concerned with rebuilding. Climate Scientists have been warning of increased frequency of severe weather events. You should get a tax-break for building a tiny house and keeping it in your driveway… so long as you register it with fema and agree to dispatch it in the event of a natural disaster. Hasn’t America been defined in terms of our response to national tragedy over the last couple decades? What could be more American than having an emergency shelter in your driveway?

So .. on a personal level… I am pretty confident I have embarked on a lifestyle that will enable me to pay down my personal debts, as well as pay down my personal ecological debt to any children Candace and I may or may not have one day. Either way, aren’t all the kids our kids? Do we have the right to borrow against their economic and ecological future?

I guess that depends on values. Maybe you believe that our kids will enjoy a higher standard of living than we could ever dream… Personally, I tend to think our children will have to learn to make do with less, and I am not eager to take more than my fair share at their expense. No matter what you do, just stop taking it for granted… admit that every act of meeting the economic needs of 7 billion on this planet is an unsustainable act.

I’m now grateful for every damn ice cream bar I eat, and every piece of fruit that travels thousands of miles to be ripe on my plate. My personal values have shifted from the material, and my life goals have shifted to “living a long time” which means my priorities are a good diet, and a healthy lifestyle… other than the Camel Filters… anyway.

We (we bay area folk) are truly reaping all of the spoils of empire, and I for one won’t allow myself one second of guilt for enjoying so much while so many people have so little. But… when you put what we have now in perspective of what humans have over the course of history, and will have over the course of the uncertain future ahead… All I can feel is gratitude. So I smoke my cigarettes and drink my wine and boy do they taste sweet… I eat a hamburger and I drink my dairy and I enjoy the variety of goods on the marketplace that have come to the shelves in a store near me and it all is a bit sweeter to me than most… because I truly appreciate the long-term cost that is incurred.

I’m getting ranty now, so I’m going to have to drop off and think of a way to explain how simple shelters can be leveraged to tackle huge social problems that we are faced with, such as homelessness, veterans programs, illegal foreclosures, and a criminal justice system that could only be described as a system in crisis.

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Got a brand new window for the sleeping loft

What do you think? is it too over the top?

Yep, but we don’t care.

probably will take me 20 hours to install it.

dove on fire

Update: The window was sold to our friend, a Professor of Sociology and finds a (hopefully) permanent installation in Woodside, CA. We hope that our (Presumably Catholic) neighbor, who complained so bitterly about the presence of the house, found some love in her heart.


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