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5 Misconceptions About Tiny House People

Having been working with Tiny Houses for years now, I have run into many instances where people have some perceptions of tiny house folks that couldn’t be further from the truth.  Sometimes I feel like informing them of how it really is to live tiny, but other days, I just don’t have it in me to say anything.  So today I thought I’d lay to rest some of the common misconceptions about tiny houses and the people who live in them.

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1. We hate stuff

While it is true we don’t like the gratuitous, debt accumulating, clutter creating consumption of stuff for consumption sake, we aren’t against things.  In fact the things we own and take up space in our tiny houses, we really really like.  We have decided to only have those things that make our lives richer, happier and in some cases easier.

2. We don’t have a lot of money or a job

I remember one conversation I had with a woman that came walking off the street to see my tiny house.  After talking a while, I mentioned it had taken a while to build because I could only work on it when I wasn’t working.  She looked at me with astonishment and said “oh you have a job” she then alluded that my job must not be well paying and I informed her I had a good job white collar job that paid very well.  Her face was filled with a look of confusion.

The ironic thing is that most tiny house folks actually make more than the average American, are gainfully employed at good jobs.  What is more, we keep most of what we make, meaning we often don’t have any debt and we have more saved up.  Recently a report release by PEW showed that someone with no debt and $100 in the bank account has a higher net worth than most people in America.

3. We say no to big houses

For a long time I thought I was saying “no” to big houses, fancy cars, nice clothes, etc. but I realized one day that I wasn’t saying “no”, but in fact saying “yes”.  I am saying “yes” to a life where I have no debt, where I have exactly what I need, to a job where I only have to work a few hours a week, and “yes” to travel, pursuit of passions, hobbies and interests.

So its not so much I’m rejecting bigger houses, but embracing the benefits of smaller living.

4. You can’t have a relationship or a family in a tiny house

Time and time again I get asked about families and relationships in a tiny house.  There are plenty of examples of people who are couples and also plenty of examples of families who live in a tiny house.  The truth is it’s possible, but its not for everyone.  Don’t get caught up in “I have to be ____ number of square feet because that is what a tiny house is”  Forget that notion, do what makes sense for you and those you live with.  If I were to want to cohabitate with someone else, would I live in a tiny house with them?  HELL NO!  Would I get a bigger house than a tiny house, but small compared to most houses, most definitely.  For some though, a tiny house as a couple is great.  For some families, they might live in 800 square feet or maybe more; that’s okay too.

5. A tiny house isn’t a real house

Every time someone learns that I live in a tiny house that don’t know what they are I get all the same questions.  Does it have a bathroom, a sink, a kitchen, a shower, a toilet, a bed, electricity, water, internet?  The answer is yes, yes, and yes.  My house has every creature comfort you could want and so do most tiny houses.  Tiny houses have all the same systems that a traditional house has, it is built the same way (mostly) and uses most of the same materials.  There are some things that I have chosen  not to have like a dish washer and microwave, but that’s because I didn’t want them.

Conference

North Carolina Tiny House Community

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On Easter morning I had the pleasure of speaking with Kerry Lindsey, an innovator and developer in Flat Rock, North Carolina who has begun a project to bring tiny houses to his existing retreat centered community. I was excited to hear about his plans and what he has going on in this gem of a town in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was so inspiring to speak with Lindsey about his experiences living the tiny life, what he’s accomplished and his continued plans involving tiny houses, community and the importance of mindfulness in our current world. Check it out!

How did you discover the tiny house movement and what drew your interest?

My interest in tiny houses began when we were kids. My folks built their first home from the rock and logs off the land of their mini farm, and as kids we copied them; building 2 fairly sophisticated tree houses (for kids) and a tiny log cabin. That interest continued and a couple of years out of high school I bought a junked school bus for $150 and converted it into a camper/house , traveling for several months (Kesey style) around the southeast in it with a handful of hippie friends . I continued building small outbuildings at my own first mini farm and after buying this property, restored all the old summer camp cabins here as we started the first conference center. By the time Jay Schafer came to town the first time, 4-5 years ago, I had the bug bad and was dredging and creating waterfront sites in the early stages of this project.

What is your ideal vision in building and sustaining tiny houses IMG-20140228-00049construction and what life experiences brought your developing such community?

This place is the intersection of three strong paths in my life: creating artistic buildings, a 5 business entrepreneurial streak and the understanding gleaned from my own spiritual community about the essence of community. So many of the outcomes we’ve looked for in the so called “American Dream” can’t be found in a media driven consumerist approach to life. It takes slowing down. Living a simpler lifestyle (like Tiny House living) as well as creating a more intentional approach to community can be a great support for the peace and happiness we all aspire towards. While I think many folks want to build these to garner more independence, I think its the fact that one can both have that, and create truly supportive communities (by “rounding up the wagons” so to speak) that is so interesting. We all need privacy but there is also a certain magic in coming together more collaboratively to create things together.

What influences stylistically are you basing your designs off of?

I lean towards the Appalachian cabin vernacular but with a whimsical twist. Tree houses….hobbit houses…. Creativity is energizing and the more that people are connected to the shelters they build or personalize, the more life it brings into the community. It creates a felt-sense of place. This is not to say we don’t have guidelines….we are in the middle of a retreat center business after all, and the place needs to feel congruent with our reason for being here.

IMG-20140228-00048What demographic are you attempting to reach?

Like we did in our first neighborhood across the street, we strive to appeal to an inter-generational market because diversity adds to the value of communities. I can see our larger models clustered together around a common house to create a pocket neighborhood akin to a senior co-housing community: because we also put an emphasis on creating business opportunities within the projects we’ve done, and have kid friendly areas, I’d also expect to see a younger crowd here, learning both how to build a home and start a business. The third market is “second home” folks like here in the Garden Hamlet People that are simply wanting a quiet place to get away to on weekends or to take a vacation. Like the Hamlet cottages that surround the goat meadow, these cabins can also be placed back in the retreat rental pool so that folks can earn a little off their investment when they’re not using them.

What is your timeline for development? Have you started construction and when do you project to complete this community?

We are 28 years into the overall community and the retreat section is the 4th of the 7 planned phases. We’ve got our primary infrastructure in as well as the new cafe/community building. Four tiny’s are under way (mostly students from Dan Louche’s workshop here last fall) as well as our first double-sized one, a 400 sq ft unit. This is a two module design that can be moved with a normal pick up truck. Because there are many great Tiny House providers on the market today, our focus is primarily on the next size up. While its not something one would haul around day to day like an RV, it would be moveable so that people could have more flexibility about where they live. Here we’ll have lots that can be leased which will make it a very affordable community for young folks starting out or retirees looking for an unencumbered, active, learning, community based life style.

In what ways do permaculture and tiny house ideals coincide for you? How do you feel they compliment each other?

Well the obvious first part is their small footprint and how well they can be integrated into a mini-farm like layout. Here at the Garden Hamlet, even though the cottages are larger, over 60% of the land is held in permanent open space for gardens, greenhouses, fruit trees, farm animals and gardens.

Can you elaborate on your community incubator series and how highlandlakecove1that has played a role in your development of community?

The fundamental learning tracks in it grew out of my experience working with key employees over the course of my 43 years in business….helping them take a more “intra”preneurial approach to running their departments. My approach is more along the lines of the Integral Incubator Series at Integral Institute in Boulder. Beyond the basics, I’m more interested in helping folks with a Four Bottom Line approach. . . People Planet Profit & Personal Transformation. Part of the purpose of the incubator is to help people create meaningful work in their own communities. I deem myself lucky because I always found myself in a business that arose out of personal passions and creativity and always kept me learning and evolving. So many folks work so they can retire. I prefer to help people create work that’s inspiring.

Are you going to have workshops this summer geared towards building tiny houses?

Yes our next on is May 24th-25th. It will be taught by Teal Brown of Wishbone Tiny Homes here in Asheville along with some of our students and staff for certain elements. It will also include an introduction to building with cob for folks thinking about creating more fixed structures.

To find out more about workshops, retreats and the community visit www.highlandlakecove.com!

Thanks again Kerry for talking to me and for growing tiny house love and community in the Carolinas!

 

Your Turn!

  • Are you inspired by tiny houses to build community? If so, how?

Via

Gratitude In The New Year

With New Years right around the corner, many folks are thinking about what will come in 2014.  Many people will also be making new years resolutions.  I’d like to propose something a little bit different this year.  Instead of looking forward to what will be, lets look back and what has been; more specifically, lets practice gratitude for all the good things that we enjoyed in 2013.

This looking back and practicing gratitude has been show to be more productive.  It is something that I have learned this year to be a huge boost to my happiness, there are moments where I am struck by how lucky I have been and what a great life I have been fortunate enough to live.  I have learned to appreciate the things we often take for granted.

This practice of expressing gratitude has been shown in studies to actually boost happiness.

2013 was an amazing year, lets be thankful for it.

Why I Have To Buy More To Live Tiny

It seems counter intuitive, but for me to live tiny I have to buy more stuff!  One of the things that I am not having in my tiny house is a laundry.  Despite trying to work it out, there just wasn’t a great place to put it, even if I got one of the washer and dryer in one machines, there wasn’t a great space to tuck it away.

laundry-serviceSo this leaves me with having to look for options outside the tiny house, namely laundry mats, friends places or a service.  I have decided my splurge is going to be having a laundry service come pick up the clothes, wash fold, then bring back to me.  I decided this because of one truth I know about myself.  I loath folding laundry and I’m terrible at it.  It’s not that I can’t do it, but frankly at this point in my life, its worth the money to have someone else do it.

This leads to my predicament.  Clothes.  I don’t find enjoyment the act of shopping and clothes, while necessary, as long as they suit my life well, I could care less about them.  This has lead me to just not have a lot of them.

Currently in my wardrobe I have:

  • 2 pairs of pants
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 1 belt – reversible
  • 7 shirts
  • 20 pair of underwear and socks
  • 1 polo shirt
  • 1 button down shirt
  • 1 pair of dress pants
  • 1 jacket
  • 1 pair of flannel sleep pants
  • Shoes: 1  black dress, 1 sneakers, 1 hiking boots, 1 crocs

So while my clothes are off at the launder I need to have something to wear and this means buying more clothes; which I don’t like doing.  So I have decided I’m going to pick up another pair of shorts, a pair of pants and 3 more T-shirts and another pair of sleep pants; at least to start, we’ll see how this works and go from there.

I am also making decisions around my closet to meet these needs.  I will only have three things to hang: dress shirt, jacket and dress pants, I figure I’ll allow a little extra room in case I want to hang more, but still, keeping it small.  I am also going to locate the hanging rod at the least accessible space in the closet because I don’t use these things but a few times a year.  The rest will all be shelves and for the socks and underwear I’ll have them in little bins on shelves.

Another thing that I am making considerations on is how to handle wrinkles in clothes, because right now I’d just throw a shirt in the dryer if it got really really wrinkled, but I won’t have one anymore.  So I need an ironing board and a something I can iron on.  I was thinking of making one of these   DIY direction here

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5 Reasons Most People Never Discover Their Purpose

A recent article came out from Inc. about why most people don’t discover their purpose in life and it inspired me to write this.

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People don’t define what is right for themselves.

I hear it too often, “I did it because I was supposed to”.  That common phrase might be one of the most dangerous phrases today in modern America.  If you are here reading this, there’s a good chance that you know this all too well.  When we grow up we often look to those around us who we trust to help us make decisions and we are smart to do so.  However, there comes a time when we must really start to rely on ourselves more and through introspection, learn what is right for us.  We can still seek the council of others, but as we grow, we must understand when to ask for help and more importantly who to ask.

Not taking the time for introspection and goal setting.

How crazy is it that we spend all this time doing things that may or may not make us happy, but we can’t take an hour to just think about what we are doing with our life.  Introspection is one of the strongest tools I’ve found to help me navigate life.  It brings clarity, it bring confidence, it spurs new ideas and it speaks to the soul.

Using introspection allows you do realize your dreams, but also grapple with your fears; both in productive ways.  Most people never take the time to do this, they do what they do because they are “supposed” to, but don’t take the time really think about things.

Most people are scared of their darkside

Most tiny housers are great people, but everyone has a darkside.  We aren’t talking about a darkside a la sociopath or the like; We are talking about your regrets, insecurities and selfish drives.  Everyone has them and it isn’t until we wrestle with them that we can make any real progress.  It has been my experience that the most amount of growth and understanding occurs in this space; where you face these dark parts of yourself and lean into them.  In some cases I have learned from them, other times I have come to accept them, or in some cases I have come to embrace them.  Whatever it is you have been intentional with them.

Too busy worrying about everyone else.

There are those who’s opinions you deem important, but for most people, we are too concerned with everyone’s opinion of us.  It’s only natural, but spending too much time worrying what others think about us is dangerous.

It is funny in a way, But I have found that those who are most likely judge you or chastise you are often the ones that are the most uncomfortable with themselves, haven’t found themselves, do what they are “supposed to do”, and haven’t decided things for themselves; why would you care about a person’s opinion that is so ill conceived and fraught with insecurities?

Seek the advice of those important to you, then go forth, ignore the rest.

People don’t “buck up” and go for it.

There has been one thing that I’ve found when it comes to people who are doing what they love, are well balanced, living an adventure.  They don’t let excuses get in the way and they act today.  I did this with my tiny house, I put it off, but in the end when I did it, I realized I, myself, was literally the only thing holding me back.

What is more tragic than a life where you don’t get to live your dream?  Having the chance to do something amazing and not jumping at the opportunity.
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