The answer is found in stewardship– the wise use of one’s time, energy, fiscal and other resources.
Are you wisely using the space in which you live? Which room or rooms do you live in the most? What happens to the others? Are you bothered by all the space within your dwelling that is least occupied?
“Tiny” is the efficient use of space. Admittedly, there is much less space to “expand” one’s life—one’s possessions and one’s decorative sense are two examples. Where do we really live, though—in our dwellings or in our hearts and relationship space?
But “tiny” also means less money expended to maintain a larger space that has become for many of us an idol. In 1963, my parents took on a 25-year mortgage on a new, two-story house with four bedrooms that cost $17,500. That same home today can sell for close to $300,000.
How scales of economy have changed! “Tiny” addresses the buying power of present dollars as much as it reflects the desire not to buy into the myth that bigger is better.
Bigger is not necessarily better. For most of us fascinated by tiny living, the exploration of all things tiny imparts hope.
Stuff, we love having stuff, our culture tells us we need stuff, we need more of it and the stuff we already have isn’t good enough. When it comes to downsizing you probably are thinking of materials things, they clutter our homes and they often end up in the trash or donated to goodwill. But when I say downsizing I am talking not just materials things, but non-tangibles too! Whether they occupy a physical space or weigh on our minds, there is a balance we must reach with stuff.
What are non-tangible things? They can be things that are on our mind, that distract us. They are goals and activities we want to do, but have yet to complete. They are things that get in the way of us being the best we can be.
Some things are necessary, while others make life just a little bit easier, and then there are those things we just “need” for one reason of another. So here are some quick tips that I have used in my life to really reduce the amount of stuff.
I decided to split this up over a few days because it’s so big and so you can take time to digest each one on its own. Please feel free to share your thoughts!
This is a really useful tool that I use allot and with great success. Find a box, any box, size appropriate for your stuff of a certain area. The important thing to remember is to tackle one defined area at a time, usually you can define an area by its function. Your desk is a great place to start (then later move on to your clothes, then the kitchen, etc.). Take everything and I mean everything! Out of and off of your desk (with the exception of your computer and desk lamp) and put it into the box. No cheating now, just do it, I want every drawer empty, the desktop clear and the floor clear too if you have stuff piled up.
Bigger is not necessarily better. Bigger can certainly be beautiful! And there is nothing inherently wrong in bigger. But bigger can be quite costly in both the short and long term and can bring with it many headaches.
It’s important to be compassionate: many of us could not but help buy into the belief that as we grew up that we, too, could purchase the type of homes our parents did– homes just as “spacious” and stately– even if we were raised in a row home or semi-detached dwelling.
But for chiefly economic reasons– many of which readers of “The Tiny Life” are aware– the purchase (and sustaining) of long-term mortgages has become less likely, less possible, and fraught with more risk.
For the sake of example, let’s suppose you and I can purchase such a home. My father worked for a corporation and was employed 33 consecutive years with that same employer before he retired. In general, such job security today, let alone with a single employer, is not the norm nor the reality for the vast majority of us.
Therefore, taking on a 20-35 year mortgage brings with it the worries of what will happen if one or both incomes become imperiled. What happens to our long-term investment if 23 years into our 25-year mortgage we lose either our jobs or our health? What if savings and the help of family &/or friends is not enough to “save” our home?
If you spend any time in NYC, LA or other large cities you notcie what James Kunstler calls “nature bandaids” click here for my post and his video But what about when you combined a bagel factory & dirt? In NYC an old bagel factory had its roof top converted from 6000 square feet of sheet metal to a viable farm!
Ben Flanner launched this project after feeling that he had his fill of working for E-Trade and when he saw how many folks around were turning to growing their own food, he jumped at the chance. He partnered with several folk from botanists, gardeners, farmers and a green roof architect firm to make his dream a reality.
The farm is already being harvested and being sold to local restaurants as the closest to source vegetables available. Ultimately he hopes to set up a stand where he can sell to people of the community to keep it all as local as possible.
While I may have a Tiny Lifestyle blog, I have always been trying to really hone in on what the Tiny Lifestyle truly is. It is more than just owning a tiny house; it is a culmination of many things which leads us to a life which addresses human needs that we find are absent in our lives. It’s seeking more time, discovering ourselves and loved ones. It’s getting back in touch with nature; I would even go as far as saying there is a spiritual side to it as well.
I feel that the course we are going on as humans isn’t sustainable in both ecological and psychological terms. With so many humans on this earth we are feeling cramped, we lack room to roam, time to be and other needs of the human condition. What does this all have to do with Urbanism?
Like I said the way we live today isn’t sustainable in many ways, we must rethink, reengineer and adjust our behaviors. With 6.5+ billion people on this world urbanism will happen and we have to be smart about it.
So today I want to share these a few videos (if you only watch one, take time for the first it’s phenomenal) about building better. There are many people who are part of the Tiny House Movement that do so in an urban setting. For those of you whom are a bit more remote, while these things talk about cities and urban area, there are undoubtedly gems we can gleam. Whether these ideas are used to develop your community, your own tract of land or a small community of tiny houses, these ideas are invaluable for the backwoods or cities alike.