Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

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Pets & Tiny Living

Here at La Casita a surprise was in store for Cedric this holiday season. A young Corgi pup named Asher Bear was my gift DSCN3844to Cedric for Christmas and now we are adapting to tiny house living with an adorably fluffy, tiny being! It’s quite the learning experience, both enriching and challenging and well worth the extra effort! So far, we’ve found the transition from two to three quite smooth and La Casita is proving to be just as nurturing a space as a big home can be.

People have asked us about having pets in a tiny house and many seem skeptical of the possibility.  I believe many things you can do in a larger home you can creatively accomplish in a tiny house. For me, this means tweaking my lifestyle and asking for help. Over the summer a friend of ours house sat La Casita and he owns a 50 pound dog. Rather large for the size of our house but with a little help from our community it worked out beautifully. We put Zach in touch with a friend and neighbor who had just lost her dog a few months back and was more than happy to dog sit during the day while he was at work. That way, Ani-dog was able to have a larger space to spend the day and both human and pooch had much desired company. It was a great compromise that worked for everyone and is one example of how you can make having a pet in a small space work for your tiny lifestyle.

Ani dogAs with any pet purchase,  it’s important to seriously consider what creature best fits personal lifestyle and, for dwellers of tiny houses, the animal’s adaptability to living in a small space. Cedric and I thought long and hard about a dog.  We’d been looking at breeds and talking about potentially have a pup for over 2 years. We selected a breed for size and personality as well as a breed whom we’ve lived with in the past. We always knew a small to medium sized dog with plenty of energy would best suit our lifestyle. We are active people who enjoy biking to the park, kayaking the marshes and going on walks after dinner. We wanted a pet who could enjoy these activities along side us. We knew Corgis need lots of outdoor time so we felt that we’d be able to meet the breed’s need for activity and in terms of size it wouldn’t outgrow a tiny space as s/he moved in to adulthood. So far,  La Casita has proven a great environment for Asher  since it pushes us daily out of our home and into our community.  It allows us to assist in his socialization but there’s still enough space in our home to invite over friends for puppy parties which are great fun.

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Building Community Continues

Part 2

In my last post I discussed the community Cedric and I live in and how La Casita has brought neighbors to our door. I’d like to continue exploring this topic  in terms of how you create and sustain community.  I’ve been involved with several non-profits and grassroots groups over the past 8 years that have helped me learn about community building. These experiences, especially bicycle advocacy, assisted us in building community around tiny houses in Charleston. My hardest lesson, however, has been learning how to sustain the community we create.

In 2008, Cedric and I along with a group of friends founded the Holy City Bicycle Cooperative (HCBC). It was the first community I had been a part of that found its beginnings on the internet. Cedric had started a website without knowing a single person in the biking community but  a simple site brought together a group who had all been working separately. Through our combined efforts we had a co-op within a month. I actually met Cedric for the first time at that meeting and when I left I was amazed at how quickly the internet had brought us all together. The Tiny Life is a fantastic example of an online community supporting and encouraging a physical community. Hearing stories, exploring other’s projects and being able to stay easily connected is essential to growing and sustaining any community.

Besides the wonders of the internet, networking has been a driving force in my experiences in community organizing. Conferences are an awesome way to meet and learn from others doing similar work.  HCBC members used to attend a conference held once a year called Bike!Bike! Different cooperatives hosted each year for 3 days of workshops, races and potlucks. When we came home we had increased energy and renewed excitement in our projects within the cooperative.  I’d love to help organize a conference for tiny house enthusiasts and have a chance to network and learn from all the rad folks out there that are creating a wider support group for other tiny lifers.

Visiting other projects is another way that we’ve built community which we learned when leading a community garden non-profit. The people behind the projects we assisted were always an incredible inspiration. We experienced further inspiration within the tiny house movement when we stopped in at Boneyard Studios in D.C. this past summer and checked out how they’re attempting to create community. It’s no easy task, with weary neighbors and hostile city zoning it’s persistent work that builds tiny house community. We’ve learned that connecting to people face to face is essential to such growth.

That is what we’ve attempted within our neighborhood-connection. I try to acknowledge everyone’s presence, from the children running through the streets to the dealers on the corner. I look people in the eye, ask how they are doing and acknowledge their presence. I often get the sense that folks don’t expect this. Some people look at me with surprise at being addressed. Being raised in the south where strangers often greet one another in the street, you’d think this would come more naturally to me. Alas, I was raised by a northerner and I was not instilled with this sense of southern manners. I have to push myself everyday to open up to strangers and take a moment, set my intent and actively greet people. And it’s paid off. I hear friendly voices in return, even from some of the most hardened looking of neighbors and that has been my reward.  Friendliness as well as general respect.

I’m excited to see what Jay Shafer has up his sleeve with his new venture Four Lights as well as other community builders such as Boneyard Studios. It will be interesting to watch the progression of these and other movements. For me, living in community is the best way to live the tiny life so I’ll be keeping a close eye on these projects as well as any others that are out there. Collaboration breeds inspirations so let’s work together!

Your Turn!

  • What do you envision when you think of community?
  • What actions do we take as individuals to continue moving towards supporting one another in building community?

Via

Building Community

Part One

Living the tiny life has a lot of benefits but it is certainly not without some difficulties. Living in roughly 200 sq. feet makes it unrealistic to have certain conveniences. Cedric and I realized from the beginning that in order to live our lives the way we did in larger spaces, we were going to have to reach out to our community.

We have been living in La Casita in a city setting, in the middle of downtown Charleston. It’s centrally located, we have a great landlord and our neighborhood is not only welcoming, but genuinely interested in LaCa.  Folks yell out to us on the daily, “I love your house!” As I am sure you can imagine, it didn’t take long to get to know the neighbors when everyone was curious to find out what we were doing living in their hood.

Because that is where we live. In a hood. At least that’s what all the neighborhood children tell me. We live here because to live in a tiny house in the heart of this city, as in many cities, we have to live where there are bigger fish to fry than zoning issues, mostly in terms of drug crime. We knew getting to know neighbors and building community was going to be key to lying low from city officials and their substantial list of zoning laws but we also needed avoid tension within our neighborhood. It helped to have a longtime family friend living a block away but we certainly didn’t realize how much positive attention La Casita was going to receive and how it would help us find a home in the neighborhood.

We live in a pocket neighborhood in which most of the home owners are older black folk and their families. Reaching across the racial divide in Charleston is still a sticky situation that, at best, is breached through religion or work.  I’m still trying to figure out if tiny houses can help bridge some of the social and cultural differences among the citizens of a city whose economic roots stem from slavery. From what we’ve experienced LaCa certainly starts many a conversation that steers toward deeper issues. I’ve had conversations about cypress siding that lead to a discussion on material reclamation and the economy of freeganism. I was chatting to a neighbor about road regulations and tiny house mobility ultimately leading to a debate on zoning and low-income housing possibilities. It’s rather amazing the doors opened through such a tiny space!

Whether old, young, black, white, rich or poor, we’ve had every kind of person come up to our home and ask us what we are doing and how we did it. It sparks interest and has helped us break the ice on many occasions with neighbors. We would tell them our story and in turn they told us theirs. It just seems to make sense to a lot of people we meet that having a space that is payed off, can be moved around and doesn’t cost much in resources is a great way to live.

Once we settled in,  we had an outdoor party and invited friends and neighbors for a bbq. We had a great time and since then I’ve enjoyed endless porch conversations with my neighbor on the corner, helped fix the bikes of the kids on our street and shared countless good will in the form of cookies, dinners and beers with the people who live near us. Without their support we certainly would not have found such a comfortable, fulfilling space in the city. To live in a tiny house for us is to often rely on others for help in situations such as hosting a friend or a family member who comes in to town or throwing a dinner party or just doing a banal chore like laundry.  We experience larger living through community and it meets basic as well as social and spatial needs that can not always be met by a tiny house. For us, it’s the best of both worlds.

 Your Turn!

  • Do you think community is essential to the Tiny Life?

Makes You Think

This is a great song by Malvina Reynolds, listening to it makes you think about how strong social influences are.  Are these influences the best for us?  Do they limit us? Do they stifle us?  How does it impact our happiness? It makes you think….

Happy Halloween!

I normally only post Monday to Friday, but since its a holiday I decided to do a quick post.

Check out Green Costumes for kids over at Inhabitat

animal

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