Recently I had the chance to chat with some people from around the Charlotte area who are into Tiny Houses, it was a great time, but it did bring up some interesting points for me. Near the end of the conversation we spoke about the idea of a community of small houses. While this is certainly not a new conversation, it did strike me that this was the third conversation that I have had in the past 4 months that ended with the idea of a community. I have gone back and forth on the idea whether I would want to go down that road, it certainly is an interesting proposition.
I have found myself at this discussion several times now and it got me thinking, is this something that is possibly a cultural trend? The idea of a commune is obviously not my intention and many folks aren’t looking for such a thing, but what about an Intentional Community? What is that, you ask? Basically is a community that is created by a group of individuals who unite for a common purpose. A Tiny House community by definition would be an intentional community. It is important to note that these groups often don’t include religious doctrine, weird rituals or other negative things that many associate with “communes” or “cults”.
So with this idea, that an intentional community might be a product of a cultural shift, I set out to see if I could find out. Come to find, there is a note worthy trend among 20-somethings and baby boomers who are seeking this type of arrangement. With families spread out over vast areas, the digital age throwing stimulus at us faster than ever, mounting environmental/socio/political concerns and cost climbing, people are turning to these types of arrangements a lot more. A resurgence of communal living has come, but in much more evolved and unique ways. The other aspect that I find most appealing is the community aspect of it. Where I live now, people drive into their garages at night, shut them behind them and never come out. There is next to no interaction between neighbors, it is so sad! This is the number one reasons people have cited as why they seeks these arrangements when it comes to 20-somethings and baby boomers as of late, they feel disconnected and want a true community. Within an intentional community this is facilitated through community meals, events, social spaces, removing the emphasis on cars, having a vision statement, etc.
I can’t help but wonder if this resurgence is simply the precursor to Americans reverting back to small town type of settings. Large enough to cover all the needs, but small enough to know each other and help first hand in every decision. Many people have stated we need to move back to an smaller town center type of arrangement, even if they are connected by a public transit system to a whole series of townships. There are those who say we must revert back to an agrarian type of lifestyle (with some technologies holding over) that will be catalyzed by a major drop in population.
So back to the original questions, does it make sense to start a community?
In terms of accessibility of land, I would say yes. These type of arrangements are really useful for being able to purchase larger shares of land that would be perfect for Tiny Houses. It would also allow us to navigate all the red tape and get approval for Tiny Houses on Wheels and smaller houses on foundations as a group. It might be easier for the initial group and also pave the way for other groups and obviously make it easier to add to our group.
In terms of utilities, I would say yes again. As a group you could arrange your own power from solar, wind, and hydro. For Black water you could arrange systems to deal with that onsite and dilute the costs. For water, you could easily make drilling wells or running water lines more affordable as group with collective purchasing power.
These issues mentioned above are the hardest to overcome and it means we could make great strides in the Tiny House Movement. Along side of that, I think that people are really looking to connect socially and a much deeper level than our society generally affords when it comes to the way we are housed. Designing housing to facilitate the interaction, the creation, and removal of barriers is something we will continue to see and want more and more. I feel that these communities do a good job to build this.
What are your thoughts?