education

Tiny Home Builders Hands-On Building Workshop

Tiny Home Builders Hands-On Building Workshop

Have you been to a tiny house workshop?

I've spoken at and taught about 20 in the past 2 years, and they always get me excited all over again. Meeting people who are just beginning their small home journeys, discussing science and nature, and making good friends are my favorite parts!

Last weekend Matt and I helped Dan Louche at his hands-on tiny home building workshop in Atlanta, GA. We were there to primarily talk about sustainable building, off-grid systems, and how and WHY you should downsize your life sooner rather than later. We ended up answering a lot of questions about composting toilets. Everyone is ALWAYS most interested in our bathroom habits, and we've become extremely comfortable speaking candidly about our bodily functions with total strangers.

We had the pleasure of meeting up with some people in real life from the current Tiny Transition + Downsizing class, and it was SO FUN to hang out and get to know each other off-the-Internet. Putting faces to names and meeting people I had been connecting with online for months was really great.

Vermont and Maine Adventure: Small houses and Design/Build Inspiration

Vermont and Maine Adventure: Small houses and Design/Build Inspiration

Hello there, friend! I'm happy to say Matt and I made it back from our Vermont/Maine trip, where we ate a ton of maple creemees (sometimes 2 in one day) and lots of blueberries.

I graduated from college last Sunday with a degree in Sustainable Design + Build. So now it's "official". A lot of people ask me if I feel relieved or like I can now just relax for a bit but that's not really my style! Mostly I'm just excited that there aren't any more little nagging things left to do admin-wise and that the degree is in my hand. I didn't think it would be an important moment for me, to get that piece of paper, but it was definitely nice to be recognized for all the projects I've been doing!

Dave Sellers, the famous architect/designer and my dear friend, was the commencement speaker at the ceremony. He gave a really great speech that instead of making us graduating students feel like it was time to just relax and take a break, we really need to get to work on our full potential! At least that's how I felt. So the day we got back from the trip I started writing another big thing. I can't wait to share it with you soon.

Graduation, Renovation, and The Next Phase

Graduation, Renovation, and The Next Phase

Hello friends!

This blog post is an update so that you know what Matt and I will be up to this month and next. I just wanted to let you know because we have a very busy 2 months lined up and we're excited to have a few new adventures lined up to share with you.

1. I'm graduating College, and my ceremony is THIS WEEK!

So, I technically finished school and graduated from college in June, but because my college only has "residency" (on campus time) twice a year, my actual ceremony isn't until this weekend. I will be graduating from Goddard College in Vermont on Sunday August 24th. It has been a wild ride. I fucking love Goddard and will miss the freedom, autonomy, faculty and friends I have made there. I never thought I would actually make it through college - I'm fundamentally opposed to the whole system - but Goddard was such a special exception. They helped me see the value of doing it your own way within a support system.

I will graduate with a degree in Sustainability, concentration on Ecological Design and Sustainable Business. And because I've been designing my own curriculum the entire time and have been studying tiny houses for the past 4 years, I believe I'm probably the first person to get a degree in tiny houses :)

Explaining Tiny Houses to High School Students

Yesterday Matt and I made our long awaited return to the amazing Anne Richards School in Austin, Texas. You might remember our visit last year, where we were brought in to teach the all-girls engineering class for 2 weeks, as they were doing the first COMET Camper-inspired curriculum, Project  Ventura. The girls had to design an eco-friendly trailer to be used by the school community.

This year, the girls of the Anne Richards School have a bigger budget and a bigger project: to turn a huge Airstream trailer into a teacher's lounge powered by solar panels. We are so excited to be in Austin again hanging out with these amazing high school girls. Their passion and innovation is incredible. I keep telling them how lucky they are to be restoring vintage trailers as a school project! I think they realize the importance of the project and the opportunity it creates.

So yesterday Matt and I gave the class our introduction to Tiny Houses. I'm used to giving this presentation to groups of older people - people living on their own already, and people with jobs and kids. But giving the presentation to high school students was totally different! They could see the COMET lifestyle (either in a trailer or tiny house) as a way out of their parent's house, or as an alternative to expensive college dorm housing. We heard many of the girls exclaiming "I have to rethink my whole life now!!", which was awesome!

Tiny House Fair 2013 in Vermont: Recap and a Rant

I said to Matt as we were leaving Warren VT after 4 days at the Tiny House Fair at Yestermorrow this past weekend, "I'm going to need some time to process everything!" and it's been a few days now since we got back. I'm just finally able to write about it! What a crazy, fun, informative, inspiring weekend. I met people I had been admiring for a long time, and it was fun to just hang out and talk about stuff other than tiny houses too. The movers and shakers of this little movement are passionate about the earth, social justice, and community building in all different ways. It was great to be able to hang out with some friends from the trip last month - Alex Pino of Tiny House Talk, and Dan Louche of Tiny Home Builders, and to meet everyone new. Check out the photos below, the ones that are taken at night are Matt's photos. Look at the Milky Way! Vermont is beautiful. After the fair was over, Monday morning, I took the remainder of the tiny house presenters (Jay, Lina, Alex, Dan) that were still around on a tour of my favorite design/build buildings in the Waitsfield/Warren area - of which there are quite a few. It really made me appreciate all the amazing things I get to see as part of my every day life. It also made me appreciate what it would be like to have no building codes - pretty fucking awesome in my opinion. Have you ever been to the Prickly Mountain, or seen the Archy Bunker?

Now it's time for a little rant. I'll be covering more of the issues that cropped up over the weekend (bigger issues) in the next few days, but for now I just have to express how disappointed I was to receive a nasty note taped to the back of my camper one day when I looked outside during the fair. Someone, obviously with nothing better to do than troll around and try to make people feel bad, wrote a passive aggressive, rude note on my trailer and left it there anonymously.

Tiny House Road Trip Recap

I'm back! What a wild trip! Just to remind you all, for the past month I was traveling around the US (car-camping in my Element, which worked out great) interviewing Tiny House people and doing tiny house stuff. In the coming months (it takes so long to edit this stuff!) you'll see my interviews with Laura Lavoie of Life In 120 Square Feet, Dan Louche of Tiny Home Builders, Alex Pino of Tiny House Talk, Sicily of Le Petit Maison, Steve Harrell of Tiny House Swoon and Tiny House Listings, Andrew Odom of Tiny (r)Evolution, and Hari and Karl of Tiny House Family. What an awesome community of people we have! Turns out everyone lives in a tiny house for very different, unique reasons, and it was amazing to see so many people who had really found a sense of fulfillment through small living. More on all this later!

Also, Kent Griswold told me that I had a video up on YouTube, maybe some of you have already seen it? I just found out about it while I was away, and I'd love it if you guys checked it out and "liked" it if you feel like it! Here's the link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7uKCnIBOhpw

A New School and A Road Trip

Hello lovelies, Sorry I've been away from the blog for a few days - I have been very busy prepping for Tiny House Road Trip Spring 2013. What is this Tiny House Road trip? In my neverending quest for the essence of the tiny house movement, I have planned a tour of the eastern and southern US, during which I will interview, film, and photograph tiny house people and their homes. I leave in less than 2 weeks! The road trip is about one month total. I'm interviewing tiny house builders, designers, and dwellers, documenting everything with cameras, audio recorders, and the pen. I'm very excited to finally meet some of the tiny house bloggers and internet acquaintances that I have been following via the internet for a long time. I'll return with lots of footage and insights to share with you all. So for the last week, Matt (cameraman, audio tech, and tiny house partner in crime) and I have been modding out my Honda Element with a platform bed with storage underneath, insulated window covers, black-out curtains, and custom vents for the windows. We're just car camping the whole trip (not towing the COMET, alas) to save money. If you have a tiny house project or business or thing you think we should see, let us know in the comments! This is the first of multiple tiny house road trips I have planned. I hope it goes smoothly - we've been planning everything out to the last detail but you never know!

Also, I was delighted to be interviewed by Andrew Odom of TinyRevolution for his podcast, RevoConvo. He's a super nice guy, and we share a common sponsor (GreenBuildingSupply.com). We talked about trailers and Worcester and off-grid systems. It was really fun, and you can all give it a listen next Thursday when it comes out! (I'll post the link when it comes out).

Texas Trip - Finding the TINY in the "everything is bigger" state

Woah, what an amazing trip. We've been back for a few days, but are just getting some time to reflect/catch up now that we are snowed in for the next few days thanks to this "nemo" storm we're experiencing in MA right now (there's a driving ban, so we couldn't go anywhere even if we wanted to!).

TEXAS has more TINY going on than one might think, considering it's the state known for the slogan, "Everything is Bigger...". We had an incredible, inspiring time hanging out with the Engineering class at the Ann Richards School in Austin. Those girls are the coolest: they love math and science, the love engineering, and they were wise beyond their years. They were so engaged with their Project Ventura, they came in on Saturday and every day after school. I was super inspired by the work these girls were doing. We learned a lot from each other! You can all go check out their blog: http://projectventura.wordpress.com/. AND, you can help them out because their KICKSTARTER has just LAUNCHED! Please, please, please support these awesome girls by donating if you possibly can - they are the next generation of great innovators. I'll keep reminding you throughout their campaign, but why wait? Go to their project page now, and donate some $!

My Life is Validated by Tenth-Grade Girls

All I ever wanted with this blog and this project was to inspire other people to take their life into their own hands and do something creative with DIY attitude. Well, I never imagined that I would inspire a group of high school girls to undertake such a project, but it's happening right now! The girls at the Ann Richards School For Young Women Leaders in Austin TX are not your average tenth-graders. These engineering students focus on project-based learning at their high school. The class's assignment this year is directly inspired by the COMET, as they turn a 1970's travel trailer into a solar-powered learning tool. They are incorporating the eco-friendly aspects of the COMET and the small space design techniques of tiny houses into their project. The girls are learning 3D digital modeling, design, green building methods, construction, and more through the hands-on project. Right now, the design groups in the class are coming up with designs, budgets, and plans. The client will choose the winning design, which will be implemented in the trailer this spring. Needless to say, I was flattered and amazed when their teacher (who is so amazing - I wish I had teachers like this in high school!) emailed me saying that they were undertaking Project Ventura, based on the COMET and my own methods. Now I'm going down to TX this week to teach the class for a week and learn what I can from this group of incredible young women.

Tumbleweed Tiny House Worskhop Re-cap and Progress!

Hello! I've been away from the blog for a few days in favor of getting in some full days of work out in the COMET. I will spare you some of the details (I removed the black water tank. I then had to remove and clean the wood/subfloor that the black water tank sat on. Not pleasant!) so you don't lose your breakfast, but I will say that I found something HILARIOUS hidden in the walls of the camper under the toilet. My COMET definitely has a history! I'll post a picture of it later, because it's too funny (and somewhat lewd) to describe at the moment!

Anyway, what I really want to talk about is the Tumbleweed Tiny House workshop that I spoke at and attended in Boston over the weekend. I was getting over a fever/cold this weekend (I hate summer colds!) but had a GREAT time at the workshop. The main part of the workshop was taught by Derek Diedricksen, tiny house and recycled materials guru. I gave a presentation about how the design and technology of the camper industry can be interpreted into tiny houses, and how you can re-use vintage camper appliances and parts in a tiny house to save money.