Minimalism

Tiny House Collaborative

this photo of the Tiny House Collaborative was taken about 2 hours before we figured out it was A Thing I was on Hawaiian Time when the Tiny House Collaborative launched, so I haven't yet taken the time to tell you how very excited I am about being part of this group of fabulous people. The short answer is pretty freakin' excited!

The Tiny House Collaborative is a team of 7 individuals, each passionate about providing the resources to design, build and dwell efficiently. We are combining our energy, time, and expertise so that we can more effectively share our love of tiny homes and our collective knowledge of living well in small spaces. It's a synergistic relationship because we can do more together than any one of us could do alone.

You have four opportunities to take advantage of this synergy right away:

So how did this group of people all join up? We think it was a little bit luck/fate/coincidence and a little bit being brave enough to act on our mutual friend crushes. When we all arrived in Colorado for the 2015 Tiny House Jamboree, we decided to kick off the weekend with a hike. We got to talking about what each of us were doing in the Tiny House Movement and how it was hard to do it alone. By the end of the hike, the seven of us had decided we had to find a way to combine efforts. And just like that, the Tiny House Collaborative became a twinkle in our eyes.

In December we gathered up to Visit Orlando Lakefront RV & Tiny House Park to explore the city where James and Kai live. We turned the trip into a retreat to figure out the details and prepare to share the Tiny House Collaborative with everyone else. That means YOU! We have created a website where you can learn more about the Collaborative and sign up for the services we currently offer. Please know there are many more good things to come!

Small Developer Bootcamp in Portland

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INCDEV_Logo-17Yesterday, on a gorgeous spring morning, my landie Jake and I rode our bikes down to the Native American Center at PSU to attend the Small Scale Developer Bootcamp hosted by Eli Spevak of Orange Splot, LLC and John and Jim from Incremental Development Alliance. These three incredible people teamed up after meeting at an event last year. Eli told Jim and John that Portland has lots of people eager to make our neighborhoods better places through creative, community-oriented small scale projects. They scheduled a one-day bootcamp for the summer of 2016. But as more and more people contacted Eli with questions over the winter, he realized the demand for this information was even greater than anticipated, so he convinced John and Jim to bump the training up. They agreed and had the opportunity to present to a sold-out crowd of more than 100 people yesterday! orange_splot_logoThe event actually kicked off on Tuesday evening with a set of presentations by small scale developers at The Zipper, a fun new food court with local independent restaurants created by Kevin Kavanaugh of Guerrilla Development. It was fascinating hearing about all the small-scale residential, live-work, incubator, and mixed-use spaces that have been created. A special focus of the bootcamp was missing middle housing, a term coined by Daniel Parolek to describe the mid-density housing that most American cities quit building many years ago and now sorely lack. Daniel was there for the bootcamp to describe missing middle housing - you know, like fourplexes, garden apartments, rowhomes - and its role in our urban fabric.

Yesterday the ten sessions included topics like:

  • Financing Your First Deal
  • Site Selection & Buying Property
  • Deal Structures & Money Sources
  • Understanding Pro Formas
  • Due Diligence & Acquisition
  • Understanding Condominiums
  • Property & Asset Management

It was heartening to see so many people in Portland eager to learn about how they can play a part in making better neighborhoods by filling the gaps in our urban fabric with missing middle housing and small mixed-use projects. It was also fun to recognize so many faces in the room and meet new people. I'm glad I was able to participate and I look forward to seeing what happens in Portland over the next couple years as a result of the Small Developer Bootcamp!

Hawaiian Time

  Isha and me at Waikiki Beach

I recently returned from a much-anticipated 9-day vacation in Hawaii with Isha, The Guy Next Door. I’m in that happy in-between space where it’s so nice to have been gone and so nice to be home again! And I feel like I may still be on Hawaiian Time, which is much more easy-going but not always compatible with the mainland flurry!

We arrived in Honolulu super late on Saturday night a couple weeks ago and were greeted in Waikiki by Isha’s college pal Henry, who hosted us while we were there. And when I say we were greeted by Henry, I mean, Henry, a couple of cold beers, and a bag of Maui onion potato chips. For those of you unfamiliar with the trio, these may be the three best things to be greeted by on a hot January day in Waikiki after a long flight! The past couple years Henry has worked a few months in Hawaii and he’s told Isha that he’s welcome to come stay with him during those times. This year, thanks to some frequent flyer miles, we were able to take him up on the offer, making our vacation a relatively frugal one AND enabling us to have fabulous company!

Mmm! Tropical drinks! Soursop smoothie for breakfast, anyone?

Sunday is Henry’s one day off each week, so in the morning Isha and Henry headed out for a surf. I enjoyed a lazy start to my day, wandered Waikiki, and picked up some groceries at the market (some of which I’d never seen before – soursop smoothies, anyone? Mmmm!) I also prepped for and taught my weekly Downsizing E-Course. These call-ins are fun no matter what, but I’ve got to say it was especially nice discussing downsizing philosophies from our 21st floor Waikiki hotel room! That night Henry showed us one of his favorite Japanese restaurants in Waikiki and I enjoyed the best sushi and sake I’ve ever had. Scrumptious!

Exploring Chinatown Honolulu

Monday morning we started out the week with a smoothie on the beach, a swim, and some home-cooked breakfast before packing up our stuff to head to our new lodgings on the North Shore. We stopped along the way in Chinatown where we explored shops and markets and stocked up on ingredients for a week’s worth of home-cooked meals. Then we visited Pearl Harbor, which was a fascinating encounter with rhetoric and culture. On our drive to the North Shore where we stayed the rest of the trip, we stopped at Waimea Bay because everyone and their auntie was doing the same. The waves were massive so it was fun to watch the pro surfers and speculate about whether or not the Eddie surf competition would run. As we were nearing Sunset Beach we gave Henry a ring to let him know we were close and he said “I hope you like watching whales breach in 35 foot waves, because that’s what I’m doing right now from the deck!” Um, yes, please! Don’t mind if we do! Our dinner plans were back-burnered. Instead we sat out on the deck, drinking Coronas with lime and eating peanuts (acquired in Chinatown at a preposterous bargain!) and visited with Henry while watching the waves and the sunset.

I was certain that I’d be working from Hawaii since most of my trips are work-related in some way and I try to do maintenance work to keep up. But there’s something about Hawaiian Time that allowed me to really settle into having an actual vacation. Was it the waves? The sunshine? The humidity? The tropical fruit smoothies for breakfast? The salt water on my skin after a morning swim? Whatever it was, it felt luscious.

My sis and I hiked to the top of Diamond Head one beautiful afternoon

The days started to blend together in a lovely swirl of tasty food, warm sun, big waves, dream-filled sleep, yoga classes, and visiting with friends and family. Isha and I enjoyed some quality time and the chance to make more memories of our adventures together. Another of Henry’s friends stayed for five days during out trip and the fellas all surfed together every chance they got (which means I got a crash-course in surfer lingo – nothing like immersion, right!?) My sister who lives in Kauai came to visit for three days. She and I caught up while walking in the neighborhood, hiking to the top of Diamond Head, and wandering Waikiki. My friend and former Less is More student Maile and her husband Kevin were also on Oahu so we connected for lunch one day and she and Isha participated in our Downsizing E-Course from our beach house. We also enjoyed trading tasty meals with Henry’s friends and their 6-month-old cherub (I’ve never seen such a happy baby! Then again, growing up in Hawaii does seem to have that effect on people!) We were grateful for their local knowledge and their hospitality as they shared a soft top surf board for my first lesson, clued me in on the best yoga studio in the area, and introduced us to awesome swimming spots, local produce stands, and a fabulous Waimea Bay lookout, not to mention amusing us with the low-down on local celebrities.

These are the fun folks we hung out with on the North Shore all week!

Although we joked about staying forever and promised to come back at the next chance, it was also great to come home to Simply Home Community, my precious little cat, and my beloved tiny house, The Lucky Penny. It feels good to be home again. And it’s been fun this week to do some project management for the upcoming Tiny House Build Blitz in Tucson and to be excited about the launch of the Tiny House Collaborative.

Nine days in Hawaii was a lovely way to get some much-needed R & R and I intend to keep a bit of the Hawaiian Time I brought back with me. I have a renewed commitment to giving myself a Secular Sabbath each week. That feeling of spaciousness is lovely and I intend for it to linger beyond the macadamia nuts and the sun tan!

Biz503 Radio Show re: The Future of Green Building

Later today I'll be one of the guests for a radio show on Biz503 (a segment about business in Portland on the Portland Radio Project station). This particular episode is focused on the future of sustainable building and I am honored to be one of the panelists, along with fine folks from Sustainable Northwest Wood - which provided most of the lumber for The Breathe BuildingEarth Advantage which is the standard the Breathe Building was built to, People's Food Co-op - where I'm a member, and several more! I look forward to sharing a bit about Simply Home Community and I imagine we may also discuss The Breathe Building, the ADU Case Studies Project, the Space-Efficient Housing Working Group, and other sustainable building projects I've been part of here in Portland. Read on for the blog post Biz503 wrote to preview the show and tune in if you can!

BIZ503: THE FUTURE OF SUSTAINABLE BUILDING

Biz503 Sustainable BuildingSustainable building is on the rise – in Portland and across the world. The global green building market has surpassed $260 billion, and client demand is expected to keep pushing that number higher.

People are turning towards architecture that’s harmonious with nature for many reasons: economics, health, energy reduction and an overall awareness that the spaces where we live and work can be more than toxic boxes. From tiny houses to sustainable wood, to living buildings and urban forest canopies, there’s a movement to build green.

Join us Friday, Jan. 22, at 1:00 p.m. for a live broadcast of Biz503 as we talk to industry experts about the in-and-outs of the sustainable building movement. Mark Grimes of NedSpace and Cindy Tortorici from The Link will lead a discussion about the designs, ideas and visions of those who are pushing the borders of what it means to “build green.”

Our show guests include:

Last Call for Downsizing E-Course

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It has been so much fun to see students getting psyched for the upcoming Downsizing E-Course! If you'd like to get in on this round of the Downsizing E-Course, please register today so that you can get started on your first challenge! You'll find the course description below.  

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Special Deal: Sign up with an accountability buddy and you both get $10 off when you sign up and for each week that BOTH OF YOU complete the downsizing challenge, you’ll EACH earn a $10 rebate. This means that if you complete all 6 challenges you can earn $60 back in addition to your original $10 rebate! That’s right. This class will literally PAY YOU BACK if you do the assignments. But it only works if you BOTH do your challenge, so be sure to encourage each other along!

What if were surrounded only by the things and people you love best? What if you had just the right amount of stuff and liked it all? What if you were cheered on throughout your downsizing process?

If you're ready to take a good look at your Stuff, this e-course is for you. We'll address our relationship with Stuff, discuss needs and wants to figure out what really matters, set priorities, and evaluate our possessions. We'll identify old habits and clutter magnets and tackle problem areas in our homes. Then we'll develop organizational systems and new habits to reduce clutter. And the best part is you'll get to do this with the encouragement of other people who are embarking on a similar journey.

In this seven-week series, we'll cover everything from keeping track of our keys to developing a wardrobe of clothes we love. This seven-week e-course will include a weekly lesson, a weekly challenge, and a weekly check-in with your fellow downsizers. The January course begins on January 17 and runs through February 28. Check-ins are Sunday evenings at 5pm PST (8PM EST). 

Please note, the reading materials for this course's lessons will cost approximately $30 if you purchase them. They're great books and I still have them on my e-reader. Of course, you're encouraged to check them out from your local library to save money and space. (See, less Stuff!)

Support Living Tiny... Legally

At the Tiny House Jamboree in Colorado Springs, I met Alexis & Christian of Tiny House Expedition. They've been traveling for the past several months to make a film called Living Tiny... Legally, which explores how people across the country have worked with their cities to find ways to live legally in their wee homes. They're now running a Living Tiny... Legally Indigogo campaign to raise funds to complete the project. You can support this film so that tiny house enthusiasts and city officials have great examples of how to make tiny legal. Read on for more info from their website and then jump on over to the Living Tiny... Legally Indigogo campaign to make a contribution.  

Tiny House Tour in Orlando

Living Tiny....Legally!

August 7th-9th 2015: The First Tiny House Jamboree in Colorado Springs, CO. Event organizers expected a turnout of 10,000 people. 40,000+ showed up, representing all 50 states.

The biggest takeaway? People want to live tiny, legally! AND there’s a very real desire to live in tiny house communities. 

We are Alexis & Christian, the filmmakers & tiny house community advocates behind Tiny House Expedition,

Alexis & Christian

and Kai Rostscheck, mover & shaker behind I Love Tiny Houses, Tiny House Lending & Tiny House Dating...

Kai Rostscheck

We are traveling the country to create a documentary series featuring case studies; exciting examples of how a handful of cities from all over the country are making legal tiny house communities a reality...

Our goal is to legitimize conversations about legal Tiny Housing and to provide a proactive, illustrative resource for those seeking to bring tiny houses to their city but don't know where to start...

We’ll talk with founders and city officials representing these ongoing projects, in both urban and rural settings. We’ll ask city planners about local objections & potential solutions, to zoning issues, safety certifications and more.

Filming Living Tiny Legally

These communities are in various stages of development and each represents a unique kind of arrangement, but many of the issues and opportunities are similar.

Ultimately, we’ll determine why each city said “yes” or wants to say yes, to Tiny Housing, if the right conditions can be met, of course.

This documentary will be YOUR FREE resource, to help YOU, the people that want to live tiny, live tiny legally... With YOUR HELP, this documentary can be used as YOUR tool to proactively further meaningful conversations with your local municipal planners and help make legal tiny housing a reality in YOUR community.

Check out the Living Tiny... Legally Indigogo campaign to support this film by making a contribution!

Less Is More 2016 Wrap Up

our Less is More students made us a card entitled Dave visits Lina (my co-instructor Dave is as crazy about bikes and little houses as I am!) It was great fun Kicking Off 2016 with Small Home Design by teaching Less Is More at Yestermorrow. Monday and Tuesday we went on field trips to small houses in the Mad River Valley and Montpelier. We got to see five little houses this year, ranging in size from about 120 square feet to 1700 square feet. All five of these houses were owner-built, which was neat because we had the opportunity to talk to the homeowners about their challenges and successes. I had been to each of these small homes before, but I learn something new each time I visit, so that was great!

On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday Dave and I presented slideshows to share building basics and design tricks for small spaces. We asked the students what else they wanted to learn and ended up doing a crash course in building science, a presentation on toilet options, considerations for construction and finish materials, and sharing net zero energy information. We also introduced design exercises and drafting techniques.

One of our activities was designing a tiny house together by taping it out on the floor. I was impressed by how many different considerations came up as the students deliberated the merits of putting the door in one location or another and selecting a roof style. They were excellent at weighing their options and thinking things through. It was fun to see students design exercises morph into their individual projects as their understanding and design skills evolved. (Photos forthcoming.)

Card from Less Is More

On Thursday the students worked away the day designing their own small home projects, ranging in scale from a 200 SF tiny house on wheels to a 1800 ski house that can sleep 12. They presented their work on Friday to the class and our jurors, Paul Hanke and Kathy Meyer.

Other projects included:

  • a small home with a movement studio for dance and aikido
  • a little house inspired by medieval timber frame construction
  • a Texan live-work space with a double roof for shading
  • a small lakehouse to retire to
  • a cabin in the woods with an impressive roof
  • a round house with pop-outs
  • a multi-generational home with a turret suite

It was fun to see students design exercises morph into their individual projects as their understanding and design skills evolved. And, of course, it was great to be back in Vermont and at Yestermorrow. This was my eleventh trip out there and it looks like I may have good reason to go back again this summer to help out with a Build Blitz. One of the students in the class is excited to build a tiny house on wheels and several other students are eager to help out. Stay tuned for more about that possibility!

Meanwhile, I’m scheming my next tiny house design workshop, which will be in Asheville, NC right after the Tiny House Conference. If you’re noodling through your tiny house design, mark your calendar for April 3-8th and Contact Me to be added to the list for more information!

Early Bird Special for Downsizing E-Course

I02 Lina & Stuffn 2011, I radically downsized my possessions for a short stint in a 15’ travel trailer. A year later I took on My 200 Things Challenge. I’ve now lived in a 12’ diameter yurt and three tiny houses on wheels with fewer possessions than most people keep in their kitchens! Now I’m offering an exciting e-course to help other people through their downsizing process, too. Early Bird Special (20% off!) available through December 31st. Also, sign up with an accountability buddy and you both get $10 off when you sign up and additional incentives for completing your Challenges. (These two discounts CAN be combined until the Early Bird Special expires on December 31st!) Register here: http://www.nichedesignbuild.com/store/p22/Downsizing_E-Course.html.

Here’s the e-course description: What if were surrounded only by the things and people you love best? What if you had just the right amount of stuff and liked it all? What if you were cheered on throughout your downsizing process? If you're ready to take a good look at your stuff, this e-course is for you. We'll address our relationship with stuff, discuss needs and wants to figure out what really matters, set priorities, and evaluate our possessions. We'll identify old habits and clutter magnets and tackle problem areas in our homes. Then we'll develop organizational systems and new habits to reduce clutter. And the best part is you'll get to do this with the encouragement of other people who are embarking on a similar journey.

In this seven-week series, we'll cover everything from keeping track of our keys to developing a wardrobe of clothes we love. This seven-week e-course will include a weekly lesson, a weekly challenge, and a weekly check-in with your fellow downsizers. The January course begins on January 17 and runs through February 28. Check-ins are Sunday evenings at 5pm PST (8PM EST).

Please note, the reading materials for this course's lessons will cost approximately $30 if you purchase them. They're great books and I still have them on my e-reader. Of course, you're encouraged to check them out from your local library to save money and space. (See, less stuff!)

A Year Living in the Lucky Penny

A year of living in the Lucky Penny! (photo credits: Billy Ulmer, Unlikely Lives) It's my one year anniversary of living in The Lucky Penny! November 15th last year was my Move in Day & Housewarming. But Raffi and I officially moved out of the basement of The Big House and began living in my 100 square foot gypsy wagon, The Lucky Penny, on December 1st of last year. So I’ve now lived in my little house for a full year. And what a full year it’s been!

I celebrated A Year of Little Living in September of 2012 and I commemorated Another Year of Little Living in 2013, but a year of Living in the Lucky Penny seems extra special because this is the house I designed and built for myself (with lots of Tiny House Helpers, of course!) After Offering Gratitudes this week, I’m especially thankful to have another year of Tiny Home for the Holidays!

I woke up to moonlight on my face this morning. It was shining right on me through my domed skylight, which someone recently referred to as my “moon roof.” I love that description! It totally is a moon roof! Of course, it also lets me see the stars, the clouds, the rain, the sun, the birds, and the mighty oak tree I’m parked under.

Here are a few things I’ve discovered after a year of living in this this little house:

  • The Lucky Penny works really well for me. I don’t have any major regrets with the design or the construction though there are few things I’d do smarter now that I’ve done them once the hard way. (For instance, you’ll see in Musings on my Vardo Roof Box that I would do the roof differently next time!)
  • I love that whatever activity I’m doing is what the house becomes. When I’m sleeping it’s a comfy bedroom. When I’m working the whole space becomes an office. When I’m cooking, it’s all kitchen.
  • I have plenty of storage space in my little house. More, actually, than I know what to do with. The top half of my tansu is empty right now as are some of the upper cabinets and I don’t have much in the storage loft.
  • When I’m here with just Raffi it’s very easy to do whatever I need or want to do in my house. Once I add another person to the mix we have to navigate around each other more. It gets to be a tango. The dance is fun when it’s my sweetie or a friend, but I can already see that it could get old over time if I shared this space. (Isha and I have talked about trying it just to see what it’s like, but we're happily scheming our Tiny House for Two.)
  • I was afraid I would get annoyed by converting my multi-functional spaces, but I’ve found I actually like it as long as I’m not already stressed and in a hurry. For instance, putting My Pull Out Bed away in the morning is a nice part of my morning routine. Getting my drawer top table ready is just the first step of Setting the Table to have breakfast or tea. Isha likes this idea enough that we’d talking about designing it into our Tiny House for two.
  • I find I sleep comfortably on My Pull Out Bed in either its closed up or pulled-out versions. The pulled-out version is especially nice because I’m under the moon roof, but it is also quite cozy when Raffi and I sleep on the bed when it’s in window seat mode. And no, I’ve never fallen off!
  • Cooking and baking in My Plug & Play Kitchen is wonderful. Although I usually make big meals for our Community Dinners at the Big House, I make my own breakfasts and lunches in my little house. Sometimes that’s as simple as making tea and having a piece of fruit. Other times I get on a baking kick and make cardamom twists in my little house, rolling out the dough on top of My Tiny Chest Freezer and baking them in My Fabulous Toaster Oven.

There are some things still not done. I never have finished out the shower since I’ve been showering at The Big House. (This is one of the many advantages of living at Simply Home Community, a tiny cohousing community.) And still I have a punch list that’s 40 items long that includes little tasks like washing the windows and doing paint touch ups. I’ll get to those eventually. Say, this spring when it warms up again! But for now, I’m enjoying being hunkered down for the winter in my little house!

Now, to go hang my advent calendar and count down the days till I get to go visit my sisters and introduce them to my sweetie, Isha, The Guy Next Door!

Offering Gratitudes

Me & Isha enjoying post-feast relaxation This time last year I was Giving Thanks for the Little Life. The year before I was planning ways to Unstuff Your Holidays. (By the way, I’m teaching a Downsizing E-Course in January, so if you’re interested, you can join us!) The year before that I was thinking about how most of my stuff is Just Stuff. And the year before that, when I had first moved into a tiny house on wheels, it was just a simple Thanksgiving!

Gratitude has become more of a habit for me over the past year. It’s becoming easier to count my gratitudes.

I’m keeping a 5 Minute Journal. And although I like a paper journal for my morning sip, sit, and jot, I like the electronic version of the 5 Minute Journal because it has a little notification that reminds me to complete it in the morning to record gratitudes and set intentions and in the evening to reflect on gratitudes, accomplishments, and serendipities and think about how I could make the day better.

food-04On the nights that I cook Community Dinner at Simply Home Community, I ask everyone to say something they’re grateful for to kick off the meal. Mind you, we don’t let the food get cold while we say thanks. We dig right into our dinner and go around the table to hear what everyone is thankful for. Usually it sparks other conversation as people have follow up questions.

This year I spent Thanksgiving at my fairy godparents house with my sweetie, The Guy Next Door. It was a fabulous visit with people near and dear. Between carbo-loading with a Bread Bake-Off on Wednesday night and our Thanksgiving day feast on Thursday it was a very rich and delicious couple of days! Fortunately, we also enjoyed a hot sauna, a chilly run, several mugs of tea, catch up conversations, and a hilarious party game.

food-01To add to all that goodness, Isha and I also spent time on our drive to and from Corvallis comparing notes from our Tiny House Considerations Challenges as we scheme our tiny house for two. As we rolled back into Portland we were wrapping up a conversation about the objects we own and looking forward to the Downsizing E-Course I’ll be teaching this January and February.

While we were making breakfast this morning, Isha said “We have soooo much to be grateful for!” I completely agree. We really do.