Kim Langston

Kim's Tiny House Fire - Can You Help a Tiny Bit?

Kim's tiny house destroyed by a barn fire

Dear friends, I'm forwarding along this letter from tiny house pioneer (and my personal hero) Dee Williams. Last summer I helped Kim frame her floor joists and walls during a Portland Alternative Dwellings workshop. Kim's an amazing person and it was a pleasure to help her manifest her dream. She was almost finished building her dream tiny house and was planning to move in next month, when it burned up in a barn fire last weekend. I've just made a donation to the relief fund and I hope you can, too. This is one of those situations where lots of teeny, tiny gifts can make a great big difference for one very special person. Here's Dee's letter:

An Open Letter to the Tiny House Community:

Kim excited about her tiny house walls going up

I'd like to introduce you to Kim Langston of Olympia, Washington. I’ve known Kim for years as the "lady who feeds people" -- she brings fresh, locally grown produce into the food coop where I shop every few days.  She’s awesome and works tirelessly, offering every ounce of her pint-size frame to support her community.  

Kim has had a dream of building and living in a little house for years. I  first learned about that dream in 2009 when she attended a tiny house construction workshop that my company, Portland Alternative Dwellings, hosted.  Kim spoke about her dream in a video that was shot during the workshop (PBS Need to Know episode, “Living Large”, where she talks about wanting to get away from the idea of 'bigger is better' for the sake of living more mindfully. 

Kim's tiny house almost finished

Since then, Kim has been saving her money for her project and has helped two friends build their little houses – she actually coordinated work parties for dozens of friends, where they were able to learn how to build and launch into their own tiny house projects.  For three years, she has been saving her money to begin construction on her own house and this summer, she finally cracked it open!  Her house was nearly complete when it was caught up in a massive barn fire on July 22, 2012 that destroyed her little house on wheels.  

Kim's house was self-designed, and was being built by a local craftsman, Daniel Zenefski.  When I talked to Kim last week, she described the beautiful tooling around the roof overhangs, and the precise joinery through-out the building.  Losing her house has been heart breaking for us all, and brings me to two requests for the tiny house community:

1.) MONITARY SUPPORT -- A relief fund has been set up at a local bank.  If you could offer a donation, it will help Kim pay-down the debt she has incurred through the fire, and allow her to dream of re-building. You can make a donation through PayPal directly to the fund or contact me for more information about how to otherwise donate via snail mail.

We all recognize that money is tight, but I’m hoping to tap into the sense of success that we all feel when someone dives in and manifests his or her dream.  My little house was inspired by the houses that came before, by the work of Jay Shafer, Lloyd Kahn, Lester Walker, Henry Thoreau and many more; and by the stories of the personal choices made by so many people who, like me, want to live more wisely on the planet.  Kim’s story of dreaming, building, losing and (hopefully) rebuilding again should inspire us all.  Any amount of support ($1 to a million) would be greatly appreciated.  And if you could network this request to others you know, that would be wonderful.

2.) INSURANCE OPTIONS -- We need more information about insurance options for home-made houses.   So far, I’m most familiar with people obtaining renters insurance through a primary residence, if they’re living in a side yard.  But from what I’ve been told by larger insurance carriers (e.g., State Farm, Progressive), there is no insurance for a homemade travel trailer sitting on a rented space; no insurance for the project during construction, and no insurance for the structure as it is moving down the highway (other than liability coverage).  If anyone knows of an insurance tool that would be appropriate for these tiny houses, please let us know. I will compile information and let you know what we find.  If we can’t find anything, perhaps its time to start a Tiny House Cooperative that would allow us to form our own insurance pool -- a similar sort of collective was started years ago by farmers who wanted to support each other, so if one had a bad crop year the others could keep them from losing the farm.  Maybe can do something similar if needed.

I hope you’ll consider my request, and will see your way clear to offer what you can in the way of support for Kim's situation and research into insurance policies.  I appreciate what each of you bring to the little house world, and it my hope that we can grow something beautiful out of this loss.

Be well.  

Sincerely,  Dee Williams