Live Large

Build Small was BIG!

The first ever Build Small, Live Large Summit was a big success! Approximately 300 people attended the conference on Friday, October 26th at Portland State University, which was hosted by Cascadia Green Building Council.

As Jordan Palmeri introduced the summit he described the DEQ study that showed building small is our single greatest green building strategy. Jordan explained that the study results inspired the Accessory Dwellings website and formation of the Space Efficient Housing Workgroup, which includes folks like Eli Spevak of Orange Splot and Kol Peterson of PDX ADU. I've been privileged to be part of this group for the past year as we've discussed ways to mainstream small as a sustainability strategy. Coordinating the Build Small, Live Large Summit was a big step in the right direction.

Ross Chapin presented a fantastic keynote address about how pocket neighborhoods have caught on as people seek a balance of community and a little place of their own. The rest of the sessions addressed challenges to building small, financing small spaces, and design tricks for maximizing small spaces.

I was delighted to be among the presenters as I shared the stage with Derin Williams of UrbaNest Northwest and Dee Williams of Portland Alternative Dwelling for the Biggie Smalls: The Notorious Tiny House session, which explored radical smallness. We had a great time sharing our stories and responding to the audiences questions and comments.

You can sign up for meeting notifications of Oregon DEQ’s Space Efficient Housing Workgroup by sending an email indicating your interest to Jordan Palmeri. You can also read Kol's perspective on the Summit in his blog post on the Accessory Dwellings website.

Three cheers for small houses! Hip, hip, hooray!

Build Small, Live Large Summit

A couple years ago Jordan Palmeri of the Department of Environmental Quality conducted research exploring the effectiveness of various green building strategies. The research was discussed in an Ecotrope article featuring My Summer Garden Cottage as a case study. It will likely come as no surprise to any of you that building small was the single most effective way to conserve energy and resources. But this “finding” has profound implications for our country’s building industry. Our society has committed to the bigger is better mantra. It’s created a mess of our finances, requiring unsustainable resource extraction, and supported sprawling development patterns that make us unhealthy. But reversing this trend is like swimming upstream.

Fortunately here in Portland we’re gaining critical mass. Jordan rallied a group of people to discuss ways to support what he calls space-efficient housing. Through my internship with Orange Splot, LLC I connected with the working group and I’ve been helping out here and there as the working group created the Build Small, Live Large Summit. The summit has been coordinated by Nicholas Hartrich of Cascadia Green Building Council and it will take place on Friday, October 26th at Portland State University. Dee Williams, Derin Williams, and I will be presenting in a session called Biggie Smalls: The Notorious Tiny House. We hope you can join us!

A Year of Little Living

moving into the tiny house a year ago Somehow it's already been nearly a year since I moved into a 121 square foot tiny house on wheels and wrote my first blog post: The Tiny House Adventure Begins. And what a year it's been!

This afternoon I was a virtual guest speaker for the Tiny House Design-Build Class at Yestermorrow and this evening I had a great conversation with my friend Derin about building tiny houses. Both of these got me thinking about how many amazing tiny opportunities I've had over the past year.

Through my internship with Orange Splot I coordinated the Pedalpalooza Accessory Dwellings and Tiny House Bike Tours and wrote several guest posts for Eli also connected me with the Space Efficient Housing Working Group and we've helped to plan the upcoming Build Small, Live Large Summit. I'll be presenting a session about tiny houses with Dee Williams of PAD Tiny Houses and Derin Williams of UrbaNest Northwest.

Tiny House Potluck

Speaking of Dee Williams, she helped me connect with other tiny housers in the area and our contacts spiderwebbed out from there. In the process I have met lots of great folks who are building, designing, living in, or dreaming about tiny houses. We've now had several potlucks and created the Portland Tiny Houses Facebook group and the Tiny House Network Google group. I've profiled A Tiny House Truck, A Tiny Natural House, and Advanced Fort Construction. We've chatted about the joys and challenges of the Little Life and helped each other with designing, building, troubleshooting, tiny house moves, and sharing resources and infromation. Dee also invited Brittany Yunker and I to participate in the Portland Tumbleweed Tiny House Workshop in June. I am extremely grateful to both Brittany and Dee for helping me to make these connections with other amazing tiny housers.

going whole hog on a tiny house build

Over spring break I had the chance to help a friend built the shell of her Tiny Barn and I apprenticed with Orange Splot for My Summer Dream Job: Tiny House Design Building. In July we got Brittany's Tiny House On the Road again and I lived in an ADU which I dubbed My Summer Garden Cottage. I spent my days Going Whole Hog on the Tiny House, working on Tiny House Insulation, Roofing, and Interior Walls. The tiny house was featured on the Build it Green (BIG) Tour in September. I was able to use these design-building experiences as my practicum project for my Certificate in Sustainable Design and Building at Yestermorrow Design Build School in Vermont.

home, sweet yurt

I've been interviewed by journalism students for OR Magazine, by newspapers like the Portland Tribune, by a Canadian TV station, and by Vermont Public Radio. I'm also scheduled to do an interview with my friend John for  Portlandia's The Real Portland. Meanwhile, I've considered a plethora of tiny house issues such as Tiny Home Improvement, Shrinky-Dink PorchesTop 10 Reasons to Pick An Envi Heater, Creative Tiny House Storage Solutions, why Tiny Houses Turn Their Backs on the Street, and Tiny House Insurance (or lack thereof).

Now I'm Downsizing from a Tiny House to a Tinier House and, inspired by the 100 Thing Challenge, I'm currently Inventorying & Packing Up so that I can embark upon My Things Challenge. For the next school year I'll be living in a 113 square foot yurt in inner Portland, so the tiny adventures will continue. Thanks for following along everyone. Here's to another great year of the Little Life!