Tiny House Community Workshop

Earth Day Texas Recap

Earth Day Texas Recap

his past weekend I had the opportunity to teach two sessions of the Tiny House Collaborative Tiny House Community & Zoning Workshop at Earth Day Texas (EDTx) in Dallas, Texas. Lee and I co-taught since BA was the coordinator for the tiny house village at the event.

A Tiny House Whirlwind

Christian Parsons of  Tiny House Expedition  snapped this shot of the Tiny House Conference.

Christian Parsons of Tiny House Expedition snapped this shot of the Tiny House Conference.

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of tiny house events on both coasts! Four weeks ago today I was headed to the East Coast for Tiny House 101 in DC. Three weeks ago today I was on my way to Vermont to teach Tiny House Design-Build at Yestermorrow. During the 2-week course we constructed the shell of a tiny house on wheels for a fellow named Nick who, at 26 years old, is super clever about establishing housing stability and flexibility. I wish I had been so wise at that age! During the evenings we had studio time to explore tiny house design considerations and students worked on creating their own tiny house designs. If you'd like a sense of the day-by-day flow of this course, you can check out previous posts about Tiny House Design-Build.

We wrapped up there a week ago tomorrow and I flew across the country again to be back home in time to speak at the Tiny House Conference, which was in Portland this year. I've been at all four of the Tiny House Conferences now and it's neat how it alternates between the East Coast and the West Coast. I spoke about Tiny House Community on Saturday and then facilitated the Open Space session on Sunday. During the rest of the time I joined Track C, a new addition to the Conference this year for those of us who are already living or building tiny. It was fun to have conversations about the future of the movement and to swap stories of our biggest mistakes! The Conference is always a great opportunity to connect with fascinating folks from all over the place and I look forward to hearing updates about people's tiny house journeys!

On Monday BA Norrgard and I led a Tiny House Community & Zoning Workshop through the Tiny House Collaborative. We explored various tiny house community models, discussed zoning challenges and opportunities, and laid out some steps (and tips) for creating tiny house community. We were fortunate to have an awesome venue at the Cully Grove Common House so we were able to talk about creating community in the community living room of a very cool community! We also had some special guests join us, including Alexis Deharts Stephens of Tiny House Expedition who (along with her partner Christian) has probably visited every tiny house community in the country! We also had a panel discussion with four community members from two different tiny cohousing communities in Portland. Thanks again, Tony, Karin, Lori and Kyra! It was fun to show people our tiny house community and to have Pam Westra show off three of the tinies at Tiny Digs, Portland's other tiny house hotel. (I've written about Caravan - The Tiny House Hotel in the past and I love that tiny houses are so popular in Portland that we now have TWO tiny house hotels!)

On Tuesday I attended the Build Small Coalition meeting, which is a reconvened group previously dubbed the Space-Efficient Housing Working Group. This is Portland's collection of professionals working to support tiny houses, ADUs, micro apartments, and other space-efficient creative housing solutions. It was great to see familiar faces and hear their updates as well as meeting new folks who are taking on neat projects. I look forward to seeing what we accomplish this coming year!  I have a hunch it's going to be another big year for small homes!

Talking Tiny House Community in Ojai

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Ojai Tiny House Community WorkshopWhat a treat it was to teach a Tiny House Community Workshop in Ojai with Lee Pera and Vina Lustado last week! I’ve been under the weather the past few days, but I’m still buzzing with excitement from this great group of folks interested in creating tiny house communities. On Thursday afternoon I hopped on a plane to L.A. where I was met by Lee. She and I had a fascinating conversation (as usual) as we drove to Ojai, CA to meet up with Vina and Anna who coordinated the Tiny House Community Workshop.

After designing and building her beautiful tiny home, Sol Haus, Vina is excited about the possibility of creating a tiny house community in Ojai. She knew she wasn’t alone because she’d been having good conversations with lots of other interested folks in her area. So after seeing the presentation on Tiny House Community that Lee and I did at Tiny House Jamboree 2015 in August, Vina asked us to come to Ojai to share our experiences with tiny house community. After months of planning across time zones, conference calls, and a shared Dropbox folder, it was exciting to know that the time had finally arrived and the workshop was sold out! That night, as Lee and I were Staying at Sol Haus, we were giddy with excitement that we’d get to expand on our previous presentation.

In the morning Vina hosted a tour of her tiny home and Lee and I finished final details for the workshop. Around noon I also got to reconnect with Julie, a former student from Yestermorrow's Tiny House Design-Build Class who is in my Tiny House Considerations E-Course but also happens to be living at the Krishnamurti Center right now. It's a tiny world after all!

When the participants arrived at the Pavillion at the Krishnamurti Center and we had them introduce themselves by telling us where they hail from and what their tiny house community dream is. Then Lee and I presented the Six Ways to Create Tiny House Community that we’re familiar with. We asked the workshop attendees to identify which one we think best suits their dream. We then did a Regulation Roundtable and we were lucky to have several people in the room who work in building and zoning who were able to help us describe the complexities of the regulatory landscape. At one point one of the participants said “Wait! I’m confused!” I asked “Who else is confused?” and we ALL raised our hands. It is, indeed, confusing to navigate the paradoxes of tiny house regulation. No one has all the answers, but collectively we can come up with great solutions (or at least the right questions to ask!) The power of being in a group of other tiny house advocates is amazing! One fellow said he felt like he was in a support group for tiny house enthusiasts and he was so glad to know he wasn’t alone! We feel ya, man!

We then shared five steps for creating tiny house communities and split into groups to brainstorm. It was neat to see groups form around creating tiny house communities in particular areas (we had an Ojai group and an LA group) as well as tiny house businesses and tiny house regulations. We brought everyone back to share some of the things we’d discovered in our small groups.

No one wanted the conversation to end, but by the time we reached the end of the workshop the sun was setting and it was time to say goodbye. We took a group photo, swapped hugs and contact info, and told everyone to keep us posted about their tiny house community adventures!