An experiment with voluntary simplicity in American culture.
Welcome to the Gold Thread Tiny House Blog
Welcome to the Gold Thread Tiny House Blog - firstname.lastname@example.org
Buckminster Fuller once said, "If you want to change how somone thinks, give up; you can not change how people think. Give them a tool, the use of which will cause them to think differently." The tiny house is just such a tool.
Saturday, December 15, 2012
I had a delightful visit from Ted Hischer’s US. environmental history class who attend nearby Columbia Greene Community College. Eight young men and women, full of interest and concern for a better world, makes me feel strangely hopeful. Nine of us at once chatting in the Tiny house obliterates all previous occupancy records, (and we did not even have anyone in the loft).
Events of this kind make me feel that this tiny house project has come full-circle, from dream, through planning, design, research, building, (more building), occupying, fine-tuning, to finally sharing with other people. My wish; that the excitement and challenge of living small, fair and affordable begins to dawn in the collective consciousness of American society, starting with individuals. Towards this end, no words can equal a simple action or deed carried out.
Talking to people of the younger generation who are interested in tiny houses is always a great honor for sure. Aside from being very rewarding it also allows me to recognize strong tendencies people have to idealize or demonize people, actions or groups. We have all felt the temptation to say that all Democrats are this way or all Republicans are that way, all rich people are spoiled or all poor people are lazy. So far as i can see, polarized thinking is a habitual trap antithetical to positive change. It kills the chance to see the best aspects of other people that are hidden at first glance. It blinds us from obtaining a balanced perspective. When we don’t seek the shallow safety of extremism, there is truly something important to be learned form all sides. Likewise, it is easy to romanticize things into something equally one-sided that will make our lives instantly exciting or meaningful, or will save the world.
Living small has helped me find the meaning both in small, efficient structures, as well as larger well-planned structures. It has helped me develop new eyes for larger houses, larger public buildings and warm running water. There is undoubtedly a place in society for larger structures that allow families with multiple people to live comfortably with each-other under a single roof. With increased efficiency of building materials, appliances and HVAC, it is now very possible to have a larger house while maintaining a relatively small environmental footprint. There is something decidedly beautiful about a generously sized room with an efficient masonry heater, flames flickering behind a glass door, and children and adults sitting around after dinner enjoying each others company. There is a community experience of hearth and home that is timeless and of inestimable value.
That said, after four months of living here I do notice many wonderful attributes of my house, some of them expected and some beautifully surprising. As we enter the darkest days of the year, i notice feelings of great fortune and joy for being able to live in a house that i have built with my hands. Each morning the sun spills into the house and shines disk of light through the round window, which moves across the wall and floor. I can, more or less, tell the time of morning by where the orb of light is on its journey. Yes, I also feel shrinking pains and the challenge of adjusting to life with out running water. However, as each object in the house is given its rightful place, the room seems to grow larger and larger.
Last week i finally put the tiny house up on cinder blocks in order to get the weight off of the springs and steady the house. I used cinder blocks, 6x6 blocks, crushed stone, a 7 ton Jack, shovels and a 4 foot level (Next time i will use a transit). I started by dropping the tongue, which raised the back, enabling me to raise the back piers under the frame. Then, jacking up the tongue again lowered the back on the piers which were level right to left. Then, I had only to jack up the front half an inch or so above level in order to do the same on the front. Pretty soon, the house was sitting on 4 level piers. I procrastinated doing this for weeks and i am so glad that i took the 6 hours that the project needed. No longer does the house sway back and forth and creek, as you walk across the floor. It offers a sense of stability and substance that i did not know i was missing while on springs. The very next day i awoke to a pitter-patter on the roof, (No, it was not Santa’s reindeer, and no i did not throw up the sash). However, looking out the window I saw a large flock of blackbirds taking flight and heading down the field into the forest. They were perched 3 feet above where i was sleeping on my roof and the sound was the wings hitting the copper cap as they took flight. Did the birds use my house as a perch for the first time because it was more stable? I sort of doubt it, however, i noticed that the two events coincided and they felt connected somehow.
I also resigned myself that i would not be finishing the shower stall before next spring, and decided to put some shelving up in there for the while. This created all kinds of space for the last items that did not have a proper home. What a difference several feet of space can make in a small room. It added much to the living experience. I now have a plant-shelf (see photo above) built into the window on the south wall, freeing up more space and creating natural shade from the winter sun flooding in as it does in the middle of the day. Just yesterday i built a wooden boardwalk on the approach to my house over a particularly wet, muddy area. This protects the meadow and minimizes the mess made by muddy feet.
In future entries I look forward to writing about some of the existential lessons tiny house living is introducing to me. Until then, wishing all of my readers a very happy and peaceful holiday season and New Year. Also, if you have any questions that you would like me to take up in future posts, feel free to ask them in the comment section below.