A few December tiny house events

Before the cold weather really sets in and we bundle up in our houses (big or small), a few tiny house events happening in DC next week:

Thursday, December 8 @ 7:30PM
Tiny house talk + Q&A at Patagonia DC
Free admission, free snacks, and free beer! Jay will be talking about building and living in the Matchbox, and the big adventures living simply can provide. Doors open at 7PM.

Sunday, December 11 @ 11AM
Tiny house tour of the Matchbox
Take a tour of the 150-square-foot, off-grid house, currently situated right in the middle of a bustling and festive holiday tree farm, courtesy of Old City Farm & Guild.

Hope you can make it!

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The Matchbox at Old City Farm & Guild

 

Tour the Matchbox: September 15th, 2016

Between summer travel and summer heat, it’s been a quiet season for Boneyard Studios. But with cooling weather and lovely evenings ahead, we’re excited to announce another tiny house tour Thursday, September 15 at 6PM! After dozens and dozens of Sunday morning open houses, we’re curious to try out a weekday evening tour, aimed at those who may not be able to make it downtown on a weekend. The Matchbox (and only the Matchbox) will be open for viewing and a Q&A at 925 Rhode Island Avenue NW—home of Old City Farm & Guild, with a Metro stop, CaBi station, multiple bus stops, and plenty of bike parking (and car parking) nearby.

Like always, we’ll start promptly with a general introduction, so please arrive on time. Afterwards you’ll be free to ask questions, take photographs, check out the space and its many small and off-grid features, and take a walk around the lovely urban farm right in the Matchbox’s backyard. Catch a few more details on Facebook here, or head on over and register here. Hope to see you on the 15th!

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The Matchbox @ 925 Rhode Island Avenue NW

Tiny house tours are back: Another move for the Matchbox

It’s been a long year—three lovely locations, two messy moves, one little house just looking for home. And last week, the Matchbox moved yet again, available for tours and visits and concerts and much, much more very soon.

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Boneyard Studios has always been about local architecture, local arts, and local agriculture, and so we’re thrilled to be teaming up with the awesome folks at Old City Farm & Guild, the coolest urban garden center in the District. It’s a place where plants and people come together right in the center of the city (Shaw, to be exact), and this fall the Matchbox will be in the center of it all, adding some great tiny house events to Old City’s already wonderful set of community gatherings. It’s going to be a great autumn, and you’re welcome to join us in kicking things off right at the DC State Fair, hosted by Old City on Saturday, September 12 from 12PM to 8PM (more information here).

Our fall calendar is still in the works, so if you can’t make it to the fair, no worries—there will be many more opportunities to see the Matchbox coming up. Until then, here’s a little footage of the little house out on the big road:

Tiny House Community: Reflections on the Tiny House Jamboree

I often start off my introductions by stating that I never wanted to build a tiny house.  People chuckle and, a bit incredulously, ask “What do you mean you didn’t want to build one?  I can hear the confusion in their voice, and I understand.  After all I spent the last three years of my life building a tiny house and a tiny house community. 

Yet I wasn’t like many of the tiny house DIY builders that I know.  Sure, I got excited about the design, but I wasn’t all that interested in learning how to build: I had never even held or operated a drill and driver before starting this project, and I certainly didn’t know what a rainscreen was or what PEX meant.  What excited me more than building the house was doing something creative in an urban area to challenge us to think more intentionally about the way we live our lives and about what we can do with unused and vacant spaces.

So no, I didn’t really want to build my own house, but I ended up having to because when I started this project there were no fully-built tiny houses to buy and there were very few plans available.  Fast forward three years and more than three network TV shows, and it seems everyone has caught tiny house fever.  I no longer have to explain to people what a tiny house on wheels is, I can’t keep up with all the different builders, groups, blogs, and shows out there, and what was once seen as a fringe (and tiny) movement has grown into an (almost) mainstream industry.

Given the numbers at the Tiny House Jamboree last weekend you could argue that tiny houses are already a mainstream industry.  40,000 people came pouring into the grounds outside of Colorado Springs to tour more than 25 houses, to learn about different technologies for off-grid living, and to listen to many of us who have already taken this tiny house journey speak about our experiences.

I must admit I was a bit suspicious at first. I think anyone who has been part of a small community or movement feels a bit excited but also protective when it enters the mainstream. I wondered about the integrity of people who are now tiny house TV celebrities. I didn’t fully trust the motivations of businesses who were springing up nationwide to build tiny houses.  Were these folks really passionate about the reasons we build tiny houses? Challenging people to address overconsumption, take control of their finances, live intentionally, learn to communicate and be present without distraction?  Were they committed to changing an industry that builds bigger because it’s cheaper?  Or were they just jumping into this movement because it would increase their ratings and profits?

After a weekend spent with builders, both DIY and professional, I am humbled.  I didn’t meet anyone who was purely in this for the money or the popularity of it.  I shared a panel with Zac Griffen of Tiny House Nation and he started off asking the audience to please not ask him questions about the TV show and then proceeded to give some of the most eloquent answers on sustainability, intentional living, and responsible design of the whole event.  Darin Zaruba of EcoCabins, whose company hosted the event, was passionate about making sure DIY builders knew about code and zoning and the challenges they posed.  And, upon meeting other tiny house builders who I had only before corresponded with online, any lingering fears I still had about small living and never quite being understood by others quickly vanished.  I hadn’t realized how much energy I expend explaining my choice to build a tiny house to people until I didn’t have to explain it anymore.  They just got it – they too had all built their own houses before tiny houses gained popularity. They too had to justify to their friends, family and colleagues why this lifestyle was important to them.  Not having to explain myself and my decisions after three years of so much explaining was perhaps the most refreshing aspect of the whole weekend.

Saturday night panel: Zac Griffen of Tiny House Nation, Lina Menard of Niche Design and Consulting, Andrew Morrison of Tiny House Build, Lee Pera of Boneyard Studios and Darin Zaruba of EcoCabins

Drinking beer on the Saturday night panel: Zac Griffen of Tiny House Nation, Lina Menard of Niche Design and Consulting, Andrew Morrison of Tiny House Build, Lee Pera of Boneyard Studios and Darin Zaruba of EcoCabins.  Photo credit: Gabriella Morrison of TinyHouseBuild

What I most enjoyed after the new connections with other tiny house builders was getting to talk to others about building tiny house communities and creative urban infill – my real passion.   Lina Menard and I presented a very-well received talk on tiny house communities that included 5 models for setting them up and 5 pieces of advice.  After our presentation I talked with a city councilmember, a county planner, developers, and members of community groups who are starting tiny house communities.  I was impressed by the amount of work going on around the country regarding tiny houses and tiny house communities in cities.  Stay tuned for more information regarding those initiatives soon. In the meantime, check out some of the photos from the Jamboree.

Join us (and our awesome panel) for ‘Small is Beautiful’ next Tuesday, 7/21

A few weeks ago, we announced the DC premiere of Small is Beautiful: A Tiny House Documentary, hosted by Boneyard Studios at Woolly Mammoth Theatre. Just a reminder—it’s only one week away, and tickets are still available! We also promised a post-film Q&A with the DC area’s leading tiny house builders and owners, and are excited to announce our panel—

Moderated by Mary Fitch, AICP, Hon. AIA;  Executive Director of the American Institute of Architects DC
Robin Hayes; 
Tiny house builder and owner of Build Tiny
Amanda Stokes; Tiny house owner
Lee Pera; Tiny house owner and founder of Boneyard Studios
Jay Austin; Tiny house owner and co-founder of Boneyard Studios

So bring your questions, bring your loved ones, and bring your ticket—$15 now, $20 at the door (like all Boneyard Studios events, this one’s not-for-profit, and so we’re relying on your support to help us pay the space-and-screening bills). Can’t make it but still want to help us put on more events like this in the future? There’s a spot for donations, too.

WHEN: Tuesday, July 21, 2015, 8PM
WHERE: Woolly Mammoth Theatre (bike racks out front, street parking available, and just a short walk from any Metro line)

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Here’s one more look at the Small is Beautiful trailer:


Small is Beautiful is a revealing look into the tiny house movement, a grass roots response to the housing affordability crisis that traps people from across the developed world. In Portland, Oregon, we meet four characters, each of whom are at various stages of building and living in their own tiny homes. Ben is a 20-something single guy with an inheritance to spend and a design he drew, but an ambitious timeline and no building experience. Nikki and Mitchell are a young couple who, along with their two dogs, dream of bucking the strereotypical life style of buying a big house and spending the rest of their lives trying to pay it off. Karen, 50, has loved living in her tiny house for two years yet still struggles with the lack of permanency that comes with living in a house on wheels. Ultimately this story proves that it’s not what’s inside the walls of a tiny house that counts, but rather it is the strong community of like-minded people who support each other as they dare to be different. Runtime: 68 minutes.

FILM SCREENING: ‘Small is Beautiful’ and Boneyard Studios Q&A at Woolly Mammoth Theatre

We’re excited to announce DC’s first showing of Small is Beautiful, Jeremy Beasley’s new tiny house documentary. Join us on Tuesday, July 21st at 8PM at Woolly Mammoth theatre for a wonderful exploration of the physical and emotional challenges and rewards of building tiny, told through the eyes of four do-it-yourselfers building and living small in Portland, Oregon. And after the film, we and a few other tiny house enthusiasts and builders will host a Q&A about the tiny house movement and our own experiences building tiny houses, and a tiny house community, here in Washington, DC.

Seating is limited, and while our community events are usually free, for this we have to charge to cover the costs of rental space, screening licenses, and A/V support (of course, donations to keep these events going are always appreciated even if you can’t make it). And thanks to Woolly Mammoth for their support and helping us screen this film.  Go grab your ticket here! 

‘Tiny House Plays’ arrive at Boneyard Studios

"Big Bread" in the Pera House.

“Big Bread” in the Pera House. (Ryan Maxwell Photography)

Last weekend, Pinky Swear Productions kicked off the first performance(s) of their Tiny House Plays, five one-act “playlets” staged in the tiny houses and outdoor spaces of Boneyard Studios. Explains the Washington Post:

The bright minds at Pinky Swear Productions thought it would be fun to stage a cycle of brief new plays in the wee homes. Each show is short — 15 minutes or so — and set in one of the often ingeniously efficient little units, several of which are actually being lived in part time. The audience is split into small groups and shepherded from station to station to see playlets about love, death, aging and coping.

On Friday, we had the privilege of joining the actors, playwrights, production crew, and the friends and family of Pinky Swear for a lovely dress rehearsal, hopping from set to set for a wonderfully diverse collection of plays, all developed by local female writers. I can’t really offer an impartial review, of course—how could I not absolutely love seeing the Matchbox transformed into the lovers’ cabin of “Josie, June, and Death,” or be more-than-a-little moved by the break-up taking place in the Minim House’s “For Emma” as we come to terms with a tiny house break-up of our own?

"For Emma" in the Minim House.

“For Emma” in the Minim House. (Ryan Maxwell Photography)

Impartial or not, the quirky, clever plays—”sweet, funny, and sad”—were a treat to witness, and totally worth a three-weekend displacement from my home as the show runs its course. Of course, they’re also a living, breathing example of what we’re all about at Boneyard Studios: awesome events, free space for artists, big silly dreams that always seem to work out.

Oh, and you can check ’em out yourself for much less than a three-week displacement from your house—just $20, every cent of which goes straight to Pinky Swear and its army of hard-working (and really lovely) actors, playwrights, and the dozens of other people, props, and port-a-pottys they need to make these Tiny House Plays run. Remaining showtimes Saturday & Sunday, 10/4, 10/5, 10/11, and 10/12, 1PM, 3PM, 6PM, and 8PM. Tickets here.

"Josie, June, and Death" in the Matchbox.

“Josie, June, and Death” in the Matchbox. (Ryan Maxwell Photography)