Help us create a more diverse tiny house movement!

Over the past six years of being active in the tiny house movement I have seen the diversity of people interested in building and living tiny, so it was always a surprise to me when I would attend and speak at the nation’s largest tiny house event – the Tiny House Jamboree – how overwhelmingly homogeneous the event was (almost all white). When the Jamboree moved this year from Colorado Springs to Dallas, I hoped the event and speaker lineup would be more representative of not only the city where it’s being held but also of the movement as a whole.

However, when a colleague and I expressed concern to the organizers for the third year in a row about the all-white, and almost all-male speaker lineup, we received a tremendous amount of pushback.  The contract I had signed to lead a workshop at the event was rescinded, and Jewel Pearson, co-founder of Tiny House Trailblazers, received a racist, threatening message from a tiny house event organizer. For the full story about our efforts and the response we received, please read the article I posted last month to the tiny house community (below).

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Article I wrote last month on Medium about our experiences trying to make tiny house events more inclusive and representative

Rather than going where we’re not welcome, we’re instead working with others who value diversity, who understand the tiny house movement is not just comprised of TV hosts and lifestyle bloggers with large Instagram followings, and who understand what it takes to build true community.  As such we’re planning a series of talks over the next three months, “Art, Culture, Creativity and Tiny Houses” to help bring diverse voices and diversity awareness to the larger community.

We are fundraising to pay for the travel costs in October for the founders of Tiny House Trailblazers , Jewel Pearson and Dominique Moody, to host a talk in DC and attend the Mid Atlantic Tiny House Expo, whose proceeds are being donated to Civic Works. Some of the smaller tiny house events, like the Mid Atlantic Expo, do not have budget to pay travel or speaker costs, but still want to show the diversity of the tiny house movement and by bringing the founders of Tiny House Trailblazers to this event they will be able to do that.

Will you join us and support bringing diverse representation to tiny house events?  There are numerous ways to support our efforts:

  1. Please donate to the Tiny House Trailblazers fundraising campaign that will pay travel costs for the Tiny House Trailblazers and will fund a video about diversity to be shared freely with event organizers and online.

  2. Attend the talk in DC on Friday, October 27 to hear the stories of Tiny House Trailblazers.  Please RSVP on EventBrite.

  3. Attend the Mid-Atlantic Tiny House Expo on October 28 and 29 and come by the Tiny House Trailblazers booth to say Hi!

 

 

 

Update on tiny houses in DC

Happy Winter!

Wait…what Winter?

It’s hard to believe the photo below was my tiny house just a year ago here in Washington, DC.  We are getting ready for some changes that we will announce soon on the site, but in the meantime I wanted to give you all a few resources for staying engaged with the tiny house community in the DC/VA/MD area since I’ve noticed many new subscribers to our site in the New Year. Welcome!

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Before shoveling. Tiny House in DC winter storm. 2016

Now that we have been living in our houses for a couple years, there isn’t as much to blog about regularly, but we continue to stay active in the tiny house movement.  Jay blogs about his travels and minimalist lifestyle in addition to hosting open houses in the warmer months.  I, Lee, am busy working with the Tiny House Collaborative, a nationwide organization that empowers individuals and organizations to transform their communities and cities through innovative housing and lifestyle choices and provides the resources to design, build, and dwell efficiently.

It seems 2017 may just skip Winter altogether and move right into Spring, which is fine by me.  In the tiny house world Spring is our favorite season since it’s the beginning of build season! So, if you’ve been thinking about building a tiny house or just want to know if the lifestyle is a good fit for you, consider some Spring tiny house events.  Join the Tiny House Collaborative for our Tiny House 101 workshop in mid-March in Washington DC.  Or if you would like to see a dozen owner-built tiny houses all in one location come down to Dallas in April for the nation’s largest Earth Day event.  Not only is there a tiny house community that gets set up for tours over the weekend, you can also take a workshop on how to set up tiny house communities.

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Tiny House Expo at Earth Day Texas 2016. Photo Credit: Tiny House Expedition 

Finally, if you’d like to keep informed of local tiny house-related events and connect with other tiny house enthusiasts there are numerous ways to do so:

I hope your 2017 is off to a great start, and we will be in touch soon with news about our next ventures and adventures!

 

 

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 again! Come tour the Matchbox April 10th

After a winter in hibernation, Boneyard Studios is back with more spring, summer, and fall tiny house events! Full calendar coming soon, but in the meantime—the first 2016 tour of the Matchbox will be on Sunday, April 10 from 11AM to 1PM. Come by to ask questions about simple living and tiny house design, walk through DC’s only fully off-grid and self-sustaining tiny home, and check out the awesome urban farm and garden center managed by our great friends at Old City Farm & Guild.

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As usual, we’ll do a big Q&A right at 11—so please arrive on time for that!—followed by a leisurely procession through the Matchbox (alas, the small house can’t exactly fit our enormous crowds all at once). Photography welcome, kids welcome, dogs welcome, everyone welcome (though please let us know if we can help arrange any special accommodations). We’re at 925 Rhode Island Ave NW, just a few minutes’ walk from the Shaw Metro (yellow/green) and tons of bus stops and CaBi stations. There’s ample room for bikes, and if you have to drive, street parking is available in the area.

Oh, one last thing: Boneyard Studios is a little non-profit that organizes big events abot tiny houses throughout the District. These tours cost a bit to put on (liability insurance, rental space, incidental repairs, etc.), so we’re asking for a small admittance donation if you can swing it (though you’ll always be welcome if you can’t). Either way, grab a spot here (or down below), and share with your Facebook buddies here. See you in April!

More information about the Matchbox here, and Boneyard Studios all over here. The Matchbox has been featured in the Washington PostCBS NewsDwellthe AtlanticTreehugger, the Washington City PaperNPRArchitectural Record, the National JournalUrban TurfCountry LivingThe DailyUK Mail Online, the New York Daily NewsABC7FOX5FOX NewsWAMUReasonInhabitat, and more.

Introducing the Tiny House Collaborative and DC Workshop!

The last six months since I posted about the Tiny House Jamboree have been busy, and I’m excited to announce a new resource for those of you wanting to learn about tiny houses. The Tiny House Collaborative officially launched a month ago, and our first workshop will be held in DC at the end of March.  Come and learn from tiny house designers, builders, and advocates from across the country.  More information is available here.

When we started Boneyard Studios we did so because we didn’t want to build our tiny houses alone in isolation but rather within a community.  Even though 3 of the original 4 of us have all left the property where we began we have still continued on with community efforts.  Elaine Walker has been instrumental in getting the American Tiny House Association off the ground, Jay Austin and I have continued to host events around tiny houses here in DC in collaboration with Old City Farm and Guild where the Matchbox house is located, and I have been busy working with a great group of folks on a resource-sharing site for tiny house enthusiasts, builders, and cities.  This past fall Vina Lustado of Sol Haus Design brought me out to Ojai, CA to lead a workshop with Lina Menard on tiny house communities for city planners and community members, and this winter I met up with fellow collaborators in Orlando, FL where my colleague James Taylor has helped to grow a tiny house community of 12 houses and counting!

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Tiny House Community Workshop participants in Ojai, CA. 

You can learn more about the Tiny House Collaborative on our website, but a little about us here: We are designers, builders, and advocates, most of us living in our tiny houses full-time and we represent all regions of the U.S.  We met at the 2015 Tiny House Jamboree and instantly came to the same conclusion. There was so much excitement and possibility in the tiny house movement — so much need for education and outreach. We knew we didn’t need yet another tiny house business just trying to make a buck on the growth of tiny house popularity. Instead, we wanted to offer a place for more resource sharing and more connectedness! The word “synergy” described our vision perfectly: the interaction of elements that when combined is greater than the sum of its parts.

We’ve seen countless friends and colleagues try to offer tiny house products and services alone. But we had a different idea. Collectively, no collaboratively, we can contribute much more. Clearly, our combined knowledge and skills vastly outweighs that of any of us individually.  Come learn with us at our DC workshop or just check out the site where we will continue to post resources like our map of tiny house builders!

 

 

TINY HOUSE EVENTS: tours and concerts this autumn

Many thanks to the 700+ people who came out on a (slightly soggy) afternoon to tour the Matchbox earlier this month. It’s clear that tiny house fever is still raging strong, so we’re thrilled to announce the first set of our 2015 fall events. All events (unless otherwise noted) will take place at the Matchbox’s new spot at Old City Farm & Guild, in a super-accessible location over at 925 Rhode Island Avenue NWSIgn up here!

Tuesday, October 6, 6:30PM: TINY HOUSE CONCERT
Featuring AndrewN and Talya TavorBYOB.

Sunday, October 18, 11AM: TINY HOUSE OPEN HOUSE
Tour the Matchbox and learn more about the tiny house movement.

Tuesday, October 20, 6:30PM: TINY HOUSE CONCERT
Featuring The Darkest Timeline. BYOB.

Friday, October 30, 6:30PM: TINY HOUSE CONCERT
Featuring Drive TFCBYOB.

Sunday, November 22, 11AM: TINY HOUSE OPEN HOUSE
Tour the Matchbox and learn more about the tiny house movement.

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Note: Just the Matchbox is at Old City Farm & Guild for now, so only one house is available for touring. But there’s loads of other cool stuff at the farm to look at (it is, after all, a farm). We’ll be posting more photos and information about the Matchbox’s new surroundings (very) soon, but if you just can’t wait, head on over to Old City for bulbs, pumpkins, seeds, flowers, planters, and a whole lot more in one of DC’s greatest examples of creative reuse of space. We’re all right in the heart of Shaw at 925 Rhode Island Ave NW.

The Small Space Directory – tiny houses, mobile studios, and small spaces

The tiny house world is scattered, and sometimes it’s difficult to get a good sense of how many of us there are, where we are, and the different technologies we’re using in our homes and studios (art, office, etc). This community-owned directory is here to change that: it’s free and viewable by anyone. Connect with others by viewing the directory here (http://bit.ly/1TruEOo) and add your own tiny home project via the form below.

NOTE: THIS DIRECTORY IS ONLY FOR PROJECTS THAT HAVE BEGUN (OR COMPLETED) PHYSICAL BUILDING OF THE HOUSE OR STUDIO. If you’re looking to start a build, for builders, or for other tiny house enthusiasts, there’s a great listing of others over at tinyhousemap.com.

WHY THIS DIRECTORY?

For the last three years we’ve been answering questions from people wanting to find other tiny house or small space owners to learn about the technologies they use in their spaces and to find similarly – minded folks in a certain region.  While the tiny house map exists and is a great resource, it doesn’t have much information regarding the technologies used in small space projects. It’s also hard to query specific information about a project – for instance, show me all tiny houses that are on wheels and are less than 20 feet.  Or show me all tiny houses in California with off-grid water systems. This tiny house directory will feed an online interactive map which you will be able to query by project attribute: location, technology, design features, number of inhabitants, art studio, on foundation or on wheels, etc.

Because this directory is an open data project it also means any of you creative types will be able to use this data to create your own apps or maps for your site.  For instance, perhaps you take the data and create a map for your region or state or for your meetup group – symbolizing it however you’d like – there are many possibilities and the more folks who contribute to the directory the better data we all will have access to.

So, if you have a tiny house or small studio already (or are currently building one) – on a foundation or on a trailer – please fill out the directory form and come back in a few weeks to check out the map!

Any questions about this project or data, please email us at support@boneyardstudios.org.

Link to directory: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1Mf2hrUSf6ymHEaZrzXjYLkE-QKY1_fUocki2hgbYjdE/viewform

NOTE: this is a community resource and open data project meaning anyone will be able to see the data and use it, so please only fill out information about your project that you feel comfortable sharing.

Managing media’s fascination with tiny houses

I remember how scared we all were to do the first piece of press on our tiny house communal project here in DC.  We were worried how the city might react, we were worried about the safety of our houses, and we were worried about allowing portions of our lives to be on public display. Since doing countless interviews over the last two years though I’ve realized that you quickly must develop thick skin (or refuse to read the press you do which has become my strategy!).

And, no matter what, never read the comments!

You get the purely negative (often political) comments like:

Block the communist revolution in America that is forcing millions of families into shacks.

Will these dressed-up closets be the new McMansions in Obamaville?

You get the funny:

A midget could catch the devil in one of them teeny, tiny little houses.

Instead of an address, you get a Dewey Decimal number.

And you get the personal:

I see many cats, hard candy and quiet time in her future

I wouldn’t even go out on date let alone sleep with a man if he lived in one of these homes. There are certain standards in life you have to stand by and this is one of them

Details will be reported incorrectly, stories will be embellished and twisted, people will send you hateful messages, and, no matter how you try to put on a positive face about your project, the media will search for drama (even if there is none).  Despite these risks, we’ve had a positive experience with most media even if it hasn’t always been the angle we were expecting as was the case this January when Franklyn Cater from NPR called me to follow up about a piece he had started on Boneyard Studios last summer.  Something about those soothing NPR voices just instill a sense of comfort and trust, so I agreed to catch up with him provided he didn’t focus on any drama. Thankfully, he didn’t fail us – producing a well-rounded story about microhousing in the city.

However, after this piece went live I started receiving questions from folks in the tiny house community and the media. It turns out that our old blog was redirecting to a new site with misinformation posted about our houses and the city, and some media have since reprinted that information.  This is the downside of being so public with a project: when things go less than ideal, the media also jump on that opportunity.  At the end of the day what is written about me and my house doesn’t matter as it only impacts me, but reprinting misinformation about city policy and tiny houses impacts us all.*  Many of us in the tiny house community across the U.S. have worked hard over the last few years to show cities that tiny houses can be a (small) part of affordable and creative housing solutions.  And Washington, DC – both the city and many of its residents – have been largely intrigued and supportive of the idea of tiny houses, much more so than any of us expected.

Since we started our projects, we’ve seen the interest in tiny houses boom.  What’s great about that growing interest is that there are opportunities for more projects, each with their unique foci. Working together and supporting other tiny house organizations, companies, and enthusiasts only makes all of our endeavors more successful, and we feel fortunate to have hosted many of you for visits and events, and to have been graciously hosted by you when visiting your cities and supported by you in our transition to a new space.

Yes, things ended on messy terms on the lot where we all founded Boneyard Studios, but I am trying to see the split as beneficial for tiny house enthusiasts overall – there will now be more space to engage with tiny houses: a space for people to build and tour showcase homes at the alley lot owned by Minim Homes, and a new (and hopefully larger) space for Boneyard Studios to continue hosting arts and tiny house events (as we’ve done through our tiny house concert series, workshops, tiny house plays, open houses, and meetups).

While we cannot offer formal, public tours of the Matchbox and Pera houses at this time, we are continuing with our events and appreciate the local businesses who have reached out to offer us space.  We want to thank Wooly Mammoth for inviting us to be a part of their connectivity series with their play Cherokee this past Fall and Winter, and we also are excited to announce that our Spring tiny house meetup will be hosted by Bardo Brewpub.

Although the media’s fascination with tiny houses has grown a bit out of control, I’m hoping those of us in the tiny house community can remind them what we’re all about. We are passionate and engaged people who care about the future of our cities and towns and the increasing lack of affordable housing and arts space. We are innovative people finding ways to create stability with houses built not on a foundation but built on the reality that we live in a society with a diminishing formal safety net but, hopefully, an increasing community safety net. And we are resourceful people building homes that we don’t have to work the rest of our lives to pay for, giving us a sense of creative control over our lives and allowing us the time and space to become more engaged citizens in the places we live.

*I know politicians and government are easy scapegoats; however, our niche (yet growing) movement of small and sustainable living has a hard enough time already with mainstream acceptance to be spreading mistruths about them.  To clarify a few of the main ones that have mentioned the city:

  1. DC did not change its policy on tiny houses (there is, however, a zoning rewrite which addresses Accessory Dwelling Units).
  2. The city did not kick off nor threaten to tow any tiny houses off the property on Evarts St. (where we started the Boneyard Studios community).
  3. We are unsure whether or not a DC council member ever complained about noise from tiny house construction on the property, but there is currently another house being built there now so hopefully not.
  4. There has been confusion about waste.  (The Pera house had an incinerating toilet for almost two years before upgrading to a Swedish Separette toilet last summer (the same system the Matchbox house has). During a meeting with city planners this past fall we learned that an architect/developer proposing a container project in DC is designing his units to use the Separette as well, and we are happy to see these new off-grid options taking hold in the U.S.)

What happened with Boneyard Studios?

UPDATE: Tiny house communities are about dwelling in harmony, not dwelling on drama. We’re no longer at our old lot, but fear not: Boneyard Studios is still hosting tours, concerts, and other awesome events at a new location.

We’re thrilled to share our story of supporting small, sustainable urban infill, but don’t really have an interest in continuing to talk about why we left the old lot. We appreciate you respecting our privacy, and welcome any questions you may have about other things at support@boneyardstudios.org.

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