Tag Archives: education

Tiny House Fair 2013 – Processing the Weekend

I said to Matt as we were leaving Warren VT after 4 days at the Tiny House Fair at Yestermorrow this past weekend, “I’m going to need some time to process everything!” and it’s been a few days now since we got back. I’m just finally able to write about it! What a crazy, fun, informative, inspiring weekend. I met people I had been admiring for a long time, and it was fun to just hang out and talk about stuff other than tiny houses too. The movers and shakers of this little movement are passionate about the earth, social justice, and community building in all different ways. It was great to be able to hang out with some friends from the trip last month – Alex Pino of Tiny House Talk, and Dan Louche of Tiny Home Builders, and to meet everyone new.

Check out the photos below, the ones that are taken at night are Matt’s photos. Look at the Milky Way! Vermont is beautiful. After the fair was over, Monday morning, I took the remainder of the tiny house presenters (Jay, Lina, Alex, Dan) that were still around on a tour of my favorite design/build buildings in the Waitsfield/Warren area – of which there are quite a few. It really made me appreciate all the amazing things I get to see as part of my every day life. It also made me appreciate what it would be like to have no building codes – pretty fucking awesome in my opinion. Have you ever been to the Prickly Mountain, or seen the Archy Bunker?

Now it’s time for a little rant. I’ll be covering more of the issues that cropped up over the weekend (bigger issues) in the next few days, but for now I just have to express how disappointed I was to receive a nasty note taped to the back of my camper one day when I looked outside during the fair. Someone, obviously with nothing better to do than troll around and try to make people feel bad, wrote a passive aggressive, rude note on my trailer and left it there anonymously. The COMET, as is obvious from the photos, is not complete. It does not have exterior paint, or the PV system installed, or the bumper garden built. But before we left for VT I said, “you know what, people at the fair are going to appreciate it anyway because I know they’re all going to see what my vision is for this thing”. Apparently I was wrong. I was so sad that someone from what I considered to be my own community was so disrespectful. I brought the camper to the Fair so that people would be able to step inside a real, lived-in, functioning tiny house. It was not easy to get it to rural Vermont, and it certainly wasn’t free. This person, who clearly has never done a project themselves, and has no idea what goes into something like this (and probably never will and feels bad about themselves and their life) didn’t consider there was a real person that lives in the COMET. Anyway, I’m done feeding the trolls for today – but I just wanted to say that we all need to support each other as a community in this endeavor. Building a tiny house takes a long time and is not easy at all. I know I don’t really fit in with the “tiny house” aesthetic, and many people bum out on trailers and RVs in their presentations about tiny houses, but I still thought I had my own little place within this movement. I hope so, but we’ll see.

In better news, after the fair was over someone came up to Matt and I and said, “in this whole tiny house world, you are the fly in the ointment.” I loved that. I know we are. Our tiny house looks like trash right now compared to what you think of a tiny house. Some people just aren’t interested in it because it doesn’t look like a little cottage or “house”. But we stand by that the COMET is a real solution to living situations, and we know we like to go against the grain. Thank you kind friend for confirming that we’ll always be misfits no matter where we go :) I’m beginning to realize that I like it that way.

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This was the display we made for the front of the camper to describe the green building materials – what do you think?

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Me with my trusty pink flamingo – the closest I have to a pet haha!

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Left to Right: Abel of Zyl Vardos, Dee Williams of PAD, Lina Minard, Alex Pino of Tiny House Talk, Jay Schafer of Four Lights, Brian Levy of Boneyard Studios, Dan Louche of Tiny Home Builders, Matt and Myself, and tiny house dweller Susan.

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New Video and oh hey I missed you guys!

I’m back!

What a wild trip! Just to remind you all, for the past month I was traveling around the US (car-camping in my Element, which worked out great) interviewing Tiny House people and doing tiny house stuff. In the coming months (it takes so long to edit this stuff!) you’ll see my interviews with Laura Lavoie of Life In 120 Square Feet, Dan Louche of Tiny Home Builders, Alex Pino of Tiny House Talk, Sicily of Le Petit Maison, Steve Harrell of Tiny House Swoon and Tiny House Listings, Andrew Odom of Tiny (r)Evolution, and Hari and Karl of Tiny House Family. What an awesome community of people we have! Turns out everyone lives in a tiny house for very different, unique reasons, and it was amazing to see so many people who had really found a sense of fulfillment through small living. More on all this later!

Also, Kent Griswold told me that I had a video up on YouTube, maybe some of you have already seen it? I just found out about it while I was away, and I’d love it if you guys checked it out and “liked” it if you feel like it! Here’s the link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7uKCnIBOhpw

I’m getting excited about Tiny House Fair in June. Matt and I have one month to complete the COMET. I anticipate 12 to 16 hour days and lots of exhausted yelling! Haha! If I’m absent for the next few weeks, you’ll know it’s just because I’m working my butt off to get this hunk of vintage metal ready for it’s big debut.

I have an article coming out in a regional magazine called Spirit of Change soon, so I’m looking forward to that.

Here’s some photos from the trip for you to look at:

At the tiny house workshop in Wilmington - Steve Harrell had this awesome sign, I want to make one now too!

At the tiny house workshop in Wilmington – Steve Harrell had this awesome sign, I want to make one now too!

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Thanks for reading! Talk to you all soon!

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Tiny House Building Workshop: North Carolina Edition

So, as I mentioned in the last post I had to postpone my March tiny house road trip until April. At first I was bummed out, then I realized I would be traveling south at the same time of Deek Diedricksen and Steve Harrell’s Tiny House Workshop in NC, and now I’m so excited because I get to hang out there! Oh, you haven’t heard of this North Carolina workshop? Well, let me tell you, it’s going to be the biggest tiny house meeting of the minds yet, anywhere. The speakers will knock your socks off. And even though I’m not on the poster, I’ll be around too to talk about tiny houses and answer questions about off-grid stuff, design, sustainability, etc.

zee poster tiny house workshop CORRECTED

Here’s what Deek says about it on his website:

North Carolina Relaxshacks.com Workshop Announced! SIGN UP DETAILS…
HANDS-ON Tiny House Building Workshop with DIY Network Host, Author, Designer, Builder, and Blogger Derek “Deek” Diedricksen. We’re talking almost 35-40 hours of contact, building, demos, networking, and MORE! It looks like we’ll ALSO have a tiny house on wheels visiting us, courtesy of  TENNESSEE TINY HOMES! We’re excited to meet builder Joe, and see what he’s done!
Want to learn how to build a tiny house/cabin? Better yet, want to build one??  Here’s your chance, and we’re limiting this workshop to only 25 total, so as to keep it intimate. Sign up details are below….

JUST ANNOUNCED- EACH ATTENDEE WILL RECEIVE THESE DOOR GIFTS!!!!
A $120+ Value!
Plans for The Sonoma Shanty Cabin from Kent Griswold!6 months of Kent’s Tiny House MagazineLloyd Kahn’s AWESOME BOOK “Tiny Homes, Simple Shelter”Tiny House plan sets from COZYHOMEPLANS.comDON VARDO/gypsy wagon plans from Dee Williams and the P.A.D. Crew!Plans for The Darrington Cabin….the one we’ll all be buildingand more……
Its $120+ worth of door gifts for just signing up!
We’ll also be giving away a few copies of my book “Humble Homes, Simple Shacks” leading up to this event.

 April 26th-28th- Tiny House-Building Workshop #4

I never planned on doing many of these, but the first three I did were so much fun and all of them sold out, so I figured, why not do one somewhere warmer?

So North Carolina it is!
Wilmington, NC, to be precise…

This workshop will be a team up with Steven Harrell of Tinyhouselistings.com and Tinyhouseswoon.com – a THREE DAY, HANDS-ON, WORKSHOP where we’ll collectively build a tiny house! This will be another workshop that will be limited in size, so as to keep it intimate- 25 people or so is the maximum, so if interested, you might not want to wait too long on this. $399 for the three day event. Some food, snacks, coffee, materials, workbooks, and more, are all included.
GUEST SPEAKERS/DEMOS from…  -Kent Griswold of Tinyhouseblog.com (making the trek from CA)-

Alex Pino (FL)- To Discuss Downsizing Techniques (from TinyHouseTalk.com)-

Laura LaVoie- Tiny House Dweller and Builder 120SquareFeet.com-

Steven Harrell- co/hosting, and the man behind Tinyhouseswoon.com and Tinyhouselistings.comand

JUST ADDED…. Dustin Diedricksen- Environmental Engineer, Small House Dweller, Tiny House Builder…..

Andrew Odom- Builder/Dweller/Blogger- TinyRevolution.us

Ryan Mitchell- Builder and Thetinylife.com and we might STILL have more!~

PLUS….
-Campfire discussions at night
-Pizza Party/Cocktail meet n’ greet/networking hang-out
-Salvage Construction Demonstrations
-How to Save THOUSANDS While Building Your Own Tiny House
-What NOT to do when building and designing your own tiny home….
-Tricks Of The Trade and Techniques
-Tool Safety, Selection, and “Old School Tools” (Tools Deek still uses on off grid jobs)
-Designing and tips for space efficiency
-Alternative Building Techniques And Approaches
-Giveaways
These are just some of the things we’ll be covering as we all collectively build and design a tiny house/guest house.”

Obviously, the networking here alone is worth the price of admission. What you learn in between the building is amazing. I have been to all of Deek’s workshops since the beginning, and they are my favorite tiny house workshops! They are super fun, relaxed, informational, and you will make lots of friends. Email Deek (kidcedar@gmail.com) to sign up, and do it quick because it’s almost sold out if not already!

See you in NC!

 

 

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Project Ventura: a huge success!

I just wanted to give you all an update on the fabulous young ladies of the Ann Richards School and their Project Ventura eco-trailer. They have finished their presentations (you can read about their experiences here: http://projectventura.wordpress.com/) AND they have met their funding goal on Kickstarter!! YAY! So thank you to anyone and everyone that donated – I can’t wait to see how the renovation turns out. You really made this project real for the girls by funding it into existence! (See, high school projects don’t have to be pointless and boring – they can be awesome and life-changing like this!).  Congratulations, ARS DAP girls, you are all amazing :)

In other news, I got back from my residency at Goddard and was exhausted and then got sick and so have been MIA for a few days. My time at Goddard was really wonderful and empowering. There is a genuine autonomy and agency given to students there. It felt unreal for the first few days, to be asked what I wanted to learn, instead of having things shoved down my throat or having to fight and fight to convince people that Tiny Houses are a legitimate area of study. Everyone there just gets it. And I’m excited about my first “packet” and the coming semester. I did have to postpone my road trip until April, which was very frustrating at first but turned out to be a good thing.

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A New School, A Podcast, and A Road Trip

Hello lovelies,

Sorry I’ve been away from the blog for a few days – I have been very busy prepping for Tiny House Road Trip Spring 2013. What is this Tiny House Road trip? In my neverending quest for the essence of the tiny house movement, I have planned a tour of the eastern and southern US, during which I will interview, film, and photograph tiny house people and their homes. I leave in less than 2 weeks! The road trip is about one month total. I’m interviewing tiny house builders, designers, and dwellers, documenting everything with cameras, audio recorders, and the pen. I’m very excited to finally meet some of the tiny house bloggers and internet acquaintances that I have been following via the internet for a long time. I’ll return with lots of footage and insights to share with you all. So for the last week, Matt (cameraman, audio tech, and tiny house partner in crime) and I have been modding out my Honda Element with a platform bed with storage underneath, insulated window covers, black-out curtains, and custom vents for the windows. We’re just car camping the whole trip (not towing the COMET, alas) to save money. If you have a tiny house project or business or thing you think we should see, let us know in the comments! This is the first of multiple tiny house road trips I have planned. I hope it goes smoothly – we’ve been planning everything out to the last detail but you never know!

Also, I was delighted to be interviewed by Andrew Odom of TinyRevolution for his podcast, RevoConvo. He’s a super nice guy, and we share a common sponsor (GreenBuildingSupply.com). We talked about trailers and Worcester and off-grid systems. It was really fun, and you can all give it a listen next Thursday when it comes out! (I’ll post the link when it comes out).

Lastly, I wanted to mention that I’m going through an exciting transition right now in my (also unending) quest for Tiny House University and autonomous education. “Tiny House University” is my phrase for the unusual education/college path I have carved out for myself in search of a major in a subject that isn’t exactly mainstream. I left Hampshire College last semester, which was a hard decision. I had been on Field Study (independent, off-campus semesters) for a few semesters in a row, and realized that I would never be able to go back to campus and the traditional classroom, as the COMET has taken on a life of its own and more than anything I need the flexibility of independent education in order to pursue opportunities that arise thanks to the COMET. I was accepted at Goddard College, a non-residential school in Vermont (my favorite state…in the warmer seasons haha) and I start today! Basically you go to the campus once a year for one week to meet your advisor and create a study plan, then you go home to wherever you live and do whatever you do, while corresponding with your advisor once a month. Pretty cool! So I get to study tiny houses full time, and earn a degree in Sustainability, which is what I’ve been working towards for a few years now without even realizing it! I’m very excited for this new leg in a long journey towards Tiny House University.

Did you guys know I now write for Tiny House Talk on occasion? I’m very excited. Here was my first post: http://tinyhousetalk.com/tiny-houses-of-the-past/. And soon there will be another post on THT detailing my search for Tiny House University, a “how-to” for interested people!

Thanks for reading along, I hope to be able to update you all throughout my week at school and the road trip, but forgive me if I’m MIA for a minute!

Photo courtesy of Swan Moon.

Photo courtesy of Swan Moon.

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TEXAS! – finding the TINY in the “everything is bigger” state

Woah, what an amazing trip.

We’ve been back for a few days, but are just getting some time to reflect/catch up now that we are snowed in for the next few days thanks to this “nemo” storm we’re experiencing in MA right now (there’s a driving ban, so we couldn’t go anywhere even if we wanted to!).

TEXAS has more TINY going on than one might think, considering it’s the state known for the slogan, “Everything is Bigger…”. We had an incredible, inspiring time hanging out with the Engineering class at the Ann Richards School in Austin. Those girls are the coolest: they love math and science, the love engineering, and they were wise beyond their years. They were so engaged with their Project Ventura, they came in on Saturday and every day after school. I was super inspired by the work these girls were doing. We learned a lot from each other! You can all go check out their blog: http://projectventura.wordpress.com/. AND, you can help them out because their KICKSTARTER has just LAUNCHED! Please, please, please support these awesome girls by donating if you possibly can – they are the next generation of great innovators. I’ll keep reminding you throughout their campaign, but why wait? Go to their project page now, and donate some $!

Me (in the pink shirt), Matt on the other side, with the ARS class.

Me (in the pink shirt), Matt on the other side, with the ARS class.

In a moment of wonderful fulfillment of life-goals and awesomeness, I also got to talk extensively to the ARS AP Environmental class about radical menstruation (a topic some of you will not be surprised to learn I am very well-versed in and passionate about). It’s an all-girls school, so they were all interested, and they asked! It was the highlight of my life – at least for that moment. I think I had a lot of those moments with the ARS girls. But seriously, I hardly ever get a chance to change awesome young ladies’ lives, but by the end of that talk no one was going to use a tampon again!

I digress! While in TX, we also visited some other inspirational tiny house innovators. We hung out with Brad Kittel at Tiny Texas Houses for more than a few hours, which was wonderful. I filmed a great interview with this visionary man, so once that’s all edited you guys can see it. We also interviewed Garrett Finney – designer of the Cricket Trailer – a personal inspiration to me and the COMET. Right in Austin city limits, we visited and spoke with Tracen Gardner, the man behind the modular tiny house company Reclaimed Space. We’re working on editing all these interviews/tours now, hopefully they will be ready soon-ish! Tiny is becoming a big deal in Texas – and these are just a few of the leaders of this movement for smarter buildings.

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My Life is Validated by Tenth-Grade Girls

 

This is probably the coolest thing that has ever happened to me, so bear with me while I explode with excitement and awe.

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All I ever wanted with this blog and this project was to inspire other people to take their life into their own hands and do something creative with DIY attitude. Well, I never imagined that I would inspire a group of high school girls to undertake such a project, but it’s happening right now!
The girls at the Ann Richards School For Young Women Leaders in Austin TX are not your average tenth-graders. These engineering students focus on project-based learning at their high school. The class’s assignment this year is directly inspired by the COMET, as they turn a 1970’s travel trailer into a solar-powered learning tool. They are incorporating the eco-friendly aspects of the COMET and the small space design techniques of tiny houses into their project. The girls are learning 3D digital modeling, design, green building methods, construction, and more through the hands-on project. Right now, the design groups in the class are coming up with designs, budgets, and plans. The client will choose the winning design, which will be implemented in the trailer this spring.
Needless to say, I was flattered and amazed when their teacher (who is so amazing – I wish I had teachers like this in high school!) emailed me saying that they were undertaking Project Ventura, based on the COMET and my own methods. Now I’m going down to TX this week to teach the class for a week and learn what I can from this group of incredible young women. I can’t wait to see how they’ve improved on my ideas and what they’ve come up with for designs. Matt’s coming as the SketchUp expert, and will be teaching them 3D design using this free program.
I strongly encourage you to check out their blog! It is very detailed and extremely well-written. It will keep you up to date on all of their discoveries and victories. And if you have some money to spare, or think it’s a good cause, consider donating to Project Ventura so that they can begin the building process!
I can’t really describe how happy this class of inspiring young women makes me. I feel like I’ve accomplished a part of what I set out to do with the COMET, and it’s very fulfilling. Of course, I’ll let you all know how the trip goes and I’ll have lots of photos to share. Now go over to http://projectventura.wordpress.com/ and check out these kick-ass ladies!

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Do you know about the Yestermorrow Tiny House Fair?

I have an exciting announcement! Although the wheels have been turning on this for a few months now, I want to remind all tiny house and sustainable building/design lovers about the Tiny House Fair that is happening at Yestermorrow School in Waitsfield, Vermont this summer. Here’s the scoop from the Yestermorrow website. And I’ll be there with the COMET, and giving a talk about small-scale solar power for your tiny house.

From the Yestermorrow website:

Yestermorrow is thrilled to host the first ever Tiny House Fair next spring, June 14-16, 2013. Register Now!

Come to the Tiny House Fair to learn about and celebrate tiny houses!  Join leaders of the tiny house movement, including Jay Shafer, founder of Tumbleweed Tiny House Company and Derek (Deek) Diedricksen of Relaxshacks.

Whether you’ve just begun to explore tiny houses or already live in one, there are presentations you’ll enjoy:

  • how to design and build a tiny house
  • clever cabinetry and finish carpentry
  • design and construction for specific climates
  • finding and building with recycled materials
  • solar power 
  • composting toilets
  • the tiny house movement
  • creating a community

Cost: $300 General Registration, includes all workshops, presentations, and meals.

Dates: The fair starts Friday evening 6/14/2013 with dinner and a speaker, and ends Sunday afternoon 6/16/2013.

Workshop Schedule: See http://tinyhousecommunity.com/fair.htm for a full schedule of workshops and presenters.

Meals: The registration package includes Friday dinner, Saturday breakfast lunch and dinner, and Sunday breakfast and lunch.  We walk the talk of sustainability by purchasing local, organic, nutritious, and wholesome ingredients. The meal plan includes vegetarian options at every meal.

Register Online or call us at 802-496-5545 to secure your spot at the fair. We are limited to 100 participants.

Definitely check out the schedule of workshops over at Tiny House Community….all of the tiny house greats will be at this event. Jay Schafer, Derek Diedricksen, Alex Pino, and so many more.

Here's a beautiful tiny house built by Yestermorrow students.

Here’s a beautiful tiny house built by Yestermorrow students.

And if you haven’t checked out the Yestermorrow website or their course offerings before, you should! I can’t say enough good things about them. I haven’t been there in a month and I’m really missing it up there in VT! They have a Tiny House design course coming up soon, “Less is More”, which is taught by two wonderful instructors.

Another tiny house built by Yestermorrow students!

Another tiny house built by Yestermorrow students!

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Tumbleweed Tiny House Workshop in Boston, February 9 + 10

It’s that time of year again! The Tumbleweed Tiny House Workshop will be happening in Boston in a few short weeks and I’m excited to say that I’ll be guest speaking at this SOLD OUT (!) workshop, talking about my experiences building a Tumbleweed house this fall and sharing my expertise in small-scale (tiny) off-grid systems for your tiny house. The workshop is Feb. 9-10, and you can still put your name on the wait list! Deek Diedricksen is hosting this one, and he’s a wonderful teacher and makes the workshop really fun.

So if you’re already signed up, I’ll see you there! Bring your tiny house questions and get ready to be inspired.

Here's a photo from last year's Tumbleweed workshop, when we visited the first ever built Tumbleweed house that Jay lived in for years.

Here’s a photo from last year’s Tumbleweed workshop, when we visited the first ever built Tumbleweed house that Jay lived in for years.

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Yestermorrow Design/Build School: Ecological Design in The Built Environment

Hello!

As some of you readers may know, I attend Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Vermont for certain workshops and courses throughout this year as I work towards my Certificate in Sustainable Design/Building from the school (also, as I receive credit at my college). It’s not a full-time school like traditional college, but instead I take a few weeks here and there throughout the year to do very intense, immersive, hands-on courses. My coursework here helps me with The COMET – each class that I choose to take is directly related to an aspect of the project.

Today I start the most intensive course in the Certificate program (so I’ve heard), we call it “Core.” It’s technically titled Ecological Design in The Built Environment, and it is the basis of the curriculum here. It focuses on permaculture and sustainable community design, as well of the principles of design and basic design and drawing tools. It’s basically a semester long Design Fundamentals course packed into 3 very intense weeks (I think we have one day off).

Just wanted to let you guys know what I was up to for the next 3 weeks. I probably won’t be able to post as much while I’m here, but look for some updates and a few posts about stuff I’ve been meaning to talk about for a while. It’s very beautiful up here in Vermont this time of year, especially at Yestermorrow campus.

Wish me luck!

Thanks always for all of your support!

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