Tag Archives: education

Tumbleweed Tiny House Worskhop Re-cap and Progress!

Hello!

I’ve been away from the blog for a few days in favor of getting in some full days of work out in the COMET. I will spare you some of the details (I removed the black water tank. I then had to remove and clean the wood/subfloor that the black water tank sat on. Not pleasant!) so you don’t lose your breakfast, but I will say that I found something HILARIOUS hidden in the walls of the camper under the toilet. My COMET definitely has a history! I’ll post a picture of it later, because it’s too funny (and somewhat lewd) to describe at the moment!

Anyway, what I really want to talk about is the Tumbleweed Tiny House workshop that I spoke at and attended in Boston over the weekend. I was getting over a fever/cold this weekend (I hate summer colds!) but had a GREAT time at the workshop. The main part of the workshop was taught by Derek Diedricksen, tiny house and recycled materials guru. I gave a presentation about how the design and technology of the camper industry can be interpreted into tiny houses, and how you can re-use vintage camper appliances and parts in a tiny house to save money. Mostly, though, I talked about solar power and how to set up an entirely DC Photovoltaic system, which saves you money and is more efficient. People seemed to really enjoy the presentation, and there were lots of questions. For me, it was like accomplishing a life goal, a personal achievement! I can’t believe that after only a few months of working on The COMET I was already speaking at a tiny house workshop – and a Tumbleweed one none the less! I was psyched!

The original Tumbleweed tiny house – Tumbleweed Epu

The workshop was really great. It’s 2 days and it was largely classroom-based. We talked a lot about trailers and what special construction details need to go into a tiny house that is on wheels and will occasionally be moving. There are a lot more structural considerations. Being a builder, not all of the information was new to me, but I do think it’s a worthwhile workshop for someone wanting to know how the tiny house building works. I did particularly like talking about systems for your tiny house and hearing from a presenter, Doug, who had built a Tumbleweed Fencl out of SIPs (when I build a real tiny house – in the future when I’m a real adult – I’m definitely using SIPs!).

Day 2 we spent the morning seeing more presentations about construction and seeing some examples of what NOT to do. The second half of day 2 was the best part: We went to the other side of the city to see and tour the ORIGINAL Tumbleweed tiny house, and Epu model that Jay built and lived in himself for years. It now rests in a magical garden behind big brick walls in Boston (I’m not kidding – we’re talking ponds full of fish, waterfalls, gardens, chickens, and a tiny house in this little oasis). It was cool to see the original design and how that has changed. The Epu had no bathroom, a tiny kitchen and a coffin-like loft. I like the new designs better 🙂

At the Epu location we all sat around a gorgeous pond on a stone wall and listened to a few more speakers. Sage Radachowsky, who lives in his home-built gypsy wagon in a backyard in Boston, spoke about his build process and using found materials. He was wonderful to listen to, and has been going beyond the tiny house and keeping a garden, chickens, and bees. Check out the TIny Yellow House video about Sage’s gypsy wagon home here. I have plans to do a video interview with Sage in his home, and talk about why we choose to live tiny and other big “tiny” questions. I have lots to ask him!

Sage Radachowsky talks about his life in a tiny gypsy wagon that he built.

We then heard from John Hanson Mitchell, author of “Living at The End of Time“. He built and lived in a tiny house in the 80’s, and wrote the book about his experience. It was very interesting to hear his story or living in his tiny house without modern amenities, while less than a mile away a giant computer factory was being built.

The best part of these workshops is the mingling and “networking”. “Networking” makes it sound like a business meeting, but I felt like a met a lot of nice people with similar interests that I would like to keep in touch with. I loved hearing about other people’s plans, and it was nice to be able to offer some first-hand advice.

I can’t wait for Tiny House Summer Camp in July (go to relaxshacks.com to find out more and register!). The Tumbleweed workshop was totally life affirming!

Well, it’s back out to the COMET for another day of work. There’s a lot I have to get done before July 6th (Tiny house Summer Camp), and I leave on Sunday to go to Yestermorrow School for 3+ weeks for Core. I’ll check in later!

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Tiny House Summer Camp update + full roster

Hello!

Here’s the official Tiny House Summer Camp flyer and the full roster (as of now). I’ll be there, and you should be there too!

Head over to relaxshacks.com to see more details. Camp takes place July 6-9, Northern Vermont.

I’ve updated the Events + Appearances page accordingly!

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Photovoltaic Installation at Yestermorrow School

The last 5 days I have been in a very intense class learning the ropes of PV installation. We’ve done sizing of a system (I haven’t done this much math since high school!), flash-mounted roof mounts, and we’ve wired up our solar panels. Based on my calculations, I think I have way more than enough PV power with the three panels I recently got from Cotuit Solar.

Tomorrow is the last day, when we finally plug the panels into the combiner box (then charge controller, then AC breaker, then batteries, then inverter – whew!) and see how it all fits together. This class has been super enlightening and I can’t wait to share what I’ve learned. The Yestermorrow Design/Build School offers a learning experience like no other. It is really amazing here. Every person I meet is either building a tiny house (or has built one) or is working on an Airstream retrofit/renovation or already lives in an Airstream. My kind of people!

Anyway, this is all I have to show you for now, more later!

And here’s the tiny house that’s currently in the parking lot outside!

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Yestermorrow update + The Greenest House in LA

Hi!

I have just arrived at Yestermorrow Design/Build School in VT for my Solar Electric Design + Installation course! I am very excited, and the class begins tonight, so we are jumping right in. I’ll be here for 5 days learning how to design and install a PV system for The COMET. My experience here will also come in handy when I help Beth Ferguson of Sol Design Lab (check out the pumps!) install a solar powered bus stop installation on campus at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA next month.

 

 

Okay, here’s a cool project!  “On Begley Street”

On Begley Street

For all of you sustainable design/green building fans: I was listening to “ACE On The House” (Adam Carolla’s carptentry/construction podcast) the other day and heard Ed Begley Jr., celebrity/environmentalist who was driving a solar powered car way before it was cool, talking about his new building project. He and his wife Rachelle are building a LEED platinum home (I believe it is net zero energy?) in place of their existing one. They have had their original home completely deconstructed so that each piece can be re-used in some way. Their new home will be “The greenest home in LA” and will be an example of sustainable building practices. They hope that others in the neighborhood will follow suit!

I think this is a great idea. If more celebrities had more gardens and less lawns, people might be inspired to follow their lead.

You can support their green building project via Kickstarter. They are asking for funds to be able to have a webshow that details “How to build a LEED platinum home”. I can’t wait to see the upcoming episodes!

 

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Yestermorrow Design/Build School – first workshop this week!

I realized that I hadn’t written a post about the Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Vermont, and that I should introduce you all to the place since I have my first class there this coming Sunday. Yestermorrow School is a design/build school that focuses on hands-on teaching and sustainable building practices. They offer workshops that range from 2 days to 4 weeks (and they have a sustainable building semester program with UMass Amherst). Topics range from Green building materials, woodworking, and tiny house building workshops, to architectural design and drawing courses and stained glass making workshops. I found out about them last year and when I read their “Philosophy” statement I was SO HAPPY to find a place that shared my values exactly. All last semester I had been talking about closing the gap between designers and builders, and wasn’t really getting any support in doing that. So I left my college for some time to attend Yestermorrow for the next year, through their Sustainable Design/Build Certificate program. Basically with the certificate program (and they offer certificates in other subjects too)  you choose a handful of week-long, 3-week long, and weekend workshops from a long list of amazing classes. I chose the certificate over the semester program because of the flexibility and that way I could work on The COMET at the same time. I’ve heard the workshops are really intense and totally awesome, and that a 3 week workshop feels like an entire semester. I’m about to find out!

Anyway, here’s their philosophy you you know what I mean:

“Yestermorrow’s courses are specifically designed to demystify the designing and building processes using hands-on, experiential learning to teach students the art and wisdom of good design and the skill and savvy of enduring craftsmanship as a single, integrated process.

This creative process offers students unique insight into the oftentimes disparate worlds of the architect and the builder. Architects are routinely trained without any building experience that might inform their designs, and builders are trained to execute without a sense of the overarching purpose or design of the project.

Combining design and building offers numerous advantages and promotes the creation of intentional and inspired buildings and communities that enhance our world. From the professional design/builder to the do-it-yourself design/build homeowner, every designer should know how to build and every builder should know how to design. This philosophy sets Yestermorrow apart from other educational institutions.”

There you have it. I was in love!

Anyway, this coming Sunday I go up to VT for my first workshop – a 5-day intensive called “Solar Electric Design and Installation”. Just in time, too, because I just bought 3 solar panels! I specifically chose workshops that would help me with the skills associated with designing/building/making the COMET. Once I take this workshop, I’ll be able to install my own photovoltaic system, and show you all how I did it step by step!

Also, if you haven’t seen it already, you should check out this video of the tiny house that the Semester program just built/finished. It is gorgeous!! (see it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5mD3iwOb2w)

I encourage you to check out the Yestermorrow website and browse through their courses to get an idea of how awesome the place is. When you attend a class there, you can either stay in the main building, stay in a cabin, or just camp out. I’m really excited! Hopefully at some point I’ll be able to stay in the COMET when I’m up there!

 

Also, on the topic of workshops, I just signed up for the recently announced Tumbleweed Tiny House building workshop in Boston on May 19th and 20th, with Jay Schafer and fellow Massachusetts tiny house guy Deek Diedricksen. I’m really looking forward to it. Personally, I think the Tumbleweed houses are a little too traditional for my style (what can I say – I like recycling junk and using used materials!), but I’m looking forward to building one! Is anyone else planning on going to the Boston Tumbleweed workshop?

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NEW: “Donate” Button!

Hey readers!

I wanted to let you know about a new feature I added to the site, to make it super easy to support The COMET project. I’ve added a “DONATE” button to the bottom of the Home web page (where all the widgets are, below the blog posts), and another one on the “Donate” page under that title. By donating to The COMET, you will be supporting education in sustainable building practices and sustainable living. You will be empowering people to build their own homes that are eco-friendly and attainable. Your contribution will be felt far and wide, as people all over the country and the world follow the DIY instructions and use the resources on this website to live more sustainably, as well as when The COMET travels the USA as a mobile classroom and showcase for a sustainable lifestyle.

Your contribution will go towards purchasing materials to complete DIY projects for The COMET, which will lead to tutorials here on cometcamper.wordpress.com. Your donation will also be used to purchase healthy and eco-friendly building materials, or re-purposed materials that will help me complete The COMET. Every contribution really truly does make a difference, and a little bit goes a long way! If you donate $50 or more, you automatically become a Sponsor, and will be featured on the Sponsors page, have a post written about you and your contribution, and I will do my best to work out an open house in your town or local school!

You may know that I am also looking for sponsorships from green-minded businesses and companies. If you are interested in having your product or materials featured in The COMET, and having your product seen all over the US and the world, please contact me!

Thank you! And Thank you to everyone who has already contributed to and supported The COMET!

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