This weekend I had the opportunity to be a featured speaker at the Dayton Mini Jam. A regional (and scaled down) version of the Tiny House Jamboree scheduled for August 7-9 in Colorado Springs, CO, the Mini Jam seemed to be a successful version of what could very well be a recurring event in regions around the country. Sponsored by EcoCabins — a manufactured home builder specializing in tiny houses, cabins, cottages, and modular homes — the event was billed as a tiny house event complete with tiny house tours (including the national introduction of the ‘Morrison 24‘ based on Andrew and Gabriella Morrison’s hOMe) and speakers designed to introduce Ohio to the tiny house lifestyle. I presented my ‘Tiny House 101: the history of small digs’ as well as participated in a few round table discussions and a slew of one-on-ones. All that aside though what I did was participate in a weekend of fielding legal questions, grinning through human poop jokes, and watching couples argue over whose clothes could stay and whose had to go if they were to go tiny. It was a comical time to say the least but one that also made me realize the American Dream ethos may be stronger than ever and the time is now to reemphasize the cautions of real estate bubbles and unrealistic and unsustainable lifestyle choices.
“What do you do about shoe storage in one of these?”
The question pierced the air around 2pm on Sunday just an hour or two before I was to fly back home. I stared at the middle aged woman not sure if her half-cocked grin was to point out a bit of comic timing or to solicit a response from me. I answered as best I could. “Tiny house people don’t wear shoes. Snarky? Yes. Inappropriate? Probably. Deserved? Without a doubt. “That would explain it.” I let it go even though ten minutes later I was still trying to define that. What did she mean? No shoes explained what? Had she had a bad experience? Had she seen ‘The Hobbit’ too many times? I grabbed my phone, pulled up Safari, and googled the number of shoes the average American has. According to a TIME magazine article from 2010 the average American male owns 12 pair of shoes while the average female owns 27 pair. I was floored. What does one do with all these shoes. But that wasn’t really what got me. The lady was asserting that we live in small spaces because we aren’t average; we are somehow abnormal, if you will. That represented the life I have chosen for myself and the it was actually me.
For two days I had spoken on small spaces dating back to 8,000 BC and the technological and architectural accomplishments along the way (and in a fairly academic way I might add) only to have my life and my passion belittled because of a lack of shoes.
Now, take the subject of shoes and replace it with cars or DVDs or couches or place settings or even hours spent at work. In one sentence I became aware that a large number of our population still finds a bit of fault with anyone who chooses anything other than the status quo. You don’t have room for the entire Criterion collection on DVD? That would explain it. You downsized to just a place setting for four? That would explain it. You live in a house that is less than 300 square feet? That would explain it.
EcoCabins understood this conundrum some time ago and worked to find a place for tiny houses at a popular Homearama in a major city in an effort to help demystify the that and the it. I was fortunate to be invited to be part of that. And for that I am honored. I am on the front line of the tiny house period. We are not a movement because we are still progressing, advocating, and moving forward. We are not a fad. We are not an it in need of explanation. We are real people with real lives, real families, real dreams, and real shoes…soul and all.
AUTHORS NOTE: this post is my personal experience and does not represent Tiny House Blog, EcoCabins, or any ladies who fit the aforementioned description. Furthermore, if you are going to be in or near Colorado Springs, CO August 6-8 consider being part of the Tiny House Jamboree.