Often I marvel at the numerous dynamic people inside the tiny house movement. Why it’s an incredibly diverse group of individuals, of those who promote the lifestyle through community-oriented organizations, there seems to be a common thread—the use of tiny houses to bring neighbors together and proactively work towards stronger, more vibrant communities.
As a passionate community organizer and the founder of Miranda’s Hearth, that is just what Miranda Aisling is doing in Massachusetts. Her deep appreciation for tiny houses comes from her experience building her own and living tiny for four years. As she explains below, the entire house and everything inside it is handmade by local artists. Miranda is an accomplished artist, herself.
More than her personal home, her tiny house on wheels is used as a tool to support her organization’s work. What’s better than one tiny dwelling to make a statement? Many! Miranda’s Hearth is back with the 5th Annual BIG Massachusetts Tiny House Festival, October 19-20 in Beverly, MA.
I recently spoke with Miranda to learn more about the upcoming Festival and her organization’s BIG goals.
What is Miranda’s Hearth, and what role tiny houses play in your organization?
MA: Miranda’s Hearth is a community arts non-profit focused on building community through creativity that is approachable, affordable, and accessible. In 2015, the Hearth built Aubergine, the tiny house, as a public art project to highlight forms of art that are often overlooked by traditional galleries. In addition to the house itself, everything inside the house is handmade by local artists, including the sink, floor cloth, curtains, quilts, dishes, silverware, and more.
We use Aubergine, the tiny house, as a way to demonstrate what it feels like to be in a space where everything around you is handmade. This brings important attention to the value of supporting local artists and artistic communities.
What’s the inspiration behind the Big Massachusetts Tiny House Festival?
MA: We put on the BIG Massachusetts Tiny House Festival every year to provide a way for the public to experience and learn about alternative housing solutions. Our goal is to encourage all of our attendees to think about how they’ve living and why they live that way. The festival started through a partnership with the Somerville Arts Council in 2014 and every year since it has continued to grow as people from throughout the community get involved.
Why the move to Beverly, MA?
MA: Miranda’s Hearth has been in operation for six years; in that time, we’ve served over 27,000 people through community art programming, including the annual BIG Massachusetts Tiny House Festival. Over the past two years, we’ve focused our efforts on securing a building for our work moving forward. This summer, we submitted a proposal to repurpose the Briscoe School in Beverly, MA, as a community art center.
If accepted, our proposal would provide affordable creative workspace for 150-200 artists, creative entrepreneurs, and community organizations. It would provide needed event space in Beverly to host community meetings, festivals, performances, dances, and more. We’re excited to bring the tiny house festival to Beverly this year to highlight the incredible creative community that’s already there.
What can attendees expect at the festival?
MA: Over twenty tiny structures, including tiny houses, school buses, vans, wagons, yurts, box trucks, and more, will be on display and open for tours at the 5th Annual BIG Massachusetts Tiny House Festival on Oct 19 & 20. In addition to the tours, we have two full days of programming and live music. This year, the festival falls on the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, and we’re happy to be partnering with the Jewish Arts Collaborative to celebrate by building a Sukkah on the property.
Grimdrops will also be doing a live mural painting on Aubergine, the tiny house while John Reid, who holds the Guinness Book of World Records for largest balloon sculpture, will make a life-sized balloon tiny house. Local business vendors highlighting environmentalism, arts & crafts, and social causes will also be at the festival sharing their work.
What do you hope to accomplish with the festival?
MA: We hope this festival encourages all of its attendees, no matter what size their house is, to think about how they live and why they live that way. With talks on downsizing, environmentalism, and non-toxic building materials, we’ll have information for everyone at the festival.
This year, we’re also offering a FREE ticket to anyone who sits on a zoning board or a planning board in order to help demystify what tiny houses are and help promote the conversation in local government about how tiny houses can be an important solution for the current housing crisis.