We Are The Tiny House People

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.

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Carol - June 24, 2015 Reply

I have lots of shoes, not 27 pairs,
but I love my shoes. The plan is that they will have their own spot in my 14ft trailer! I will give up other “stuff” to keep my pretty shoes. It is a trade off I am prepared to make.

MissElaineous - June 24, 2015 Reply

What a well-written and honest article! You addressed a sentiment that most of us tiny home lovers often encounter: Negativity from people who don’t understand the tiny house mentality. Kudos for your insight and humor–and for letting me know there is a place for like-minded folks like me who love the tiny house lifestyle!

Charlene Bean - June 24, 2015 Reply

Hi Everyone, I have been following y’all for quite a long time. Have had many dreams about having my own tiny home and have gained much insight here. Well, God heard my desire and brought me to a mobile home in Naples, FL. A wonderful park smack in the middle of one of the wealthiest cities around! I lived across the street in a 235 sg ft hotel room for 3 years and never even knew this park was here! Quite an amzing journey it has been!
I bought a 12×32 1 br. 1972 (the year I graduated) The real amazing thing is I have no money! I was able to brrow 10 K from a friend and the woman who sold me is holding the 4,500 difference! I only gave her a $ 100.oo deposit to hold while I tried to get the money. What a blessing I have recieved.
Just wanted to share with you how anything is possible!
The one thing I need advice on if anyone can is: the lanai has 20 ft of glass, facing west. I mile from the beautiful beaches here, problem is keeping the sun out! I am looking for a VERY economical solution. Can not use the film as my *windows are some sort of film…. Window treatments are so expensive and I have always made my own. Has anyone tried the solar curtains that Carol Wright sells the cheapest? They are $5.98 a pair, but I need about a dozen. Right now the cash needs to got to the holes in the floor! I appreciate any thoughts.
PS if anyone is interested there are 2 or 3 mobile homes for sale here. Lot fee is $300/ mo tax is $6.00/yr! Av price on the fixer uppers is around $24K. Let me know if interested I can get some pics sent to you. It is 55 and older, nice pool and people are very cool! Most of the yr it is 75% empty. Snowbirds buy to stay here in winter!
Again thank you for your help and for this great web site!

alice h - June 24, 2015 Reply

How much stuff you have shouldn’t be a contest in either direction, it should just be a reflection of how you live and what makes you happy after you’ve done an honest, realistic look at your life. If you do the head work first the rest should fall into place. Without doing at least some kind of assessment of what and why and how you can be left floundering and disappointed when you try to fit your “unexamined” life into a tiny space, no matter how cute it is or how much somebody else is making it work.

BTW I can fit at least 10 pairs of shoes plus serious winter boots and gumboots in a box about 12″x20″x24″ that doubles as a seat and tucks away in a storage wall. I know it’s not all about the shoes, but it’s an example of how you can make it work.

Mike - June 24, 2015 Reply

Wow easily insulted much? It was just a question and maybe the woman was genuine.

Eric - June 24, 2015 Reply

You started this posting with “being swamped with legal questions” and mine is just one more.
When is someone who wishes to see a continuation of the Tiny Home revolution willing to become the driving force for a national campaign to develop national building codes applicable to Tiny Home location (land use)???
I speak to many people who would be on the bandwagon in a heartbeat provided they were assured a path to legal land use, including myself. As many others realize that far too many cities want the Tiny Homes in RV parks which charge recreation rates which are not affordable.

shirley - July 6, 2015 Reply

I agree with Eric….for financial reasons I am interested in the tiny house. But where can I put it. I’m not interested in moving it around and as Eric stated… RV parks are too expensive. Can anyone help me. It is very frustrating to have something come out on the market to help people to downsize and live a more affordable life only to have to be wealthy to place one somewhere. I have no family or friends that have land where I could relocate to a tiny house. This is total crap.

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