The Countdown!

Recently, I wrote about my plans to live in a tiny house for my last semester of college. In a week's time, my Fencl will finally be arriving on my campus! You could say I'm excited- I've gained some serious calf muscles jumping through hoops for the last two months to make this happen. For those who are curious, especially college students who are interested in trying something similar, here's what my process looked like:

The Proposal

It began with a fairly lengthy proposal that I drafted at home in early December. I outlined all of the reasons why my school would benefit from the presence of a tiny house, given our emphasis on sustainability and alternative lifestyles. I emphasized that I would not need the school's money or resources, just their permission and support.

View HampshireMy beautiful view-to-be 

I sent this proposal to my college's president. I never heard back from him! Luckily, someone else in the office intercepted my proposal and directed me towards a newfangled student project approval system. Through this system, I was able to communicate with all of the individual staff members on campus that would need to personally approve my project 

The Conversation

We had a lengthy back-and-forth regarding zoning, utilities, placement, and everything else imaginable. The staff members were interested and supportive, but still committed to doing a very thorough job- naturally, I found this frustrating. Even when it seemed like everyone was on board, there was no clear sense of approval. I wanted a giant stamp of my proposal that said "yes!"

The Plan

I made a chart of my proposed off-grid utility usage plans, including back-up solutions and alternate ideas. The biggest issue was, big surprise, dealing with my own waste. Turns out this is tricky territory on a college campus. I'd originally hoped to use a composting toilet, but health people gave that a raised eyebrow. 

Hazel toiletMy generous friend- thanks Hazel!

I'm going to start the semester using a nearby friend's toilet (above), and work with interested students throughout the semester to develop an alternative that everyone can feel comfortable with.

Scouting it Out

The spotThe spot! 

Last week, I met with the guys who run facilities and grounds. We discussed some potential solutions to my utility woes, and took a field trip to some potential house sites. Finally, we found the perfect site- I can hook up to the school's electricity while I work on getting solar panel donations. I did a little dance on it to mark my territory.

Waiting (Is the Hardest Part)

Squatting in the living room 

Now, I'm waiting patiently. I've been squatting with three of my friends in their bachelor pad. I thought I packed light this time around, but my possessions seem to be traveling around the apartment a bit. My scruffy friends have mentioned that they're growing tired of me. I think they'll make it one more week, as long as I do some dishes. 

Stay tuned, folks in the Western Mass area- I'll be having a housewarming gathering/open house late next week! 

Written by Nara Williams — January 24, 2013

Filed under: college campus   getting permission   ongoing posts   open house   resources   student   western Massachusetts  

Ryan Mitchell on Being a Good Neighbor

Ryan Mitchell of The Tiny Life website has been keeping us posted about his exciting plans for a modified Fencl. In addition for guest writing for Tumbleweed, Ryan has been blogging about simple living, tiny houses, and environmentally responsible lifestyles on his website: we think he's awesome!

While I have been building my Tiny House, I have been living in a traditional house until my house is finished. The unfortunate thing about modern neighborhoods is that people don’t really know their neighbors, while my neighborhood wasn't any different; an interesting thing happened when I pulled up with my trailer and started building. At first it started with people craning their necks to see what was going on.  I didn't quite know what to think of it, so I just waived and gave a smile. 

For a few weeks I toiled on the floor framing and insulation, and then the magic happened.  Within one hour of the first wall going up I had three neighbors walk straight up to me and started asking questions. 

 Ryan

At first I was a little nervous on how they would react. Would they think I was crazy? Would they call code enforcement? Well as it turns out they thought it was really interesting. All of them. I had made sure to keep a few photos of what the house would look like handy to show people who wanted to know more and they were instantly on board. 

What is more, a few days later I stopped to talk to my newly acquainted neighbor and he asked if I’d be interested in moving the house to his lot when I was done building.This was a very welcomed surprise and signaled a very positive acceptance of my little house. 

So when you build your tiny house, realize you aren't just a builder, you are also a PR person; building connections and being a good neighbor is an important part of building your home!


Written by Guest Blogger — January 15, 2013

Filed under: neighborhood   neighbors   new builders   ongoing posts   public relations  

My Tiny Semester: Meet Nara

Hi! I'm Nara, Tumbleweed's staff writer.

You might have seen my name on the bottom of recent blog posts, or perhaps you noticed my face looming over a questionable gingerbread house. Now it's time for a formal introduction!

In addition to managing the blog and talking with you lovely people about your tiny house dreams, I'm in the process of finishing college in the glorious liberal woods of Western Massachusetts. For my what you might call my senior project, I have been attempting to dissect a small but crucial slice of the American Dream: The American House. 

Playing TinyPlaying tiny- I had to fend off some small children for this shot 

Beginning later this month, I'll be living in a Fencl on my campus for 120 days. I want to share the benefits and realities of living small, so I'll be writing about my "Tiny Semester" on this blog. I'll also be holding several open houses and informal workshops in the Western Massachusetts area- contact me if you're interested! 

I'm so excited to be a part of Tumbleweed, and to pursue these tiny dreams of my own. One of the things that drew me to Tumbleweed was flexibility. Instead of prescribing one set way to create a structure, Tumbleweed allows for houses and builders of all shapes, colors and sizes. Everyone is encouraged to create their own unique take on a tiny house. 

To me, creating my own tiny house set-up is the ideal way to wrap up my year of studies. I want to create an interactive, influential space on my campus that represents alternative possibilities for housing. This also presents the opportunity to live off-grid, which is an important step for me. With help from my college and fellow students, I've been working hard to develop sustainable, low-impact ways of residing in my tiny house. Hello composting toilet, goodbye refrigerator! 

And as I near my final semester of school, I want to try something different: I want to really, truly have to live with myself. To forgo plastic bins and cardboard boxes of hidden pasts, to be conscious of the line between useful and excessive. I want to address myself piece by piece, taking it apart, discarding the excess, and reassembling in an appropriate, Tumbleweed-sized venue.

I will graduate college all too soon, and I don't want to walk straight into a mortgage. I don't want to be told to buy a house on unrealistic credit and that it's my fault if I can't pay it. I want to joining hands with the young people all over the world that are saying "NO!" to an outdated American dream. 

Watch out for upcoming blog posts. Heads up: I'm packing up my life this week, so it's about to get interesting! 

Written by Nara Williams — January 07, 2013

Filed under: college   Downsizing   friends   ongoing posts   stories   student builds  
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