Lately, I have been extremely discouraged by what I believe are very critical challenges facing my generation. One of the primary challenges I see is the crippling amount of debt accumulated by the average American college graduate in times of intense competition for work. In this climate in which individuals step out into the world with tens of thousands of dollars of debt, the dream of owning a home can seem impossible, even with a decent job. Furthermore, the prospect of taking on a huge mortgage, working for years just to pay off the interest, and paying off the home just in time for retirement  is not especially appealing. Because we live in a society that is becoming more and more nomadic, and because children rarely choose to live where they were raised, working an entire life just to pay off a mortgage does not, in essence, better the next generation. The house and land will, most likely, not be passed on to a generation that will benefit from the sacrifice of their parents. Rather, the following generation will be strapped with the identical burden of a 20 or 30 year mortgage and the yoke will never be lifted. The system depends on it, I think. This sense of personal desperation coupled with my complete adoration for simplicity and minimalism and independence (from debt, especially) led me on a strange journey to The Tiny House Movement. There, I have discovered an eclectic group of movers and shakers, who have chosen to embrace a sustainable, non-consumerist lifestyle by permanently inhabiting very, very small spaces. I’ve discovered a couple of really inspiring women as I’ve begun to learn more. The first maintains a blog I most enthusiastically and joyfully follow – this tiny house. Hillary, a tiny house enthusiast and part-time nomad authors the blog, which is essentially a compilation of photographs featuring tiny dwellings from all over the world. Some of the homes are nestled into mysterious and strange places. Others caught my eye for their thoughtful and artistic construction. Others for their sheer quirkiness. From there, I learned about Dee Williams, a tiny house owner and entrepreneur who built her own 84 square foot house and has been living in it for seven years! She opens her home for tours and talks on simple and sustainable living. Furthermore, she runs Portland Alternative Dwellings, a company that assists in the design and construction of tiny homes in the Portland area. She’s pictured below at home. My research and reflection on this movement led me to ask the question, “could I or would I ever actually live in a tiny house?” I decided – very enthusiastically, “yes! I think I could.” But, as I began to research even further, I realized that a personal decision alone would not be enough to make this possible. The Oregonian printed an article, “From The Home Front: Critiquing the Tiny House Movement”  that provides an excellent and balanced perspective of the movement. The article identifies the five primary problems with the movement as “land (finding a legal site for  a tiny house), loans (difficulty obtaining), laws (setting minimum house size), social pressures (size has status) and fear (of making ‘a radical lifestyle change’).” The problem is complex – and I realized that I do not have as much freedom to choose to live as I would wish in this country as I had thought. As long as what I choose aligns with the status quo, I am free. But otherwise, there would be a whole host of legal restrictions to wade through. When did it become this way? Historically, tiny homes were the norm. This cabin dates from 1880 and was the home of a young couple. And, now living on this scale could be bordering on an illegal action? If the movement interests you at all, there is an extensive index of related publications on the National Association of Realtors website. There is also a great comment stream generated by Oregon’s Think Out Loud  – “How We Live: Tiny Houses.” (Apparently, the city of Portland is very friendly to the tiny house movement.) What are your reactions to the Tiny House Movement? Do you see it as a viable alternative to traditional homes?

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