Ecocentricity Blog: Itty Bitty Living Space

May 22, 2018 11:00 AM ET
Campaign: Ecocentricity Blog

Ecocentricity Blog: Itty Bitty Living Space

What’s the opposite of breaking news? Do we have a term for that? No? Anybody know? Bueller?

Well, whatever the answer, I’m pretty sure that writing a blog about an event that you attended four years ago is a good example of non-breaking news. Having never taken a journalism class, I don’t know if this breaks any “rules.” If so, I’ll just plead ignorance.

Back in 2014, my now brother-in-law Nick made the trek from Orlando to Atlanta to spend a weekend with us. While we were glad to have him visiting, he wasn’t actually there to see us. Instead, he wanted to see what a 135-square-foot home would look like. And no, I didn’t drop a zero at the end of that number.

First, let’s get a solid frame of reference here. 135 Square feet is the size of a parking space (a normal one, not those hulking spaces meant to appeal to Tahoe and Suburban drivers). That’s small. Actually, that’s tiny. Which was apparently the whole point.

Students and faculty at the Atlanta campus of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) had spent 10 months developing SCADpads. Each SCADpad had a bed, stovetop, shower, toilet and drawers. They were beautifully designed inside, reflecting various cultures from around the globe. When we went to tour them with Nick, I was absolutely blown away by their beauty, simplicity and elegance.

Chances are that by now you’ve heard of tiny homes. Back in 2014 though, that was my first introduction to them. Now, it’s apparently become a movement, and I get why. There is tremendous appeal in the idea of living compactly and simply.

Here’s the laundry list of reasons why people might like tiny homes:

  • They are much more affordable to purchase than a traditional home;
  • They cost less to operate and maintain than a traditional home;
  • They can be located in more diverse areas, and in some cases are designed with wheels to make them towable;\
  • They can be modular, allowing multiple residents to co-locate them and live communally;
  • They force a person to declutter and live with fewer material possessions (admittedly, this is a negative for some, but others prefer this lifestyle), and;
  • The environmental footprint of living in a tiny home is much lower compared to a conventional home.

Despite all of these appealing features, I must still admit that the tiny home lifestyle just isn’t right for my wife and me. I applaud those who have embraced it though! As it scales, this movement can be a part of making housing more environmentally friendly and more affordable, both of which are incredibly important.

There’s another opportunity for tiny homes to create positive change in our communities – they can be an antidote to homelessness. While I know there are many examples of nonprofit and municipality efforts to deploy tiny homes for the homeless, I’ll call out one in particular. It’s called The BLOCK Project.

Their vision is simple. They want to place one 125-square-foot, self-sufficient and off-grid BLOCK home in the backyard of at least one single-family home in every residential block of the city of Seattle. In doing so, they believe they can end homelessness in their city through cross-class integration and social inclusion. Just imagine – building community as the answer to homelessness.

And the lynchpin that could make it all work? Homes that can fit in a parking space. Pretty dang cool if you ask me.