Monday, September 29, 2014

The Big Tiny

I just finished reading THE BIG TINY, by Dee Williams, the story of a woman who built herself a house that's smaller than a typical parking space.

I have been sloooowly downsizing (by reducing my possessions, not my living space), but sometimes I fantasize about going even more drastically into simplicity. Interestingly, Williams's chief joy in her tiny-house experience would not be mine. She revels in the physical experience of building the house herself. I admire that capability, but to me the building part would be a chore, not fun.

For most of the book, her tiny house is settled behind her friends' larger houses, and she helps them with chores while they let her use their indoor plumbing and internet connection. Therefore, the tiny house is not a hermit's refuge. Instead, it facilitates community, a little neighborhood where the inhabitants of the three houses are in and out of one another's space all day long. It reminds me of stories from mid-20th-Century urban environments, where a couple might live in one apartment with their grown children downstairs, their siblings in the next building, their parents across the street, etc.

Student debt is increasing, the job market has been shrinking, and wages are stagnating. With the empty nest therefore growing less common, perhaps the extended-family living situation will make a comeback, with "family" sometimes including friends.

I'm hearing more and more about tiny houses lately--an interesting follow-up to the McMansion era. What's next?

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