Once upon a time in the 1950’s, ranch-style houses peppered suburban neighborhoods, only to be razed a few decades later in favor of ginormous McMansions. Whether you call the Tiny House Movement a backlash or a necessary step toward sustainability, one thing’s for sure. Tiny houses are adorable, and lots of people want one.
According to www.thetinylife.com, people may choose tiny living because of environmental or financial concerns, or simply to work less and enjoy more time and freedom. Sound good? You can learn more about what insiders call living the tiny life at the Big Tiny House Festival this weekend in Somerville. We talked with co-organizer Miranda Aisling about the event.
Question: Why tiny houses?
Aisling: People build tiny houses for one of three main reasons: sustainable living, environmental concerns, or financial concerns. Most people are interested in some combination, but there’s always a driving force. In an age of industrialization and over-abundance, living tiny forces folks to think about exactly what they take from and give to the world.
For those of us who build our own houses, it also gives a strong sense of satisfaction and ownership. Coming from a fine art background, it makes absolute sense to me that people are so connected to and attracted by something handmade. It means that there’s a story in every object, an effort behind every nail.
Question: How many houses will be at the fest?
Aisling: There will be three houses at the festival. In addition, there will be a tiny house experts area where visitors can talk to builders who wanted to come but couldn’t bring their house. As you can imagine, it’s a huge commitment for people to agree to move their homes so a bunch of strangers can traipse through them.
Question:What do people who want a tiny house need?
Aisling: It’s very important to have a good set of plans to build the house right. These are sold by companies like Tumbleweed Tiny House Company and Four Lights, and they ensure the quality and safety that people have come to expect.
In addition, it’s important to find a location where you have an open understanding with your landlord and your neighbors. Happy neighbors are one of the most important aspects to successfully living in a tiny house!
Question: What are some highlights of the festival?
Aisling: In addition to the houses we will have a tiny house networking area, craft vendors, food trucks, local musicians, a sculptural fish car, and an arts and crafts area.
We’re also showing the TINY documentary on Saturday night and are hosting four exciting workshops on Sunday.
Question:What’s the Community Art Hotel?
Aisling: I’m in the process of starting Miranda’s Hearth, the first community art hotel. Everything in the hotel rooms, from the dishes to the soap to the furniture to the quilts, will be handmade by local artists. Visitors who come can buy what they use in their rooms, buy something like it in the gallery, or take a class and learn how to make it.
Rather than buying some big building and hoping people show up, I’m bringing people together in hopes that they’ll help me build it. Next, as part of the process, I plan to build a tiny house as a prototype for a room in the community art hotel. And who knows, if the tiny house is a success, the hotel itself might become a series of tiny homes.
The Big Tiny House Festival takes place Saturday, Sept. 20 from 3-9 p.m. at 10 Poplar St., Somerville. “Tiny’’ will be screened at 7:30 p.m. Workshops on building tiny homes take place Sunday, Sept. 21 from noon-4 p.m. For more info visit www.somervilleartscouncil.org/tiny