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The Tiny Haves & the Tiny Have-Nots

August 19, 2015

A little background: After watching a video about a luxury tiny home that cost 90 thousand dollars, I posted the following comment:

Deenibeeni: I thought the whole point of the Tiny House movement (one, anyway) was to avoid having to carry a mortgage. This thing is obscene. Just more evidence of the co-opting of a great movement by the Haves. Really. It makes me kind of sick.

One answer I got was that you can’t really get a mortgage for a tinyhome, so that became a non-issue. I did get this one, though:

Per Sebra: People have all sorts of reasons why they choose the size of the house they want, tiny or not. Tiny house sizes are just now an option that people havent always been aware of. although “tiny houses” have always been around.   In its current growth of popularity, it hasnt been the homeless or very poor into tiny houses. Its been the hippies, the middle class and the affluent. Many tiny house owners do mention they wanted to avoid a mortgage, but that is relative many times to a bigger house. You mention TexasTinyHouses in your second post. Those are among the most beautiful tiny houses created to date, Brad may be a genius, certainly an artist and a visionary. That said, his houses cost 35-90k when he was selling them! Hardly money low income people have in their cookie jar.  And what do you mean co-opted? If you want to spend 10k on your tiny house and someone else spend 50k, how are they co-opting you?  if someone was to spend 900 bucks for a natures head composting toilet and you use a bucket, how is that co-opting you? what is so obscene about this house? how on earth do you know how much materials this builder wasted?   What part of this house is contrary to the “tiny house movement? The deep sink? the french doors? the washer/dryer or the skywindow?

Deenibeeni: I’ll just respond to one part of your post, because the rest of it is too angry-sounding & aggressive & I’ve had enough of YouTube aggression of late. I’m not interested in defending myself against a rant aimed directly at me (which is different from my original post, which was my opinion floated out to the universe). You are welcome to disagree with it, but don’t you dare turn each question into some kind of frikking gun with every question mark a bullet. Didn’t your mother teach you any manners?

Yes, it is possible that he used recycled materials (and I don’t mean “new materials from sustainable sources”; I mean “reused,” because even if it’s from a sustainable source, it still means X amount of material from old construction went into a landfill). So I’ll post that and maybe Deek  or the builder  will respond.

As for the rest, I get the feeling I must have touched some kind of nerve with you. That usually means something I’ve said is actually something you already think. Something you are wrestling with. When that happens, I like to get out of the line of fire between “You” and “You,” so I’ll stand back & let you duke it out with yourself.  It also sounds like you will really only be happy when I change all my views & agree with everything you think. Good luck with that.

You are missing my point if you think all I am concerned about is the cost.

I will tell you exactly what is being co-opted: A movement that was capable of teaching a materialistic culture about a sense of “enough.” I really thought it might be possible to take a new path; for the culture overcome the greed of the 1990s & onward, & to learn that it does not take “luxury” to be happy, or that simple things can feel luxurious. The lessons of the Shakers. The beauty of simple elegance, but more important, the feeling of serenity that those things engender. Because greed is a drug that carries higher & higher tolerance levels, & that kind of greed is exactly the mindset that causes people to have to rape the earth in order to get off. Certainly it is a continuum, but do you know what I see in the ever more “luxurious” tiny home models? I see that pretty soon it won’t be enough to have a beautiful tiny home that is classic & glowing with beauty & that makes a truly small footprint and is owned by people who are truly content. No, now we won’t be happy unless we’ve got a tiny home with tiny floors made of rain forest wood & tiny doorknobs made of the tusks of poached elephants & Cecil’s stuffed head on the tiny wall. And I don’t care if that particular tiny house (or anything remotely like it) is 5 square feet: That is HUGE footprint, & if the owner is a person who has not learned the lesson of “enough”, then we as a culture have not learned a DAMN thing. THAT is what is being co-opted–not anything tangible, as you are trying to imply with all question-mark bullets–but something that is an umbrella over all that. The gift of contentment with enough. And I see that as obscene and tragic. The tinyhouse movement is unfortunately not going to get us back to the garden. Maybe it will for some people, & that’s something; change happens slowly. But for a lot of people, it’s just going to be a new source of gratuitous excess & a new excuse & rationalization for using more than you need. Different movie, same cast of characters.

The $35K to $90K that TexasTinyHouses charges is for building the house for you. His idea of recycling materials, regardless of who does it, and regardless of the final cost, is what is important to me. Many people are able to create a nice place themselves, with recycled materials, for 10K (or less) to 20K — not even a quarter of the cost of this thing. Personally, if I wanted to spend 90K I’d spend 80 of it on land & 10 on the house! But that’s my priority, and I plan to build my own, Just because it is inexpensive doesn’t mean it has to look shabby or have a bucket or anything else. It can be quite beautiful; it would just reclaim a lot of materials in the build. I’ve seen too many situations (outside the tinyhouse movement) in which people from outside an area move someplace “affordable” & spend the big bucks they made from the sales of their expensive houses in the Big City, & they drive up the prices in the new, previously affordable area so that local, long-time residents can no longer afford to live in their own hometowns. I certainly hope tinyhome builders do not adopt this strategy & begin to price their homes out of the reach of the people who need them the most.

Oh yeah, & in case you’re wondering: I’m not homeless. I could write a check for that beast, but it would make me sick to do it, & it would not be a great financial decision to spend that kind of money on what is essentially a car or RV or anything else that depreciates in value.

Now go take a Valium.

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