The tiny house movement has an impressive online presence, and some great websites for people to see houses, share ideas, and connect to others in different states. But the benefits of online communities are also its challenges – they’re diffused across huge distances and loaded with information that may or may not be relevant to you. Sometimes all you want is to sit down across from a real person, in the flesh, and have a face-to-face conversation about tiny houses.
We at PAD felt a gap existed in Portland’s vibrant tiny house community: a chance for folks interested in tiny houses to meet and share information and stories on a regular basis. We started hosting free, monthly Tiny House Mixers to fill the gap and give people a chance to network and share ideas.
Connecting Tiny House Enthusiasts
We wanted to connect people who are curious about tiny houses with experienced local tiny home builders and dwellers so they can share knowledge, resources, and strengthen the ties of the Portland tiny house community. Partly because many issues related to tiny houses truly are local – like building codes, materials, weatherization and where to find the good parking spots. But also because building or moving into a tiny house is a big, emotional decision, and it can feel a little isolating to sit up nights reading about it on the internet without knowing anyone else personally who’s interested or working toward the same thing.
PAD just hosted our third Tiny House Mixer for more than 50 people. The group gathers first for big picture updates (They were the first to hear Dee’s exciting Tiny House Insurance Announcement!), hear introductions from local tiny house dwellers and professionals they can call on, offer or request parking opportunities, and introduce projects or ideas in search of collaborators. After the brief introduction round, we break so people can seek out the community member who can shed light on their question, or just mingle around and meet other people who share their interest.
Each month we make sure to invite area specialists. In January we got two minute introductions from:
- Nathan Miller from All Ways Electric, a big and tiny house electrician
- Ben Brower from tiny home builders and energy-efficiency specialists Shelter Wise
- Deb Delman from Caravan: The Tiny House Hotel
- Lina Menard, tiny home designer and code expert from Niche Consulting
- Laura Klement, designer, builder and PAD Tiny Chair Workshop instructor
Dee Williams, tiny house pioneer and PAD Mixer Maestro, broke the news about the first Insurance Plan for Tiny Houses, let the group know about PAD’s next Tiny House Workshops, and shared a hilarious story from her forthcoming memoir “The Big Tiny.” And for the rest of the evening people talked, made plans and connections, and learned more about how tiny homes work for others and how they might work for them. If you’re in the Portland area and think this sounds like fun, RSVP to the next mixer on Thursday, February 27th!
If You Can’t Come To Ours, Start Your Own!
Do you feel you have access to a tiny house community? Somewhere you can ask questions, share resources, and learn from the experiences of others? If you don’t yet, take heart! One of the “tiny curious” folks we met at our last mixer was someone from out of town who was interested in tiny homes and wanted to attend the mixer to meet people and learn a little more. He gestured out to the busily chatting crowd and remarked on how enthusiastic Portland’s tiny house community was, how supportive it felt, and how he wished something similar existed where he lived.
If that’s how you’re feeling right now, we encourage you to start a tiny house mixer in your area! It might start small, but it will likely grow – our attendance has nearly doubled with each event so far. It’s super helpful to collect experience on where to find good materials and local service providers, and hear how others have interpreted the same building codes you’re dutifully reading. And more than that, there’s really no substitute for a live, non-virtual community where you can have conversations face-to-face with others who share your tiny house passion.