The Landscape of the Tiny House Movement


By Dee Williams

I recently received a photo from my nephew, showing him and a couple of friends hiking in the Himalaya. It was an amazing gift because I have always wondered what it would feel like to stand, surrounded by snowy peaks many times taller than the Cascade Mountains that I call home. My nephew looks well-placed, happy enough and…small. And that’s the way I see myself fitting into the landscape of the tiny house movement.

Dee and Alex, clowning around. Photo via Alex Pino

The comparison came to mind because as I’ve embarked on a year of gratitude, I’ve been thinking about how thankful I am to be here, standing against such an amazing backdrop of people and organizations that are re-examining how we live together. I’m grateful for people like Alex Pino, who started blogging at Tiny House Talk in 2009. I met Alex in cyberspace when PAD was trying to find a way to get the word out about workshops and Go House Go. Alex was hilarious to talk with, and incredibly helpful. He put PAD’s workshops up on his blog, talked about us, and helped PAD grow. I’m certain there are dozens of other teachers, builders, dreamers and do-ers who could say the same thing. Tiny House Talk continues to inform and inspire, and I’m humbled to be a part of the mix.

Of course, I can’t offer cheers to Alex without also thanking a couple of other east coast friends I don’t get to see enough. Like Ryan Mitchell at The Tiny Life. Ryan organized the first “tiny house census” to put some bigger numbers to who the movement is and what it’s really about. Now he’s at it again with an updated Tiny House Survey (take it!), and is helping to pull together a Tiny House Conference in Portland this year (Yeah!).

Then there’s Andrew Odom at Tiny r(E)volition, perhaps one of the funniest and kindest humans on the planet, who started his blog and podcast to encourage folks to reboot their debt-filled lives. I first met him sitting around a camp fire at the first Tiny House Conference in Charlotte, NC.  He introduced me to his friends, Susannah and Sicily Kolbeck, a mother-daughter duo who made me laugh even more than Andrew (if that is possible. ) They inspired me too, not only because Sicily, a teenager, had built a tiny house and then took it to the White House.  Suzannah and Sicily inspired me because they were such kind, open and honest people – the sort of folks I’d like to have as neighbors and as good friends.

Sicily Kolbeck tiny house
Sicily Kolbeck clowning around in her tiny house. Photo via La Petite Maison

That’s the cool thing about the tiny house movement: it’s full of people who are doing fantastic things, and who constantly remind me that I am lucky to be alive. I sincerely love being a part of something so dynamic, life-changing and weird as the tiny house movement. I see it as more than a bunch of people building tiny houses. In fact, there are plenty of folks interested in right-sizing their life without necessarily needing to live in a teeny, tiny house. I see the tiny house movement like the Himalaya: as a powerful group of individuals, teachers, builders, craftsmen and comedians (at least in the case of Drew Odom) – people who are interested in redefining “home,” starting with what it is and where it can go. And I’m psyched to be a part of that!


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