Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Tiny House

         A friend forwarded me the following topic for an essay contest:

“What are your keys to living a sustainable lifestyle and how would owning the SustainaFest Tiny House help you realize your dream of living that lifestyle?”

         The prize is my very own tiny house – 210 square feet, to be precise. Kim and I each wrote an entry.

David’s Entry:

         The first key to “living a sustainable lifestyle” is to be alive. I’m not as concerned with life after death as I am with really living my life before death, and a tiny sustainable house will help me to do that.
         The second key has to do with “your dream of living that lifestyle.” If you are dreaming, you are asleep, so it’s best not to dream of living a sustainable lifestyle. It’s better to live it while you are awake. A sustainable lifestyle awakens you to the world.
         A large house can consume the people who live there along with the natural resources used to build and maintain it. A tiny house frees you to live your life with fewer windows to wash, floors to vacuum, clutter to dust. (Kim pointed out that it sounds as though David does some of that work!). A tiny house creates more time for YOU by decluttering your life so you can appreciate what is important to you, be it meaningful work, family, the arts, nature, or playing Words With Friends.
         What is true for a sustainable personal life is also true for the planet. Declutter the Earth of what Thoreau would have called “the unnecessaries” so that we do not destroy what we could be living with and appreciating. Note, for example, how often shopping malls are named after what was destroyed to build them (e.g., “The Oaks” or “Briarwood”) Living in a sustainable tiny house will, in a small but significant way, adjust the direction of our life on Earth. You will have time to head for the woods to photograph birds, and there will still be a woods with birds in it.
         If I win I will give my tiny house to my young friend who introduced me to tiny houses and who has not yet accumulated much stuff. While I am not strong or noble enough to give away my books and my wife’s camera gear, I can give away my tiny house so it can do the holy work of improving life on Earth.

Kim’s Entry

         As an artist, I would like to live in a tiny house because of the creative challenges. I would enjoy figuring out a way to make it work while at the same time making it beautiful. By making it work I mean living an efficient life, with a place to sleep, a place to prepare simple meals, and a place to make myself presentable for when I return to the larger world which, like Thoreau, I would do from time to time. Efficiency and beauty go hand in hand.
         I need beauty in my life. Living in a tiny house would draw me away from the routine chores and duties of my larger life so I can appreciate the beauty of the woods and water where my tiny house would have to be located. And as an artist I would enjoy the adventure of making my house beautiful – the proportions of its structure, the materials and finishes, the decorator’s touches in, for example, the dishes and other essential houseware.
         As an artist I have too much equipment – for photography, painting, collages, basketry – and too many collections of things I have found and made, so I could not make a tiny house my full-time residence. But what a wonderful place to retreat for weeks at a time free from the Internet, television and my cell phone. It would be, primarily, a place for meditation, but not by saying “Om!” and emptying my mind. It would be a place where I would live within the world rather than using it. I would learn to see, and when you can see, you don’t need material things. In this way the tiny house would make my life sustainable.

For those with more interest in the tiny house and this competition, here's a link:

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