The Tiny Homes Movement has been gaining traction in the US and across the world with their simple design, easy travel, and alleviation of life’s pressure of living paycheck-to-paycheck. Now we’re witnessing the development of Tiny Home Movement becoming a revolutionary event by creating an evolutionary change that could help house the homeless, reduce climate change, and alter the way we see the everyday economy as well as help us experience a new way to live life.
Currently news sprouted up about the construction of a tiny house village for the homeless in Madison, Wisconsin. The land was purchased by Occupy Madison Inc. and is being developed into a village of tiny homes to house and support the homeless within the community.
The Tiny Home Movement has sprung into being with its simplistic and easy construction, small size, cheap costs, and its appeal to millennials who have witnessed their parents struggle with debt-ridden house mortgages or are tired of having to live paycheck-to-paycheck. The movement has expanded its appeal with books, a documentary, and now more recently its potential to providing a roof over the heads of those most in need.
But this movement and people wanting to give up their two-bedroom house, apartment, condo, townhome, for a single 98-square-foot home can provide a benefit not only for the homeless and a few millennial wanting to partake the Into the Wild lifestyle by rejecting their consumerist society. It can be a starting point for changing the way we view the economy, the community, and the environment.
In Naomi Klein’s newest book, This Changes Everything, she talks about how a systematic change needs to happen if we really want to address climate change. At the root of most of the options for combating the profit-seeking businesses, she discusses the idea of the commons, taking back from corporations and putting it in the hands of the community. The commons being land, electrical grids, and even gas companies. She argues that by giving it back to the public, the public can invest the funds, which would otherwise go to shareholders, into new technologies like solar and wind as well as back into the community.
The main idea to take from her thesis in the book and the tiny home village, is the reliance on community. There is a sense of working together and purchasing land for all to enjoy. That is what is at the heart of the tiny home village and it is what is at the core of creating real change in the environmental movement.
Along the same idea, consuming and reducing our consumption will have a two-fold impact. It will decrease our carbon footprint, but it will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions from other countries as well. As we hear so often as China being the number one polluter in the world, we should also acknowledge that 48% of that pollution is because of us, the consumer. By pulling back our dependence on useless items and supporting a more simplistic lifestyle, we can avoid debt, save the environment, and potentially teach ourselves to be content with less material goods.
At this point many may think that this would have devastating effects on the economy since our economy is made up of consumption and without it, it will collapse. The Tiny Home Movement, along with the expansion of commons has us as a public rely less on private expenditures for entertainment. When taking back the commons, jobs will still need to be filled. With expanding the commons we can take the opportunities by turning businesses into co-op’s instead of putting the enterprises back in government hands. The government has the potential of running into as many issues as corporate institutions do. But when a co-op (worker-owned enterprise) are created in a thriving environment, it focuses its attention on the community by having its workforce owning and running the institution together and then putting the profits back into their local community where they can continue to fund more co-op’s and further develop the commons, i.e. tiny home villages.
With more commons being given back to the public, we can start to develop an economy that works in building the essential necessities for daily life for local communities. And by having things more local, there is less need to export goods from across the seas, and allows more local development and less reliance on a risky market.
As with most revolutionary movements, there is always something to be sacrificed while also gained when partaking in new ideas. And at the end of the day, the task of transitioning from something that is familiar to something new and different is not always going to be easy nor necessarily wanted by people. Yet the things that can come out of such a movement can produce a better quality of life for most if not all.
As suggested with co-op’s, commons, and cutting back on our consumerist side, we can create an environment where we can work less hours and have more time to enjoy life. If we were to attain that idea of being able to consume what we mostly need, work can be shared among people with money becoming less of a necessity than community and sharing. We can put more emphasis on education, infrastructure, public transportation, healthcare, and local government as we move ourselves away from the latest model of iPhone that comes out yearly (I’m not suggesting we break away from technology, but instead that we develop it in a way that helps everyone i.e. more equitable pay, better working conditions, and cleaner means of producing and retrieving the materials needed).
Some economists even suggest that in the most progressive economic measures, we can have an average hour work weeks to 25 to 30 hours. That’s even below the 35 hours in parts of Europe. With this time we can get more involved in our community, politics, environment, and health. We can get more involved in creative activities we wouldn’t normally otherwise. There is a reason people are putting more emphasis on organic food and slow cooking methods and by creating an environment where the community works with each other and grows food locally, we can re-develop that lost idea and get rid of the irony of having to label our food “organic.”
All this may sound Utopian or too idealistic. In many ways I can sympathize with that sentiment. I am a very hopeful person but also have my moments of cynicism. This is a movement that is growing, but would take time to have a big enough impact, perhaps even years, but I’d go as far to say it could take decades to really develop into something meaningful. The idea of moving into a 98-square-foot (each home doesn’t have to be that exact measurements) home does not sound appealing (especially being the book hoarder I am). Yet at the same time, retreating to a more simple form of living is very appealing. Getting rid of lots of products I wouldn’t miss sounds nice. Even getting rid of my books or giving them to the library and instead going to a library to read sounds like an awesome thing to do. And not just because of ebooks or the web, but because the library is a place of information, sharing ideas, and most of all, community. And it’s when I think about the kind of communities we can create with tiny homes, co-ops, or even just taking back the commons, that I get excited for what we can be as a society and what we can create. Having more time for people to be free, be creative, and live life is what I think we all would want.