Are We Losing The Soul of The Tiny House Movement? A Response

The following is a response to the question posed, on The Tiny Project by, Alek Lisefski

By Dan Byl 

Are more cluttered, upscaled, tech-heavy and luxury filled tiny homes ruining the tiny home movement? I don’t think so. A tiny home is a tool. It is a method of going about expressing a person’s values and beliefs. It is not something that can be ruined because what it represents at the nucleus of itself is a reflection of the owner.
At the core of the tiny house moment, you will not find only the house, you will find an idea, and that idea is minimalism. Those who fear that the tiny house movement might somehow become ruined by a broader adoption of tiny homes and a shift towards bigger and better-equipped homes fail to understand one simple truth about minimalism; what is important to you may not be important to someone else.
“Minimalism is not a radical lifestyle…” (Quote from the movie minimalism), it is about making sure that everything in your life has value and even more than that, that it brings you value. It is about removing all of the excesses. For every person, what brings their lives value and what they consider excess will be different.

What will harm the tiny house movement are purists trying to enforce a set of rules, or beliefs onto people who are new to or thinking about joining the movement. When purists retain control of a movement, it quickly moves from inclusive to exclusive, and the more unique a change becomes, the faster it will be forgotten.
Tiny homes are a tool for people to embrace what brings value to their lives and embrace a lifestyle that forces a person to get rid of the excess.
I understand there will always be a, “but” and here it is;  a tiny home is still a home, and like any long standing concept it brings with it a lot of baggage.
As a home builder for near fourteen years, I can say, no matter the budget or the “status” of the owner, the goal is getting as much as possible within a budget is always top of mind.
We have a deeply ingrained belief that our home needs to be comfortable; it needs to be our “sanctuary.” And so we do our best to spare no expense to make this a reality. Ultimately tiny homes will suffer from these long-standing beliefs ingrained in us since birth.
At this point, we are presented with two ways we can view all the attention that tiny homes are getting and what new members are bringing with them. Either it is a loss for the tiny home community, or we can choose to embrace all the people who are wanting to walk through this gateway into the world of minimalism.
Alek Lisefski in his post on the tiny house project said that when asked, most tiny homeowners said that if they build another tiny home, they will go smaller; this for me is a sign that the second view is the more accurate of the two. People are learning what they can live without, and they are always learning what brings them value and what is excess. As we allow more people the space to go on their journey and we remove the expectation that someone else’s journey needs to reflect our own not only will we be more happy and free in our journey but more people will be inspired to embark on theirs.
It is common to become protective of something we value, and many tiny homeowners place a high value on being apart of a small community of inspired minimalists. That is precisely why the soul of the movement can not be lost or crushed. The spirit of smaller home is not saying that everyone should live tiny. Rather it is a standard set of beliefs and values expressed through a lifestyle that creates as small as a footprint the individual’s values and beliefs will allow.
Simon Sinek states, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” As a result, communities within the larger community will come together based not on how a person chooses to live, but on why they choose to live tiny. Just because my neighbour and I both have a tiny home doesn’t mean we will have all common interests and beliefs. I may enjoy woodworking while he plays the stock market. I may choose to make a living, while he chooses to pursue being a retired millionaire at age 30. Values and lifestyle are what determine real relationship connections.

Tiny homes are a tool for people to embrace what
brings value to their lives and embrace a lifestyle
that forces a person to get rid of the excess.

The tiny house movement is not going to suffer because more people choose to join in whatever fashion they find comfortable, it will be pushed forward advancing in technology. Look at how far composting toilets have come in the last 5 years. It will be pushed forward in affordability, in builders expertise, shared building knowledge, in government recognition on multiple levels, and those who wish to remain as purists will ultimately find that their chosen lifestyle will become simpler and easier to achieve. And those of us who continue to choose a bigger is better lifestyle will be unable to avoid the stark contrast of people choosing to live a minimalist way of life.

 

Dan Byl lives in Kelowna, BC, is a Tiny home enthusiast, an aspiring minimalist, life-coach and author with 14 years experience as a home builder. Dan is working hard to engage as many people as possible in the conversation surrounding tiny homes and off-grid, sustainable living.