In Info Drawings on May 5, 2011 at 8:33 pm

“Put your life on a diet,” suggested Jay Shafer, co-founder of an organization called the Small House Society. I heard about him through an article on Yahoo! News titled, “Tiny House Movement Thrives Amid Real Estate Bust.” In the video component of this multi-media article, he speaks to the camera from the steps of a home he built himself in Graton, California. He is a man of average height and build, with streaks of grey hair creeping up from his sideburns. If Shafer’s shoulders appeared one inch wide on the screen, then his whole house looked about four inches wide. He said it measured eight feet by twelve feet.

As the news crew is led inside, I saw Shafer in his compact kitchen washing dishes, hanging his spoon and spatula on the neat rows of hooks that line the wall behind the sink. His house is normal in many ways. It has electricity and running water. He has a full size bed, lofted above a shelf holding a dozen books, a pair of sneakers, and a few rolled-up towels. When describing his lifestyle, he used the words “comfortable” and “liberating.” His utility bills totaled less than $100 a year. The article’s text profiles other people like Shafer, people who have chosen to “live small.” It says there is a tiny house movement in America, a tiny house industry even, and that it’s growing. Shafer himself has sold fifty copies of his home’s blueprint, and the Tiny House Blog attracts 7000 new visitors a day.


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