I’ll be designing and building a tiny house in Colorado that will house me and my partner as well as the community center. It will be off-grid*, which will 1) provide an example of a livable alternative to dependence on oil and gas, 2) make the community center a low environmental impact operation, and 3) keep costs down, helping to make the center financially sustainable in the longer term. It will be made with as many non-toxic and salvaged building materials as possible, and it will respect and integrate with the landscape.
The physical space will be designed to inspire people, to make them feel comfortable. The design of a space hugely impacts how we feel and how we act there. Jay Schaeffer, in The Small House Book, describes my hope for the community center perfectly:
Our home for creativity will be full of art supplies and instruments, all mixed in with each other. Anyone will be able to come and explore whatever takes their fancy. Unscheduled time, daydreaming, and goofing off will be given high priority. Process, not product, will be valued. We will model Non-Violent Communication and emotional intelligence. In our Autonomous Creativity Zone, there will be no meritocracy, no commodification, and no questions about anything’s “marketability”. People can go literally any other place for those things. People will be treated as creators, collaborators, and community members first; not consumers. Local and visiting artists will come and give formal workshops that they’ll be well-paid for, or just share their skills with whoever is hanging out. Local and traveling musicians will come perform on our stage. We’ll have a garden where we grow our own vegetables and flowers; plus chickens and maybe bees.
The current design includes ground-mounted solar panels, a bio-gas system, a graywater system, and a rainwater catchment.
The functions of the tiny house have been externalized to other buildings on the property that I’ve designed and built: artists’ cabins to house visiting artists (this may include an artist residency of some kind), an art studio, a music building, a building workshop, a library, a common kitchen and eating space, and who knows what else will have developed by then?
While I want to live in and provide for people a creative retreat, I want as many people as possible to be able to experience our alternate reality. To accomplish this, we’ll have a Creativity Van chock full of supplies and instruments that can travel to and navigate city spaces, and perhaps we’ll collaborate with some nearby schools to bring afterschool or in-class arts programs to their students (developing confidence, at a young age, in your ability and right to be creative is crucial).