EcoCabins

The crowd of 40,000 quadrupled the expected attendance.

A self-proclaimed Tiny House Jamboree drew an impressively large crowd of 40,000 attendees in Colorado Springs earlier this month. The event included a selection of 28 model houselets for visitors to peruse or buy, along with a series of practical panels on topics like navigating oft-restrictive zoning policies and “determining size appropriateness for your lifestyle.”

The turnout was evidence of a growing fascination with the tiny living concept. Some people make the switch to tiny houses because they’re cheaper than traditional single-family homes and require less upkeep. Others have more of a philosophical attraction to minimizing one’s footprint on the world. Tiny homes also offer a potential way to add density to urban spaces without the need to build expensive new highrises.

“You can own a house that is the price of a car,” says Coles Whalen, one of the event managers. “They allow for much less responsibility, which usually gives you more time to enjoy things like community, the outdoors, hobbies.”

The jamboree chose a cutoff of 200 square feet to qualify as “tiny,” says Whalen. That made for some long lines to look around the diminutive abodes, as turnout quadrupled the 10,000 that organizers were expecting.

Four times the expected number of visitors showed up to find out more about tiny houses. (EcoCabins)

As the workshop topics indicated, zoning remains a major challenge to tiny home owners, because they don’t fit neatly into existing categories. Many tiny houses come on wheels for mobility. That often puts them in the mobile home category in the eyes of zoning policy, Whalen says, but whereas camper communities tend to be temporary and migratory, people want to live in tiny homes year-round.

Tiny housers frequently point to environmental reasons for downsizing, too. The houses minimize reliance on material possessions because you simply can’t fit as much inside them. Tiny House Dating, a group that sponsored a meet and greet at the jamboree, advertises itself as a community of “people who care about their values more than their stuff.”

That nuance doesn’t always register; anchors at the local 9News TV station, for instance, ended their segment on the jamboree by bantering about what people could buy with the money they save on a tiny house. But, Whalen says, not everyone comes at it from the minimalist perspective: the petite domiciles are also attractive to families seeking an affordable vacation house.

”Every niche movement needs mainstream allies,” she says.

The Jamboree hosted vow renewals and a Sunday devotional at the EcoCabins Mini Chapel. (EcoCabins)

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A heavy layer of smog over Paris
    Environment

    How Much Are You 'Smoking' by Breathing Urban Air?

    A new app can tell you (and it’s not pretty).  

  2. A sububan office park
    Design

    Can Detroit's Suburbs Survive a Downtown Revival?

    The city is experiencing a sustained real estate boom, poaching employers—even pro sports teams—from surrounding municipalities. Places like Southfield, Pontiac, and Dearborn will have to find ways to keep up.

  3. Transportation

    When Living Near Transit Doesn't Lower Transportation Costs

    A new study that tracks a decade of real family expenses calls into question a fundamental assumption of affordability research.

  4. New housing under construction in San Marcos, California.
    POV

    Where the YIMBYs Can Win

    The defeat of SB 827, California’s ambitious pro-housing bill, masks a wider trend: Similar initiatives are on the march nationwide.

  5. Equity

    The Most Inclusive U.S. Cities, Mapped

    A new report finds where post-1980 economic growth has been accompanied by inclusion of low-income residents and communities of color.