Tiny Houses

1 February 2016

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Pittsburgh. A city that’s supposed to be so slow to catch on to new ideas, there’s even an old joke about it. “When the world ends I want to be in Pittsburgh. Everything comes here 20 years late.”

That joke is old. Some of us have been thinking about a new Pittsburgh for a quite a while. We’ve banded together. We’ve lobbied. We’ve persuaded. We’ve funded. We’ve designed. We’ve built…a tiny house. So, the question: is Pittsburgh ready for a new idea, ready for tiny houses? We are.

Yesterday, on a bright January afternoon, we held our Tiny Open House. Our tiny door was opened wide and the people just kept on coming. We had some inkling that this might happen. Our friends at Uppercut Studios had made a short video trailer about the Tiny Open House and nearly 5000 people saw it on Facebook and over 600 viewed it on Vimeo. On Sunday morning, we opened the paper to see the Tiny Open House a front page article.

A tiny house is tiny, so we let people come inside in twos and threes and fours. Two leave; two go in. Three leave; three go in. We kept count. Every time someone stepped inside, we clicked. We passed the 100 count fairly early; and then, soon after, 200. After they’d been inside, they congregated in little groups outside watching and chatting. By the end of the event, we counted 567 visitors.

Mostly people came because they were curious. “We love the tiny house show on HGN. It’s so great to see a real one.” Others were thinking of building one of their own. “I’d really like to know how you do this.” Others were a little less sympathetic. “Where do we put the big furniture?”

The idea that got the most attention was the full basement. “Yes,” we said. “Full basement, concrete floor, eight-foot clearance. Not recommended for 10-foot people.”

Everyone was laughing and enjoying themselves. It was a curiously joyous crowd. It seemed apropos to start coming up with some brand new jokes.

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