Rowan Treece, a student of Carter Latendresse at Catlin Gabel School in Portland, Oregon, read and responded to the YES! Magazine article, "Living Large in a Tiny House," by Carol Estes, a story about Dee Williams downsizing from a three-bedroom bungalow to an 84-square-foot house. She is our Middle School winner for the Fall 2012 writing competition.
Writing prompt: “If you had the choice, what size house would you live in? What are important features your house would have, and what would you intentionally avoid?”
A Family of Friends
by Rowan Treece
I read the YES! Magazine story, “Living Large in a Tiny House,” about Dee Williams with my class, and we began to discuss our dream homes. To give us a reference point, we measured our 720-square-foot classroom and it suddenly seemed huge compared to Dee’s 84-square-foot house. I wondered, if I had the choice, what I would eliminate from the 1,536-square-foot house where I live now. Dee’s article gave me ideas about what I would build if I were 25 years old, working as a ballerina, and building a home. The home I would build would be in a group of 100-square-foot houses or apartments where my fellow dancers would also live. There would be a shared living space of 1000 square feet for us. Next, the infrastructure of the community would be energy and water efficient. Finally, I would make the outside a comfortable, green, functional space. This home would reflect our values while giving us a place to live and work with our friends.
A community home would be ideal because of its economic and ecological advantages. Since we would work together, we could share nearly everything, from resources to transportation. We could take mass transit or have one communal car. A portion of our salaries would be pooled to buy necessities, leaving us some for personal use. The shared living space in the community would include a dance studio for rehearsing, a kitchen, a living room, and shared bathrooms. These things would help avoid the greenhouse gases of multiple people driving to the same place, and the excessive use of energy, water, and resources.
As a community, we would be extremely careful of our water and energy use. We would use Energy Star appliances and compact fluorescent light bulbs. Each micro house would have a water catchment system to collect rainwater that we would filter, pump, and heat on demand, instead of having unused tanks of hot water, wasting energy. Part of each roof would have solar panels on it, which would help reduce global warming by using sustainable energy. All of our faucets and showerheads would be low flow, reducing our wasted water, lowering or eliminating our water bill, and drastically lowering the amount of electricity we use for heating water.
Another very important component would be the livable and energy efficient outdoors. The micro houses would have green roofs as well as gardens between them to grow food and flowers. The grass and plants on the roofs would be an added layer of insulation to prevent heat from escaping. All of our kitchen waste would be composted to make fertilizer for the plants. The water catchment system would also collect water from the gutters, which we would use to water the plants. While we would want our waste to be net zero, we would still want the surrounding grounds to be comfortable and welcoming. We would have gathering places with fire pits, and a secluded water feature that would also function as a water filtration system.
I dream about living with my friends nearly every day. At ballet, our community is so strong that we all feel like sisters. The environment is very important to us because we know it is our responsibility as the next generation. Energy and water conservation, growing our own food, and overpopulation are very important matters. Everything about these homes would show what we care about. From dancing, to each other, to working together, to saving the planet, this home would be a perfect space for all of us.