Meeting of the Tiny Minds

The internet is a great way to get connected to other people. I personally like to think of the Web as a microscope on the world, you can find almost anything through your microscope’s monitor. You can remain anonymous or reveal your true identity.

A few of us northern California tiny house nuts decided a little while back that we should make time to meet in person. It began with Steve, Jay and me, then added Kent and Bill, and finally Stephen. We had no agenda, we just wanted to finally meet each other.

We all crammed into Jay’s 89 square foot tiny house and spent two hours sharing ideas and stories. For the most part we were all familiar with one another but it was nice to actually meet and get to know the person behind the emails. I personally found it really inspiring to sit and chat with three very active and experienced tiny house builders, Jay, Bill, and Stephen.

From left to right…

Jay Shafer

Jay needs little introduction. He’s the co-founder of the Small House Society and original founder of the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company. He offers books, plans, and seminars on tiny house design and construction. You might be wondering about the crutches, he recently had a run-in with an SUV while riding his little Vespa scooter. It seems this particular SUV driver thought there was something OK with pushing people on scooters off the road. Jay seems to be recovering quickly and even makes climbing up into his loft look easy, broken leg and all.

Kent Griswold

Kent runs Kent has been making more and more contact with tiny house designers & builders and really should be credited with getting this meeting together, although I think he’d like to say it was a group effort. In January Kent expects to be blogging full-time on tiny houses.

Michael Janzen

Yep… that’s me… by day I’m a web designer, by night a tiny house designer & blogger. I’m also trying to build my own tiny house out of shipping pallets and other free stuff, when I can find time.

Steve Weissmann

Steve works with Jay and is a true entrepreneur. In addition to his own business ventures he helps Jay run the business side of the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company. This partnership gives Jay the time to focus on the things he likes to do which is design tiny houses and teach workshops.

Bill Kastrinos

Like Jay, Bill has been in the news a lot lately. He owns Tortoiseshell Shell Home in nearby Rohnert Park, California. Bill has years of experience in construction and manufacturing. This combination of skills helped him develop a very cost effective way of building tiny houses that combines manufacturing techniques with traditional construction methods. He shared some of the details of how his system works with the group and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some future collaborations.

Stephen Marshall

Stephen has been in the construction and cabinet building business for several decades. He’s a licensed contractor and owns Little House on the Trailer located in Petaluma, California. While Jay and Bill are currently focused on building 8 foot wide tiny houses, Stephen is building with a 12 foot wide footprint to the Park Model RV standard. These are not as easily moved but provide a more familiar room size. Stephen is also focusing more on the business to business market.

I think the most important things that will come out of this little informal gathering were the connections and synergies that we found. On the surface it might appear that some of us are competitors, for example Kent and I run similar blogs. But each of us has found our niche and I think we’re finding that we’re stronger together as active members of a growing community than isolated competitors.

I’m hopeful that this is just the beginning of more face-to-face tiny house gatherings. Kent suggested a Tiny House Expo to me a while back, which sounds like a wonderful idea. Imagine an annual gathering of tiny houses, homeowners, builders, designers, and enthusiasts sharing ideas, solutions, and dreams.

Thanks again for taking the photo Rebecca.


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