Brattleboro Tiny House Fest grows into big ideas

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. – Tiny House Fest Vermont began with 5,000 attendees in 2016. As the festival grows, so does its engagement with not-so-tiny ideas. On Saturday, June 23, in downtown Brattleboro, up to 30 houses will be on view, and over 35 presenters will celebrate design while asking how the tiny house movement can change communities for the better.

Tiny House
The Tiny House Festival in Brattleboro, Vt. Photo provided.

This year, national leaders Rural Studio based in Alabama and Dee Williams based in Portland, Ore., among others, will bring meaningful inquiry to the summer celebration. The event is intended to build momentum across silos of interest toward a vision of what new person-centered communities can look like.

“We are rebounding…” co-founder Lisa Kuneman says of the explosion in interest in tiny homes. “The last hundred years have followed a trend of living spaces that promote unhealthy levels of isolation and waste. Tiny living is a response to this, and the Fest is a celebration of the creativity of this movement.”

Fest founders have joined with new organizing partner Yestermorrow Design/Build School, increasing the festival’s reach and focus on what tiny home experiences can teach the average citizen, town, or suburb about maintaining livable and welcoming public spaces. Together, THFV organizers aim to solidify Vermont’s place as a vanguard state in the movement to “reimagine human spaces.”

The featured speakers at the fest exemplify this. According to Claire Gear, director, Yestermorrow Design/Build School, “The founders of Rural Studio have heroically taken on the issue of affordability and have a foundational belief that beautiful, functional architecture should be accessible to all.”

Also presenting is tiny house icon Dee Williams, who built one of the first tiny homes on wheels in 2004, and has “lived small” ever since. Dee’s house, life and memoir “The Big Tiny” have been featured in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CBS This Morning, Slate.com, Yahoo.com, Yes Magazine, and the National Building Museum, to name just a few.

Erin Maile O’Keefe, a co-founder of Tiny House Fest Vermont, says that “Dee Williams tells a personal and poignant story of how she decided to reboot her life when the conventional American dream failed her. A major health crisis made her question what she valued most. Along the way, she downsized her home and upsized her connections and joy!”

As the fest’s focus deepens into examining issues that shape the movement’s emergence and growth, interest in collaboration and sponsorship has grown. “It simply makes sense that options inspire dreams and can help attain affordable living.” Vermont based tiny house builder Domenic Mangano of Jamaica Cottage Shop decided to support the fest’s transition from a bootstrapped idea to the next level because organizers bring the event’s lens to the issues he hears from customers who visit his shop to tour and buy tiny homes.

To see lineup of presentations and for more information, go to www.tinyhousefestvermont.com.

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