J.Rich Atlanta believes in elevating influential voices in our community. Today, we hear from Will, founder and CEO of Tiny House Atlanta(now Micro-Life Institute); one of the leading organizations for tiny houses and micro living in the United States! Enjoy!
Take a look around you, around your house. Which rooms do you actually use? Which box of stuff have you not opened in a while? Which items brought you temporary joy? Are you holding on to items because they belonged to someone else? Are your possessions guilt tripping you about that hobby you want to start or closet that needs to be organized? So many of our possessions and spaces have weight and baggage, and I am not talking about the actual physical weight but the psychological weight and what it does to you on a daily basis. This weight brings you down. It is a constant distraction from the purpose of your life- being present. Welcome to the mind of a minimalist, and one who wants to live in less space and have more life.
Five years ago, I thought I had everything: a career, great car, social life, and great home. It was the American Dream definition of success. But every day I would wake up and blurt out “This can’t be my life - there has to be something more”. I couldn’t understand why I was not connecting to my current existence, but I knew I needed a change. So, I sought change, a big change. I quit my job, sold all my stuff, and got on a plane, ending up in New Zealand for 3 months, backpacking and working on vineyards. This was not planned (OK, the ticket to New Zealand was) but the experience was a “makeup as I go” ordeal. Through this trip, I fought anxiety, societal expectations, and challenged my personal beliefs, embracing this disruption to change my life’s course.
Returning to Atlanta, I immediately noticed a greater sense of freedom from possessions, freedom from expectations, and freedom from the weight of society. I was really excited to completely let go and just exist every day. Naturally, I wanted to know who else was following this path. It didn’t take long to come across tiny houses in articles and on social media. I was awestruck. The intentional movement is what drove me deeper to understand it. How could we utilize tiny houses? Where could we put them? How would we make them more of the solution for all aspects of housing? I kept digging and couldn’t find a local expert at the time, so I decided to start a group. July 14, 2014 Tiny House Atlanta was born.
Since its inception, Tiny House Atlanta (now The MicroLife Institute) has become one of the leading organizations for tiny houses and micro living in the United States. We have embraced and embodied what small spaces can do for our society and community and we want to educate individuals, groups and cities about the positive impacts of micro living. Our efforts have helped change state and local policy as well as inspired conversation on how municipalities can strategically utilize smaller spaces to drive community.
One inspiration is our tiny office now placed temporarily on the east side of the Atlanta Beltline. Our Tiny Office, built in conjunction with The Mayor of Atlanta’s Office of Sustainability, is the MicroLife Institute’s headquarters to educate and advocate, research and create pilot projects to support Micro Housing.
Other ways we inspire are our events. Coming up in September is The Innovative Housing Summit at GSU College of Law (September 28) and then The Decatur Tiny House Festival in downtown Decatur (September 29-30 ). These events allow people to see, feel, touch and be a part of the solution process on how we innovate and take steps to create micro housing products for our communities.
So that has been my journey so far. I came across a movement that gave me the space that I need to “right size” my life and make a positive impact in my community. I see so many positives of how this idea of living in a smaller footprint can improve peoples’ attitudes and lives in both rural and urban settings. I get excited creating new ideas of where we can go from here because any tiny idea could have a HUGE impact.
Q&A with Will
1. What do you see as the future for tiny houses in Atlanta?
I see them being added to the mix of potential products. I see them playing a vital role in adding additional housing options to our market. Micro spaces can be utilized by all generations as well all demographics. What designers can do with a small space nowadays amazes me and I feel like everyone would feel at home in 500 ft.² versus 5000.
2. How many people are already living in tiny houses in Atlanta?
I would say only a handful. Though counting ADUs other micro spaces I would say there're at least a couple hundred people living in a single family home under 750 ft.²
3. Real talk, how do you live in such a small space?!
Easy, I just sleep there. Smaller spaces are meant to propel you out into your community. We stay inside all the time and that’s not what we are meant to do as humans. We need experiences and we need people, that’s happiness. Live outside your space.
4. What do you see as the most exciting thing for the future of tiny houses?
I think the most exciting thing for me it’s just normalize these options. I’m excited when no one thinks of this movement as a trend or a fad. Viva la micro space!
Continue learning more about Will & The Tiny House Movement by watching the video below!