What we're about

Greetings! Springfield/Eugene MicroDwellers is a community resource, a tour group, a social club, and a civic action organization, because we have found that all these levels of engagement are needed in Eugene/Springfield to foster, support, and increase small-scale living.

We explore and work for more local dwelling options under 400 square feet (smaller than the old-school apartment): tiny houses and backyard cottages (ADUs); quads, rooming houses, housing co-ops, and other co-living (groups of unrelated people sharing a house or apartment); micro-studios; intentional communities and ecovillages; and motor homes, skoolies, vans, yurts, and more.

We also attend events on related topics such as sustainable living, permaculture, and environmental justice, according to our members' interests.

We had hoped to take turns hosting gatherings in our small homes, but we quickly discovered that most of them are currently illegal or quasi-legal, due to zoning/building regulations that need changing.

Along the way, we explore how to build support for small-scale living as an honorable, deliberately chosen lifestyle, and how to encourage the development of more micro-options.

We post photos of most of our events and include key info in the captions, so if you want to see what you missed, take a peek at https://www.meetup.com/Micro-dwellers/photos and, more recently, Instagram @microdwellers.

If you would like to learn more about different aspects of microdwelling & sustainability, read on below.

Otherwise, check out our events & we look forward to seeing you soon!


About Me

I'm a writer and community organizer who's happily downsized to live in a 220-square-foot microstudio in Eugene. (More at my blog, www.RedefiningHome.org.)

I edited Sightline Institute’s "Unlocking Home: Three Keys to Affordable Communities," a 2012 e-book that argued for (among other things) the return of the rooming house and the easing of restrictions on ADUs: https://www.sightline.org/research_item/unlocking-home (https://www.sightline.org/research_item/unlocking-home/). It's a great, short read that explains some reasons why small, affordable living spaces are hard to find these days, although they were once a common part of the fabric of American life.

ADUs (accessory dwelling units)

Encouraged in Springfield; currently discouraged in Eugene, so that only one person built one in 2018. We and other groups are working to change that.

--Two free guides from AARP: https://www.aarp.org/livable-communities/housing/info-2019/accessory-dwelling-units-adus.html
--Portlander Kol Peterson's blog & guide to building an ADU: http://pdxadu.blogspot.com
--AccessoryDwellings.org: A website compiled by Portland experts that's a one-stop source about ADUs, multigenerational homes, laneway houses, granny flats, and in-law units: https://accessorydwellings.org (https://accessorydwellings.org/2019/07/08/adu-legislative-initiatives-history-in-the-making)



Individually owned homes with extensive shared common spaces; residents usually eat dinner together at least once a week, with residents taking turns as cooks.

--Description & lots of history: http://www.cohousingco.com/blog/2019/7/18/the-best-of-both-worlds-the-promise-of-cohousing
--Directory of US cohousing communities: https://www.cohousing.org/business-directory-2/wpbdp_category/comm



The modern term for the age-old practice of multiple adult renters sharing a dwelling.

Many cities in the US and especially Europe & elsewhere have multiple coliving communities managed by different companies such as Common, Ollie, Starcity, Bungalow, and OpenDoor. A database of options worldwide is at http://www.coliving.com .

The agenda for the last international co-living conference sketches the scope and concerns of the coliving movement/industry: https://medium.com/coliv/co-liv-summit-2018-paris-a5dc7a5b80eb . We hear the next such conference will be in June 2020 in Paris.

Ecovillage: an intentional community organized around ecology and sustainability. Inspirational talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmWa3mFKM84

Intentional community: a community organized around common values/vision; http://www.ic.org has a directory; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBA19OeNMIo has inspiration

Missing Middle housing: more-affordable types such as ADUs, duplexes, triplexes, and cottage clusters; term coined by Daniel Parolek in 2010 (https://opticosdesign.com/missing-middle-housing (https://opticosdesign.com/missing-middle-housing/)). Currently illegal in many neighborhoods in America. (About 70-80% of land is currently zoned to allow only single-family homes.) In many areas, movement is under way to relax or eliminate regulations against this housing; this year the Oregon Legislature mandated that all larger cities and towns do so.

Microhousing: in the US, commonly 160-350 square feet
--An example in Portland: http://www.arthurpdx.com (http://www.arthurpdx.com/)
--How small is microhousing?: https://microshowcase.com/microdwell/microhousing-an-overview
--Some of the microhousing in specific large cities now: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microapartment

Tiny house: One that's under 400 square feet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTPsASRO7WA . A tiny-house village in a Portland backyard: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VG0Ikpl41k . Updates on making tiny houses legal around the country: https://tinyhouseexpedition.com/tiny-house-advocacy-news

--What does zoning have to do with housing affordability? This short + entertaining video explains: https://www.facebook.com/SightlineInstitute/videos/2038769343092610
--How the single-use zoning in many American neighborhoods, which bars anything smaller than a single-family house, helped ensure racial and socioeconomic segregation: https://www.registerguard.com/opinion/20190224/lamar-exclusionary-zoning-fuels-our-housing-crisis


Downsizing (resources and inspiration)

"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." --William Morris

Benefits of downsizing include a fresh start, less cleaning, more time and energy for your true priorities, more money, less stuff, and helping to save the planet.

Some Eugene resources: https://www.randyancell.com/fine/real/estate/downsizing/custom

General resources:

Eliminating Chaos (Sasquatch Books, 2006): https://www.powells.com/book/eliminate-chaos-the-10-step-process-to-organize-your-home-life-9781570614675

The ubiquitous Marie Kondo, speaking at Google: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1-HMMX_NR8

The Minimalists: https://www.theminimalists.com (https://www.theminimalists.com/)

Project 333 (tips on paring your wardrobe to only things you love): https://bemorewithless.com/project-333

TEDx Talks:

--"How Many Towels Do You Need?": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlA7qgySO0I
--"Getting Rid of 1,000 Things": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T33vGEPL-wg (lots of specific tips in six minutes)
--"Get Rid of the Unnecessary to Get Down to Basics": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXlNvlzd9M8 (Colin Wright on creating a unique life that reflects you)
--"How Much Is Enough?": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFlYnL_SHQc (Portland developer Kevin Cavenaugh)

A few personal tips:

--Take photos of items you want to remember but don't physically need or have room for, then let them go.
--To sell furniture and other items: Nextdoor and Craigslist
--To give things away: the Buy Nothing group for your neighborhood on Facebook, and the charity of your choice
--To sell coins and jewelry in Eugene/Springfield: Eugene Coin and Jewelry, 1410 Willamette

Anti-Overconsumption Classics

"Affluenza: How Overconsumption Is Killing Us -- and How to Fight Back" (PBS documentary by John deGraaf, 1998): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2m32ZUeAIA

"The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Do Not Need" (Juliet Schor, 1997): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdaQnGgWoPg (one fact: the average house has doubled in square footage since the 1970s, despite the average household being smaller)

"Walden" (Henry David Thoreau, 1854): https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16902.Walden

"Your Money or Your Life: Nine Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence" (Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez, 1992; newest revised edition, 2018): https://yourmoneyoryourlife.com (https://yourmoneyoryourlife.com/)


Other Local Organizations Working on Affordable/Sustainable Housing Issues

Better Housing Together (a coalition of about 50 groups, including many non-housing groups such as AARP and the League of Women Voters): https://www.betterhousingtogether.org (https://www.betterhousingtogether.org/)
--BHT has an excellent 4-minute video on our local housing crisis: https://vimeo.com/256725187 (this has all the facts you need for a letter to the editor or social media post/debate)

Cornerstone Community Housing (affordable-housing developer, mostly for families): https://cornerstonecommunityhousing.org (https://cornerstonecommunityhousing.org/)

Cottage Grove Coalition (building tiny-house village of 13 at 1430 E. Madison): https://cgsentinel.com/article/cottage-village-project-now-80-percent-funded

Springfield/Eugene Tenant Association: https://www.springfieldeugenetenantassociation.com

SquareOne Villages (tiny houses for people with very low incomes): https://www.squareonevillages.org (https://www.squareonevillages.org/)

Tiny Houses and Tiny Villages Meetup group: https://www.meetup.com/Tiny-Houses-and-Tiny-House-Villages

WECAN (Walkable Eugene Citizens Advisory Network): http://www.wecaneugene.org

YIMBYES (Yes In My Back Yard, Eugene/Springfield): https://yimbyes.org (https://yimbyes.org/). The annual YIMBYtown conference will be April 2-4, 2020, in Portland.

Sustainability and Resilience

Cooperation Eugene -- A New Economy Working Group (time banks, gift economy, co-ops, community finance): https://www.facebook.com/EugeneNewEconomy

Eugene Permaculture Meetup Group: https://www.meetup.com/Eugene-Permaculture-Meetup

350 Eugene (an active local group working on many aspects of sustainability): https://world.350.org/eugene

Homelessness in Lane County

Excellent City Club forum: https://www.klcc.org/post/city-club-eugene-homeless-and-unsheltered-eugene

2019 Lane County Point-in-Time Survey (annual count of the unsheltered): https://www.lanecounty.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_3585797/File/HSD/FINAL%202019%20PIT%20COUNT%20report%20ver%201.0.pdf

Carry It Forward: https://www.carryitforward.net (https://www.carryitforward.net/camp-cleanup)

Community Supported Shelters (provides Conestoga huts and Safe Spot Communities): http://communitysupportedshelters.org

Nightingale Hosted Shelters: https://nightingaleshelters.org


Other Resources

AARP's Livable Communities initiative: https://www.aarp.org/livable-communities. AARP is very active in encouraging cities & towns to allow more ADUs and Missing Middle housing.

Foundation for Intentional Community (a network of more than 1,000 communities around the world -- includes ecovillages and cohousing communities): https://www.ic.org

Local resources for those in need (clothing, food, internet, mail, medical care, shelter & much more): https://whitebirdclinic.org/resources

Sightline Institute, Seattle: https://www.sightline.org (https://www.sightline.org/series/legalizing-inexpensive-housing)

--Legalizing Inexpensive Housing series: https://www.sightline.org/series/legalizing-inexpensive-housing
--"Unlocking Home: Three Keys to More Affordable Communities": https://www.sightline.org/research_item/unlocking-home


Vegging Out (YouTube channels that cover all kinds of micro-homes)

--Kirsten Dirksen's channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/kirstendirksen/videos

--Exploring Alternatives: https://www.youtube.com/user/explorealternatives/videos
--Cheap RV Living: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAj7O3LCDbkIR54hAn6Zz7A/videos
--Tiny House Expeditions: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmpHOZ6GqCvcWyPX3svgz-g/videos
--Tiny House Giant Journey (Jenna Spesard): https://www.youtube.com/user/tinyhousegj/videos


Other Inspirations

On the road: "Without Bound: Perspectives on Mobile Living": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lg37Cbx-kak

Upcoming events (5+)

Tour of CSS Safe Spot (Conestoga hut) communities

Community Supported Shelters

Community Supported Shelters (CSS) is a nonprofit that builds inexpensive Conestoga huts (64 square feet). Some are hosted on the grounds of churches, nonprofits, and a few residences. Others are clustered together in Safe Spots. Every few months, they offer a tour that begins at their west Eugene warehouse, where they make the huts, and then visits a Safe Spot community. Transportation is provided, but please RSVP so they know how many folks to expect. Several of us took the tour in October + warmly recommend it. CSS has devised a simple, inexpensive way to provide basic shelter to our neighbors, and has worked patiently with City staff and Council, neighborhoods, and churches to get huts placed throughout the city. (They are always looking for volunteers to help at the Safe Spot communities and/or to help build more huts!) CSS requests a "$10 and up sliding-scale donation" for its tour to help fund its work. Call the office at[masked] or email [masked] to RSVP and find out where the tour begins. Website: communitysupportedshelters.org BACKGROUND CSS calls the huts "micro-housing solutions for those in need" and "pre-housing shelter services." They say: "The growing houseless population can be a challenge which brings us all together to make a difference and create a highly efficient, solution-based program supported by the whole community." Video (13 mins) with founder Erik de Buhr: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=15&v=GfuTh8wDvvo Videos of a Safe Spot Community (city-sanctioned cluster of huts): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WCr6B9oJVM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xqpAvbsSok _____________________ More MicroDwellers: You can now follow us (@microdwellers) on Instagram and Facebook, and Sherri blogs at RedefiningHome.org.

Our talk for Neighb. Leaders Council HHC (8 Ways to Create Lower-Cost Housing)

We are honored to be presenting about MicroDwellers activities and ideas at the January gathering of the Housing + Homelessness Committee of the Eugene Neighborhood Leaders Council. There may also be a short presentation by Western Shelters. First we will have the group spend 5 minutes taking the 10-question Eugene Housing Literacy Test. You can take it now at: bit.ly/housing-test. We developed this test as an awareness builder and conversation starter for longtime homeowners, who may not be in touch with the housing market in Eugene today Then we will share our knowledge about some low-cost Eugene-style ways of creating housing that we have seen on our tour. We will focus on housing types that would be affordable to the median Eugene renter household -- renting for $650/month or less. (See below for work in progress.) If you can free up an hour at noon on a workday, please join us! Consider regular attendance too (every fourth Thursday of the month). These gatherings are open to all, very welcoming + offer great educational presentations + networking for people concerned about these issues. (You dont have to be involved with your neighborhood association [NA] to attend ... although maybe you should be. We need pro-housing voices on all NAs!) LTD bus: 33 (to the door), 78 (not as close) LTD Trip Planner: ltd.org _____________________ WE WILL MAKE THIS A HANDOUT FOR EVERYONE :) 1. Homesharing (matches homeowners with people needing an affordable room; many communities have them, but Eugene does not yet) * Nationwide: https://nationalsharedhousing.org/program-directory/ * Portland: a) Metro HomeShare, https://youtu.be/lZSJjqlMDRg b) Oregon Home Share - partnership w/Silvernest, set to launch March 1, aiming to place women age 55+ 2. Small ADUs [masked]sf) * Eugenes policy on ADUs, 1935-present: http://www.wecaneugene.org/timeline-of-adus-in-eugene * Portland: https://www.facebook.com/BetterHousingTogether/photos/a.169886823634077/514716215817801 * Seattle: https://www.sightline.org/2019/07/01/seattle-approves-best-backyard-cottages-rules-united-states/ * LA: https://www.sightline.org/2019/04/05/la-adu-story-how-a-state-law-sent-granny-flats-off-the-charts/ 3. Tiny houses (under 400sf) * Future village: https://www.facebook.com/groups/TinyHouseVillages/ * Movable tiny houses allowed as ADUs, per LA: http://www.tinyhomeindustryassociation.org/la-gives-green-light-to-movable-tiny-homes-as-adus/ [Nonprofit-produced: Emerald Village Eugene, 25 N. Polk: https://www.squareonevillages.org/emerald ($250-$350/mo)] 4. Housing co-ops * Student Cooperative Association (3 houses in 1600 + 1700 blocks of Alder Street by UO, $400/mo. including food) * Walnut Street Co-op (9 people, under $500/mo.) * East Blair Housing Cooperative (35-40 people, various sizes, rents are half market rate or less) 5. Benevolent landlords * Duma Community, 2244 Alder (9 people, $400-$450/mo. + $320/mo. for food + utils) * Maitreya Ecovillage, 885 Almaden (25-30 people, various sizes and rents) 6. Rooming houses * Hideaway House, 715 E 16th (10 rooms, $395/mo.) * 988 Lawrence (7 rooms with en-suite bathrooms in elegant house, $750/mo.) 7. Student housing/co-living/quads ($425/mo + up) Introduction: redefininghome.org/quads Eugene Weekly may write about this. 8. Preserving/reclaiming our housing stock: entire-house short-term rentals Background: redefininghome.org/eugene-strs Some options: * limiting to 30-90 days/year * limiting to one per owner * requiring owner occupancy OTHER CONCEPTS * Rural intentional communities (as low as $217/mo. at Lost Valley in Dexter; others include Cerro Gordo) * Churches hosting housing: --Church of the Resurrection, 39th + Hilyard, 4 tiny houses for single men --First Congregational Church of Christ, 23rd + Harris, two 600sf manufactured homes for families: https://www.fcceugene.org/housing _____________________ Follow us (@microdwellers) on Instagram + Facebook; Sherri blogs at RedefiningHome.org.

ADU-curious + frugal? Tour of Summit Structures / TinySpace4u in Springfield

Summit Structures of Oregon in Springfield (tagline: Taking Backyard Dreams to New Heights) recently provided Nightingale Hosted Shelters (a Conestoga hut community) in Eugene with a 14x28 manufactured house for $8,600. The shell is built to code; Nightingale will add insulation, electricity, heat, etc. Lets go check out this company! And bonus, they are open on Saturdays, 11am-5pm! We dont know of transit options there, but feel free to post in Comments if you need a ride + what neighborhood you live in. Afterward, those of us who want to can have lunch at the Busy Bee diner on Main Street, or another inexpensive place in Springfield. ____________________ ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND Article on how to turn your barn or shed into a livable tiny house, posted in the Tiny Houses and Tiny Villages Facebook group: https://tinyhousetalk.com/how-to-turn-your-barn-or-shed-into-a-livable-tiny-house You can see photos of one Eugeneans shed conversion into a tiny house, which he now rents to a tenant for $600/mo all-inclusive, in our Inexpensive ADUs photo album on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pg/MicroDwellers/photos/?tab=album&album_id=147495859958862 The shed companys Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/summitstructuresor Nightingales work: https://nightingaleshelters.org ____________________ More MicroDwellers: You can now follow us (@microdwellers) on Instagram and Facebook, and Sherri blogs at RedefiningHome.org.

Tour of St. Vinnies recycling sites -- mattresses + more!

St. Vincent de Paul of Lane County offers this tour every other month. Learn how they recycle styrofoam, mattresses, books, clothing, and more, by visiting 3-4 sites where the different types of reclamation happen. Transportation will be provided, and lunch and discussion will be available afterward. LTD buses: #12, 67 LTD Trip Planner: ltd.org [Photo above: Walking the talk: At St Vinnies The Annex, a shelter housing 19 families (about 80 people) that we toured in December, the room dividers are made from mattresses recycled by St. Vinnies.] BACKGROUND From https://www.svdp.us/what-we-do/recycling-and-manufacturing St. Vincent de Paul is the world leader in mattress recycling. DR3, our operation in California, was the first commercially viable mattress recycling business in the world. Today, with operations in Livermore, Woodland, and Stockton, California; and Eugene, we recycle more than 300,000 mattresses and boxsprings every year. ____________________ More MicroDwellers: You can now follow us (@microdwellers) on Instagram and Facebook, and Sherri blogs at RedefiningHome.org.

Past events (77)

Tour of the Eugene Mission

Eugene Mission

Photos (486)