What we're about

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

Our group was founded to explore local dwelling options under 400 square feet (smaller than the old-school apartment): microstudios, ADUs, co-living (sharing a house or apartment), housing co-ops, rooming houses, intentional communities and ecovillages, RVs and motor homes, tiny houses, vans, skoolies, 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 . We're also on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/redefininghome1 .

If you want 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/)

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+)

Permaculture (and Co-Living!) Sites in the Pacific NW - by Jan Spencer + guests

[Note from Sherri: Jan will be talking about + showing images of all these interesting places. I have added more details on some of the Portland ones, since they may be less well known to a Eugene audience. You can google the Eugene ones if you have not heard of them -- all are amazing! Our group will be invited to a potluck dinner at Duma sometime in late Nov or Dec.] EUGENE 1. East Blair Housing Cooperative, near 4th + Blair in the Whiteaker neighborhood. Established by dedicated folks in 1982 + still providing low-cost housing to 35-40 people, including a dozen kids. 2. Maitreya Ecovillage, 885 Almaden. A wide range of dwellings on five city tax lots, including a house, triplex, strawbale community room, tiny house, outdoor kitchen, meditation room, cob guest cottage 3. Duma Community, 2244 Alder. Nine people share a 10BR house built in 1920s as a home for wayward youth, with extensive gardens out back + chickens. PORTLAND N Street Kailash Ecovillage (rentals) 4311 SE 37th Avenue http://www.kailashecovillage.org About 50 residents in 30 1BR, two 2BR, and rooms in a house (http://www.kailashecovillage.org/rooms). Columbia Ecovillage (cohousing) 4647 NE Killingsworth Street http://columbiaecovillage.org The 37 homes are in a 1970s apartment complex, renovated in 2008 for energy efficiency and healthy air quality. (The smallest unit is 500sf, which isn't microhousing but is quite small for cohousing.) _________________________ This event is part of a series. Here is a quick look at the remaining presentations. All take place at the River Road Rec Center, 1400 Lake Drive: Tuesday, Dec 3, 6:30-8pm Pushing back on cars - reclaim car space for bikes and pedestrians: Critical mass, parking day, parklets, community plazas, superblocks. Eugene, NYC, Freiberg, Barcelona Tuesday, Dec 17, 6:30-8pm Allies, assets, actions for regime change: Lifestyle, economics, culture, community. Also of related interest - Podcasts of Jan's radio program https://player.whooshkaa.com/shows/creating-a-resilient-future

Info session on more-affordable small houses in Eugene via Community Land Trust

From https://www.facebook.com/devnorthwest/photos/rpp.845770665765524/994006530941936/?type=3&theater DevNW is excited to announce plans for Community Land Trust homes in west Eugene! At 5220 Royal Avenue, DevNW is planning a subdivision of affordable homes to help families achieve their dream of owning a home in Eugene. DevNW will be hosting community meetings to discuss the project and engage the community. Come and see site plans, ask questions, and learn how one of these homes can become yours! Join us for a community meeting: • Wednesday, November 6th at Prairie Mountain School in the Caforium from 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM. • Tuesday, November 12th at 5220 Royal Avenue (outdoors and on site) from 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM. • Wednesday, November 13th at Prairie Mountain School in the Caforium I asked DevNW if they might be tiny houses. They said no, but: You ll be pleased to know that we are not pursuing a traditional housing model. These homes will range between around 575 SF for a one-bedroom and around 1,200 SF for a three-bedroom. They are what is called Community Land Trust (CLT) homes, which is where the land is legally separated from the home and placed in a trust, which is run by a nonprofit (DevNW). The structure is similar to a condo, except the HOA is the nonprofit. This keeps the homes affordable while allowing the buyers to retain full ownership of their home. The tiny-home model is not something that DevNW will be pursuing for this particular project since we are already slated to submit our tentative subdivision design after these community meetings. With that said, I will keep MicroDwellers in mind and let our development director know about your note as we build out our portfolio. Lots more info on CLTs here: https://groundedsolutions.org/strengthening-neighborhoods/community-land-trusts If this night isnt good for you, there is another info session the night before, Tues, 5:30-6:30pm. Same time but the venue is the site itself, 5220 Royal Ave. See flyer in Facebook link above.

Volunteer fair to help homelessness groups @ Eugene Public Library downtown

Eugene Public Library - Downtown

If you have been wondering how you can best help our unhoused neighbors, especially with winter upon us ... the Eugene Public Library is stepping up to assist in channeling your energy. From the library: https://www.eugene-or.gov/Calendar.aspx?EID=20722&month=11&year=2019&day=10&calType=0 Concerned about unhoused community members? Looking for a way to help? Meet representatives of local nonprofits and government agencies addressing these issues, find out about their services, and learn about volunteer opportunities and other ways to support their work. Author Connie King Leonard will read from her young adult novel "Sleeping in My Jeans." [This is a terrific novel written in the voice of a teenage girl whose family becomes homeless in Eugene. It is published by Ooligan Press, the student-run press at Portland State University. --Sherri] Participating organizations include Catholic Community Services, Centro Latino Americano, City of Eugene, Community Court, Egan Warming Center, Eugene Mission, Food for Lane County, Hosea Youth Services, Lane County Health and Human Services, Looking Glass, ShelterCare, SquareOne Villages, St. Vincent de Paul, White Bird Clinic, Willamette Family Inc., and Womenspace.

Sunday night vegetarian potluck dinner at Walnut Street Co-op

The nice folks at Walnut Street Co-op, near the UO and Hendricks Park, have invited us to share dinner with them. Bring a vegetarian dish to share, and come get a closer look at co-op living. From https://www.ic.org/directory/walnut-street-co-op: Walnut Street Co-op is a social-change-oriented cooperative household. In September 2000 we moved into a large, rambling house together, seeking to build community. Three years later we formed a legal co-op, funding the project with many small loans from like-minded individuals. As housemates, we eat dinner together, share chores, attend house meetings and work parties, and have a basic commitment to resolve conflicts. We trust that each person holds a piece of the truth, and we are committed to deep listening with each other. Over time we’re finding that our friendships are deepening and a shared vision is emerging based on creating shifts in society toward dialogue, deliberation, and integration of diverse viewpoints. Co-op resident Emily says: We are multi-generational at present; our ages range from 23 to 72. The dominant age groups fluctuate over time depending on who's in the house, but we generally have a pretty good diversity of people here. You can join us at 6:15, and we can give you a tour before starting dinner around 6:30. I have added this to our calendar and let our members know. We'll have cards for you to note if the dish contains gluten, dairy, etc. Blog: https://walnutstcoop.wordpress.com Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/walnutstcoop Transit: The Co-op is conveniently located a few blocks from the EmX Walnut Station. For the EmX schedule (it runs every 15 mins), click the Sunday tab here: https://www.ltd.org/system-map/route_103

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