SearchTinyHouseVillages.com focuses on communities to solve the biggest hurdle facing the tiny house movement — Where to park it?
An extensive database coupled with a powerful search engine allows people to find their ideal Tiny House community. Jill Kanto, the website’s founder, recounts SearchTinyHouseVillages.com origin story, explains current functionality and hints towards future site expansion.
Life Before Living Tiny Was…Hard
In 2012, I was newly divorced and a single mother of a 1 and 7 year old. I was telecommuting nights and stayed up all day with young children, averaging only a few hours sleep each night. I couldn’t afford daycare and groceries were charged on to credit cards with no hope of paying them off. I was stressed, missing quality time with my children and losing my health — quickly. Something had to give.
The following year, I was introduced to the concept of Intentional Communities. These communities didn’t have cracks for people like my children and I to fall through. They supported one another. By working as a team, they lifted themselves to a better quality of life. I quickly became fascinated. Unfortunately, none were close enough for me to move into (because it was too far for my ex-husband to see his children). So, instead I visited as many as life allowed and regularly attended a yearly weekend of workshops. I was determined to try to better my life through community.
Living Tiny in a Tiny Villagette
Life continued at a grueling pace. My health woes worsened. Fortunately, in 2015 my mother lent me $35,000 to build my DIY Tiny House on Wheels.
I landed in a lovely “Backyard Parking” community. I pay rent to a host family and share their 6 acres. We also share kids, a food garden, chicken eggs and caring for the 4 horses, 3 goats and 10 chickens on the property.
Sounds perfect, right? It almost is.
The Birth of SearchTinyHouseVillages.com
Since I have been exposed to several successful intentional communities, I knew that as good as I had it, it could get even better.
I went online to search for my ideal tiny house village. Not only did I not find a list of intentional Tiny House communities, but I couldn’t find a list of any types of Tiny House communities.
So, I started to compile my own list, for personal use. Once I hit about 60 villages, I realized I had to share my list with the movement.
THE RESEARCH PHASE
I began with asking current and future Tiny Housers what criteria was important to them when deciding on a community. I combined their answers with what I learned from studying intentional communities and created 32 (and counting!) filters. Each filter has multiple options, so the filter combination possibilities are too high for me to count.
The site is FREE! Why? Because I want this data to be as accessible as possible. And as someone who is environmentally conscious and opposed to mindless consumerism, I don’t want to abuse my visitors and newsletter recipients with ads selling items/services that I don’t believe in. That eliminates most potential advertising revenue, but does leaves room for sponsorship.
So, how IS the site funded? Living in a tiny house has granted me free time and a small savings account. Aside from a few generous patreon supporters, I have been funding the site myself. While that was okay to get things rolling, it isn’t sustainable.
How can I fund the site without compromising my pie-in-the-sky ethics? Originally, I was just going to bear the brunt of the cost of the site, with no attempts to reclaim the money. But as the site grew, I realized this was turning into a full-time project.
I hired a grant writer to secure funds to develop a Builder API. Through a very small monthly membership program, Tiny House Builders will be able to integrate my search functions directly into their website. This will fit PERFECTLY, because the parking is the SINGLE biggest hurdle for builders. And the more tiny houses in existence, the lighter our carbon footprint, the less we’ll be able to mindlessly consume and the more tiny house communities we’ll be able to create. Want to be part of the pilot program?
I currently have about 100 villages listed on the site, with about 300 in queue that have yet to be added. It is a lot of work for 1 person to do. Fortunately, Tumbleweed Tiny Houses has donated 12 Free Building Plans to those who volunteer to help me add them. Interested in volunteering?
ALL VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES
•Verify village Info
•Search for More Villages
•Recruit More Volunteers
•Booth Help at Festivals
•Social Media Help
TINY HOUSE FESTIVALS
Before I even finished this phase of the site, Festival Organizers were reaching out to me, adding me to their Speaker Lineup and asking me to create a booth for festival attendees to search, LIVE, for places to live tiny in community.
I’ve been going to 1 or 2 festivals a month since!
2018 Festivals Lineup:
•Fredericksburg, VA – May 2018
•DC/Virginia – June 2018
•Denver, CO – June 2018
•Colorado Springs, CO – Aug 2018
•Louisa, VA – Aug 2018
•Marshfield, MA – Sept 2018
•Baltimore, MD – Oct 2018
•Elkton, FL – Nov 2018
•New Orleans, LA – Dec 2018
UPCOMING SITE ROADMAP
I am incredibly excited about new upcoming functionality that will increase the usefulness of the site for both villages and people seeking community. The user experience will be greatly upgraded. Villages will be offered free websites (if they don’t have one) and tools will be added to help established communities help new communities get off the ground.
Jill Kanto, founder