This is Part 1 of 2 of a guest post from our very own tiny house builder and entrepreneur, Pepper Clark. Please join Pepper on March 24th and 25th for her own workshop in Asheville, NC!
I’m old enough to know that I will forget the details of this amazing trip if I don’t take it all down, and it was far too good to let slip away. I just returned from a four day adventure to Seattle with the Tumbleweed crew. Until this point the only tiny house people I had met, all during the workshop in Sebastopol about four years ago, were Jay Shafer, Steve Weissmann, Kent Griswold, and Gregory Johnson. Before it was over, I had met almost every person I’ve come to feel like I “know” in the tiny house world from their blogs, photos, and videos online; Dee Williams, Deek Diedrikson, Christopher Smith, Abel Zimmerman, plus more people who had projects that I had only gotten the slightest hint of; Candice, Sharon Read, and some of the wonderful people who make Tumbleweed run behind the scenes, like Takeshi Okada and Alicia Feltman. Some trips in life go down in your personal history as peak times. This was just such a journey.
I’m the first to arrive at the airport on Fridaay morning, and (since I’m never the first to arrive anywhere) I’m just starting to wonder if I got something wrong before I see Jay Shafer checking in at the computers to one side of the doors. In a few minutes Steve Weissmann, the business genius of Tumbleweed, arrives with Alicia Feltman the web designer, graphic artist, and all around tech diva, and we all board the plane together.
Friday afternoon we all check in to our hotel, then head out to Olympia to have dinner and see Dee’s house. We meet at a restaurant surrounded by water, Anthony’s Hearthfire Grill. It’s built on pilings over Budd Inlet, although by the time we get there it’s a little too dark to fully enjoy the view. Dee introduces us to the hostess, a talented young woman she’s been living next door to since she was 12 years old, and we sit down to enjoy a wonderful meal. Dee’s place is adorable, and we all enjoy looking at the details and talking about it with her for a while.
Saturday morning we’re up at 6:00 to prepare for the workshop. We eat in the little Bistro at the hotel and head up to the 14th floor to get ready. Alicia and I spread out the books, plans, samples, and name tags and start checking people in. Deek Diedrikson, the mad scientist of tiny structures and Christopher Smith, the guy shooting TINY, the gorgeous film that will bring the tiny house movement to the masses, show up just before Dee gets started, and I meet Takeshi the Tumbleweed architect and draftsman a little later in the morning.
At lunchtime we all gather around a parking spot a mile away to see Sharon Read’s tiny house. Steve ferries some workshop people in his rented SUV and many just walk. It’s cold but sunny and clear as I enjoy a quick city hike narrated by a workshop attendee who’s also an enthusiastic local. We had a fun session examining Sharon’s self designed tiny house on wheels, with lots of good Q & A and some time to socialize with each other. Afterwards the Tumbleweed crew breaks for lunch with Sharon and her husband and son and I barely eat any of it because I’m too busy trying to convince her to bring a house to Sonoma County next summer. After we get back from lunch I spend a little time talking outside the room with Deek Christopher and Alicia, then we get back in the room to listen to the rest of Dee’s presentation.
Saturday night is the night of nights. Steve decides he’s taking us all to http://palisaderestaurant.com/ Palisade for dinner to celebrate Alicia’s birthday. The restaurant is stunning, and while I could go on about the food, wine, and decor, it really has to be experienced. I’ll just say this; if you only splurge once in Seattle, Palisade would bean excellent choice. Despite the sumptuous food and ambiance, the true luxury that night is the wonderful company. The conversation at dinner is so fun and varied, I feel like I won a prize just being there.
Throughout the evening I’m adding items to a growing list called “Notes from Seattle”; books, movies, more books, topics to look up, places to check out, appliances, sites to check out online, songs to listen to. As we talk about our favorite shows and films, it comes out that not one person at the table has cable television. We all agree that there’s something about that relates to our love of tiny houses. I couldn’t put it into words at the time, but on reflection I suspect that we take media on our terms instead of through the typical cable TV framework because it allows us to choose only what we want and no more; just as we do by simplifying our lives and living in smaller homes.
(Part II will be posted later this week so check back with us!)