appropriation

If you disagree with our decision to build and live in a tiny house this page is not meant to convince you to believe otherwise, it is meant to share our approach and thought processes. If you would like to have a verbal dialogue with us to further your understanding and/or to express to us your concerns, please contact us. 

We recognize and are aware that the tiny house movement can be seen as an appropriation of poor culture, classist, and ableist.

We do not intend to hurt anyone’s feelings nor do we intend to disrespect anyone’s livelihood, and we are sorry that our actions caused you to feel disrespected or insulted. However, we will still be going through with this project.

We are taking on this project (..including the reasons below but not limited) to:

  • learn how to build a house (less than 160 sq. ft.)
  • refuse (as much as possible) the consumerist culture we grew up and are growing up in, by choosing to live a lifestyle with a long term reduced impact of purchasing new stuff
  • begin to explore how to live mindfully & reduce (as much as possible) the waste we make
  • build/learn to work with as many recycled and re-purposed materials
  • refocus are lives less on our material objects and more on our natural environment and community

 


Also important notes: there is a wide variety of responses/interpretations to the “tiny house movement” and we are not in favor of all of them.


One of a 2 students who have reached out to talk to us in person about this topic shared with us this article  written by, July Westhale titled, “The Troubling Trendiness of Poverty Appropriation.” (These 2 students do not support our project but have been communicative about their reasoning and we agree to disagree. We are not holding their opinions about this project against them as people. We thank them for reaching out to us in person and appreciate the time they took to disagree in dialogue with us face to face. We are open to others who wish to do the same.)

The above article lead us to some other articles in response:

John Scalzi’s blog features a post titled, “Poverty and the Appropriation Thereof”

Ben Cohen’s posts on the Daily Banter titled, “Poverty Appropriation” Now on List of Behavior Banned by Liberals”

Katherine Martinko’s post on TreeHugger.com titled, “Is Tiny Living a form of poverty appropriation?”

Here are some quotes from them:

Westhale writes:

But I do think it’s time to start having conversations about how alternative means aren’t a choice for those who come from poverty. We must acknowledge what it means to make space for people who actually need free food or things out of dumpsters, who participate in capitalism because they’ve got a kid at home and they are the only provider. Additionally, we need to shed light on the fact that many people who grew up wanting for more space and access to foods that weren’t available to them don’t understand the glossy pamphlets offering a simpler life.

Scalzi writes:

2. I’m likewise largely philosophically untroubled by the appropriation of poverty food/drink/lifestyle by hipsters because in a very general way, that’s what culture is: things invented or serving one group, often disadvantaged or marginalized relative to the dominant cultural group, making their way into larger contexts. Most of the awesome things about American culture came up through marginalized/poor/immigrant groups (and note those categories have a very high overlap). We can (and should!) have a long conversation about what are responsible and irresponsible ways for advantaged people to access and incorporate those awesome things. I’m not seeing it as a net advantage to demand a specific place for everything, and everything only in that place, as it were.

Cohen (a bit emphatically) writes:

In an age where our insatiable consumerism is threatening to destroy the planet and our work culture is busily ripping up the social fabric of society, we should be appropriating the hell out of the “simple life” in as many ways as humanly possible. Westhale is outraged at the Tiny House movement — a relatively new trend of radical downsizing where people leave their oversized houses and move into efficient homes that usually are no more than 500 sq ft. This is unacceptable to her because these people could live in bigger houses if they wanted to, but want to appropriate the lives of poor people because they feel it will make them happier.

Martinko writes:

As people become more aware of the negative environmental impact of the Western consumerist lifestyle, an increasing number (including myself) are turning to old-fashioned ways of doing things (reusing, repurposing, preserving, sewing, knitting, etc.) in order to tread more lightly. That could be interpreted as “poverty appropriation,” but it’s really more of a re-implementation of lost skills that makes more sense than maintaining the status quo and is meant to be respectful.

It’s a complex and uncomfortable conversation to have, and one that will not be resolved in a post like this.

Again, we encourage those of you who are in disagreement and would like to engage in a dialogue with us, to reach out and talk with us.

With love and light,

Lily & Abby

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