A visit to Black Rock Forest’s Tiny House


JM: “You know, there’s really nothing new about this tiny house thing,” says my mom as she pulls me aside. “I grew up in a tiny house too!”

My mom and I were in Cornwall, NY visiting Black Rock Forest‘s Tiny House built entirely by students at the World School. The project was designed to teach “the science behind energy transfers within ecosystems”, “the chemistry of micro-biomes” and “how to create a livable home using renewable energy.” What my mom was politely trying to point out was that as a child growing up in Trinidad when it was considered a wealthier Third World country, everything was tiny and renewable. By necessity.

“We had rain gutters to catch the water in the barrel and we’d use the water to wash the dishes and we’d use that water for the garden, and you had to put a little oil in the water to so it didn’t grow mosquitoes and you’d use that water for the latrine…” This, indeed, is still how a large part of the world lives. As she reminisced about how her father would hammer out steel barrels, flattening them to make fences (the same barrels used to make steel pan or steel drum; here’s a great ol school video on how it’s done), I realized, is it any wonder I’d want to build a tiny house of steel myself? I also realized that a composting toilet was the last thing that was going to impress my mom. Nevertheless, I was very impressed at what these students had accomplished.

JC: JM and his mom went to visit this student-built tiny house one week ago, on November 3, 2016, which seems like another time and space altogether, let’s call it “Pre-Election” vs. “Post-Election” which is the time we’re in now. So much has happened this past week, but we’re trying to avoid making this blog political, so I won’t…

Personally, in the past week, I had another operation (after a series of fiascos, I ended up with a double mastectomy, which is a long distance run for both mind and body). Somehow, finding my way back to this new, flatter body and what seems like a flatter world – feels like a time when our family needs to pull together and make this Tiny House O’Steel work even more than before. It feels like an Important Project, one we need to complete. Not just for us, but for the environment, to really explore living off the grid, to make our carbon footprint that much smaller, to make less garbage, to waste less, to care more about the planet, to live closer to nature, if possible, and align more with our ideals. With the tiny house, we can hopefully be self-sufficient in a way we haven’t been in a long time living in our upstate NY rental, with two cars parked in the driveway.

Size-wise, we want to go from this:


to this:


We’re not sure where we’ll end up, ultimately. But more than ever, we’re committed to the ride.


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