A Conversation with Tiny Home Expert Vera Struck
By Scott Dye
Recently, Sanctuary was fortunate to connect with tiny home expert Vera Struck. Ms. Struck, has been featured in the Boston Globe and Parade Magazine, is quite a trailblazer in the industry. In 2012, after winning a battle with cancer, she decided to build her own tiny home at the age of 62. Her tiny home, known as the "Silver Bullet", received many accolades including the Florida Tiny House Award for "Best Do it Yourself (DIY) Tiny House" in 2016. It also became Ms. Struck's portable classroom as she toured the country (over 18,000 miles!) to educate and advocate for tiny homes and sustainable living. She has since written two books and started a non-profit organization in support of the tiny home movement. Ms. Struck was gracious to share her tiny home thoughts and advice. Below is an excerpt from our conversation:
Sanctuary: What was your first experience with tiny homes?
Vera: I have had experience with and been fascinated with tiny homes in one form or another all my life. I've camped in tents in the Superior National Forest throughout my childhood as an avid girl scout, traveled the country in ‘scoolies’ in the 60’s, stayed in teepees and earth ships in the 70’s in the Southwest, stayed overnight on Acoma and Canyon de Chelly and Taos in yurts and teepees in the 80’s, spent summers in Cycladic greek island cliff dwellings in the 90’s, and dwelled in tree houses in Canada as well as living in my Honda Element for two years in the early 2000’s. Throughout 5 decades I have also owned 13 homes and studios in 7 states. In 2012, as a sustainable lifestyle educator, I put my energy into actualizing my own customized sustainable lifestyle. I decided to design and build my own zero-waste, non-toxic, all renewable energy, water-harvesting, permaculture composting tiny house on wheels.
S: What advice would you give to those considering a tiny house?
V: Living in less than 400 square feet is not for everyone. I am almost 69 years of age, and for me, it’s great. To help you explore, I suggest you visit as many tiny houses as you can, whether at festivals or conferences. Go to tiny house meet-up groups where many of us have open houses in our tiny homes for members. Go to a hands-on tiny house workshop to build your skills. I did not have this option 6 years ago, but now you can design and purchase your own shell or fully loaded tiny house. I also advocate that you stay a night or two in several tiny home Airbnb’s in different locations; you’ll find out what you like and do not like very quickly.
S: Can you share what the tiny home community is like - the people, camaraderie, etc?
V: Here’s an excerpt from an article I wrote for Steve at tiny house listings back in 2013:
“Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.” - German poet, painter and novelist, Hermann Hesse
“Home is not where you live but where they understand you.” – German poet, Christian Morgenstern
"The tiny house movement, its enthusiast’s, founders, builders and advocates may just be my “home”. They get me, they champion me, they help me, and they celebrate the sustainable tiny life within me. And more than that, they get, and champion each other. It is an inclusive group, all ages, types, kinds, levels of ability; a sustainable group. They embody the soul of the two quotes above."
S: What are some benefits people may not realize about going "tiny"?
V: Economically: Affordable, off-grid, renewable energy, energy efficient, healthy, mobile housing, easy, less costly in time and money to maintain
Environmentally : Non-toxic, zero-waste, carbon sequestered, low GHG footprint, water harvesting
Socially: mobile engagement w/community and nature, travel, education
Culturally: Sharing of ideas, customs, barter, gift economy, creative enrichment
Spiritually : (what feeds your soul) Freedom of finding your own voice and vocation, freedom to change that, freedom to customize and change lifestyle
__________________________________________________________________________________Sanctuary would like to give a big thank you to Vera for her time and insights! To start your own tiny home journey please contact us at www.sanctuarytinyhomes.com.