“Tiny houses are the shiny object that gets everyone’s attention,” Yestermorrow’s Chrissy Bellmyer told The Valley Reporter this week. She’s right and so was Yestermorrow director Charlotte Potter when she said, “It’s not about downsizing, it’s about rightsizing.”

Tiny houses reel people in for their novelty, their cuteness, their compactness and their design and lead the way for bigger, important societal conversations about how we live. And housing is more than architecture, design and construction, although those things are a critical part of it. Housing is a social justice issue. Housing is a sustainability issue. Housing is an economic issue.

Next weekend’s Tiny House Fest Vermont at Sugarbush offers 60 speakers discussing these issues and more on three stages at Lincoln Peak on Sunday, October 27, along with a tiny house village featuring 20 tiny houses of varying shapes, sizes and functions.

Via panel discussions and Q&A sessions, participants will discuss things like what it would take to build tiny house villages in Vermont and in The Valley. Speakers will discuss zoning and how it needs to adapt to different ways to allow more and different types of housing, including tiny and micro housing.

There will be discussions about sustainability and how the way we live is affecting the planet, the climate and our future. Middle school students who learned their city didn’t allow tiny houses got involved in a public policy debate with community leaders and will talk about what they learned. High school students who visited tiny house villages throughout the country will talk about how other communities are addressing housing insecurity.

We have very serious housing issues here in our community. There’s a dearth of rental units for young workers and young families. There are even fewer homes on the market that could be called “starter homes.” There are no smaller houses for seniors to move into (yet –because one project is in the permitting stage).

Vermont and The Valley can’t attract new residents and young families if there is no place for them to live. Next weekend’s Tiny House Fest should offer plenty of food for thought for all of us to expand how we think about housing.

Pass that shiny object!