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The Though Kitchen - Dedicated to Stirring the Pot

People We Love: Dee Williams

Posted by admin | December 13th, 2006 | Filed under Positive Change, Sustainability, Who We Are


Our friend Dee is rad. I mean, she lives in a house the size of a tool shed, knows how to use every tool in a shed, is funny as hell and walks her talk like few people we know. For example, she’s already reduced her “footprintâ€? by way of how she lives, something we spend a little time with here, but now she’s gone and added an electric car to the mix just to keep things fun. Sure, she still has the (bio)diesel truck, but now errands and short trips are no-impact when it comes to fuel. Call it downsizing, smart sizing, going green. Whatever. I call it rad.

41 Responses to “People We Love: Dee Williams”

  • December 13, 2006 at 10:08 pm | skye says

    she is rad for sure. we have a cutout of an article she is in on our fridge.
    inspiring and quite a pretty lady to boot.

  • December 14, 2006 at 2:39 pm | bregenerative says

    Dee has my sincere respect and appreciation for walking the talk!

    …Just please don’t perpetuate the myth that electric vehicles are “NO IMPACT”.
    Very low impact is possible with electric, but fuel-related impact is dependent on how that electricity is generated. Coal? Nuclear? Hydro w/o salmon runs? Micro-Hydro? Solar/Wind/Wave?

    …Vehicle manufacturing and materials also factor in.

    With each step forward, we need to raise awareness – and the bar.

    Warm regards,

  • December 14, 2006 at 3:08 pm | Otis says

    Thanks for the note beregenerative. You’re right about my impact comment. After I posted I realized I wasn’t taking into account the manufacturing elements, which are not trivial. And you raise as good point regarding the source of the electricity itself.

    It’s true that we need to keep raising the bar for both awareness and decisions. Thanks for adding to the conversation.



  • December 17, 2006 at 10:00 am | owen says

    What make of electric car is that? It looks like a modern take on the old 3 wheeler Robins you used to see booting around London.

  • December 17, 2006 at 3:55 pm | terry says

    Does anybaody know how i might contact Dee Williams, I would like to find out more from her as I would love to do the same thing she is doing???…

  • December 17, 2006 at 4:42 pm | James Worley says

    I also would love to get in contac with Dee Williams. I bet she has some great thoughts and topics of conversation.

  • December 17, 2006 at 5:19 pm | xhidarta says

    Dee Williams sure is a “Rara Avis”, cute, funny, articulate and spiritual.
    However, such a super minimalist foot print doesn’t seem to allow for a bathroom, as it’s apparent from the short movie, thus, not very realistic.

    Having said that, I think that the value of her maverick approach to life lies in the “why not?” contrast against the backdrop of the cookie-cutter subdivision.

    Our way of life anyway, will be up for review soon, as J.H.K said, when the cheap oil fiesta is over, and whether we like it or not, we’ll all have to follow on Dee’s downsizing path one way or another.

    My compliments to NAU as well, for trying an alternative path of profits and philantropy. Socialism failed, Vulture Capitalism is killing the earth, time to try something else.

  • December 17, 2006 at 5:28 pm | Karissa Martin says

    Yeah. I want to know who built that house and how much it cost. I would actually LOVE to own a house like that.

  • December 17, 2006 at 5:45 pm | Hanna says

    Yes, great house who built it and do they have plans available?

  • December 17, 2006 at 5:51 pm | Christine says

    Dee is awesome! I watched the video you did about her. It’s so refreshing to see her views on home ownership and people’s expectations of what you should and shouldn’t do/have by a certain age.

  • December 17, 2006 at 5:52 pm | Jon says

    A goodlace to start looking at small houses is the small house society. http://www.resourcesforlife.com/groups/smallhousesociety/resources.htm

  • December 18, 2006 at 11:49 am | dee williams says

    Otis! Hey, thanks for the love… and (of course) right back at ya. I wanted to offer some scoop on my electric truck. It’s a Zap Xebra. I call her ‘tinnie’ because, well, she’s kind of like a tin can (shhhh, she’s a little sensitive about that). I bought her from Electric Wheels in Salem, OR.

    I love driving Tinnie, but would agree with most folks that walking and biking have far less impact (on my community) than riding or driving in ANYTHING!

    And I hardly ever drive Joe (my big fat truck), except to move my little house a few times each year and to collect large things for wood-working projects. Joe runs on B99 biodiesel, but even so… he smokes too much. I agree, its best to avoid him as much as possible!

    So… as we’re standing here in the kitchen, how would you define your sense of environmentalism and social awareness? I might point to Tinnie and my little house, but those things feel a bit silly (like I’m putting a band-aid on a nose bleed). The real challenge at this time (and the thing that requires all of us to muster our greatest courage) is to keep trying! To stand up, get up. To discover our ‘truth’ and bring it to life… how ever that looks. What do you think?

  • December 19, 2006 at 8:59 am | rr says

    ok . . . where is this ‘small house’ that everyone is talking about? i would love to see pictures – but the link just points back to this page.

    thank you much.


  • December 19, 2006 at 9:08 am | rr says

    ah. ignore more. i finally backtracked and was able to find the video.


    this makes me happy.

  • December 19, 2006 at 11:32 pm | dee williams says

    Hey… here’s some stuff on the little house (FYI)…

    My little house was inspired by (well… it was inspired by a lot of things and people) but it was designed after reading an article about Jay Shafer’s tumbleweed houses.

    Jay’s website has a bunch of good information, including design drawings and links to other small houses. You can find him at tumbleweedhouses.com. My little house is inspired by Jay’s houses, but i ultimately designed and engineered the house myself. I then built it with the help of many profoundly patient friends. It took about four months to finish and cost about $10,000 (including the solar electric system).

    I’ve lived in the same yard for about two years. I’ve moved my house a few times for ‘events’ like Portland’s Build it Green Home Tour. But really… i’m a home-body. I love the space my friends have generously offered.

    You can read a bit more about my house at NPR’s Seattle website at http://kplu.org/aroundthehouse/categories/Small-Home-Living/Photo-Gallery/ if you’re interested.

    Hope this helps! GO SMALL!!!

  • December 29, 2006 at 2:26 am | Kit says

    Dee, your house is super! The video is one of the most compelling things i’ve seen in a while. I’ve been working on designing a tiny house for myself for a while now, and the thing that really shocks me is that it’s hard to find information on the details of the buildings. Either the designs are great but entirely proprietary (like tumbleweed) or they were an art project for a university student with no details about application. My goal is to not only design and build a house for myself, but to release the design under either a GPL-style or Creative Commons license so others can tinker with it and come up with super ideas to make it better. I’m also frustrated by the lack of detail pictures of the tiny houses out there, in all the ones I’ve found so far you can see the sleeping loft and front porch, but no important details like a straight-on shot of the kitchen or bathroom (if the house has them) and details like that.

    Other stumbling blocks I’ve come up against so far:

    -The difficulty of obtaining the ANSI A119.5 spec for park trailers (what most tiny houses are classified as)
    -Details about how to make a hassle-free, earth friendly bathroom on a small scale
    -How to make a small solar system that fits seamlessly into a bitty house
    -the utter lack of sharable plans available to the public
    -Information on designing an easily towable structure

    When I get the chance to build my dream house, I want to fully document all of the resources I’ve found, the design process, finding materials, and the building process and make the information available. The best case scenario is that others who’ve gone through the same trials will add pieces so that there’s a centralized library of different tiny house details and enough information at hand that if somebody wanted to, they could skip the design guesswork altogether.

    Hmmm, no time like the present. I’m going to sign up for a blog and start posting what I’ve found so far and scan some of my paper-napkin drawings.

  • January 4, 2007 at 5:20 pm | Ron says

    Hi Dee. I am going to build a towable tiny house this coming year when weather warms up. I, too, live in the pacific northwest.

    I saw the video showcasing your home on Yahoo a couple weeks ago and must say that I like your design as well as any I have seen.

    My question to you dear is: Do you have a plan set available for purchase?

    I await your response and would be interested in conversing with you. Regards Ron

  • January 6, 2007 at 10:26 pm | susan gibson says

    I bought and live in a smallbuilt – 600 sq. ft. with a loft. I
    couldn’t build my home today because my rural Canadian
    municipality requires a minimum of 1000 sq. ft. for newbuilts.

    While bigger means more taxes, there is no incentive for
    politicians to encourage smallbuilts – even though fewer
    occupants in smaller homes means less use of communal
    resources such as hydro.

    Anyone know of any jurisdiction which has created an
    incentive program for smallbuilts?


  • January 9, 2007 at 10:42 am | dee williams says

    Thanks to folks who’ve commented on the little house. Very kind.

    I’m happy to forward my napkin drawings and engineering designs to anyone who wants them. I presented some of this stuff at an AIA-Seattle meeting a few years ago… it was posted in a soft-shell book called “What Makes It Green? Sustainability: A Collaborative Process”. I think you can find that book through the AIA. Also, Tumbleweed has plans for sale. These are useful; they’re not construction drawings, though. But if you know how to build, they’ll get you there.

    I also looked for ANSI spec’s. I couldn’t find them, so I used engineering design specs for common stick construction, following the most stringent stress/sheer layout. So, essentially, the house was designed to withstand a major earth quake and hurricane hitting simultaneously. A woman from a trailer insurance underwriter group took a look at my house. She said it was constructed way beyond anything she had seen for a common mobile unit. That helped me feel better dragging the house down I-5.

    Please drop me a line at 1222 W. 8th Street, Olympia WA 98504 (that’s my business address) if you’d like to talk little house stuff. Hope this is helpful. And again… thanks for thinking of small things!! Dee

  • February 5, 2007 at 2:38 pm | Ron says

    I sent a note to Dee including a self addressed stamped envelope at the address listed above only to have it returned to me undeliverable. Has anyone else sent a note to her at the above address? May I ask a question to Dee? If you really didnt want any correspondence, why would you post an address? It would be much more polite to just post nothing. Ron

  • February 6, 2007 at 7:06 pm | dee says

    Ron… hey, i’m sorry about your letter. That sounds frustrating. I don’t know why your letter was returned. Please try this address: 1617 Conger Ave. NW Olympia 98502, if you want. Please accept my sincere appolgies and thank you for taking time to let me know your letter bounced back… i never would have known about the address problem. UGH!!! Thanks again. Dee

  • February 22, 2007 at 6:21 pm | Timothy T. O'Brien says

    Hello. your friend Dee, is plain cool. I would be very happy to live in a home like Dee’s. Loved that video, so inspiring. I desire to build one myself. I would be interested in purchasing some plans of Dee’s house and to know what the specifications concerning the type of trailer my little nest would be sitting on. Once I have it built, I would move from the Chicago area to Alaska.

    Dee, if you get a chance to read this can I drop you a letter to the address you posted on 02/06/07?

    Thank You!

  • February 22, 2007 at 8:35 pm | ron says

    Thank you so much for the info Dee. You are the greatest! Regards Ron

  • February 24, 2007 at 11:04 am | dee says

    Tim… please feel free to drop me a note. I’m happy to offer what i sort of know. Tumbleweed has tiny house info… good stuff!

    RON!! Glad you got the info. Please keep me posted on how it goes.


  • April 11, 2007 at 3:55 pm | mdutcher says

    Can you send me a separate message with your e-mail address? the one I got from you on your last visit appears to be malfunctioning.

    It was nice to see you again and know that you are in a “here and now” space.
    Cheers, marcia

  • July 20, 2007 at 6:24 am | Chris says

    Just wanted to say that I think you are quite brave for going out and doing this. It’s much easier to push things off until another day. What you’re doing is an inspiration.


  • July 20, 2007 at 9:56 am | monique bessette says

    I just heard about Dee Williams and am still totally in awe. I immediately started thinking about how quickly I could start selling most of my “stuff” and go live in the woods, more simply, closer to nature.

    In the meantime, I am a teacher and would love to have my students as well as some foreign students coming here in February see her house and have a chat with her.

    How could I get in touch with her to explore this possibility? Address or email address?


  • July 20, 2007 at 11:30 am | monique says

    I hadn’t read all the previous entries and now have Dee’s address! No need to repeat it.

  • July 21, 2007 at 9:07 am | dee williams says

    Hey, hope all is well! It’s raining again in Olympia… and its absolutally beautiful. Warm. nice.

    Just wanted to offer that if you’d like to get a hold of me, please e-mail me at dee.boxcar@yahoo.com I’m happy to talk little houses. There’s a lot of great stuff posted at Tumbleweed Tiny House company’s website, too. That’s also mentioned in the blog.

    Lemme know if i can offer any thing more to the mix.

    Thank you for the kind words everyone… hope today offers you much. Dee

  • July 21, 2007 at 2:01 pm | Nancy Q says

    Shoutin’ out to Dee!

  • July 21, 2007 at 2:05 pm | Nancy Q says

    Shoutin’ out to Dee!
    Thank you for making choices that are thought provoking and inspiring to others. Blessings to you!

  • July 22, 2007 at 7:52 am | Judy Hunter says

    I would love to build a small house like this. Are there plans available?

  • July 22, 2007 at 11:40 am | Steve Watton says

    Hi Dee

    I just sent you an email – I hope you get it
    This is sooo great, I’m very excited about this.
    Please send me a copy of your drawings too!
    After losing my ‘big’ house to the bank this year,
    I know this is the answer I’ve been looking for.
    From all of us out here XOXOXO


  • July 22, 2007 at 4:10 pm | Steve Watton says

    Hi Kit,

    How have you been coming along with your venture?
    Did you start that blog? Designs?
    Let me know -K? :)


  • July 28, 2007 at 10:39 am | MuleMarm says

    Hip-Hip-Hooray for Dee, and for all of you interested in Dee’s lifestyle… Your comments are wonderful, and many are insightful.

    I’ve been looking for a group like you! (Thanks to NAU: The Thought Kitchen!)

    In 1974, was driving down 35E in Dallas, Texas, looking up at the Gold, Silver, and Bronze glass towers that are office buildings with no windows to open, the Truth occurred to me: “Yeah, and whatcha gonna do when there is no power?”

    Dee Williams has found the answer… (Dee, I have a shower on my covered wagon, pulled by mules! And will share my “how to have water secret!”)

    I’ve been squirreling away primitive, and frugal means of survival on the family farm ever since… and collecting “Do-it-yourself” How-to. (I publish and bind my own books.)

    I’m gathering materials for a new book, (see http://www.BunkhouseBooks.com) and if any are interested in contributing, send an email to Bunkhouse@wtconnect.com with Dee’s House in the Subject line (or it will automatically delete.)

    Sorry, I don’t make enough to pay for my printing, so I can’t pay you, but will give you — and NAU: The Thought Kitchen — full credit…

    Keep it Simple! MuleMarm

  • December 9, 2007 at 7:15 am | Kevin Rose says

    I have been building a home similar to Dee’s and have documented the entire construction process in my blog at http://www.paddleways.com/blog/gypsyrose (to view it from the beginning, click on the archive links on the right, beginning with November, 2006)

    I set up the blog as a way to keep friends and family up to date on a project that evolved out of my need for a solution to minimal impact winter housing (I live on a boat from April until November), but it seems that there may be a broader interest among those interested in reducing their own footprints. To that end, I hope my experience with the project can be of help.

  • January 14, 2008 at 12:52 pm | dee williams says

    Hey, please take a look at Kevin Rose’ blog site for more information about building! http://www.paddleways.com/blog/gypsyrose
    Great words and insight for tiny builders everywhere.

  • January 25, 2008 at 1:43 pm | Ken says

    Dee, I am considering building a small home. Do you have any resources that you could email me?

  • February 16, 2008 at 10:31 am | Jay Creighton says

    If you want a tiny home like Dee’s built, or another Tumbleweed house, or even one of my own designs, read on. My name is Jay Creighton, and I live in Connecticut, not far from New Haven. I would be pleased to build you one of these homes, as I am starting a business to do just that. In order to build such a home, you would need to select a design from the Tumbleweed web site, then contact me. I’ll purchase the plans, buy the materials, and build the home for you. If you want customizations to the plans, you can pay Tumbleweed to do that for you (in which case you would have to purchase the revised plans yourself, and send them to me), or you could pay me to make revisions, at the same rate Tumbleweed charges. I can be contacted by email at jaycreighton@hotmail.com. Since this is a new business, there are two important things to consider in having me build your home. First, I don’t have extra cash floating around, so you would need to give me a deposit of 50% of the home’s retail value in order to get started. This money would tell me in no uncertain terms that you actually intend to buy the house I build for you. I would use this money to buy the plans and the materials. When the house is 50% complete, I would need another 25% of the retail price to keep me afloat while I complete your home. The final 25% of the purchase price would be paid to me when your home is complete and you come to pick it up. The second important factor to consider is when you expect the home to be completed. I have a full-time job now that I need to keep until my new business has proven that it can supply me with a steady and adequate income. As a result, I can’t devote myself full-time to building your home. I will work on it evenings and weekends until it is finished. The best case scenario I can imagine is that I will need at least three months to build your home. I will keep you informed of my progress frequently along the way so that you know how things are progressing. If you have any questions, or you’d like to get things rolling, contact me at the email address above. I don’t have a website yet, but I hope to have one soon. I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks, ~Jay

  • July 1, 2008 at 10:03 am | Brooks Palmer says

    I love the article about Dee. It inspires me to be more creative in finding better ways to live. I’ve realized over the years that I don’t need much to enjoy life. I make a living helping people let go of their clutter. It’s amazing to see people feel happier as they let go of things that no longer serve them just like Dee is doing so fabulously.

    I have a pretty cool blog that I’ve started about this:



    Do you know how I can be included in the like minds section of this blog? Thanks.

  • July 5, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Rhia says

    Wow! Snobbery amongst the minimalists? lol I say everything we can do to preserve what’s left of our resources should be cheered, not scorned for falling short in some way (opinion).

    That said, I love everything about this tiny house idea and wish I’d heard about it 30 years ago. I am 52 and live alone with my service dog. My dream is a modified Fencl (Tumbleweed). I am interested in building as much as possible out of salvaged materials. People throw away materials every day.

    I am planning to sell everything I don’t HAVE to HAVE except for a very few personal mementos that I can’t bear to throw away. I will choose reference books very carefully and may eventually donate them to the library and just borrow them back on occasion. heheh

    I LOVE the idea of including solar panels right from the start. I admit, I have ZERO building experience so I’m going to need lots of pointers from friends, but I know how to use power tools and I know how to work long hours. I can do it! :-)

    I would love to hear from like-minded folks who want/have to pinch every penny like I will, without damaging the integrity of the structure. (Has to be strong enough to be towed down the road to one new home after the other before it becomes a guest house. :-)

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