Summer of (Family) Love

2014 ,    »  -   53 Comments
Ratings: 7.98/10 from 62 users.

Kirsten Dirksen (the author of "We The Tiny House People") has never traveled with her home in tow, but last summer she had stories to film along the West Coast and she wanted to experiment just how much shelter was necessary for a family of five.

So they bought a used camper van and moved in. Using the road as a way to lighten your load has become a cliché in America, but there is another type of mobile home owner growing in numbers in the US. These are people using the freedom of a home on wheels without the cost of travel to find some sort of peace.

A lot of people don't ever want to own a home or they don't think will ever be able to own a home, so the American dream that has been constructed around the home ownership and being able to work really hard and get everything you want doesn't really make sense when what we've been thought to want is so commercially, consumer based. The ideas of "pursuit of happiness" versus "pursuit of property" got conflated at some point, but lots of people are starting to recognize that the two do not necessarily equate with one another.

The van was becoming to feel like a well-known cocoon. Kirsten filmed a lot of tiny spaces but she never realized that living in a home with just the essentials forces you to confront the basics of life. Many people hit the road as a way to escape but she wanted to do just the opposite. She needed to confront the life.

With no arrangements in advance and only questioning to guide them, they've visited the cabins of ordinary people in their tiny but extraordinary world. With each pause they've gathered some new chunks of insight about life's necessities. Between interviews they've slept on a small side roads, downtown streets and even parking lots.

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53 Comments / User Reviews

    ~Oliver B Koslik Esq
  1. ~Oliver B Koslik Esq

    I"m super interested in small (500-600sq') container homes...
    The "drag n' drop concept is just as compelling as the price.

    I dream of "a fish bowl in the forest" type home.

  2. oQ
  3. oQ

    Or a geodesic mushroom home, kind of an upside down fish bowl.
    I stayed in one for a while, it had a woodstove in the stem part, very comfy and interesting top room.

  4. Maddestmax
  5. Maddestmax

    I love my Mazda Bongo (google for image). And traveled all over Europe in relative comfort with my partner and kids every summer. Better than any "conventional" holiday because there are so many places of epic beauty to discover and experience. Go for it.

  6. John Marus
  7. John Marus

    too bad this was presented with those irritating kids; can you imagine being trapped in a container with this family for a few hours? A joke people, lighten up.

    I guess what I'm trying to remind folks is making a smaller foot print includes having fewer children (a subject which is taboo to talk about.)

  8. Barbara Maxam Percival
  9. Barbara Maxam Percival

    I enjoyed this docu very much...We are Oregon State Park Camp Hosts and live in the wilderness year long, traveling to different camps every month or so. We love living in our 31' trailer...I can identify with many of these people who live in tiny spaces..and yes, getting rid of all your "stuff" that holds you hostage during your life is very cleansing. We don't need Grandma's tea cups to remember Grandma! But, it takes making some very heartbreaking decisions. And, the children are delightful and just being children! Love your trips!

  10. susan g
  11. susan g

    Ugh. Please and the point is? If you HAVE to you can pile 3 very young children into a cheap junky, unsafe, cramped van and drive down the coast? BTW the poor kids looked dirty and unkempt. No doubt showers were few and far between.

    Sorry. It's cliched in my opinion. Get rid of your "stuff" and live a deeper more meaningful life? A smaller home is one thing, Five people jammed into a tiny box is ridiculous in the extreme.

    Give me my ultra comfy mattress with high count sheets any day. What this family did proved nothing to me.

  12. a_no_n
  13. a_no_n

    Biologically it's quite dangerous too...if one of them gets sick they're going to all get sick, and if you're not used to living like that you're just one mistake away from something like cholera. I'd also be concerned as to the education that these kids are going to get.

  14. a_no_n
  15. a_no_n

    "Stuff" doesn't include a computer and internet connection i see

  16. Barbara Maxam Percival
  17. Barbara Maxam Percival

    It was their summer vacation.

  18. susan g
  19. susan g

    You are right of course. I just cringed at the scene of the little infant, barely crawling, sitting in the dirt by the side of the road. The kid was grabbing at weeds and whatnot. Ugh!

    The kids never appeared to have seat belts on either. The father was wearing one however. But how unsafe is it to have your kids bouncing around in the back seat of a van? Why do these parents think that's okay?

    They just looked like dirty hippies to me. No enlightenment going on here, move along. I feel sorry for those kids. The mom looked like she'll be sh_ting puppies till her eggs dry up.

  20. oQ
  21. oQ

    Getting rid of stuff does not mean to get rid of everything. You can own a house and not get attach to so much stuff.
    Getting rid of stuff may mean, saving money while you work instead of buying all the crap most people buy and consequently being able to travel months at a time.
    Not for everyone, nevertheless very interesting people do it.

  22. Danne George
  23. Danne George

    Wow, some very bitter people here. I enjoyed the film. The children looked content and happy and were learning things that they could never learn in my classroom. This was however a summer of adventure, fun and love. So they were a bit dirty, I truly doubt they are going to get cholera. Geez people lighten up! You are more likely to become ill going into a mall to waste your money or better to put things you don't need on credit you cannot afford. Good for you two taking your children on this great trip and for teaching them both parents language.

  24. dewfall
  25. dewfall

    The kids looked fine and rosy, nothing that a bowl of warm water and a flannel wouldn't sort out. This isn't something they had to do, they chose to try it, a follow on from a previous film about tiny living. They haven't given up all their stuff, they decided to take a break from it, from the distractions of modern life. Rather lovely to see how much they could do without and still be happy. A wonderful adventure.

  26. dewfall
  27. dewfall

    Starting to think you watched this just so you could trash the people in it. Nice.

  28. dewfall
  29. dewfall

    Can't say I'm the best when it comes to travelling lightly through life, we all have small treasures we'd rather keep than not. My flat probably isn't much bigger than your trailer and five of us live here comfortably. We have to muck out regularly though, pretty sure clutter breeds in cupboards when the doors are closed, or else slips in from some other dimension! Some things are kept at the expense of others but honestly, I can't even remember what I've throw away so I can't miss any of it and i've no doubt that what seems precious now will end up in next years charity box :) The kids were lovely, its adventures like this that become wonderful memories.

  30. dewfall
  31. dewfall

    I have a friend that lived in a dome on top of a very old house, beautiful stained glass walls and a clear roof. Cold as ice through winter and hotter than hell through summer but the views of the night sky were worth it :)

  32. susan g
  33. susan g

    And I'm starting to think you are stalking me!LOL, just to make snarky comments.

    Did you not see those children riding in the back seat without being belted in? Did you not see the baby sitting in the dirt grabbing weeds and of course you know where they go with an infant that age. Everything into the mouth!

    Yes the kids looked dirty. Yeah, it could have been fixed with a rag and warm water, but it wasn't. Those kids looked dirty in every scene. The worst thing was the safety issue. If they got into an accident those kids would have been ejected from that rickety old van in a second and probably killed.

  34. dewfall
  35. dewfall

    I'll admit that last comment was a tad snarky, I felt that way when I made it.

  36. dewfall
  37. dewfall

    Nicely put :)

  38. terrasodium
  39. terrasodium

    Where would one find unhealthy dirt that children should be prohibited from getting into? I might start with the back of a matress factory or a polyfiber manufacturing textile mill to make comfy sheets, but we need people who would look down upon others whom might challenge the status qou, and potential prohibite their procreating and right to live as they might like to do so.

  40. a_no_n
  41. a_no_n

    a fair point, but they aren't talking about going on holiday, they're talking about actually living like this

  42. a_no_n
  43. a_no_n

    fair enough, It just strikes me as odd that you would get rid of everything except the one thing that ties you closest to the material world you're trying to avoid.

  44. a_no_n
  45. a_no_n

    Actually Cholera is shockingly easy to contract, it's just a case of getting fecal matter in drinking water, something that is quite easy to do when you're sh1tting into buckets...there's a reason it's killed more men in war than bullets have.

    Sorry if i'm holding the documentary makers to their initial claim that they are researching actually LIVING in those conditions...apparently i'm the only one who noticed that the introduction says that.

    This isn't being presented as a happy summer holiday jaunt, this video is supposed to be exploring the option of living in this way...

  46. a_no_n
  47. a_no_n

    I'm sorry but that isn't the case...I suggest you read the description for this documentary, where it quite specifically says that they are looking to see how little space a family can live with...not go on holiday with, actually live with.

  48. dewfall
  49. dewfall

    Yes, looking to see. "wanted to experiment just exactly how much shelter was necessary for a family of five" Their experiment took the form of a holiday :)

  50. a_no_n
  51. a_no_n

    yes but it wasn't experimenting for a holiday, it was supposedly experimenting for an actual lifestyle choice...I don't know how many other ways i can explain it.

  52. a_no_n
  53. a_no_n

    Or perhaps the side of a road? like the roads they are driving know, the roads that they famously need chain gangs of people on community service to pick all the litter and garbage out of/

  54. dewfall
  55. dewfall

    Well either way it was an experiment, don't recall them saying at any point that they were going to do it forever or even long term. Anyway, so what if they did? Plenty of people do it. I have traveller friends that live this way with their kids and they do just fine. A very dear friend of mine lives in a canal boat, would you think that more suitable? I really don't see much difference between the two. It might not be you're idea of fun, or an appropriate way to raise children, or even to be a proper way of life and that's fine too, whatever tickles your widget ;)

  56. oQ
  57. oQ

    When my oldest daughter was 8 months old, her dad and I took off for 4months in an old transformed (4 windows) short yellow school bus from Nelson to Phoenix and then back up the West coast. On the way down we stopped at all the hot springs we could find, we parked in people's driveway when invited ( many many times) and rarely spent the night in campgrounds. We showered at pool centers, we rarely ate in restaurants, It was a fantastic experience, Having a beautiful and happy child with us allowed us to meet so many people, kids are like magnet. When I think of the experience, there is nothing that was difficult about it other than not being able to find a spare tire when the one we had was used as a main. We made it all the way back on those four good tires.

  58. oQ
  59. oQ

    It doesn't strike me as anything odd, why would you choose to get rid of the one thing that will keep you in contact with your loved ones at home?????? Plus if you intend to make a documentary????? You are the ones (you and Susan) coming across as odd to me.

  60. a_no_n
  61. a_no_n

    In this case, surely the whole point is that the road is home?

    Meh, it just seems to me like middle class hipsters who want to have their cake and eat it doing something dumb and trying to come across as deep.

    At the end of the day travelling families do exist, and they can live well, but they do it because there is a deep seeded culture surrounding them that allows them to live in such a way. They don't just decide to pack the kids up and hit the road one day.
    I think making a documentary was the ONLY thing on these people's minds...Since even ardent fans like you seem to have completly missed the point of what they set out to do.

  62. a_no_n
  63. a_no_n

    hm...i suggest you read the blurb at the toip of the can see it for yourself...I personally would love beyond reason to live on a houseboat...especially in Haarlem or Amsterdam somewhere near a nice cafe...that is quite literally my idea of heaven on earth...But i can't really be compared to the family in the doc because i don't have kids, and if i did have designs on living in such a manner i wouldn't have more than one...i also think there's a world of difference between mooring up on a canal, and trawling car parks looking for a space to sleep...apples and oranges really.

  64. oQ
  65. oQ

    Right "it just seems to you" because look at the majority of the comments on this thread and most think it's actually pretty cool.
    Yes they do pack the kids up and hit the road one the thousands. I've seen hundreds on my many trips.

  66. oQ
  67. oQ

    No difference, the only difference would be the people doing it and the way they are doing it.
    Like they say: same same but different.

  68. a_no_n
  69. a_no_n

    argument from popularity...Burning witches, stoning gay people and all other sorts of bad stuff have been loved by the majority too, hence why that is rarely a good argument.

    Trips are great...hooray for trips...But Again, for the millionth time, that is not the point these people set out to make!

  70. dewfall
  71. dewfall

    I have read and I have watched, think you might not be understanding that this was an experiment. What they do after the experiment is neither here nor there but since it matters to you, you might like to visit their website and see what else they get up to. Some of it is a little too hippy even for my taste, been there, done that, sold the tee shirt :) But, it's their life and they like it - no harm done. I'm struggling to pinpoint what it is that you don't like about these folk, perhaps a little peeved that they found a way to make a living doing something they love? I can sort of see what you mean, could come over that they preach one thing and live another... Maybe so, but it might be worth ignoring that for the sake of the message? If it can be shown that there are alternative, practical ways to live within your means and do the Green thing too, to show people that they have options that don't include substandard rented accommodation because that's all they can afford, isn't that a good thing? I don't know how it is in the US but here we have a huge housing shortage, thousands of families living in bed and breakfast with no control over their environment other than which burger bar they feed their kids at. I've been to those places, think I'd rather live in a shed, at least I'd be able to choose my neighbours. Live and let live would be nice but I guess terrasodium might be right, we all like to stick our oar in now and then. I hope you manage to try out your dream of boat life some day, very cozy.
    Rant over, Hope it wasn't too yappy ;)

  72. terrasodium
  73. terrasodium

    I would say that the path of lest resistance ( occams razor) helps to delete any meaningful or usefull discourse that might help a family to discover a differing worldview.

  74. a_no_n
  75. a_no_n

    I do realise that i'm being perhaps a little bit full on in reguards to this issue, i'm certainly not as emotionally invested in the argument as it would appear. i guess in if i'm being honest i'm enjoying playing devils advocate more than anything else.

  76. Guest
  77. Guest

    All those big words would probably seem better placed and a little less silly if you could spell the small ones surrounding them properly.

  78. terrasodium
  79. terrasodium

    thank you grammar nazi, if i need any advise on websters experiment in minding your form or vise versa i'll be sure and rattle your cage if your not busy in the wheel.

  80. Mama Leese
  81. Mama Leese

    My thoughts? I loved the film. I would enjoy traveling in a bus, seeing sights and meeting people. It seems that they took this trip for the sole purpose of making a documentary. I doubt they'll live like this forever. And playing in the dirt by the side of the road? Have you never taken children camping? They will be dirty the entire time you are in the woods. Thats what wet wipes are for. They seemed very happy.
    The tiny house movement isn't for everyone. If you dont like the film, dont watch it, but it seems childish to keep coming back and arguing over whose opinion is right. Let it go people.
    To the film maker: Ive enjoyed both of your films, please make more! And please buckle the kids in, on your next adventure. :-)

  82. Francis
  83. Francis

    Despite not all of us feel the same call of nature, like it or not, nature and environment are crucial in all our lives and their approach must be stimulated, which is exactly what this doc really does. Socially speaking, very good work and thanks for the excellent 2 hours you gave me.

  84. Karenwasherefirst
  85. Karenwasherefirst

    Cheap camping vacation, is an unrealistic way of living unless you are retired or single. First of all winter comes, secondly money runs out, thirdly as these people realized land is owned and you can not squat any where you feel like it, fourth children by law are required to attend school, fifth as they mentioned people are required to have a residence for tax purposes. moreover, the reason people detest gypsies and squatters is they do not contribute to society and the economy which is why they do it, while the rest of us mature responsible people go to work and make an honest living.

  86. jarredon1
  87. jarredon1

    See that is the problem, people believe the only reason we exist is to contribute economically to society.

  88. jarredon1
  89. jarredon1

    It was a wonderful documentary, We have been taught from a very young age that material possessions will give us the happiness we seek in this life. We often fail to see that what makes us happy has been with us the whole time. Family, Friends, Experiences, Adventures.

  90. NomadicMinds
  91. NomadicMinds

    There are ways of going about living this lifestyle that are responsible. It's not unrealistic at all. My boyfriend and I are in our mid 20s, we decided to give up the "sticks and bricks" home for something mobile. We don't want to be tied down to one town living the "American Dream"... I want to live MY dream, and that is to travel. The "settle down, have children, work 9-5, spend 30+ years paying for a house, living a routine life" just isn't for us. We have been living in an '88 model, 21 ft pull behind camper with 2 dogs for almost a year now. Luckily we're fortunate enough that we could park on my grandparents property for awhile where a trailer used to sit. We just ran an extension power line to a breaker box, there was already water hook up and a septic tank so we were set! We worked jobs in our home town to save money while living rent free. Now we travel and live 6 months to a year at campgrounds and RV parks while workamping. If you don't know what that is, it's where the campground offers you free stay (and some places offer compensation) for your help around the grounds whether it be maintenance, office help, janitorial or whatever. And just to make note of some of your points... you don't have to be retired or single as I already stated about the workamping gigs.. most places actually prefer couples. And why wait until your retired to start LIVING?! I'm not sure what you mean about winter comes, a traveling lifestyle is not just a summer thing. Money don't have to run out if you play your cards right and plan ahead. There are so many families who are full time RVers.... they just homeschool. When filing taxes you have the option to state that you are a part time resident.. and that just means you may live a different places throughout the year. The system is corrupt and has brainwashed people into believing in order to be successful, responsible, and an honest worker we must participate and live by "a normal society's rules and standards". The number one goal in life should be happiness! For me going to college and earning a degree to have a career making lots of money so I can buy a big house and have lots of kids and be soccer mom, meanwhile HAVING to work to make lots of money to pay off debt from college, house, and kids.... this isn't my idea of happiness. I want to be debt free, living mobile and traveling, exploring the world.... that's my idea of happiness!

  92. ROMO
  93. ROMO

    Its not "peoples" fault they live they way they do, they are brainwashed by television and advertisements from a young age

  94. Josh Fisher
  95. Josh Fisher

    The fecal matter needs to be from an infected person for cholera to be spread in water, it doesn't just materialise out of thin air.

    I have lived this way for some time and have a very good friend who have lived this way for the past 11 years. Illness has never been an issue for either of us. In fact I got more sick living in a poorly ventilated modern house!

    Loved the film, I am glad that you are taking the time to expose your children to a simpler less materialistic way of life. All the best and hope to see more films!

  96. a_no_n
  97. a_no_n

    i see so if you haven't got Cholera you can sh1t in the drinking water all you want and you'll be fine forever?

  98. Jane Tow
  99. Jane Tow

    Stay classy a_no_n!!

  100. a_no_n
  101. a_no_n

    Class is overrated. :)

  102. guest
  103. guest

    the kids had lap belts

  104. darcy aits
  105. darcy aits

    im a professional nurse and your opinon is yours. Glad im not you!

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