a big table for everyone
In the spring of 2016, three friends decided to launch a festival in downtown Brattleboro with human dwellings at the center of the conversation. One friend was in the process of designing and building a tiny house on wheels, another was waist deep in two house renovation projects, and another was just completing an energy retrofit to her home. All were considering the many questions that enter into our community conversations about housing. As we considered the economy, flexibility and proximity of tiny houses, we also saw how the topic opened up creative thinking around housing in general and we began to circle around the topic we call "attainable housing." This promotes a wider more inclusive dialogue about housing, housing equity, right-sized housing, sustainable housing, and the like.
Like many small towns and cities across the country, Brattleboro is looking for creative ways to update their old housing stock and meet the needs of new residents moving to town to take employment with our growing companies. We have young people wanting to move downtown and finding a shortage of apartments. We have tiny house owners wanting to site their homes. We have empty-nesters wanting to downsize. We have our elders who may want to live closers to family while having their own separate residence. And almost daily, we hear someone envision a circle of tiny homes situated around a share community space, describing the perfect balance between autonomy and connection.
Known as a vibrant community full of artists and innovators, Brattleboro is often listed as one of the 10 best places to live. In Southern Vermont and at the SE corner bordering New Hampshire and Massachusetts, Brattleboro is squarely centered in the region’s creative cluster of building technology businesses that make up the Ecovation Hub, such as BuildingGreen. Of our local assets, we have many dedicated legislators and nonprofits who work on behalf of housing for all. Among our local talent we count our youth, who hold the vision of our emergent public spaces and community.
In 2018, Fest leadership formed Brattleboro Office of Cultural Affairs or BoCA and formed a fruitful partnership with Yestermorrow Design/Build School of Waitsfield, Vermont. It was a match made in heaven! If you don’t know about Yestermorrow, you really should and will. For 40 years, Yestermorrow Design/Build School has inspired people to create a better, more sustainable world by providing hands-on education that integrates design and craft as a creative, interactive process for all ages. The Fest has been infused by Yestermorrow education and educators from the start and now you can be inspired, too!
The VISION of the fest is that the energy and values of existing, area enterprise be harnessed to generate attainable tiny housing options, and community spaces that support a prosperous region of empowered, connected inhabitants. The MISSION is to bring creativity, resilience and equity to the conversation about housing and public spaces, and to feature people, organizations and businesses that are helping our communities reimagine human spaces.
Photography on this site by Jeff Woodward, Core Photography, Willow O’Feral, Brad Heck and a few ordinary folk