Automakers and marketers trying to reach environmentally conscious consumers who desire the simple life basically have two strategies: promote electric vehicles that can be charged through green energy or sell a 30-year-old Volkswagen van on Craigslist.

Nicolas Boullosa and Kirsten Dirksen opted for Plan B and turned a 1981 Volkswagen Westfalia camper into a "micro-living" experiment. The co-founders of the simple living website faircompanies packed up their van and three young children for a road trip through the Pacific Northwest. They even turned the adventure into a documentary called Summer of (Family) Love, which you can view below. It's two hours long, so maybe add this to your weekend viewing list.

They limited themselves to one backpack per person into a camper that they purchased off Craigslist and named "Westy." They stuck to their original intention of cooking all their own meals off a propane stove, creating a new little home every night in a different location, mostly spaces outside RV parks.

They met up with other enthusiasts of the "tiny house" community who live like nomads. They were able to interview a few of then and, "With each stop we picked up some new piece of wisdom about life's essentials," Dirksen wrote in the faircompanies blog.



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  • 18 Comments
      2 wheeled menace
      • 2 Days Ago
      Yay! I have watched a ton of youtube videos by Kirsten Dirksen/fair companies on tiny home living and plan on doing it myself too, as a small living space requires such dramatically lower heating and cooling.. This is an extreme case of tiny living. It can be done in much better comfort and style without looking like a bum ;) Check out her channel for more info: www.youtube.com/user/kirstendirksen‎
        danfred311
        • 2 Days Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        I've also watched many of her videos and they are interesting but I pointed out how misguided that approach to freedom is because you only find a prison with no comfort or facility. A person living as part of civilization in a small apartment is much more free. Never mind that you can't have kids in such sheds either. So what freedom is it really. Other than freedom from sanity. And didn't you say you were married? is your wife ok living in a trailer without a toilet? Dirksen is not the way. The way is 3D printing with laser sintering of sand. See my comment in her last video. Anyone can have a palace for free.
          BipDBo
          • 2 Days Ago
          @danfred311
          Welcome back, Dan! I missed you. Have you been trying to get through all of this time having gone through 310 logins? Wear 'em down with persistence.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 2 Days Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        Lol, calm down Dan. Like i said; extreme case. Some people are totally happy in a larger yet still smaller than average space, as you can see through Ms. Dirksen's videos. For us here in the united states, it is an escape from high cooling/heating bills and extremely high real estate values in some parts of the country such as on the east and west coasts where these videos tend to originate from. Financial freedom during economic decline ( no mortgage! ) is a kind of freedom in it's own. Me and the wife live in a ~900 square foot apartment and use about half of it. I have a little garage to the side as my EV tinkering lab. Works fine for us. But it would be nice to have 450 square feet and a $100 winter heating bill rather than a $200 heating bill.. 3d printed houses have been done. But the materials that the machines can spit out aren't ideal for housing in any way, as far as i know.
      BipDBo
      • 2 Days Ago
      Please, I did the same thing with my family of 5 with a cooler, tent, portable grill, mountain bike and a Nissan Versa.
        Ryan
        • 2 Days Ago
        @BipDBo
        But was it your only home? How long did you go for? It is good that nomadic shelters are talked about and become more 'normal' in today's society. It isn't just the poor that are forced into that lifestyle, but people with savings who can enjoy the freedom and adventure of it. I would just like to be able to drive South for the Winter and North in the Summer...
          BipDBo
          • 2 Days Ago
          @Ryan
          I haven't watch the two hour vehicle, but it sounds like to me, that they just went on a long road trip through the northwest US. I don't think they sold their house and everything in it. Their road trip likely lasted longer then mine, but apparently no longer than one summer. Sounds to me like a blog about a rather normal minivan family road trip vacation, except without a dead relative tied to the roof.
          BraveLil'Toaster
          • 2 Days Ago
          @Ryan
          "But was it your only home?" I have news for you. It wasn't theirs, either. Also, it's worth noting there's a term for people who live in a van: homeless.
          BipDBo
          • 2 Days Ago
          @Ryan
          Neither do we Floridians. I think I might go to the sailing this afternoon. hehe.
          2 wheeled menace
          • 2 Days Ago
          @Ryan
          Hey; that's what birds do. They don't sit around in the cold and pay for coal heated electricity all winter.. hehe.
      danfred311
      • 2 Days Ago
      And Otmar needs 2 just for himself and even cannibalizes a tesla :)
      • 2 Days Ago
      Truckin.....Got my chips cashed in......Truckin.....like the dooda man....
      CoolWaters
      • 2 Days Ago
      Why retirement homes should be smaller. Say you want triple-pane windows, you'd only need 4 windows in these houses. Smaller means smaller bills.
        BraveLil'Toaster
        • 2 Days Ago
        @CoolWaters
        Tiny houses like these are just an exercise in rediscovery. Mostly in the rediscovery of *why* people would ever want to own a big house, and that as a do-it-yourselfer, no, you're *not* an expert carpenter. And no, you're *not* going to be able to build it more efficiently than any modern contractor. And yes, you *are* throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I'm a pretty hardcore environmentalist, but I'm also pragmatic. Sure, spending the summer puttering around in an RV is pretty cool, but it's no way to live permanently (in fact, it's just called "camping"). I've lived in a trailer already, and thanks, but you can keep it. There's just no way to keep them warm in the winter.
      • 2 Days Ago
      we did this in early 60's 6000 miles in three weeks and had a ball. kids liked it
      Jeff Zekas
      • 2 Days Ago
      Cool! My mom took us to visit our Rocky Mountain cousins in 1968, drving a brand new VW Westfalia camper- lots of fun, but it was nice to come home to Santa Monica and a 3000 sq ft house! And VW vans are NOT the most reliable vehicle (motor rebuilds typically at 50,000 miles) nor the most quiet- but they have lots of panache and when we put "love flower" stickers on the side, the hippies would flash peace signs!
        DaveMart
        • 2 Days Ago
        @Jeff Zekas
        The US legislature has OK'd natural gas exports, and big LNG terminals are being built right now. That means that prices are going to become a lot more equal around the world, with prices here in the UK and in Europe around 3 times as much for gas, which is kind of a half way house as in the far East they are 5 times as expensive. I reckon you will end up with NG prices at something like UK levels. Folk with houses of 3,000 square metres will face much higher fuel bills if that is the case, although of course they will burn a lot more coal to keep prices down, and hang global warming.
          BraveLil'Toaster
          • 2 Days Ago
          @DaveMart
          The government had to OK natural gas exports? I thought that Americans were free to sell anything to anyone, so long as it wasn't specifically contraband.
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