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Ellen Dawson-Witt makes tea in front of her 192-square foot house in the village. (Photo by Megan Bachman)

Tour of a Tiny House

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When Ellen Dawson-Witt wanted to live a more sustainable life, she didn’t take half-measures. She moved to a farm, went off the grid, and downsized to a house the size of a shed.

Fitting her life into 192 square feet was easy for the 56-year-old — she long ago eschewed television and fashion, and got rid of the stuff she didn’t use — and so was living on a farm in exchange for taking care of goats. And she didn’t mind carrying water, using a composting toilet, keeping a wood stove going and lighting oil lamps in the off-the-grid structure that lacked indoor plumbing and a furnace.

She raised some of her food, carried the water she used for bathing and cooking from a nearby well, collected rainwater from her roof for washing, composted her waste and split wood for her wood stove. There were some modern amenities too — three solar panels, which provided some electricity for a lamp, CD player and laptop, and a 1934 gas range for cooking.

“It was fully living in line with my values,” Dawson-Witt said. “I like to know where my food comes from; I like to be in literal touch with the elements and to work with other people.”

In a seven-week course on sustainable living starting next week at the tiny house on North High Street, Dawson-Witt will lead discussions on voluntary simplicity, ecology, food, money and more for those who want to live more lightly on the earth. The Northwest Earth Institute course “Choices for Sustainable Living” starts on Tuesday, Oct. 4, at 7 p.m. Those interested in the course should call Dawson-Witt at 389-2030.

See the Sept. 28 issue of the YS News for the full story.

Photos by Megan Bachman

Dawson-Witt surveys the scarce furnishings of her cabin.

The one-room cabin, 16x12, has all one might need in its first floor and sleeping loft.

Dawson-Witt shows off the built in flour sifter in her vintage 1920s kitchen cabinet.

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