Yvonne Shortt and her Tiny House to Empower Women and Girls in NYC

Last week I had an opportunity to talk with Yvonne Shortt about her Tiny House collaborative community build to empower women and artists.

Tell me a little about your Tiny House project like why are you doing it?

I guess after working on several of my own projects, not feeling strong  in my construction skills, and meeting other women at a loss at the Home Depot shop I started to think how can I help myself and other women and girls at the same time?   I mean if you can build a tiny house you can build or fix many things in your home or community.  At the very least you’ll know the different types of saws and when to use what.

How long is your build going to take?

It’s going to be 4 weeks.  We have a hard start and hard stop because of the place we are doing the build.

How are you logistically going to handle many inexperienced people at the build site?

We’re not.  We are only going to have anywhere between 6-10 people at the build site at any given time.  People are going to have to register online and commit to 4-6 hours of work. I do lots of collaborative projects with the community but this is a build site and we are going to treat it accordingly including hard hats and safety goggles. People will be working as an apprentice with someone depending on the job they are doing.

Will people come out of here being able to build a tiny house?

Some will but most won’t.  However, the goal is to get people familiar with tools and using their hands to build so they can feel empowered to go back to their home or their community and build something. We also want people to leave with a larger network of builders. When a guy needs help he either doesn’t ask for help or he asks a buddy. I want women to have a buddy. Someone they can call and ask a build question or just a life question.

How hard was it to secure a build site?

Let me just say I am extremely happy to have Knockdown Center support us in this way for this build.  You have a lot of public spaces in NYC. However, it can take over 6 months to get them to say okay, and that’s not usually the case. The answer for less established artists and nonprofits can be a resounding no.   And, some parks that are suppose to be about the people and art don’t seem to really be about the ‘little’ people and art. I have deep respect for Knockdown Center for giving us this opportunity.

So now that you have the space what’s next?

Now my team and I are getting some training.  I mean I never put up a frame before so I am learning how to do that and install flooring, insulation, and windows. I also am so glad that CUNY has given me 5 students to help with this project. What this means is that  we can all learn together.  Dongmei is researching  framing and floors.  Fahima is researching trailers for our mobile house. What’s even more cool is that we are all women and come from different backgrounds. We also have a meet up site with over 150 women wanting to build.

 You said you house uses a trailer?

Oh, yes.  Our house is going to be built on a trailer.  This will allow us to move our tiny house when we want to from place to place. We can hang out in front of Socrates or go to Silent Barn and hang out with Hillary.

Although, there is a phase two to this project and it starts in July.

Phase 2? July?

Yes, but you’ll have to interview me in a month or so to learn what we will be doing from July-September.However, I will say think creative studio, artists, and collaboration.

To learn more about about Yvonne Shortt and her tiny house build you can signup at Meetup.

By Evil E

Documenter for a good cause

October 30, 2016









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