You don’t have to loathe McMansions to support tiny houses

An interview with New Zealand actor/musician Bryce Langston about his interest in tiny houses includes his response to growing up in a McMansion:

8. Describe your childhood home.

I grew up in a McMansion, really. My parents have a large house on the Shore, four bedrooms, two lounges, an office. It was a great family home. I actually don’t loathe McMansions at all. I have seen wonderful large homes that have been constructed with great thought and care for the environment around them. They are just not a practical solution for all the people on the planet in a world with limited space and resources. The main problem is the debt associated with owning them. And the lack of freedom that comes with that debt…

10. Are you an evangelist for minimalism?

What I want to do is let people know there’s a choice. If you’re happy with how things are in your life and the work you do to pay for that then that’s fine. But lots of people aren’t. They’re really hurting and unhappy in their jobs and they don’t see a way out of being in debt for 30 years or whatever. People say you have to live in the real world, but the real tangible world is one where food does grow on trees and water falls from the sky and everything is provided for you to survive…

12. Will tiny houses take over the world one day?

That really depends on the path of human consciousness. If we grow into a culture that focuses on fair distribution of resources, care of the planet and pursuit of non-material happiness, then I think downsized homes will become normal. If our society continues down the path of uncontrolled material and economic growth, then it’s unlikely.

Langston offers some of the common critiques of McMansions – they are about materialism, they use too many resources, they put people in debt – while also noting that he enjoyed the large home he grew up in. If you read some of the criticisms of McMansions, it may be hard to imagine anyone could enjoy living in a McMansion.

There are also some religious and moral overtones here. Langston ties living in a home to larger issues in human life including defining success and what it means to achieve something. This isn’t unusual in discussing McMansions (see another example here or this recent case of a Catholic archibishop): homes could be considered necessary structures but they can also be places of meaning as well as important symbols for others to see.

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