The Tiny House movement is anything but small, and now it’s lending itself to some popular programming for Professional & Continuing Education at Utah Valley University.
Bryan Niven has offered classes and travel workshops through UVU for almost a decade, including subjects such as art, photography and Photoshop, but after studying minimal living for nearly a decade and starting construction on his own tiny home, he became the go-to source for tiny living information.
“I eat drink and sleep tiny houses, minimalist living, and living more environmentally friendly, so offering this type of workshop has been on my mind for years,” he said. “When UVU contacted me, asking if I would offer one, I of course said yes!”
Niven developed the day-long workshop so that it would cover the entire process of “going tiny,” from the logistics of living simply to the legality of building tiny houses. Everything from composting toilets and solar power to tiny house design and downsizing a wardrobe are covered. Niven also shares how he, his wife and three kids made the shift to the minimal lifestyle. The day wraps up with a tour of nearby Alpine Tiny Homes.
The first workshop filled up and had a waiting list within a few weeks. The second time around the course filled again, even with an increased size limit. The registration fee is $49.
“Increase your quality of life by learning how to downsize your needs! What if we told you that you could save $20,000 over the next 10 years from a simple change with your cell phone? Always wanted to live on the beach but couldn't afford it? What if we told you how, and that it would only cost $700 a month? Those are just two of the many secrets we'll share! So much of our time is spent earning money just to maintain our lifestyles. Your house, cars, clothes, and even your gadgets, and the food you eat are actually dictating your life. In this workshop you will learn how to gain back control of your life by living minimally.
Bryan Niven has spent nearly a decade of exhaustive study with Tiny homes, minimalism, and living deliberately. Some of the topics covered are: Tiny houses, (including a tour of an actual tiny house), maximizing space, understanding personal needs, simplifying wardrobe and belongings, living green, compost toilets, solar power, and ensuring technology is working for us and not the other way around. All that and much, much more!”
Niven found that people are interested in tiny homes but they’re actually more interested in the lifestyle that’s associated with living in a tiny home – a lifestyle of less clutter, less waste and less cost. Niven said it appeals to people, especially now, because many are growing tired of the rat race and would rather spend money on travel and experiences, rather than kitchen renovations and high utilities.
“People are interested in investing in a lifestyle that will allow them to experience life more,” he said.
Program coordinator Sally Menefee said the workshop was promoted through the course brochure, program website, social media, and electronic billboards.
UVU Professional & Continuing Education also offers courses in home buying, remodeling and interior design, and those are popular, too, according to Menefee.
UVU isn’t alone in offering and finding success with home-focused courses and it begs the question: Are they going to remain popular? If lifelong learning trends are tied to what’s popular on TV, then the answer is yes.
"It's similar to the trend we saw with food TV a few years ago. But the home genre is really the big genre right now," Billie Gold, vice president of programming research at Amplifi US, told Kate Storey for her article in Country Living. "The ratings just keep going up and up. And I don't think this is a phenomenon that's going to die down anytime soon."
HGTV viewership grew 5 percent from 2015 to 2016, and the network was ranked 11th overall for number of viewers among more than 100 channels, according to data from Indie Wire.
Where do you find your course inspiration?