The Importance of Planning: Weeks 9 - 10 (Aug 31)
No amount of planning could prepare us for what all would go along with creating a new life. Building a life with another person, let alone in a new city while creating a tiny home with our bare hands and little experience, is Pandora's box no matter how you open it. When we met, we talked a lot about what we wanted, what we saw to be possible. In hindsight, it's beyond a blessing that we did. Before we came to Tennessee, we built the two documents previewed below to outline our the Slow Rolling Home project (long before it had a name and all the momentum it has currently). When it came to getting a realistic illustration of all major steps that encompass creating our home - with regards to immense research and forum crawling - we established this mind map and continue to add to it.
Mind map created using MindNode
The arms extending from the center, forming major areas of the project like Cleaning and Repairing, Electrical, Interior Construction, etc. extend to fingers and tendrils noting the various steps, activities, and tools involved. Each of these expands at the time of implementation into much more detailed experiences, but this overarching view helped us reign in our expectations and get a realistic view of what was in store at each stage. This mind map informed the larger, more details Project Plan, which we created in Excel/Pages.
The Project plan contains the summary, timeline, accountability, progress, meeting schedule, budget, and further created tabs for specialized data recording.
With a background in project management, this format is a tested and true formula to manage big projects and compile large amounts of dependent information in an easy-to-access format. We use deadlines to ensure we stay on "track" to the various milestones but often schedule our work as possible throughout the week, judging now-fuller work and social schedules. Certain products are linked so we know exactly what to buy and how much, and the overarching budget that details those products exists in its own tab. A separate document of expenses is kept, though it would be pertinent on our part to merge the two! Tracking our expenses has been imperative for the project. Staying within our means each month and preparing for larger months - like those in which we purchase big items like insulation or a composting toilet - are keeping us financially safe (and sane) while life continues to be thoroughly unpredictable.
New jobs, new friends, new lifestyle, new city
We can hardly keep up with all the new! Getting Ruby the Subaru seems to have unlocked our new lifestyle. Not only can we drive freely to Home Depot and pick up materials for the bus, but we can also drive into town, make connections, and secure opportunities we didn't think possible. Shortly after moving here, we found out about the Knoxville Community Darkroom and went into Knoxville to check it out. Both of us have had a long relationship with photography, though with very different origins. Alhen seemed right at home in the darkroom and shortly after our first visit, we were burning through rolls of 35mm on the old Canon AE1 that's been sitting neglected on a shelf since we moved.
After a week or so of playing with small potatoes on the Canon, the Darkroom hosted a "camera swap" event. We dropped in to support, excited to get our hands on a few unique pieces just to see, but not to buy. We didn't plan on coming across the most perfect, mint condition Mamiya C330 with a suite of lenses that had barely been used. This medium format, twin lens reflex beauty captivated us both, and even after leaving the sale for a day full of activities, we found ourselves back before the day was out, purchasing the full set at the promise of exchanging an aging digital at home out comparable value. What a pleasantly unplanned acquisition, and what a fun piece to have around to create with.
Alhen has taken a job at REI - meaning plenty of adventure time and learning in our future!
With Alhen's new position at REI and I (Amelia) freelancing with a local nonprofit organization: The Maker City, our dance cards are filling up but so are our resources to keep our project moving right along. We're not complaining, though - the margaritas at Chivo in downtown Knoxville are killer and two slices of pizza and a beer at Whole Foods for $10 is a very delicious deal. Don't get the impression that we're slowing down!
While we didn't expect to love Knoxville and our new opportunities here as much as we do, they only further push us to work hard and complete the Slow Rolling Home. Having a space that's all our own in a greater place we've grown to enjoy keeps the boat steady as all the unexpected changes roll in.