By Carolyn Gregoire

Long before microdosing was being touted as the Silicon Valley life hack du jour, Dr. James Fadiman was investigating the potential mind-enhancing effects of ingesting psychedelic drugs like LSD and psilocybin, more commonly known as magic mushrooms.

In the 1960s, Fadiman conducted pioneering psychedelic research, including one study in which he gave LSD and another hallucinogen, Mescaline, to scientists, mathematicians and architects to see how it affected creative problem-solving. (His research was one of the last investigations into LSD due to the Food and Drug Administration’s mid-1960s research ban of the substance.)

More recently, Fadiman authored “The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide,” a how-to manual for safe and therapeutic psychedelic drug experiences.

Now, his research has taken a new turn.

Fadiman is examining the effects of administering psychedelic drugs like LSD and psilocybin in amounts so small that they are below the perceptual threshold. As part of an ongoing research project, Fadiman is collecting the self-reported testimonies of hundreds of people from around the globe who have experimented with psychedelic “microdosing” to treat ailments from anxiety to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or simply to improve productivity or break through writer’s block.

How does one microdose? You take a very small dose of either LSD or psilocybin (roughly one-tenth to one-fifth of a normal dose), on a regular schedule. Fadiman recommends dosing in the morning, once every three days. The dose isn’t enough to “trip,” but for some users, it can lead to subtle yet profound internal shifts. Many microdosers report experiencing improvements in mood; enhanced focus, productivity or creativity; less reactivity; and in some cases, even relief from depression or cluster headaches.

“What it seems to do is rebalance people,” Fadiman told The Huffington Post.

HuffPost Science recently sat down with Fadiman to learn more about how microdosing works, and its potential for enhancing well-being and treating a range of health problems.

Where did this idea of microdosing come from?

Dr. Albert Hofmann (the Swiss chemist who discovered LSD) had been microdosing for at least the last couple decades of his life. He lived to be 102 and at age 100 he was still giving two-hour lectures. Hoffman said that he would mainly use it when he was walking in trees, and it would clarify his thinking. So he was the person who first introduced this to many people, and he also said that this was a very under-researched area.

And of course, for thousands of years, indigenous people have been using low doses of mind-altering substances as well.

What types of people are microdosing, and who do you think can benefit most from the practice?

Microdosing seems to improve a vast range of conditions. I’ve explored microdosing as a safer way of doing psychedelics than the high doses that have been used before. Roughly 95 percent of the people who write me have considerable psychedelic experience. I’ll basically tell them, this isn’t going to harm you, let me know what happens.

The general response is that they feel better. There is an actual movement towards increased health or wellness. What that means, for instance, is that people who write in for anxiety seem to get help with their anxiety. People who use it for learning, improve their learning. One Ivy League student said he was using microdosing to get through the hardest math class in the undergraduate curriculum, and he did wonderfully in the class. Another young man used it for severe stuttering, and others have used it for social anxiety. One young woman, an art historian, even found that it regulated her periods and made them painless.

What does your microdosing protocol look like?

On day one, you dose. Day two, you’re still having the effects. Day three, you should be noticeably not having the effects, and on day four you dose again. For self-study, that’s ideal because it gives you a chance to see what’s going on. After a month — which is all I ask of people — most people say that they’re still microdosing, but not as often.

You’ve worked with hundreds of people on a self-reported microdosing study. How did that get started and what have you been finding?

Over the past number of years, people have written to me and said, “I’m interested in microdosing” for this or that reason, “can you help me?” They ask me to tell them what I’ve been suggesting to people, and they ask to be in the study. I then send them a protocol I’ve developed for a self-study and ask them to get back to me. I’ve probably sent out 200 or 300 of these, and I’ve gotten about half as many back as reports. A number are in process right now.

The range of interest goes from “Hey man, new drug, cool” to “I have post-traumatic stress, I’m recovering from cancer, and I hate my meds.” It’s a very wide range. I get a lot of people who say “I have anxiety or depression and I’ve either gotten off my meds or I hate my meds. Could microdosing help?” And my response is, “It’s helped a lot of other people and I hope it helps you. Here’s the protocol.”

I’ve heard there’s potential for enhancing focus and improving symptoms of ADHD, too.

What people basically say is that they’re better. They focus more in class. A number of people have told me that it’s like Adderall but without the side effects. Now these people are coming off Adderall and have used microdosing to help them taper off pharmaceuticals, or at least to take their pharmaceutical use way, way down.

In your study, are you seeing a lot of people turning to microdosing as a way to come off pharmaceuticals?

For some people, it can take a year or two to come off of a pharmaceutical. A number of people have simply said that with microdosing it was much easier. They said they could do it without incredible suffering. A woman who was coming off of some anti-psychotics that she probably should never have been put on said that it wasn’t that she didn’t have the same symptoms, but she didn’t identify with them as much. She said that she could think of her mood swings as her brain chemistry rebalancing.

What’s going on beneath the surface to create these changes?

What microdosing seems to do is rebalance people. Here’s a generalization, which is how I’ve come to this conclusion: A number of people, by the time they’ve finished a month, say, “I’m sleeping better, I’m eating more healthy food, I’ve returned to yoga and I’m doing meditation.” They’ve improved their relationship to their body ― or their body has improved their relationship to them.

One man quit smoking. He said that he knew smoking wasn’t good, and it was as if his body could actually help him make the decision. What seems to happen with microdosing is that you’re more attuned to your own real needs.

Why has there been so little research into microdosing?

There are two main problems. One is that nobody was interested in microdosing, even a couple of years ago. The early research was always high-dose, and the fact that you could take psychedelics as a microdose didn’t occur to people. The only person we knew of who microdosed seriously was Hofmann … It was basically invisible during the time when research was legal and most of the time when it wasn’t.

On the other side of it, I talked with a major researcher who’s done a number of psychedelic studies and who said that he would love to do a microdosing study. I asked him what was stopping him. He said that the Institutional Review Board is not going to say, “Oh you want to give a Schedule I drug to people every few days and have them just go run around?” It’s going to be really hard.

Now, there are two groups, one in Australia and one in Europe, who are starting microdosing studies. I’m working with both of those groups on designing the studies.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/psychedelic-microdosing-research_us_569525afe4b09dbb4bac9db8

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by Drake Baer, Senior writer at Thrive Global covering the brain and social sciences.

Teachers, parents and policymakers are finally started to realize that academic success depends on more than just “booksmarts,” the kind of fluid intelligence captured by IQ tests and the like. The importance of “soft” or “non-cognitive” skills like grit and emotional intelligence is growing rapidly. But there’s a deeper question here: where do these soft skills come from? According to a new paper in Psychological Science, it’s your mom.

The research team, lead by Lilian Dindo, a clinical psychologist at the Baylor College of Medicine, crossed disciplines and decades to discover what they describe as an “adaptive cascade” that happens in three parts, drawing a line from the relational experiences we have as infants to the academic achievements we have later on. “That having a supportive responsive caregiving environment can actually provide these inner resources that will foster something like effortful control, and that this in turn can actually promote better functioning in school is the new thing here,” she tells Thrive Global.

The first part of that cascade is “secure attachment.” Tots—in this study, one cohort of 9-month olds and another of two-to-three year olds—get strongly influenced by their primary caregivers, implicitly learning how relationships work (often called attachment in the psychology field).

In this study, the mothers rated their children’s security of attachment using a widely used assessment tool. “If a child is distressed and shows distress to a parent and the parent responds to the distress in sensitive and loving and reassuring ways the child then feels secure in their knowledge that they can freely express this negative emotion,” Dindo explained. “Learning in that way is very different than learning that if I express negative emotion then I will be rejected or minimized or ignored or ridiculed. And so the child will learn not to express the negative emotions, to inhibit that negative emotion, or to actually act up even more to try to get that response. Either way they’re learning that expressing this negative emotion will not be responded to in a sensitive or loving way.”

Think of it this way: if you ate at a restaurant and it made you sick, you’d be unlikely to go back; if you expressed hurt and your mom rejected it, you’d minimize that pain next time. Even very early in life, kids are already observing cause and effect.

Step two in the cascade is effortful control, or the ability to delay gratification and inhibit a response to something when it’s in your best interest to do so—it’s the toddler-aged forerunner of things like grit and conscientiousness. In this study, effortful control in toddlers was examined experimentally—for example, in a “snack delay” task where tykes are presented with a cup of Goldfish crackers and instructed to wait to eat them until the experimenter rings a bell—and through parental ratings of how well the kids controlled themselves at home.

Then comes the third part of the cascade: academic achievement. More than a decade after the first experiments, Dindo tracked down the mother-child duos. About two-thirds of each cohort participated in the follow-up, where moms sent in their now 11 to 15-year-old kids’ scores on a couple of academic different standardized tests. The researchers crunched the data from all of the experiments and found quite the developmental chain: secure attachment was associated with effortful control in toddlers, and in turn, effortful control at age 3 predicted better test scores in early adolescence.

While this study doesn’t explain the mechanics of that three-part cascade, Dindo thinks it has to do with how we learn to regard our own inner emotional lives from the way our moms (or primary caregivers) regard us. If mom is soothing and dependable, you learn to consistently do the same for yourself—you learn that you’re going to be okay even if you feel anxious in the moment, like when tackling homework or a test. To Dindo, this shows how coming from a psychologically or emotionally deprived environment can have long-term consequences: if you don’t get the loving attentiveness you need when you’re little, it’s going to be harder to succeed as you grow up.

In very hopeful news though, other studies out this year—like here (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28401843) and here (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28401847) —show that when parents get attachment interventions, or are coached to be more attentive to their toddlers, the kids’ effortful control scores go up, which should, in turn, lead to greater achievement down the line. Because as this line of research is starting to show, just like plants need sunlight to grow into their fullest forms, humans need skillful love to reach their full potential.

https://www.thriveglobal.com/stories/15459-this-is-how-you-raise-successful-teens

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29023183

Psychol Sci. 2017 Oct 1:956797617721271. doi: 10.1177/0956797617721271. [Epub ahead of print]

Attachment and Effortful Control in Toddlerhood Predict Academic Achievement Over a Decade Later.

Dindo L, Brock RL, Aksan N, Gamez W, Kochanska G, Clark LA.

Abstract

A child’s attachment to his or her caregiver is central to the child’s development. However, current understanding of subtle, indirect, and complex long-term influences of attachment on various areas of functioning remains incomplete. Research has shown that (a) parent-child attachment influences the development of effortful control and that (b) effortful control influences academic success. The entire developmental cascade among these three constructs over many years, however, has rarely been examined. This article reports a multimethod, decade-long study that examined the influence of mother-child attachment and effortful control in toddlerhood on school achievement in early adolescence. Both attachment security and effortful control uniquely predicted academic achievement a decade later. Effortful control mediated the association between early attachment and school achievement during adolescence. This work suggests that attachment security triggers an adaptive cascade by promoting effortful control, a vital set of skills necessary for future academic success.

KEYWORDS: academic performance; attachment; effortful control; longitudinal; temperament

PMID: 29023183 DOI: 10.1177/0956797617721271

by Amanda Oldt

Recent findings suggest that treatment with psilocybin may “reset” brain connectivity in patients with treatment-resistant depression.

“Several of our patients described feeling ‘reset’ after the treatment and often used computer analogies. For example, one said he felt like his brain had been ‘defragged’ like a computer hard drive, and another said he felt ‘rebooted,’” Robin L. Carhart-Harris, PhD, of Imperial College London, said in a press release. “Psilocybin may be giving these individuals the temporary ‘kick start’ they need to break out of their depressive states and these imaging results do tentatively support a ‘reset’ analogy. Similar brain effects to these have been seen with electroconvulsive therapy.”

To assess psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression, researchers used functional MRI to measure cerebral blood flow (CBF) and blood oxygen-level dependent resting-state functional connectivity before and after psilocybin treatment among 16 patients with treatment-resistant depression.

One week after treatment, all patients exhibited decreased depressive symptoms.

At 5 weeks, 47% of the cohort met criteria for treatment response.

Whole-brain analyses indicated decreases in CBF in the temporal cortex, including the amygdala, following treatment with psilocybin.

Decreased CBF in the amygdala was associated with decreased depressive symptoms.

Posttreatment, resting-state functional connectivity was increased in the default-mode network.

Treatment response at 5 weeks was predicted by increased resting-state functional connectivity in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex-bilateral inferior lateral parietal cortex and decreased resting-state functional connectivity in the parahippocampal prefrontal cortex.

“Through collecting these imaging data we have been able to provide a window into the after effects of psilocybin treatment in the brains of patients with chronic depression,” Carhart-Harris said in the release. “Based on what we know from various brain imaging studies with psychedelics, as well as taking heed of what people say about their experiences, it may be that psychedelics do indeed ‘reset’ the brain networks associated with depression, effectively enabling them to be lifted from the depressed state.”

Carhart-Harris RL, et al. Sci Rep. 2017;doi:10.1038/s41598-017-13282-7.

https://www.healio.com/psychiatry/depression/news/online/%7B3089a96c-7e81-494d-abd8-248d77aefbab%7D/magic-mushrooms-may-reset-brain-connectivity-in-depression?utm_source=selligent&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=psychiatry%20news&m_bt=1162769038120


A new study of ancient ash suggests that the dormant giant could develop the conditions needed to blow in a span of mere decades.

By Victoria Jaggard

If the supervolcano underneath Yellowstone erupts again, we may have far less advance warning time than we thought

After analyzing minerals in fossilized ash from the most recent mega-eruption, researchers at Arizona State University think the supervolcano last woke up after two influxes of fresh magma flowed into the reservoir below the caldera

And in an unsettling twist, the minerals revealed that the critical changes in temperature and composition built up in a matter of decades. Until now, geologists had thought it would take centuries for the supervolcano to make that transition.

A 2013 study, for instance, showed that the magma reservoir that feeds the supervolcano is about two and a half times larger than previous estimates. Scientists also think the reservoir is drained after every monster blast, so they thought it should take a long time to refill. Based on the new study, it seems the magma can rapidly refresh—making the volcano potentially explosive in the geologic blink of an eye.

“It’s shocking how little time is required to take a volcanic system from being quiet and sitting there to the edge of an eruption,” study co-author Hannah Shamloo told the New York Times.

Still, Yellowstone is one of the best monitored volcanoes in the world, notes Michael Poland, the current Scientist-in-Charge of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory for the U.S. Geological Survey. A variety of sensors and satellites are always looking for changes, and right now, the supervolcano does not seem to pose a threat.

“We see interesting things all the time … but we haven’t seen anything that would lead us to believe that the sort of magmatic event described by the researchers is happening,” says Poland via email, adding that the research overall is “somewhat preliminary, but quite tantalizing.”

The new paper adds to a suite of surprises scientists have uncovered over the last few years as they have studied the supervolcano.

Today, Yellowstone National Park owes much of its rich geologic beauty to its violent past. Wonders like the Old Faithful geyser and the Grand Prismatic Spring are products of the geothermal activity still seething below the park, which is driven in turn by the vast magma plume that feeds the supervolcano.

About 630,000 years ago, a powerful eruption shook the region, spewing forth 240 cubic miles’ worth of rock and ash and creating the Yellowstone caldera, a volcanic depression 40 miles wide that now cradles most of the national park.

That eruption left behind the Lava Creek Tuff, the ash deposit that Shamloo and her ASU colleague Christy Till used for their work, which they presented in August at a volcanology meeting in Oregon. The pair also presented an earlier version of their study at a 2016 meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

Based on fossil deposits like this one, scientists think the supervolcano has seen at least two other eruptions on this scale in the past two million years or so. Lucky for us, the supervolcano has been largely dormant since before the first people arrived in the Americas. While a handful of smaller belches and quakes have periodically filled the caldera with lava and ash, the last one happened about 70,000 years ago.

In 2011, scientists revealed that the ground above the magma chamber bulged by up to 10 inches in a span of about seven years.

“It’s an extraordinary uplift, because it covers such a large area and the rates are so high,” the University of Utah’s Bob Smith, an expert in Yellowstone volcanism, told National Geographic at the time.

The swelling magma reservoir responsible for the uplift was too deep to create fears of imminent doom, Smith said, and instead the caldera’s gentle “breathing” offered valuable insights into the supervolcano’s behavior.

In 2012, another team reported that at least one of the past super-eruptions may have really been two events, hinting that such large-scale events may be more common than thought.

But almost everyone who studies Yellowstone’s slumbering supervolcano says that right now, we have no way of knowing when the next big blast will happen. For its part, the U.S. Geological Survey puts the rough yearly odds of another massive Yellowstone blast at 1 in 730,000—about the same chance as a catastrophic asteroid collision.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/10/yellowstone-supervolcano-erupt-faster-thought-science/

by Jenn Savedge

This year, about 2,652 hikers hope to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail and complete the 2,200-mile hike that stretches from Georgia to Maine within one year, according to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the organization that keeps track of the number and starting point of all hikers on the trail each year.
The people who hike the A.T. come from all walks of life — some are taking a sabbatical from high-pressure lives, others are students seeking adventure before they get down to the business of finding out who they want to become.

But for one A.T. thru-hiker, this year’s hike was neither an escape or an adventure — it was simply a chance to hang out with mom and dad.
On March 21, Ellie Quirin began her own A.T. thru-hiking journey along with her parents, Bekah and Derrick Quirin. Six months and 10 days later, the Quirins finished their hike on McAfee Knob, Virginia.

The Quirins did what’s called a flip-flop hike through the A.T. They started in Virginia and proceeded south. They reached Springer Mountain in Georgia’s Chattahoochee National Forest on May 13, marking the end of the first third of their hike (Spring Mountain is the southern terminus of the A.T.).

Flip-flopping through the A.T. offers a few advantages over just starting from Spring Mountain (for northbound hikers, or NOBOs) or from Mount Katahdin (for southbound hikers, or SOBOs). Per the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, flip-flopping allows hikers to more easily customize their trips according to desired weather for certain parts of the trail and, since the A.T. is a bit easier in the middle, it gives them the opportunity to get their trail legs. There are other positives as well, including reducing the overall environmental impact of hikers all going in the same direction and at roughly the same time.

For the Quirins, this approach made a lot of sense. It gave Ellie time to get used to the long hikes but and gave Bekah and Derrick a chance to really get used to carrying Ellie on the trail. It was probably a big help when they scaled Blood Mountain, the highest peak in the Georgia portion of the A.T.

Another perk? As the summer wound down, the family headed north and avoided some of the heat and humidity in the Southeast and Chesapeake regions, definitely a plus when hiking with an infant strapped to your back.

According to the Quirins, Ellie took her first steps and uttered her first words along the trail. (“Other than mom, dad, and no- “backpack” is her most recognizable word! How appropriate,” the parents reported from the trail.) She played in creeks and on mountains. She imitated owls.

And, according to her parents’ Instagram posts, “We witnessed the pure joy she felt simply being a child in a spectacular and mesmerizing creation. We never missed any of it, not one single moment.”

According to her parents, she took long naps much of the way, happy to do so in the baby carrier. That means Bekah and Derrick could cover a lot of miles while Ellie slept. As for entertainment … what could be more entertaining than the constant variation of scenery along the trail?

The challenge that the Quirins were asked about most frequently is the diapers. The Quirins planned to double wrap the diapers in Ziplock bags and carry them (outside their packs) until they could dispose of them. Planning and packing, of course, was critical.

The Quirins are both in their mid-20s and very experienced with hiking (Derrick was a local outdoor guide in South Carolina), so they knew what they were getting into for this big adventure. And now, after more than 2,190 miles, they — and baby Ellie — know a lot more about what is possible.

https://www.mnn.com/family/family-activities/blogs/couple-getting-ready-hike-appalachian-trail-their-baby

Poison frogs produce toxins that plow down a nervous system. Get a tiny amount of the poison in your system, and you’re in for trouble. They manage this by storing up toxins ingested from their prey. And yet the frogs themselves are totally immune. How does a frog that stores and dispenses poison manage to avoid negative effects from its own lethal toxins? It’s actually a complex evolution of amino acid replacements, according to a recent study in the journal Science.

The frog neurotoxin epibatidine binds to acetylcholine receptors, which makes it difficult for frogs to gain a resistance to epibatidine. But one amino acid replacement that has evolved in three clades of poison frogs allows the amphibians a lower sensitivity to epibatidine, while still maintaining receptor functionality.

The study’s authors “found that the single amino acid change common to all the poison frogs made the receptor less sensitive to the toxin, yet also rendered it less responsive to acetylcholine, its endogenous ligand,” the Scientist magazine notes. “But the different combinations of additional amino acid substitutions observed in two of the groups of poison frogs recovered the receptor’s function, suggesting that these mutations compensate for the cost associated with avoiding self-poisoning.”

In other words, poison frogs are immune to the toxins because they have been able to reorganize how their nervous system works using amino acid replacements.

https://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/blogs/why-dont-poison-dart-frogs-poison-themselves

Luke Thill is 13 and built his own house.

He doesn’t consider it a playhouse, and neither did those who invited him to speak Saturday at a tiny home festival in Colfax, Iowa. The eighth-grader from Dubuque, Iowa, calls the 89-square-foot structure in his parents’ backyard a “starter home.” He built it for $1,500 by cutting lawns, raising money online, gathering reclaimed materials and bartering for labor.

An electrician neighbor helped him wire it — if Thill cleaned out his garage.

A Scout leader he knew helped him lay carpet in the loft bedroom — if he cut the man’s lawn.

He used leftover siding from his grandma’s house and a front door he got from his uncle’s friend.

“I liked the minimalism,” he said, sounding much older than 13. “And I wanted to have a house without a huge mortgage.”

Tiny homes less than 500 square feet have piqued the imagination of a nation fighting the American urge for more and bigger in the past decade, said Renee McLaughlin, the organizer of last weekend’s TinyFest Midwest, who lives in a smaller home than Thill’s. Her rural Oskaloosa home is 87 square feet. “I think we’ve reached a threshold where this ‘stuff’ is running our lives. We spend all our time working to buy it, clean it and organize it,” said McLaughlin, 48. “It’s not making us happy.”

Her fest at the Jasper County Fairgrounds included several tiny homes to tour, a presenter who is 6-foot-8, proving they can fit anyone, and attendees from 18 states, including a family of four who lives in a tiny home. It was Thill’s first speaking engagement after gathering attention and more than 700 subscribers with his YouTube series on the build.

Thill’s dad, Greg, told him when he started the project 18 months ago that if he was going to do it there were simple rules: You raise the money. You build it. And you own it. Greg Thill said he worked alongside his son to guide him, but that Luke learned much on his own — framing a structure and wiring, dealing with adults, making tough financial decisions and staying on budget.

“It was a chance for a kid to do something more than play video games or sports,” he said. “It teaches life lessons.”

Luke says his home, which is 5½ feet wide and 10 feet long and includes a loft, is made of 75 percent reclaimed materials, including several windows. He built a small deck outside. The siding is half cedar shakes, half vinyl Inside, a small kitchen area with a counter and shelving leads to a back sitting area with a large ottoman for a couch, a flip-down table and a wall-mounted TV. A ladder leads to an upstairs loft with a mattress. It’s wired for electric but has no plumbing, so Greg Thill says city codes consider it “a glorified shed.”

Luke Thill said he learned how to overcome disappointment. A big moment was his “counter-top fail.” He placed broken colored glass below what was going to be a lacquer surface. But when he poured the lacquer, it was “too watery,” and ran all over. But he made the most of it — the lacquer created a bond that held the counter to the wall. “Doesn’t have a screw in it,” he said.

He attached a traditional counter surface over the messed-up lacquer surface with a hinge for a lift-top storage space.He sleeps in it a couple of nights a week, does homework there after school and entertains friends. “The main purpose is to be my starter home,” he said. “I’m going to save money and expand.” In a couple of years, he hopes to build a larger tiny home on a trailer so he can perhaps haul it to college for cheaper living.

His message at the festival was this: “I want to show kids it’s possible to build at this age.”

There’s also an Iowan on the festival schedule who lives in a tiny home at the age of 80.

One trend is their ever-shrinking size — including micro-homes of fewer than 100 square feet, McLaughlin said. She sold her 3,300-square-foot home and 18 months ago moved into a space smaller than one of the four bathrooms in her former dwelling. How? She simply got rid of stuff — though clothes and shoes were the hardest. She shops less, buys less and throws less garbage into the landfill. A small bag that fits in a public trash can is all she tosses in a week. It fits her environmental ethic, which includes heating her water with solar. “I’m a simple girl, but a girl, nonetheless,” she said. So she accommodated her clothes problem with a hanging rod that swings into the shower.

While it sounds spartan, McLaughlin said people have gone from feeling sorry, telling her that “it will get better,” to saying that her home on wheels is cool. “I now own everything outright with no debt,” she said. “I can move around. It’s nice to know I can just go.” Her home sits on a relative’s property — that’s one of the issues with living in a tiny home: finding a piece of land to park it.

Despite widespread publicity fueled by reality TV shows, the growth of tiny homes is still difficult to quantify. The average new home continues to grow bigger — to 2,687 square feet in 2015, or a thousand square feet larger than in 1973. According to an analysis of homes on the Multiple Listing Service last fall by realtors.com, only 3,000 of the 1.5 million homes listed in the U.S. were tiny homes.

“A huge part of it tends to be secret. They may be living in a backyard under the radar,” said Jay Shafer, a keynote speaker at the festival, who is viewed by tiny home enthusiasts as the “godfather” of the movement.e started living in a 130-square-foot home in Iowa City nearly 20 years ago, and his story spread across the country. He now designs tiny homes in California. While inroads have been made to allow tiny home builders in the U.S. to finance and ensure the structures, city codes are still prohibitive. Many have foundation or size requirements. For example, Des Moines housing codes require a home to be at least 24 feet wide.

Shafer said there has been progress, pointing to the recent change in the International Residential Code, which now requires U.S. homes to be a mere 88 square feet in 2018.

To a 13-year-old, it’s the future.

“Everyone had to have a big house, and now people have changed and realized it’s not practical,” Luke Thill said. “You can save money, travel the world and do what you want instead.”

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/marketplace/real-estate/2017/09/22/13-year-old-iowan-built-his-own-house/689545001/