Being out of touch with the age bracket for some time, I'm not sure what typical twelve-year-olds (or "tweens" to use that marketing-manufactured jargon) of this day and age are most concerned about (though I get the feeling a sizable portion might lean more toward Hannah Montana and the like).
Twelve-year-old Sicily Kolbeck thankfully, however, has bigger interests in life -- the Marietta, Georgia resident is building a fully functional, solar-powered tiny house of her own for a school project, using funds successfully crowd-sourced from Indiegogo.
Kolbeck is a student at HoneyFern School, a private non-profit run by her parents, which has six students enrolled. For their big project, they chose various possibilities -- ranging from a go-kart, a chicken coop, a hydroponic greenhouse and a 3D video game.
Sicily, who was first inspired by tiny house builder Derek "Deek" Diedrickson and filmmaker Kirsten Dirksen's "We, the Tiny House People" documentary, eventually decided to center her self-directed school year curriculum around the building of a 128-square-foot tiny home, made with salvaged or donated materials and complete with a 30-square-foot loft, bathroom, kitchen, solar panels and composting toilet.
Sicily's goal is simple but timeless -- to know herself as a human being living on an interconnected planet -- yet she's grounded:
Because of the need to get away from my parents, I started to research the topic of building a tiny house, but as I dug more deeply, I realized I was building my tiny house for the same reason pioneers moved west, away from their families: I want independence. [..]
When I told my softball team I was building a tiny house, all of them said, "Why don't you just buy one?" I was appalled.
At first I thought, 'I won't buy a tiny house because it would cost a lot of money,' then I thought, 'Because it would be fun!' But then I realized that those reasons weren't why. Buying a tiny house would mean I was dependent on a mega-superstore to build my house; I would be dependent.
Tiny houses, in my opinion, symbolize freedom and independence; you peel away all of the accumulated stuff... and then there you are... the real you.
I like the way young people like Sicily are confidently finding their unique purpose and their own chosen place in life, rather than falling prey to socially contrived, engineered illusions of people as "consumers." She says:
I am building a tiny house to wake up in a place that I have built with my own two hands; I am also trying to be more independent and live on my own, and to show others that we can live more simply. [..] Being able to freely work on my own time and on my own project helps me be creative and learn the way I should learn. Maybe people have forgotten what it means to educate students, but this is the way to go. Who wouldn’t want to follow their dream and set their own course? This experience gives me knowledge and skills that will last forever.