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Teens Developing Eco-Village for Seattle’s Homeless

A group of local teens in Seattle are developing an eco-village called The Impossible City to benefit the local homeless people in the area.

They’ve even put together an Indiegogo fundraising campaign that has so far raised a total of $27,744 as I write this.

With the campaign scheduled to close on April 26, 2015, they’re just a few thousand dollars short of their goal to raise $32,205. And it looks like they’re going to make it!

This project is backed by Sawhorse Revolution which is a non-profit carpentry program for high school students in Seattle. So far they’ve designed a green house, micro home, solar hubs, communal kitchens, composting outhouses, and more for the village (all of which you can see sketches of below). Please enjoy and re-share below. Thank you.

Teens Developing Eco-Village for Seattle’s Homeless


Images © Alec Gardner

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Images © Alec Gardner


Images © Jennifer Danison/ImpossibleCity

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Images © Jennifer Danison/ImpossibleCity


Images © Sam Hunt

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Images © Sam Hunt

Learn more: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/impossible-city-a-youth-built-homeless-village


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Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 20 comments… add one }
  • Jennifer
    April 15, 2015, 11:41 am

    This is a terrific project – teens get real world, usable skills and less fortunate people get nicely designed shelter. I really like the floor plan and use of site space – they’ve thoroughly thought this out and made it very economical. It’s a great bang for the contributors’ buck.

    My only question is how they got so many street signs? It’s an awesome design feature (and seems durable for the weather), but I can’t fathom collecting all those signs without support of city or state government.

    I hope they meet their goal!

    • Doris
      April 15, 2015, 3:49 pm

      Jennifer, they didn’t steal the signs. If you notice, most are weathered. As signs weather, are damaged, or street names are changed, they are replaced by new signs. Hence, the supply of old signs used legally by the kids.

      • Jennifer
        April 15, 2015, 4:22 pm

        Thanks Doris! I didn’t think they’d steal them – with the number that would have been missing, the city would surely be suspicious and it would definitely cause a lot of unnecessary issues for a good cause. I had no idea that cities kept the old, worn signs – I thought they were discarded, never to be seen again.

        Hats off to Seattle and the teens for creative recycling!

      • Doris
        April 16, 2015, 2:07 pm

        City and County Government auctions are often a goldmine of weird stuff for the highly creative. Usually up to the staff to trash it or offer it for a buck, and sometimes it sits for a year or decade between auctions if it can be stored outside. I loved your comment about people noticing a sudden glut of missing street signs 🙂 The ones on Bourbon Street used to be a favorite target in the pre-camera days.

      • April 17, 2015, 7:45 pm

        The signs were definitely not stolen! We tried to convince the city to donate them but no dice. The larger aluminum panels were donated and worked really well as roofing and larger siding panels. The windows were sourced from a recycled building materials warehouse.

      • Gwsevt
        April 19, 2015, 12:22 pm

        The city wouldn’t donate the old signs? I find this…I’m speechless…I would think (hope) any city would be behind something like this 100% but especially the city of Seattle given their reputation.

  • Maureen
    April 15, 2015, 11:55 am

    I could not, not comment on this. So impressed. Everyone should have the option of a warm, comfortable roof over their head. It’s a massive blight on society that people in 2015 should be living on the street when so many have so much that they will never be able to spend. A great big pat on the back to everyone involved. I come from the uk and it is heartbreaking to see people begging on the street in the cold and wet. I believe it is the first step for some unfortunate souls to get their lives back. No one wakes up one day and decides to get homeless. You are doing a fantastic thing and I hope some pen pushing government official notices this wonderful venture.

  • Mike
    April 15, 2015, 1:12 pm

    What a great learning experience and project! I love the solar hub and community cooking areas, as well as the composting latrines. What a great layout for an intentional village.

  • Mark
    April 15, 2015, 3:12 pm

    What a great initiative .. I hope that this is duplicated in other locations .. Well done guys ..

  • Brian
    April 15, 2015, 3:54 pm

    I am so impressed with this project, it is truly inspirational. I wish you much success and hope you can achieve your total plan. Thanks for sharing and cheers from Australia.

  • Cynthia
    April 15, 2015, 9:38 pm

    We could really use something like this in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We have a lot of homeless people here that live in tents, which is appropriately called ‘TENT CITY’. And they are constantly told to move by the authorities or being robbed by others. I feel that if we had something like this, they would feel much safer and more comfortable.

  • Karen R
    April 16, 2015, 12:31 am

    Everyone should have a decent place to live, no matter how tiny!

  • Megan
    April 16, 2015, 1:09 pm

    What a fantastic project! I’m so impressed that there are teens who are learning and then using real world skills to help others. I’m loving the street signs for the exterior-I thought those were tossed by cities & towns just to add to all the landfills-glad they are being put to great use.

  • J.R.
    April 16, 2015, 3:08 pm

    Fantastic work! Love to see our kids doing something tangible to change the world.

  • Marty
    April 17, 2015, 11:53 pm

    No problem with communal areas, but in every homeless community, there’s always a share of thieves and pilfering going on. I know this because I’ve been homeless more times than I’d like to admit. Sadly there has to be someone on hand to keep the peace and order and has to be able to work with police without the usual suspects that would gladly destroy everything. I wish them all the luck in the world and hope that they can strike the sweet spot between homeless and human compassion with societies need to turn a buck and deny those who are down and out..

  • Casieopea
    April 18, 2015, 8:55 pm

    just wondering why you would want to heat gray water? EVERYTHING about this project is awesome – and I think that these students/teens are going to go far in life!!!

  • April 19, 2015, 7:04 pm

    This is a fantastic project on so many different levels. Nobody should ever be without a safe place to call home and Tiny Homes seem to offer a powerful solution. Plus, these teens will deeply understand the impact that we each as individuals can make in the world. AWESOME! I just donated and am really routing for them to hit their funding goal.

  • April 19, 2015, 11:01 pm

    Could they not put composting toilets inside the houses? Who wants to truck out in the cold or the rain to use the outhouse? Other tiny houses have indoor washrooms, why not the ones in Seattle? One more question, do these houses have kitchens?

    • gwsevt
      April 20, 2015, 9:21 am

      I don’t know for sure but I would guess that putting a toilet in each house both adds an expense and makes it less portable. They are making these for homeless people who have been living on the street or in tents somewhere, they probably don’t see protected communal bathrooms as a burden the way others might. The same goes with a kitchen which is why they have the community kitchen set up I imagine. That said the plans I saw do include both a composting toilet and a kitchen area in the houses so I’m not sure if I’m just not looking at the plans for this project, they altered them or they do all have individual as well as communal facilities. But the plans seemed to call for them to be built on a trailer as well and it didn’t look as though these were so…

  • April 26, 2015, 3:16 pm

    What an interesting little house. I’d love it in back so I could have my own cute little office!

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