November 20, 2019

In Canton, sale of People Project tiny house will fund more community activities

Author: Liza Frenette
Source: NYSUT Communications
tiny house builders
Caption: TYVEK AND TOOLS: NYSUT Second Vice President Paul Pecorale (at right) with members of Canton Central Teachers Association. Photo by Liza Frenette.

It’s more than a tiny house — it’s a powerhouse.

The small but mighty structure sitting in the schoolyard at Canton High School reflects the muscle and good will that went into building it, and the rewards to the community that will come from its upcoming sale.

Union educators from the Canton Central Teachers Association, led by art teacher and tool master Greg Kiah, have spent several years — joined by helpers from school and community — planning, hammering, fitting and sawing to construct the 8 by 18-foot house. Its 13-foot 3-inch height accommodates a loft that fits a queen size bed.

Its roof, which has already been covered in white powder, is snow ready.

The Canton Central School District is accepting sealed bids until Dec. 2 to sell the completed eco-friendly house. The money earned from the raffle will be used to provide scholarships to graduating seniors who will be studying the building trades or going into a “green” field of study.

“I see more kids who don’t fit the mold of a traditional college education,” said Kiah, “or they are concerned about college debt – or getting a job and then getting outsourced.” Supporting students going into the trades provides them with work skills and supplies communities with electricians, plumbers and carpenters, to name just a few needed trades.

Organizers also hope to make enough money to buy or build a mobile food cart to distribute food to students in the summer, and to sell food at school sporting events, Kiah said.

The tiny house was supported with a $10,000 donation from The People Project, and volunteer work and contributions from union laborers, community businesses, the Canton Central TA, led by Kristin Ames, and student and faculty. Local 1249 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, for example, donated wiring and skilled labor. Members of the Canton Central School Custodian Association, led by Toby Burnham and Judy McMartin, installed plumbing.

canton tiny house
Photo of the completed tiny house provided by Greg Kiah.

The People Project is a program funded by the American Federation of Teachers and NYSUT to help galvanize the economically challenged North Country with community projects, funding, planning and support for existing organizations.

“It’s all about revitalizing our area,” said Mary Wills, director of The People Project and a retired teacher from Ogdensburg. “We’re struggling economically. The tiny house project is a great way to bring together community, small businesses, students and skilled labor. It will generate funds to do another project.”

The little house is fitted with a pine wood interior, has a 25-gallon gray water tank and a 25-gallon black water tank, which can be emptied at a dumping station or permanently hooked up to a septic system. It has hot water heat, using propane, a full bathroom and a full kitchen sink.

The house could be used for a seasonal home, a hunting camp, or even “a really, really nice she shed,” Kiah said, laughing.

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