Willis Smith hosts Creative Animal Foundation as its brings its message of sustainability to Lakewood Ranch.
When Stephanie Arne and Tim Davison set out on a 50-city tour of the United States to promote the message of their nonprofit, the Creative Animal Foundation, by showing off their Tiny House, they knew it would take some living adjustments.
But Arne, who is host of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom and the founder of the Creative Animal Foundation, was caught a bit off-guard by a couple of annoyances.
"It's hard to make the bed," Arne said with a laugh.
Their 203-square-feet home on wheels has a large bunk bed that takes a bit of climbing to get into. And since the sleeping area is kind of like a big drawer, they feel a bit squished when they are changing the sheets.
On Thursday, Feb. 16, the Creative Animal Foundation had brought its Tiny House to Lakewood Ranch's Willis Smith Construction.
Arne and Davison were working at the Mote Tropical Research Laboratory in Summerland Key when they met Willis Smith Executive Vice President John LaCivita, who was checking on the facility because Willis Smith was doing some construction there.
LaCivita saw Arne, and the Tiny House in the background.
"He said, 'What is that?'" Arne said. "So we invited him in."
Arne told LaCivita about the foundation's drive to go across the country with the Tiny House, hoping to spark conversation about sustainability and conservation. LaCivita, in turn, told her about Willis Smith's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design gold certification.
Arne and Davison were so impressed they decided to make Willis Smith in Lakewood Ranch as a stop of their tour.
"They are right there with our mission," Arne said of Willis Smith.
Arne called her Tiny House an amazing educational tool. "People look at this and they think they really don't need to have all these things and they can be more environmentally friendly."
The couple started living in the Tiny House in August and plan to make it their home for about two years.
"It drove me a little crazy for the first two weeks when we had to adjust," Arne said. "But now I love it."
She said they have three big boxes of Davison's art in storage and they got rid of everything else the Tiny House couldn't hold.
Besides making the bed, Arne's biggest complaint is the double electric burner on the stove, which really doesn't leave room for a couple of pots and pans to be used at the same time. They might change that before their tour ends.
Davison said his biggest peeve was banging his head against the ceiling beam that is only a couple of feet over the bed. After slamming it three times, though, he has adjusted.
Arne's other complaint is the size of the refrigerator since they have to go shopping every three days.
They rest of it they love, especially since they have been living out of suitcases because of their livelihoods anyway.
Is it ever tough to be in such a confined area with your significant other?
They both say they go "on a lot of runs."
The key point, according to Arne, is that we all could live with less of everything in order to be more friendly to our environment.
Willis Smith President and CEO David Sessions said he wanted to expose their message to the Lakewood Ranch community by hosting a stop on their trip. "This is truly about creating more awareness about sustainability," Sessions said.
Those who would like to follow the Creative Animal Foundation trip can go to the Creative Animal Foundation site on YouTube.