Updates for the Week of 10/26/20

Thanks to everyone who has volunteered or offered donations during the past month!  And thank you for being patient while we get things organized.

We have lots of exciting news!!!
On September 30th we learned from our realtor Clint Otto (eXp Realty) that our offer to purchase Wiggies Bar at 1901 Aberg Avenue was accepted.  In the past 3.5 weeks we have:
    • Raised over $50,000 (over 450 donors)
    • Over 50 people have indicated they want to volunteer
    • Over 60 people have volunteered to help with donations of goods (Thanks to Chris Odt for organizing!)
    • Received Temporary Zoning (through June 1) approval through the City Council
    • Built a tiny house and had Fire Department, Building Inspection and Zoning inspect it.  Ordered supplies for 4 more houses (will be here on Thursday)
    • Have a resolution going through the county board for a $200,000 grant
    • Worked with Bachman Construction and their subs (Hill Electric, Perzborn Plumbing and Harker Heating and Cooling), the architect Ed Kuharski and surveyer (Isthmus Surveying) to be able to start construction the week of November 9th.
    • Worked with One Community Bank and the appraiser (Masters-Hall) to get a bank loan to close between November 6th and the 10th
    • Are entering into a lease with Common Wealth Development ($1/mo!!! Thank you!!!) for space to build the tinier houses
    • Had 12 people go through orientation (limited to 6 per week) for the tiny houses and have added 6 people as members who qualify to apply for a tiny house.
It seems nothing short of a miracle that everyone has come together to make this project happen and we couldn’t be more grateful for this community cooperation and support!
The next steps for the project are:
    • Get the leased shop set up and ready for volunteers (Volunteers start Monday Nov. 2nd – watch for an email Friday or Saturday)
    • Closing on the property (November 6 – 10), prep the building for construction
    • Construction starts by Wednesday, November 10th
    • Build the fence (Weekend of November 14th and 15th)
    • Build a communications/admin team
    • Continued fundraising
      • Go Fund Me
      • On-line store set up
      • On-line auction set up
      • Sales of items from Wiggies Bar
If you are received an email that means that we have you on our radar screen and we are thankful for your patience with us!  If you did not receive an email but want to volunteer, email us at occupymadisoninc@gmail.com
Administrative Assistance (Fundraising, Admin, Communications, Donation Coordination)
We have lots of people who have volunteered to do administrative things, which we need!  I will be contacting them this week to set up administrative assistance so you all will be getting more regular updates.
Building the Houses
    • Our goal is to have the people who will be living in the houses help build the houses.  So they will be signing up first.
    • Our second shift of people to sign up is for people who might want to be a shift manager or people with special construction skills.  (This week)
    • And then we will start getting everyone else (Mid-week next week)
Donations of Items
Right now we have no space for donations, however, we will by next week.  Please continue to be patient while we work things out!
Thank you for your continued interest in this exciting project and for your continued patience.  We are excited that with so many volunteers and supporters we may be able to complete this project by the end of the year.  We will be in touch shortly!  In the meantime, if you have questions, please contact us at occupymadisoninc@gmail.com.
The Occupy Family!

When is the neighborhood meeting?

From Alder Syed Abbas’ Blog

Occupy Madison proposes two uses for the 1901 Aberg Avenue site (Wiggie’s). The first is a temporary use for the winter to allow 25-30 people to live in conestoga style huts on the property. The building will provide a kitchen, bathrooms, showers, laundry, Internet, common space, etc. The permanent use is a tiny house village similar to the one at 304 N. 3rd Street and that will go through a full planned development process.

Please join me and Occupy Madison Representative, City staff from Zoning, Planning, Community Services, Traffic Engineering and MPD for a virtual neighborhood meeting on Wednesday, October 28, at 6:00 p.m. to learn more about this proposal. You can join the virtual meeting using your computer, smartphone or tablet, or you can listen in via telephone. You will receive login information after registering at https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJcudumrpzMsHtIKVuqHVEeQ649cwFAeBn8x

How are you getting zoning so quickly?

Much like the Streetery program for restaurants and bars, the city is allowing us a temporary use while we go through the full zoning process to create another tiny house village like the one we have at 304 N 3rd St.

This is the resolution that the Mayor and Alders Syed Abbas, Grant Foster and Tag Evers are sponsoring that is being introduced at the city council meeting on Tuesday for approval that evening.  (Recommendation in Legistar: RECOMMEND TO COUNCIL TO ADOPT UNDER SUSPENSION OF RULES 2.04, 2.05, 2.24, & 2.25 – MISC. ITEMS)

Allowing for the temporary establishment and regulation of a tiny house village at 1901 Aberg Avenue, in order to provide additional shelter to the increasing number of Madison residents experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic and the coldest and most dangerous months of the year.

Here are the rules and regulations that will apply for the temporary use:

this Resolution also establishes the following rules and regulations that will apply to the temporary tiny house village at 1901 Aberg Avenue:

  • Occupy Madison, Inc. must provide a 20-foot wide fire lane located in accordance with the fire code as approved by the MadisonFire Department.
  • Occupy Madison, Inc. must provide and locate fire extinguishers as approved by the Madison Fire Department.
  • Occupy Madison, Inc. shall ensure that each sleeping unit must contain a working smoke alarm.
  • If the sleeping units are heated with electric heat, no Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors are required.  If the sleeping units are heated with any other heat source, Occupy Madison, Inc. shall ensure that CO detectors are provided in each sleeping unit.
  • If the property is secured by a perimeter fence, the operator must provide the Madison Fire Department with an approved key vault to allow 24/7 access.
  • If the property contains a fire ring, the fire ring must be located fifteen (15) feet from all combustibles, buildings, and property lines, and must be covered with a spark arrestor.
  • Occupy Madison, Inc. shall provide and regularly empty dumpsters for solid waste disposal, trash and recycling.
  • Occupy Madison, Inc. shall ensure that city water is provided from inside the existing principal structure on the property in compliance with building codes.
  • Occupy Madison, Inc. shall ensure that the existing principal structure on the property provides at least three (3) women’s toilets (3 stools) and three (3) men’s toilets (2 stools and 1 urinal).  There shall be no on-site compostable or camping toilets.  If necessary, porta-potties may be used to satisfy this requirement while permanent facilities are under construction but must be removed as soon as permanent facilities are available.  Occupy Madison, Inc. must ensure that construction begins as soon as possible.
  • Occupy Madison, Inc. shall ensure that the existing principal structure on the property includes functioning handwashing sinks.
  • Occupy Madison, Inc. shall ensure that the existing principal structure on the property includes at least one (1) shower for every ten (10) occupants of the tiny house village.
  • Occupy Madison, Inc. shall ensure a minimum of ten (10) feet between tiny houses.
  • Occupy Madison, Inc. shall ensure there is an emergency telephone accessible at all times for all occupants of the tiny house village.
  • Occupy Madison, Inc. shall ensure there is an appropriate registration process for on-site occupants.
  • Occupy Madison, Inc. shall ensure that no alcohol or drugs are consumed or possessed on the premises of 1901 Aberg Avenue during its temporary use as a tiny house village.
  • Occupy Madison, Inc. shall submit a site plan and operational plan to the Zoning Administrator showing compliance with all of the above requirements. The site plan and operational plan must be approved prior to placing any sleeping units on the property.
  • Occupy Madison, Inc. shall ensure that the site complies with all other relevant and applicable ordinances and statutory requirements, including applicable building code, health code, and fire code regulations.


  • The Madison Fire Department, Public Health Madison Dane County, and the Building Inspection Department shall be allowed to inspect the property in order to ensure initial and continued compliance with the above regulations
  • The Madison Fire Department, Public Health Madison Dane County, and the Building Inspection Department may as necessary modify the above rules and regulations
  • The above rules and regulations are enforceable by the Madison Fire Department, Public Health Madison Dane County, and Building Inspection Department and citations may be issued, if necessary to achieve compliance with the above regulations, utilizing bail deposits established in M.G.O. § 1.08(3)(b)
  • Failure to follow the rules and regulations of this temporary approval could result in the Common Council ending this temporary approval at any time by passing a subsequent Resolution
  • Resolution and any approvals allowed pursuant to it will expire on June 1, 2021

Assembling our first conestoga hut

27 more to go!

This could not have happened without the following people:

    • Bruce Wallbaum and Jesse Ransom – finding the model, finding the materials to order, problem solving on the design and logistics
    • Brenda Konkel, general coordination, logistics
    • The Bodgery and its many volunteers with Jesse Ransom as lead
    • Rob Bloch and Gene Cox – OM Shop Managers with support from key volunteers Tim Jones and Dennis Harrison-Noonan
    • People living at OM village – Chris, Gene, Sofia and Larry
    • And we couldn’t have done it without the design and book of instructions from Community Supported Solutions!

Want to help . . . see how here!

How can I get a tiny home?

Occupy Madison tiny house village is a cooperatively run, self-governing organization.  While the stewardship of the house is free, we expect active participation in our cooperative village, including helping us make money to pay for the costs of the village.

We regret to inform you that at this point we are no longer accepting new residents for our houses, we have more people than houses available.  You can still request to be put on the waiting list at occupymadisoninc@gmail.com

If you are interested in a tiny home, email (or have someone email on your behalf) occupymadisoninc@gmail.com.  The process will be as follows:

    1. Attend an orientation (Saturday at 4:00 at 1901 Aberg Ave.)
    2. Attend two General Membership meetings (Sunday at 6:00 at 1901 Aberg Ave.)
    3. Become a member, agree to the community agreement
    4. Continue attending General Membership meetings (Sunday at 6:00 at 1901 Aberg  Ave.)
    5. When your time comes, you will live in the village at 304 N 3rd St for a week (if allowed by the city).
    6. While living at the village help build your tiny home or help us with our holiday sale, store sales or other activities
    7. Once you move to the new site, continue actively participating in the community and following community rules

How People are Chosen for the Huts

Residence at 1901 Aberg Ave is decided by the membership as follows:

    1. Members: Attended orientation and become a member, people are considered in the order they have attended orientation and attended meetings to become qualified.
    2. Level of participation: People who are actively participating in meetings and volunteering will get preference over those who are not.
    3. Need:
      1. People who are sleeping outside or in cars
      2. People in shelters
      3. People in hotels
      4. People living with family or friends
    4. Are you a pioneer: Are you a good fit for the community, willing to take risks with this project, be a leader, volunteer and have you shown you can abide by the community agreement and city rules.

(Posted on October 12, revised Dec 5)

It takes a community to build a village!

Here at Occupy Madison, we are 100% volunteer driven and reliant on community funding and support.  Up to this point, we have not had any government money in our project.


In order to build this new village, we know we will need some further support.  We estimate we will be putting in $387,000 in cash ($138,000) and sweat equity/volunteer time ($249,000) and still we will need $450,000 from Dane County to support the project.  It will cost us $250,000 to purchase the property, $125,000 to renovate the building for the temporary use and $50,000 to build the houses.

Want to help?  Donate here.


We estimate it will costs approximately $50,000 a year to operate the new village.  This includes the cost of electricity to the homes, as well insurance, water, gas and electric for the building, cleaning supplies, internet, village maintenance, etc  We will be receiving no government funding for this part of the project.

Want to help?  Donate here.


    • New truck
    • Passenger Van
    • Indoor space (2,000-5,000 sq ft) for October – December so we can build the houses indoors and safely socially distance.
    • Chop Saw
    • 2 new cordless drills
    • Nail gun
    • Bolt cutter
    • Welcome kits (sheets, blankets, pillows, household items – no kitchen supplies please)

To donate items, email occupymadisoninc@gmail.com


We could use volunteers for some very specific tasks:

    • Pictures/Video of the creation of the village
    • Help us create our on-line store
    • Help us create an on-line auction
    • Carpenters with teaching skills to volunteer weekly to run a volunteer shift
    • Help with fundraising
    • Social media and blogging about our journey
    • Volunteers to help create items for our on-line store (woodworking, jewelry, using the loom, hand sewn items and other crafts)
    • Help scheduling volunteers
    • Help scheduling people who want to get houses
    • Help purchasing materials for building homes
    • Help with thank you notes to all our donors.

If interested, please email occupymadisoninc@gmail.com.

We will also need volunteers to help build the houses once our funding is secured.  Stayed tuned for that.   You can sign up to volunteer here.

(Posted on October 12)

Plans for 1901 Aberg Ave

Occupy Madison has a 2 step plan for the property at 1901 Aberg Ave.


For the winter of 2020-2021 Occupy Madison plans to place 28 “tinier” (60 sq ft) Conestoga Style huts on the property.  These huts are cheaper and faster to building than the “tiny” homes (98 sq ft) we have at 304 N. 3rd St.  These huts would be occupied primarily by people currently sleeping in tents in parks and other areas around Madison

For this phase we would also renovate the inside of the building to include showers, laundry and a non-commercial kitchen for resident use.


Phase 2 would involve getting a planned development zoning approval from the city of Madison.  The second phase would have fewer houses and we would transition to our larger “tiny” houses.  With the second phase we would also determine what additional uses may go with the property (coffee shop, retail store, bakery, etc.)

Want to help?  Donate here.

(article posted on October 12)


Occupy Madison re-awakens with new plans

COVID-19, like for many others, has really changed Occupy Madison. While we have been shut down, we have been trying to figure out what we can do to help the community.

In August we wrote a proposal to build 100 tiny houses. 50 conestoga style houses and 50 of our tinier homes. We asked for $483,000 to pay for staff to manage the project, insurance, utilities, portapotties and hand washing stations.

At the time, we did not have any property for lease or under contract to purchase.

Needless to say, the project did not score well and we were not funded.

Realizing that we needed land to be successful in getting funding for our vision of a new village or two, we started a property search. This is how quickly things have been moving for us.

    • Wednesday, September 23 – Look at the property, check zoning, comp plan, OMSAP
    • Saturday, September 26 – Email county to see if there was a funding possibility with COVID funds (need to be spent by end of year)
    • Sunday, September 27th – Occupy Madison membership meeting, agreed to put in an offer
    • Monday, September 28th – We put in the offer (contingent on zoning and financing)
    • Tuesday, September 29th – Had a meeting with city set up to discuss our plans (Phase 2 at 304 N 3rd St and failed grants we wrote in August) with Community Development and Zoning (tinier houses)
    • Wednesday, September 30th – Offer accepted.
    • Thursday & Friday, October 1 & 2 – work with alders and supervisors to figure out possibility of zoning and funding passing
    • Saturday, October 3rd – Notify Neighborhood
    • Monday, October 5th – State Journal Article

Initially we were aiming to have a funding resolution through the county board by October 15th and a zoning ordinance change from the city on October 20th.  We were working with the contractors to get people into a finished property by Christmas.

Those timelines have been changed.  The county won’t consider any proposal until November 5th.  The city won’t consider a zoning ordinance change until November 17th.   Meanwhile, Alder Syed Abbas is planning a neighborhood meeting the last week in October.

Want to help?  Donate here.

(article posted on October 12)