Tim: [00:00:00] I'm Tim Panton

Vim: [00:00:04] And I'm Vimla Appadoo.
Tim: [00:00:05] And this is the distributed future podcast where we talk to people who know a little bit about the future and can maybe share that with us.
This episode is kind of a surprise to me, and it was, it was a group of, of ideas, which I hadn't really thought of together, but it's about using art.and the creative processes to kind of change the economy and change the community in a small city. and I, it's a work in progress, so we don't know the outcome totally.
But, but it was really exciting for me. It's the idea that you could kind of intentionally change the nature of a, of a community. very kind of brave and audacious to do it. I thought, and what's what, sorry, go on.
Vim: [00:00:48] I said, just us that jump straight in there and say, when you say community, what, what type of communities that you're talking about?
Tim: [00:00:55] Right. So, so it's a small city. everything's a city in the States. It's a small city in Alabama. And, and the idea is to try and kind of bring a, a cultural tone. so to, in a sense drag the university out into the rest of the city. But I think, but also just just have a cultural creative hub that then sort of spreads its, its tentacles out into, into the rest of the city.
And what's, what's really exciting about it is it's not being done by the city council or, or kind of. Government, it's been done by individuals who just like thought, well, this needed doing. Right. Exactly. Very, very audacious thing. And I mean, done slowly. You know, you, you started up by putting little, projects up.
You know, street sculpture up and getting people's response to it, and it's just sort of slowly building out from there into this quiet, audacious, I think for an individual anyway, a little housing project with the creative space associated with it. In, you know, in not very long and trying to kind of just shift the needle about in, in, in his community.
And what I love about it is that although there's some aspects of tech in it, it's actually just about the community and the space he's in. And. You know where he grew up.
Vim: [00:02:16] Yeah.
Tim: [00:02:17] And you, we tend in the in, in, I think we tend in, in England, to rely on councils to do that. That's the government's job rather than the us as individuals.
And I think that's fascinating.
Vim: [00:02:30] Yeah, definitely. It feels like there'd be a lot of diaries. Anyone outside of government to do it.
Tim: [00:02:39] Yeah, he was interesting about that. I said, you know, is this something you do with the cooperation of the city council or, or, or, you know, he said, well, actually what we try quite hard to do is to create it so that they can't stop it.
Like he makes intentional moves to, to gather popularity around a sculpture or something before the city council notice it and therefore they can't take it down retrospectively. So it's kind of almost against the, I'm not against, but like, and against the flow, let's say, of the council. But I think it's, again, it's really interesting.
I mean, it's slightly American view of kind of government can't do things, whereas individuals can, but, but an interesting counterpoint, certainly for us in Europe, I think.
Vim: [00:03:20] Yeah, for sure. I mean, yeah. I think often it can be the first hurdle that people, that downer is, Oh, government going to stop us so we're not going to bother.
Tim: [00:03:29] Yeah. I think certainly when it comes to things like street art, there's a, there's definitely a feel for like that, but quite often I think government. Well, local government is really enthusiastic about anything that like, you know, brightens up an area, particularly, you know, if it needs it. And they do like getting involved in, in success like
Vim: [00:03:51] very true
so like, did you say that they wanted to change the intent of the community or just change the community?
Tim: [00:03:59] well, so no, what I think I said, maybe I didn't, but what I meant to say was that it's, it's intentional. So he's. Building, one of the things he's building is a very small arts community, literally, actually tiny houses.
but using that community as a sort of a seed and a center to, to, you know, push the change out to some extent into the rest of the, the city. but he's, I mean, it's quite a, I can't. Can't do it justice. You probably need to listen to the interview. But, but he's quite intentional about like the way that those houses are used and the way that they're laid out and the, and the kinds of people that go to invite to use them, as being active, kind of a planned out mechanisms for doing things like quite, he's constructing a small group of a community and trying to use that as a way of moving.
The needle in the rest of the city and quite deliberately, kind of carefully planned, which is interesting. I've done, I don't, you know, you have to go back to like the, you know, the Quaker businessmen and then building, communities in the UK. Bef before you start to see that kind of intentional community building here in the UK.
Or maybe I'm wrong, maybe it's being done and I just don't know about it.
Vim: [00:05:15] I think it is with less
degrees of success. I think there is kind of, communities being
built around
swap shops and green and living
and food sustainability and
stuff like that. But I don't know. I don't know what else. I don't know if it's
led by
a single person or if it's kind of just a group of.
People with similar interests coming together.
Tim: [00:05:37] Yeah. what struck me about, and this was that somebody has to buy the land in the first place.
Vim: [00:05:42] Yeah, exactly. I'm not sure if that's something that, to that extent,
Tim: [00:05:45] if they would like one of the kind of green interests, things like who owns the land, who puts the first sign up that says this is green interest area, or, or, or whatever.
Vim: [00:05:56] That's interesting. Yeah. Well I find in in the UK is it's more groups of people that are doing stuff on their own accord then come together to just
talk about
a, rather than someone kind of leading that front
Tim: [00:06:09] and under those groups physically local, like do they all kind of hang out in the same physical area or is it a virtual group?
Vim: [00:06:17] Virtual That's why I asked at the beginning kind of wha what type of community are we
discussing here? Is it.
Is it on mine? Is it offline as a,
Tim: [00:06:24] yeah.
Vim: [00:06:25] What does that look like?
Tim: [00:06:26] Yeah. No, this is very much a offline. I mean, you know, he's using some online tools, but, but essentially it's all about the physical, local community, but also bringing in, and this was actually rather charming, lightness, bringing in, people from, you know, two or three months, two or three hours, drive away.
Are are kind of involved. cause of course the distances in the States of bigger than they are here. So kinda two or three hours drive is not quite as extreme as it is here. But,
Vim: [00:06:56] yeah.
Tim: [00:06:57] But it's still a kind of, it's a commitment of an afternoon to go and do something. So know it's still still significant.
Vim: [00:07:04] Yeah. That's interesting.
Tim: [00:07:05] So, yeah, I mean, I, I, I was quite, it wasn't, it's another one of these ones where you're, you're, you started interview thinking it's going to go one way and then, you know, it ends up somewhat. more surprising, which I always really enjoy. I mean, it's like I love it when I get a surprise in an interview, sort of.
I know that to an extent, that's me not having done every piece of research I could, but I, it's just great when you discover something that you weren't kind of totally expecting and, and, and learn something near and. Surprising. That's always a joy. So maybe we'll let, we'll let you, have a listen and see what you make of it.
Vim: [00:07:43] Thank you so much.

Josh: [00:07:44] My name is Josh Johnston. I'm from Florence, Alabama, and my life goal is to cultivate creativity to fuel the future.
Tim: [00:07:55] Well, that's a, that's a laudable, how you're getting on with that.
Josh: [00:08:00] Well, a couple of different things.
kind of, in the beginning, being from Alabama, we don't necessarily have a whole lot of culture, when, when I'm young, when I'm young, so people would say, you know, get a job and. if it's a good one, hold on to it. And so I realized that I was getting trapped in kind of societal norms of that, and I needed to do something, something different and I needed to help other people, see that as well.
And so, I realized that creativity, was the key to that. and if I could come to cultivate that, and both in my personal life and in my community, we would see, the economic impact of that for the future.
Tim: [00:08:48] So what kind of shape does the creativity take? like is it music or writing or what do you do?
Josh: [00:08:56] So, currently I, I never considered myself an artist. I'm more of a creative. But, I started building, public art and visual art, in the form of, assemblage or, sculptures. and that's the easiest way for me to grab somebody's attention, to make the gears start turning in their mind.
Tim: [00:09:20] So, if I'm remember your, your work. Kind of the things I've seen it, they tend to be kind of a little bit, how, I want to say lighthearted. They're kind of, there's a, there's usually a, like half a joke at the center of them, or am I right about that?
Josh: [00:09:36] Yeah. Yeah. So, some of my recent projects, that my first, project was a nine and a half.
Foot tall, still electric guitar, that, lights up and blows fire out the top. and that was, just to get the gears going, but also to, promote my local community, which is the Shoals area, or if you're a music person, that would be muscle Shoals. and then after that. I, I started, the endeavor of other projects.
And so, we did, be the art, which is, a big, photo frame, as a, a stand that makes it, you know, self-standing and it lights up and you can, you get behind the frame and you become the art to kind of cultivate, that experience. then we did, the, your beautiful project, which is, where we buy stickers and street signs.
They simply say you're beautiful and kind of, place those, around just about everywhere we go and when we travel and in our local community, and then the stickers out, randomly pass those out as I'm just walking down the street.
Or if I see somebody, it looks like they need cheering up or, just to make somebody's day.
Tim: [00:10:49] so, so how, then, how big are these things? I'm trying to get a sense of like these, the, the, the, the street signs are kind of full-sized street signs and the little stickers or little stickers or how's that like.
Yeah. So,
Josh: [00:11:01] so the, so I bought these all online. So that's, it's a company out there that, they just kind of do inspirational, art surrounding, the you are. Beautiful. phrase. And so, I just go online and I purchase them. And the stickers are probably, maybe a two inch by one inch, small reflective sticker.
and the street signs are, how would say, Probably a split by 10 inches. And so, usually, when you see a regular street sign, sometimes underneath it, it will have like parking hours or, You know, a handicap. It's about the size of a handicap sign. Turn sideways.
Tim: [00:11:47] Okay. Right.
Cause I was getting the sense with, with, with your other, kind of most sculptural stuff that you like, kind of things that were big. but this is, this is, this is a smaller, smaller kind of more, I guess they're more of them as well. It's not, not just one, it's kind of spreading the word rather than putting one item in place so I'm.
Just trying to get a shape, like have the, the, the, the, kind of fits in place, I guess is, you know, what its location is and how that, how that influences the scale of
Josh: [00:12:14] it. Yeah. So, like, I'm looking at a photo of one of the you are beautiful assigns that we placed, and we placed that at a crosswalk.
and it's also happens to be outside of a, a tanning salon, so that, you know, people crossing the street, you know, or going to the tanning salon can possibly get a glimpse of it. And it helped make their day. And
Tim: [00:12:41] do you have any kind of, grief from the civic authorities with you putting these signs up or is everyone very relaxed about it?
Well, so
Josh: [00:12:50] I'm sure they would be. I'm sure they would have something to say about it, but these are actual street signs. So they're a metal signs that look super official when you put these up that way they tend to stay there because the city just doesn't notice. And then when they do notice, they think it's supposed to be there.
So it's kinda one of those things, if you, if you just act like you own the place, you can, you know. You can achieve a lot of things when you're walking into a concert or a party, that sort of thing. It's so the same concept goes, if this looks official, will it must be official so they leave it
Tim: [00:13:30] right.
It's not worth the hassle of them kind of finding out whether it really is or not.
Josh: [00:13:35] Right? Yeah. They have to go through this whole process, and so now we're not putting a fork in the middle of the road. It's obvious to them, but a Street sign that looks like a street sign. This looks pretty official.
Tim: [00:13:49] Yeah. The, the, the, the nine foot flaming guitar is probably not going to be like the local city council's work. Is it
Josh: [00:13:57] right? And one of the things that you want to do, like with the public arts, our latest project is. the locks of love project and we, it's a four foot, steel heart with metal mesh in the center of it that you can hook locks into.
And we try to build a groundswell of community support so that the city can't really say anything. So this is installed publicly outside of a coffee shop and. There was a post, in the sidewalk, had been there for years and it was just empty. And so I've designed this project and built it. And then, at 10 o'clock at night, I cut the top of the post off and.
Put this heart right on top. And so it was instantly well received by the community. and then started getting some positive press, and things like that. So the, the local officials. You know, they can't really say we're going to take that down because it's impacting the community in such a positive way.
so this last week, kind of an inspirational story, came across, Facebook, where a lady was outside the coffee shop and she saw a couple pudding, putting the a lock on and she, she asked them, you know, you know. You know, how are they doing? Or kind of struck up a conversation and.
The response was they drove over three hours, away
to put
Tim: [00:15:35] Oh, wow.
Josh: [00:15:36] A lock on this. And so, and I'm constantly trying to attach, the economic impact of. Creativity and public art, to everything, you know, to the projects that I do, so that people can, to the community, and the local officials, can tie that together.
So once the local official sees somebody drove three and a half hours to put a lock on this public art piece, and then they had coffee or lunch at, The coffee shop in front of there. they also probably spent other money locally. And so it, it's really, you know, impactful.
Tim: [00:16:17] Did you have a sense of how, how word traveled over, you know, that distance?
Josh: [00:16:24] So, we, I actually got a phone call from, al.com, which is, a press company here in Alabama that kinda does the whole state. and she did, the writer, had heard about it and got in contact with me and wanted to do an article on it. And so she did. and that's how I got distributed, throughout the state of Alabama.
and kind of drove some of that traffic from outside the area. we've also had, you know, local media and that sort of thing. reach out and have done a story on it as well. but that's all homegrown. So I never went and said, Hey, you know, this is what I'm building, do this article or anything like that.
I just did it. And then these are the reactions to it.
Tim: [00:17:14] So I, this is, this is interesting in the sense that it's quite, like the materials you are using it quite traditional, but you're like, Your attitude and the way that you're, you're presenting it and indeed the place you're putting it is, is nontraditional for, for, art, which is kind of interesting.
Like, you know, it's not like you're kind of doing digital arts or, or, you know, virtual reality stuff or anything like that, but, but, but it's where you're putting it in the how your, your attitude towards it that I think is, is novel and exciting. It's kind of interesting. Different or
Josh: [00:17:49] the other
thing is I'm not an artist, right?
I envision a project and then I assemble the team to make it happen. So like the heart project, where yes, it was my idea, but once I had the idea, I went to, a local metal company and said, this is my idea. This is what I need. And so they're the one to use a plasma cutter or a laser cutter to cut out, the shape of the heart in the metal mesh.
And the, the. The exterior of the heart. And then I went to another fab shop and had the metal rolled, in the shape of the heart and welded together. And then it went to another buddy shop to have a pole put on the bottom of it so that I could go over the existing pole that was at the city.
Right. So I didn't physically build any of this. But I had the idea and the vision and put together the team, you know, to do that. And so we're all really the artist and it's all benefiting our community. because I didn't, they didn't donate their time. I didn't ask them, Hey, will you do this for free for the community?
I said, Hey, I want to do this. What's it going to cost so that we would see the economic. Benefit of the creation throughout our community.
Tim: [00:19:15] It's interesting. And, and, and you're like, I suppose to some extent that's possible because of some of the technologies, like, you know, the laser cutter is, is a quicker, cheaper way to make a, something like that than a traditional blacksmith might've been.
So, so like, it's, it's doable in a, on a one off basis when you might. Right? Otherwise, it might've been a lot more expensive and therefore maybe impractical.
Josh: [00:19:42] Yeah, absolutely. You know, for me, I'm cashflow in this all out of just my, my personal income, you know, for my job. And so, it has to be affordable.
And so if somebody had to. Plasma cut out the shape of the heart by hand. it would cost a lot more because of the time and the labor costs. but by using the technology, I can say, this is what I want. And they can, you know, they can take a shape of a heart and instantly, you know, send it to the machine and cut it out.
Tim: [00:20:17] So what do you think that the lifespan of a project like this would be? So the heart's, how long do you think that's gonna gonna be there? like 20 years or. Two months.
Josh: [00:20:28] So we hope that it will be there at least 20 years. one of the things that we did is everything that I do, I try to do it to the best of our ability and to the best that I can afford.
So, after we had this, heart finished, it went back to another company to be powder coated. And so, to prevent it from rusting and decaying over time cause all public art has some type of maintenance. And so, our goal is, is once this heart gets filled with locks that we're going to go and, and cut them.
off and then go to a local Foundry and have those melted down into another art piece that we can put on display in the city as well. So on the process, we'll start over a filling that the heart again,
Tim: [00:21:17] right. So I had a, an interesting story about. a similar, I, this was one of these things on bridges, similar, similar thing.
with locks , but there's a, there's a side project of a bunch of local hackers who are teaching, lock picking two, two kids. And one of the things they do is they go there and they pick the locks. As part of the kind of, so this is sort of continual cycle of these, these locks being picked by people who are being trained in security awareness, sort of moving them out.
Now, I don't know if that's a scalable project, but I really like the idea.
Josh: [00:21:52] Yeah, I think that's a fantastic idea. So that's just, that can be an added step, you know, to take them off versus using a bolt cutter is teaching something. that gets somebody's mind turning.
Tim: [00:22:06] Right? And, and it's, it's one of those things that, you know, people don't necessarily.
Like a lock picking is interesting. I've never, I've done it like in the past, but not like seriously. I'm not like, it's just for entertainment, but it's interesting, like it's an interesting thing because you suddenly realize that like not all locks are equal and not all of them are the same quality.
And you, you kind of. start to appreciate the kind of love that went into the design of some of the really good locks that people are really put, like, you know, ingenuity into the design. And some of them they just
haven't, and you, you don't know it from the outside really necessarily.
Josh: [00:22:44] Sure.
Tim: [00:22:46] So I'm curious about, that's a, that's a long lived project, but like, do you do the stickers is a presumably relatively short lived, so like in a quite ephemeral, how do you feel about that? Where's your kind of heart in that?
Josh: [00:23:01] You know, for me it's a, it's a place at times for. for inspiration.
So, it only takes that one little moment, to make somebody stay or to change their life. You know, and if I could hand that sticker out and it changes it just for that one day, it's worth it. and you never know how that's going to affect somebody at the longterm as well. Cause I can, I can give that sticker and then they can turn around and give it to somebody else, you know, or just say, or like, Hey, somebody gave this to me today.
It made my day, you know? And that can inspire other people to, to, you know. To change as well. So I'm happy with it being a short lived, small project, but it's very, it's the impact that I'm looking for.
Tim: [00:23:52] Right. And do you do any kind of analysis and try to turn a measure that or, or are you kind of happy to, to just get stories and, and kind of maybe keep those, stories rolling in.
Josh: [00:24:05] You know, I haven't, I haven't done any metrics on it. I have, I haven't thought about it cause it's such an impulse thing. If I have them in my pocket, I'm giving on my own. If I put one in my, in my suitcase, I'm putting it up and I, you know, a lot of times. Hi, I just walked by and handed out.
I never look at the person or see the person, so you know, maybe I'd glance at home or say, Hey, this is for you, and walk away because I'm trying to get, I'm trying to. Be more selfless in that. act, and so I don't really, I haven't kept any of the metrics. I'd be interested if somebody had metrics on the impact of things like that.
Tim: [00:24:49] Yeah. I mean, we, I, you, we did this. I mean, you know, we did this, this thing with the star.
Josh: [00:24:56] Starway
Tim: [00:24:56] yeah. And I was like, I was blown away at how, how much people are invested emotionally and something basically, cause they liked the look of it.
and that was kind of interesting and slightly scary actually.
Josh: [00:25:11] Yeah. So the different projects, that I have done get different reactions. And so, with the, the flaming guitar, a lot of times it's power and excitement. You know, they get to press a button to make something blow fire and it's loud and they, and it's has a visual effect.
And if it's at night, it lights up the area. And that's. Really different, compared to like, the, your beautiful or the, or the locks of love project. one of the things that caught me off guard, was I kind of go by and inspect the locks and try to look and see if somebody has written on them or painted a lock or engraved, you know, a lock.
And one of the things that caught me off guard. He was one of the logs had, what looked to be a born date and a death date. And so, I didn't expect that, you know, I just figured that people would put, you know, their names and a year and, you know, so much love. But, I, you know, that Lock had a deeper meaning, you know, which makes a project have a deeper meaning.
and so for me, I think, yeah. The vision of it and, and what something is, people can attach an emotion to it easier than something. Maybe that's more abstract or, less as, you know, quote unquote beautiful. Or if you know what they make and severe as, art or well, art or not, you know?
Tim: [00:26:47] Yeah. I think, I think. It doesn't have to be kind of traditional, like classic art, but I think there's something about kind of elegance or simplicity that that people. Like, respond more quickly to, I think that's, that's the thing. I mean, you're, you're, you're handing out, I, I'm going, I haven't seen it, but presumably a very simple, message that, but it has a kind of clarity and an, an, a, an a elegance.
And I think that's part of the power of it, is that people don't, you know, people couldn't respond to it really quickly because of that.
Josh: [00:27:21] Yeah, absolutely. Agree.
Tim: [00:27:25] So tell me about the, the, the spaces where these, these things go. I mean, you know, is, is this kind of a, like I've no sense of what, what the place looks like.
Josh: [00:27:36] Sure. So, the heart is in a downtown area right outside a coffee shop. So there's parking meters and parking spaces. It's just a, a rural downtown classic area. and so, it, it's very in the public eye. Now the, the guitar project, we have to do it at more private events because of the liability of the propane and the, and the PI and the fireproofing and that sort of thing.
and then the, the you are beautiful. It's more of an intimate thing. Again, it can be just about anywhere. so I think the environment's very, I don't know that we would do something more rural, because I don't know that I can touch as many people or have an effect on people.
Tim: [00:28:26] Right. So you need the kind of footfall and the, and the eyes on it for it to work.
Josh: [00:28:31] Yeah, absolutely. And that's what we do is everything we do is it, or I do. And the wife and I say we because it's, and you know, I'll try to, create community projects. everything we do has to do. To provide an emotion or an experience, right?
So with the guitar, you have to make it blow fire. You can press the button with the heart, you can, you know, you put a lock on it with a photo frame. You physically have to get in there and take a picture, you know, and the you are beautiful is, is for emotion.
Tim: [00:29:01] So it's very much interactive. Like, you know, the, the, the, the viewer actually has to be kind of part of the, part of the story.
Part of the picture.
Josh: [00:29:11] Yeah. And that's how we're able to touch people and have their effect.
Tim: [00:29:17] And what, so what's happening next? What's your next kind of, Like project or direction
or, you know.
Josh: [00:29:24] Sure. So our, our, her next move is even more ambitious. we have me and my wife have purchased a little over two, a 2.8 acres, two blocks from our local university in hopes of creating a tiny house creative community.
So we want to build 10 tiny houses, with a creative space on the property. and this property is also, adjacent to, a public park that has hiking and mountain bike trails and that sort of thing. So we wanna kinda connect that in, with the community so that we can, cultivate that for the future.
Tim: [00:30:06] So is the idea that the tiny houses. Artists in residence type feeling or, or just like, just part of the, an offer to the community.
Josh: [00:30:16] Yeah. So we want to do, several things we want, we want to partner with a local, you know, art.

I was gonna say, we, we have a local art council, and we have some, a lot of local, artists.
and we have the university. And so we want to partner and have, you know, a couple, four artists and residency programs. We want to have a couple for, creative students. So if you're a design student or an art student, You, you can have that opportunity to live there as well. And then we want to have a couple of Airbnbs so that we can, bring people in and have them, a creative, place to stay so they can kind of be more invested in our community as they visit.
Tim: [00:30:59] That's cool. How's that? That's a pretty scary project. Do you think you're going to be able to do that? Like still be part time on it and then have a real job?
Josh: [00:31:11] So, we'll see. we've, we've talked to with several friends, about this project are willing to give money, but, they want it to be a nonprofit.
And really the tiny houses, are to. To help cashflow, our passion for cultivating that creativity. And so, we're doing the tiny houses as income so that we can, cashflow the creative space and other creative projects so that we can inspire others. And so, it's a tough position.
but, You know, we are doing it for personal income so that we can kind of continue our vision, which is a hard spot to be because if you're a nonprofit, you constantly have to find res to, to be able to keep that going. And so. By building the tiny houses, we hope to build the cashflow in for the creative space and other projects that we do in the
Tim: [00:32:13] When you say a creative space, what, what, what are you kind of envisioning there? Is it like a, a maker space or, or kind of a gallery or, I, I'm really going to have a vision of it.
Josh: [00:32:25] Yeah, so that's the hard thing where we met with our local university. they kind of had the same question. And because, makerspaces are super in right now, and, and things like this, are they interesting in having their own maker space?
And for us, we want to be more of a blank canvas. And so, I don't care what you're doing as long as you're doing it. Right. So if your creativity is drawing patterns in the sand as art pieces, I want you to be able to do that, right? And so, this space will be, more, just an open space that you can reserve.
So we want to create an online, a website that you can go fill out a form. with what you want to do and the dates, and then we want to be able to try and I help that helped make that achievable for you. And so if you need a space to, you know, work on, you know, some paintings, but you work full time.
You want to come in at two o'clock in the morning and work from two to 5:00 AM or, or whatever. We want to be able, we want to be able to For you to reserve that space and be able to do that. if you want, if you're the, the local boy scout leader and you need a space to build box car derbies for a week, we will need to be able to schedule the space and do that.
if you're a band and need a practice space for, you know, a weekend or want to do a small little songwriters workshop or, or something like that, we want to be able to provide that space. So. it's more of, cultivating the creativity versus, specializing in a certain type of creativity, like a Makerspace or a hackerspace, that sort of thing.
Tim: [00:34:12] So I guess the thing, I mean, that would be. Challenging on that is trying to get the kind of, you know, the culture right for it. That's always that, that, that, you know, you know, within a minute or two when you walk into a space like that, if the culture's right or not, but it's surprisingly hard to do from the inside of like getting it.
Feel right. Feel welcoming, but, but also not be a kind of completely free for all mess. kind of interesting challenge there. I didn't know if you've got any thoughts on how you might do that.
Josh: [00:34:44] Yeah, so, the, we hope that the tiny houses, and the community that we're, that we build there will set the tone, for, for the goals of the space.
And so, we want it to. To already have that feel before you ever get to the creative space. So when you walk in, you're ready.

Tim: [00:35:08] So maybe we could, maybe we can talk about the tiny houses as well. what's the, like, I mean, I've, I've seen pictures of them. I've never seen one in real life. What's the, like. Give a little little word picture of them.
Josh: [00:35:23] Yes. So, for us, we say tiny houses, we're not talking about 200 square feet, but we are talking about, maybe 500 square feet. and we want to cater these tiny houses to the creative community. So we need them to be affordable. but also functional. And so, we actually made, about a dollar, a square foot or a dollar 25, a square foot would be the rental price on them.
and, we want to, you know, you so. A tiny house is like having a, a square car. So I want to own a square car. and I realize that you don't buy a square corner because you need a car. You buy a square car because you want a square car. And it's the same. It's the same thing with a tiny house.
You don't live in a tiny house because you need a place to live. You live in a tiny house because you want to live in a tiny house. And so that's really the difference, that we see people who've asked us, why don't you just build apartments? Well, we don't feel that building apartments are necessarily building a community.
And so we want to. Build a community that people want to live there and they want To cultivate that creativity with us. Or they want to embrace their own creativity and we want to be able to cultivate that.
Tim: [00:36:48] So in a sense that the, the houses and the, and the kind of geometry and the, and the nature of those houses is going to filter the people who come because they are going to want that environment.
And that. That feel, and then they going to shape your, your, creative space by being present and in, in the surroundings. So it's kind of all comes down from the, from the design of those, those houses. Have you, have you looked at designs of, you've got kind of some in mind.
Josh: [00:37:17] Yeah, so we, we have, we're using a fancy term.
we're calling it, mono pitch roof, design. And so we're going for more of like a lean two style roof structure. it'll be, simple but modern. and, You know, all of the, on foundations and not like, not, you know, a lot of tiny houses are built on wheels and that sort of thing.
These are all be, on, foundations in and permanent. and we envisioned, swag lights over a common area. that's in the center of the homes. It's like a fire pit and picnic tables and, and that sort of thing to kind of create that environment, that makes you want to hang out there, and be part of the community.
Tim: [00:38:03] So you're kind of trading off the relatively small homes against the community space that people hang out on and kind of encouraging them to create that community.
Josh: [00:38:15] Absolutely. Absolutely. Huh.
Tim: [00:38:17] That's interesting. I mean, I don't know what's, what's the weather like? Are you going to like, is it gonna?
Is, is the weather going to make that difficult or is it like nice to be out in a fire pit space most of the year? I'm not familiar.
Josh: [00:38:32] So in Alabama, it's hot in the summers and relatively cold in the winters. but, we only. have snow, once or twice a year and it's only an inch or, or I think the most I've seen in my lifetime here is about three inches of snow.
and it only lasts about a week if that. So we have a pretty good climate for, Being outdoors most of the year in the summer. It can get, you know, pretty hot during the day, but we'll have, kind of stretch a shade cloth, you know, and triangles or, or stars or something like that, you know, to create some shade and then maybe do some, a Mister or some fans out to kind of keep the coolness.
but yeah, so we think it's a great environment. To to hang out. And so we have some outdoor venues and restaurants and things like that, in our downtown area. So we have a pretty conducive environment for that. So granted, it's not San Francisco where you can be out doors just about year round, but, we'll take what we can get here in Alabama.
Tim: [00:39:38] And what's the, like, what's the, the, the rest of the space like at the moment, I mean, is it, is it, like scrub or is it Brown land, brownfield land, like reclaimed or what's the, what's its current state? So,
Josh: [00:39:54] currently there is an old house and a barn on the property, which we're going to be, tearing down.
the house burnt several years ago, and was never really repaired and, we thought about saving the barn, but the foundation has washed out from under it. So it's all going to be torn down and it's a, it's a. A flat top with a hill on the backside. That's all wooded with a old growth tree.
So they're all really big and nice, and we want to do all the development of the houses, and the creative space on top of the Hill. and then have a loop hiking trail, in the wooded area and have that connection. To, the other two sides of the adjoining property, which are the public lands with, hiking trails already in them.
So we want to create our loop hiking trail, and then they can cross over and go into the public lands and hike those trails as
Tim: [00:40:49] well. So do you think this is a model that could work in other places, or do you think it's very specific to the locality?
Josh: [00:40:59] So, I think intentional communities is a very hot topic, kind of globally right now.
there's some, some big developments trying to take shape, both in the U S and in other countries. for us, the thing that we would not consider, Or that we would not be considering except for this location is the tiny houses. So we feel that tiny houses, are, are really nice, but, are, could be a trend.
And so if we were not, two blocks from our local downtown area and are at a local university, we would be considering, larger residency. just because at some point, the, the tiny house becomes not functional if you don't have walkability. and resources such as a university close by and that sort of thing.
So if we were in a rural area, the tiny houses would be, less functional because you. Need more functionality in your home. So
Tim: [00:42:01] that's interesting. You're not
Josh: [00:42:03] spending as much time downtown and in local businesses, you know? So, if you want to have a dinner with eight people, you know, you're, you're either going to go outside, in the, in the creative space or in the, the, the.
The community space or you're going to go to downtown, but if we were 20 miles away and rural area, it's going to be hard to get 20 people in a space there with some tiny houses unless you're out in the, in the community space. So we just feel that the tiny houses are more functional towards us city or closer to the city or university.
Tim: [00:42:43] That's fascinating. That's a, I hadn't like, I haven't thought about any of this, but I particularly, I haven't thought about that before. So, cool. any, any other kind of future looking things you want to, you want to talk about beyond that? Like, you know, any, any other sculptures you are making or is this consuming your whole, your, every waking hour.
Josh: [00:43:01] Well. so the first of the year is normally when I start, my next projects. right now, I'm an entrepreneur as well. So, I have a residential commercial Christmas lighting company. And we have over 300, residential customers, not including our commercial customers. And so right now it's close to Christmas and
Tim: [00:43:26] you're busy.
Josh: [00:43:27] Well, so the reason I was able to do this today is because it's raining outside and I can't be on a roof. So we were running five crews and we're working six to seven days a week to get all of the Christmas lights installed. And so I just don't have a whole lot of time at the moment, but after the first of the year, we're in our dead time.
And so, that's normally when, I start on my next project. And so I have a list of projects that I kind of, go from. When I have an idea, I write them down and then, kind of go from there of what's next.
Tim: [00:44:05] Well cool. keep us posted on, on those. And, like I said, make sure you send any, any links to anything you want us to like associate with the, with the podcast.
And, and I'll do that. And I guess it'll probably probably take me two, three days to put, put this live. I need to edit it up and a couple of things like that, but it'll be out in a few days and no, it's absolutely brilliant. Thanks. Thanks for spending the time to do it. It's a, it's a great story and not like.
You know, it's, it's quite inspiring actually. I'm, I'm really, really quite impressed by, by what you're up to.
Josh: [00:44:41] Well, I appreciate your time today. I do have a question for you, though, one, because I haven't listened to all the podcast. and, and so I, I'd really like to know, what. your passion and what your, vision for, the future and what you're trying to achieve with the podcast.
you know, moving forward so that, I can really connect, you know, how, You know, I'm relevant to your podcast. Right? And so, because I'm flattered by the imitation, but I want, and I want to know more, so can you elaborate a little
Tim: [00:45:20] bit? It comes out of two backstories. co-hosts.
We, we sat and talked and kind of decided we wanted to do it and we came from slightly different angles. so for me, I was, was helping a friend, move, and somebody I'd never met before was there and I said, hi. What do you do? And he said, well, I'm modern locksmith, and I'm like. What is a modern locksmith? W what does that mean?
And he said, well, keys are basically dead, right? cause if I can photograph your key, I can three D print it. So if you ever like take a picture of your keys on your table at home , then I can print those keys. And it's probably the photo is probably fo geotagged to where you are.
So like you've just basically letting me into your house. and that was kind of interesting. And I say, well, okay, well what about these card swipe systems? You said, well, most of those, the radio is something you can intercept. And, and fake. And so I was thinking like, well, you know, what, what does this, what are you doing?
And then he shows me the new system that they're working on, which is a, combined thing of both, both the key, physical key, but also in electronic contact on it, which does like the cryptography there. And I'm like, this guy has just told me what the future's gonna look like. Right? He's going to tell me what keys will look like in 10 years time and we'll.
Like half of us will be carrying car keys that were like that. And so I suddenly realized that actually there were a bunch of people out there who knew what the future would look like. You just had to go and in, in little niche spaces, you just had to go and talk to them and find out. So that was kind of part of my motivation.
And the other thing, which is sort of more VIM side, was. That we were aware that a lot of those people are people who you don't necessarily know, always talk to or hear from. Like they're, they're working away in their, in their little corners and they don't get a lot of publicity and they don't, like, they don't get up onto the, and, and, you know, make a big fuss and whatever.
And so they don't necessarily get heard from. So we made quite an effort to go and find People who we hadn't heard from, who we didn't see like in on the news or in the newspapers here. and, and that's part of it. It's like, this is slightly an international angle of it, but it was also just about like hearing voices that we don't normally hear, on, on the radio and whatever.
And the other thing is, it's just fun. Like, I'm, you know, so I'm curious about like, what the future's gonna look like, and I get to talk to people this way.
Josh: [00:47:48] Yeah. So,
Tim: [00:47:50] Paul
Josh: [00:47:51] who was in our camp at burning man, who invented g-mail and, Google AdSense, you know, he's got a quote that I use a lot when I'm speaking to universities or municipalities.
and he said that economically we do not need more jobs. We need more Steve Jobs. when we'd set everyone free when they were the outliers everywhere, the result will be an unprecedented boom and human creativity and ingenuity.
Tim: [00:48:20] Right.
Josh: [00:48:22] And so, for me that, yeah, I mean, that ties into exactly what I'm doing, you know, you know, building a creative community, it represents more than 10 million jobs and $763 billion in economic activity.
You know, I mean, it's, it's over 4% of the U S GDP
Tim: [00:48:46] and it's only going to, I mean, those are the jobs that, and this is my view, that those jobs are going to be the ones that lost like it. You can see how. You know that the, the spreadsheet work, we all do a lot of that. You can see how that can be computerized.
And, you know, I'm afraid a lot of the driving jobs are gonna turn into the more kind of, the more standard routes are going to turn into automated driving. and so it's like, there's a whole ton of those jobs are going to get AI'd out of existence, but the creative jobs won't, and that's fine.
That's my view. Maybe I'm wrong, but like I've had people tell me I'm wrong that you can, computers can compose music now, but I actually don't believe it.
Josh: [00:49:30] Yeah, so, you know, you're right. The growth is crazy. It's like 9% around the globe and you know, it's only going to grow faster. And that's part of why I do what I do, you know, because if I can cultivate that creativity, that in turn, you know, creates.
You know, creative employees, creative students, creative managers, entrepreneurs, you know, and you know, like places like San Francisco was not always the tech hub. They embraced the creativity and the culture of their residents. And. Now look at what they're able to generate.
Tim: [00:50:11] Yeah. I have to say though, I think San Francisco is not what it was.
Josh: [00:50:16] no. Not at all. And got to, you got to start out just scrappy, right? What you have resources people get. People need kind of, I don't want to say they get lazy, but they get relaxed. You know, the water gets, you know, stagnant, you know? And so you've got to, you've got to go to these places, you know, to where they, again, excited about the future and how they're going to create the future.
You know? And if I. You know, just inspire one person, you know, to think more creatively, you know, the, their impact on the world can be amazing.
Tim: [00:50:53] I have a theory around around that, which is to do with the cost of space. I think there's, there's a lot of, a lot of. Projects that don't happen in places like San Francisco because the land is now so expensive.
And so the idea of like what you are doing couldn't conceivably happen anyway within like 50 miles of San Francisco. Oh,
Josh: [00:51:15] no way.
Tim: [00:51:16] Right. And so, so there's a like that, that they've almost priced themselves out of the ability to be risky and innovative.
Josh: [00:51:27] Yeah. You have to give some money, the tools to be successful, and if they can't afford their housing, then they can't, then they have to focus on.
Being able to just make money versus be creative.
Tim: [00:51:41] Right, right. But, but some of the bigger things, like the idea of like having a creative space, it's difficult to do if like, you could rent that out for, you know, 10 people to live in, for, for a ton of money.
Josh: [00:51:57] So I'm, I may have left this out . We don't want to charge anything for the use of our creative space. So we understand the economics and there's costs if you want to, if you want to do a workshop there, you know, there's cost and materials and things like that, but we don't want to charge for the space.
We want you to be able to go there and be able to do what you need to do, at no cost to you. And so that you have those, you have that, that space to be able to be creative and do what you need to do and not worry about, you know, Oh, I've got to rent this space for, you know, for every how much money you know.
Tim: [00:52:41] Yeah. Yeah. No, and you don't have to make that kind of X commitment and put a deposit down and like, you know. Yeah, no, that's great. So I've, I think I've, like, I've burned through my time now,
and I really appreciate the time you've put in.
Josh: [00:52:55] Yeah. Well, thank you so much for the opportunity and I will make sure that I send a lots of information over to you.
Tim: [00:53:02] Tell. Be great. All right. Have a good day now.
Josh: [00:53:05] Yup, thank you.
Tim: [00:53:05] You as well. Thanks. Bye. Bye. Bye.