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  • Damini Rathi

Demo House: How can we make a happy 'place'?

Demo house is a couch surfing, community home located in Portland, Oregon. It is a place that celebrates friendships, nurtures kindness and embraces differences. Over the last 18 months, the house has hosted over 450 travelers from all over the world.

I found Demo House on Craig's list. Honestly. And it changed my world. Living here was like living inside a motivational poster - there was constant motivation to be kind, to smile and to seek out new experiences. This house and its people taught me that,

Strangers don't have to be scary.

Opening your personal space to others takes away your vulnerabilities.

Happy people make you want to be happy.

You can be unclean and messy and still be an amazing human being.

Unconditional acceptance and non-judgmental space bring the best out of you.

People are inherently good. We all are looking for reasons to be kind. Happy art, happy conversations and happy energy create a happy space.

Above all, we are all here to make some beautiful memories.

A travellers' community in the Portlandia suburbs by Scott Allen Tice

"This house is more than a Couchsurfing house - it’s a magical experience. Demo House is a place of freedom, a home that welcomes strangers, and a house that encourages everyone to be the best versions of themselves. Simply put, Demo House is my favorite place in the world." Bui, House mate

As gentrifying neighbourhoods and Airbnb are pushing people out of the city and every possible human experience is being monetized, Demo house chooses to leave its doors unlocked and welcome everyone.

"Each guest leaves their mark on the walls, so wandering through the house becomes an adventure in itself as you admire the artwork."

Jaymee Lee, Couchsurfer

"Demo House felt like true freedom, a place where you are always welcomed and where you will meet awesome people. Often people demand a society free from prejudice- a tolerant, optimistic and open-minded society. The hosts of demo house not just show us that this is done so easily, no, they also show us how great this utopia is." Moritz Thiele, Traveller

Storytelling and Slumber parties

Portland Couch crash, 2018

"I like to think that more often than not, each person who's come through the doors remembers the Demo as a place of connection. A place where you meet people in reverse - where you dance with new faces, then discover their names afterwards. A place protected from adult concerns like political climate or career plausibility. The Demo is a place of recognition that here, together, we're aware that our reality is a gift, and we're celebrating with people who've come to the same conclusion." Dresden De Vera, Friend

"Each person that comes here is contributing to something bigger than our individual selves. This is a place where you are willing to be open, to share, to experiment, and to accept differences."

Bui, House mate

Diane founded Demo House in April 2017. However, Demo House found love in Diane few months later. In November 2017, Diane sadly had to leave Demo House. While Diane was exploring Europe, she realized the one thing she was searching for was back in Portland. Though Demo House hosted many interesting travelers- none compared to Diane. So when Diane came back to Portland in January 2018, Demo House proposed to Diane, and she eagerly said yes. At first, people were shocked. How can a girl marry a house? How can a girl marry a house when she already has a boyfriend? Diane’s parents begged her not to marry a house. However, love is love.

On March 10, 2018, Diane married her true love- Demo House. To her delight, her parents flew from California for this special occasion. Diane’s dress was made of the finest toilet paper- what a beauty! Diane and Demo House exchanged vows, had a first dance, and cut the cake. It was beautiful, just like the art within Demo House. The event was shared with friends, family, and complete strangers. The memories from this wedding will live forever, unlike Demo House. Rumors has it Diane has a baby house growing in her stomach. But then again, that’s just rumors.

- Dr. Bui

Diane and Demo, 2017

Even when the house is empty, the happiness exists in the art, movement and the conversations that have happened here.

Demo House (April 2017-Jan 2019) Picture: Scott Allen Tice.

"Conscientious people. Their pursuit of self development. Is matched. Only by their desire to meet strangers. Come here to grow. And enjoy doing it. "

Dresden De Vera, Friend

"Their sunken couches and graffiti-ed walls served as my refuge, and have served numerous wanderers from across the coast, continent, and globe. Demo House is a true hearth for the interdisciplinary weird and wacky."

Ian Garland, traveller

Demo House will be demolished soon. (Or already is) But it will forever be a happy place for those who were lucky enough to be a part of such magic.

- Damini, (ex) house mate

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