Out of the Office

Regarding Michelle Obama’s veg. garden, the Slow Food movement, Michael Pollan’s tribute to small farms, etc.: “These ideas have crept forward toward the mainstream in the wake of the economic collapse which inspired calls for a return to real work — a return in other words to activities more tangible (and, it was hoped, less perilous) than complex swaps of abstract financial products.…” 

-From a book review by Kelefa Sanneh, of Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work, by Mathew B. Crawford (Penguin), in the 6/22/09 New Yorker.

Boy, is it good to hear this stuff. “…an ode to old-fashioned hard work, and an argument that localism can help cure our spiritual and economic woes.…” 

I quit my job as an insurance broker 44 years ago to work as a carpenter. I liked hanging out with builders, rather than business guys, and it felt good to drive around in a pickup truck and not be wearing a tie. I reveled in the smell in lumber yards, and the feeling of accomplishment. I felt there was something more direct and useful about building, than accumulating a fortune in the business world (which I was on my way to), so this article resonated. “Crawford’s book arrives just as a vague sense of dissatisfaction with the demands and rewards of the modern economy is coalescing into something like a movement.”

In the process I built my own house; I’ve never had a bank mortgage, and this has given me a huge amount of freedom. And hey, you can still use your own hands to build a house.

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

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