Me at Gravel & Gold in SF Friday night

I arrived a few hours early for my presentation at Gravel and Gold in San Francisco’s Mission District. I had a problem: my new MacBook Pro laptop wouldn’t accept the plug-in from my Epson projector. I’d been to the Apple store on the way over, and couldn’t find the right connector. The three owners of the store, Cassie, Lisa, and Nile weren’t dismayed. We tried all kinds of variations, but nothing seemed to be working. Lisa kept saying, “Don’t worry we’ll figure it out.” I wasn’t so sure. Finally she took off in her car and came back with a borrowed projector. We transferred the data to one of their laptops, then couldn’t get the projector going. We tried various combinations, with me having my doubts, but Lisa saying, “We’ll get it working.”

Finally one of their friends came in and knew just what to do, and 10 minutes before starting time we were in business. I started by talking a little bit about the first Whole Earth Catalog, and how it and the Dome Cookbook by Steve Baer were my inspiration for getting into the publishing business. Then I showed slides from the three main builders featured in Builders of the Pacific Coast. Finally I showed some slides of tiny houses, the subject of my next book. (Actually, in retrospect, these were photos I grabbed at the last minute and they weren’t really representative of the great material I have for this book.)

For me it was a pretty wonderful evening. The store is unique, with eclectic clothing, art, jewelry, crafts, and items you’d never think of until you see them there. Good vibes. The median age in the audience was, I’d say, 30. It’s great to be connecting with this generation. Someone asked what I thought of Dwell magazine. I said I couldn’t figure out who lives in those houses, but there seems to be no warmth or soul (or funk) evident in the Dwell style. Further, that people like us are interested in shelter that is full of life and warmth and the touch of the human hand.

Gravel and Gold has been mentioned in the New York Times and Vogue magazine and seems to be catching on. It’s at 3266 21st St., between Mission and Valencia in San Francisco. Website here. Blog here.

Photo by Evan Kahn

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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