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The Dubaniewicz Kids with Their Shelter Books

The Dubaniewicz Kids with Their Shelter Books

Jane, on the right, is holding one of our mini (2″ by 2″) books, which are insanely popular with kids (and of which we have printed 35,000 copies).

Wonderful Houses came in the mail yesterday and we read the first half for bedtime. We all like the pictures, diagrams and descriptions.

It’s funny, we just finished a book called Bringer of the Mystery Dog by Ann Nolan Clark. It describes life in a nomadic Native American Plains tribe. It dovetails nicely into the description of the yurts and life on the Mongolian plains. The kids love the idea of cook fires made from Buffalo and horse “chips” and of the whole family in the same room.

We’re a family of 5 and live in a small space (1000 sq. ft.) and love your idea of “scaling it back.” I first picked up a copy of Shelter in 2012 at Mollusk in SF. I used it and Tiny Homes and Small Homes for inspiration while renovating an 875 sq. ft. house in Silver Terrace that we lived in for 7 years. I used to bike past the “pink” house on Hampshire that you featured in one of your other books. We’re now in Mill Valley and I can’t wait for the next fixer to start in on.

Thanks for publishing great books!

–Jason, Elliott, Marlon & Jane of the Dubaniewicz family in Mill Valley

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GIMME SHELTER – October, 2020

To anyone receiving this for the first time, I send these newsletters out every few months. They’re different from social media — old school in a way — in that they go to a select audience (about 4000 people now), rather than blasting out into the internetosphere.

If you’re not signed up on the list to receive it, you can sign up for email delivery of the Gimme Shelter newsletter here.


In these days of tweets and Instagram, this is insanely long. But what gets lost in this social media era of haiku-length communications is writing. It’s why I keep doing (minimal) blog posts, and continue to publish books, and so I just let it rip with these newsletters. Blah blah blah…

Apocalypse Now

We were under an evacuation alert for about a week. Suitcases packed, about 200,000 negatives and scrapbooks stored in my brother’s garage, mattress set up for sleeping in back of pickup truck. Luckily, the fire got put out, but it sure made me think. What if we lose it all? Have to basically start over again?

We’ve been here almost 50 years, and have got this small homestead crafted for our lives — all without a bank mortgage. If a fire sweeps through here, there’s only so much stuff we could save.

I talked to some people who lost everything in the Santa Rosa fire a few years ago; and they said they looked out the window to see the fire sweeping into their yard and they only had time to grab the kids and the dog and vamoose.

Fishing boats at night after air cleared

Fishing boats at night after air cleared

We Californians not only have Covid to deal with, but the geographical threats of earthquake and fire. The dark side of sunny California.

There was no escaping the smoke. A nightmarish week. It looked like an apocalyptic movie. Finally, western winds cleared the air. One morning, I woke up and fog had cleared the air and I could breathe. The fresh air was like nectar.

Stuff

Many people are getting rid of stuff these days. In our books, Tiny Homes, Tiny Homes on the Move, and Small Homes, we document people opting for less stuff, smaller homes, and simpler lives.

Funny, lately and conversely, I’ve been grateful for all the stuff around here. I’ve got tools to fix just about anything (with the exception of welding). We’ve got a few thousand books, a multitude of kitchen/cooking tools, I’ve got a surfboard, paddle board and kayak. Lesley’s got two looms, a spinning wheel — it goes on forever.

Living in California now, one has to just accept the reality that all material possessions accumulated over a lifetime might be gone in a flash. Rather than quaking in my boots and stressing, I’ve played it out in my mind: if we lose it all, we’ll start over. It’ll be a challenge, but maybe in some ways exciting. I think of Siddhartha, the wealthy Indian Brahmin, who in Herman Hesse’s novel, leaves behind all his (many) worldly possessions and sets out on a life of spiritual discovery with just a robe and begging bowl.

Here’s a post on my blog about Covid-19 and previous pandemics in history: www.lloydkahn.com/2020/07/hello-darkness-my-old-friend

Our Next Book: Rolling Homes

The idea of a sequel to our book Tiny Homes on the Move has been kicking around here for a while. There are some really good books on nomadics out there now, such as Van Life, by Foster Huntington (who coined the term/hashtag #vanlife), Van Life Diaries by Morton, Dustow and Melrose, and Hit the Road by Robert Klanten and Maximilian Funk.

But after talking to Foster, who encouraged me to go ahead, and starting to gather material, I’m excited. We’ve discovered a lot of different and new rigs; this book will be different. The Sprinter vans are super, true, but there are a lot more lower-cost and/or homemade options to the +100K van.

Not that there will be a lot of old VW vans in the book, but I did think back to the 1960 VW van I had in the mid-60s with a very simple plywood setup for driving, sleeping, and cooking. Here’s a photo of a spiffier bus, but the same vintage, with the same setup. Mine had a 40 hp air-cooled motor, and we drove it 3000 miles to NYC in winter,1965 (wrapped in sleeping bags to keep warm), and also down into Puerto Vallarta before the bridge, where we had to forge the river with a guide walking in front of the car. Plus I carried tons of lumber on the roof and building materials inside it in building a house in Big Sur in the ’60s. A simple and noble beast.

Please contact us if you have or know of any interesting homes on wheels: lloyd@shelterpub.com

Things People Say

When people say to you, “With all due respect…”, you know they’re gonna follow that up by saying something mean….

Someone recently used the phrase, in referring to a county bureaucrat, “…promoted to a level of incompetence” … (That was in answer to me saying that bureaucrats beget more bureaucracy.)

Winston Churchill: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” … Which reminds me of a response, possibly by WC, to a journalist who criticized him for a dangling preposition: “That is an impertinence up with which I will not put.”

Dale Carnegie: “Remember, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.”

Neil Dickman on his music program, Bringing It On Home on KWMR, Aug 21, 2020: “I’m always certain, but often wrong.”

(In the weekly newsletter Recommendo, Kevin Kelly recently suggested Quote Investigator, which turns out to be a valuable checkpoint for, among other things, the authors of various quotations.)

In Praise of the Smartphone

I’ve preached about turning phones off, getting untethered, the need to get away from the small screen and read a book, or meditate, to be unavailable to the world once in a while. “A still mind is fertile ground for creative thoughts,” etc. BUT — once in a while, I’m freshly astounded by the power residing in my iPhone, what it’s capable of, how exceedingly useful it is.

No one ever told me I’d be carrying around a computer, camera, compass, music, dictionary, GPS, ride-hailer, the Google world, maps, podcasts, weather — an infinity of uses — in a device smaller than a deck of cards. So yeah, it’s good to disconnect at times, but — what a miraculous tool!

Posture

Ears above shoulders, shoulders above hips…

In Galloway’s Book on Running, Jeff Galloway describes legendary New Zealand coach Arthur Lydiard’s technique for better posture: imagine you have a pulley attached to a harness around your chest. The other end of the pulley is attached to 3-story building a block away. As you run (walk), lift your chest up and forward.

Note: The 3rd edition of Galloway’s Book on Running will be published early next year; it will include Jeff’s revolutionary run walk run® method of training. It is, I kid you not, the best book ever written on running. It’s sold over 600,000 copies, and been translated into eight foreign languages. It’s not a book by a writer about running; it’s a book about running by a world-class* runner (who can write).

*In 1973, Jeff set the American record for the 10-mile (47:49), and at age 35, ran the Houston-Tenneco Marathon in 2:16.

Stretching

The long-awaited 40th anniversary edition of Stretching, by Bob and Jean Anderson, has just arrived in bookstores. It really looks good! There’s a new section on stretches and tips (posture-posture-posture) for smartphone users. I’m going to send out a press release to people on this mailing list in a few days.

Octogenarianism

Out of maybe 3,500 people on this mailing list, I’ll bet there are fewer than a dozen over age 80. But for all of you youngsters, who will be here some day, and since I am constantly forced to reflect on this new world of ancient age, I’ll continue posting observations.

  • Physicality: From 80-on, it’s a different ball game. Nature is starting to subtract physical functions. Things I used to lift easily are now a strain (a 94-pound sack of cement — forget it!) Distances seem longer. I’m less flexible, like less range of motion in my neck when turning around to back up a car. (Yeah, I should stretch more!)
  • Memorabilia: I’m really forgetting stuff these days. Us old people, our memory banks are overloaded. Only so much room in there. So if I forget your name or birthday, it’s all part of the aging process. (Someone told me this week that if you know you’re forgetting things, it’s not dementia.) Now where was I?
  • Happening more frequently: I’ll go into the house from the studio to get something, forget what I was looking for, and have to walk back to the studio to remember.
  • “What, I told you that before?” Happening more and more frequently. Seems I’m repeating stories multiple times. No sympathy from friends: “Yeah, you already told me that.” Brutal.

Working Out

I’m riding my Turbo Levo pedal-assist bike regularly now, discovering roads and trails in the hills. The bike is so much fun, I look forward to heading out. A few days ago, went for a hike with Doug (shown here) and Tomás; we are so lucky to have both this magic mountain and the ocean to explore in these parts. I try to do something physical every day. Plato recommended training in both music and gymnastic for development of the soul. Too many people leave out the gymnastic part as they get older. My long-time friend Bob Anderson says, “You never hear anyone say, ‘I’m sorry I worked out.’”

Keeping On Keeping On

“If you don’t know the exact moment when the lights will go out, you might as well read until they do.”

–Latest Readings, by Clive James, 2015

Curved Roof

My latest building, 10′ by 10’. Curved roof plus windows at eye level are design bits I learned from master builder Lloyd House (Builders of the Pacific Coast), which give you a feeling of spaciousness. Same principle with gypsy wagons (vardos). A lot of help from Billy Cummings in building this.

Shameless Commerce Department

Check out our books at www.shelterpub.com.

30% off with free shipping on 2 or more books.

Review copies of any books sent free, if you designate where you would be submitting review.

Forgotten Books from Shelter

In each newsletter I’m going to show one of our less well-known books.

Wonderful Houses Around the World, by Yoshio Komatsu, is a children’s book showing ten homes in different countries. Yoshio is in my mind the best photographer in the world of homes. With each photo of these homes, there is a watercolor drawing of life inside the home, with an emphasis on what the children are doing.

It has been used in Waldorf schools, and a company that supplies home schoolers buys 1,000 copies each year. It’s $12.95 at www.shelterpub.com/building/wonderful-houses

Method of This Madness

You know, it’s really fun to do these. It’s like having a chance to chat with friends, rather than addressing the world via blog, Instagram, (or books, for that matter). I wish I had more time to do these. I piece these together over a week or so and send the rough version to Rick Gordon, who transforms them into this nicely designed newsletter.

Música del Día



The Manhattan Brothers: Their Greatest Hits (1948-1959)

Over and out, (and please VOTE!)…

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We Will Send Our Books to Prisons Free of Charge

We get letters from prisoners from time to time, and we always send them whatever books they request, free of charge. Prisons, which are profit-making organizations, continually exacerbate the problems of confinement. Years ago, they eliminated weight training and gym facilities; until that time, we sent many copies of our book Getting Stronger: Weight Training for Men and Women, by Bill Pearl to prisons around the country. These days, they won’t allow us to send books to their libraries, as is indicated in this heartfelt letter, but we can send books directly to prisoners.

If you have any connections with prisons, or know anyone serving time, we want to get the word out that any of our books — either fitness books or books on building — can be sent free of charge upon request.

In this case, it’s such a positive thing for inmates to learn a useful trade such as building tiny homes, that will both help them integrate back into society, and help provide shelter when it’s sorely needed.


Mr. Kahn,

My name is ——— and I am an inmate of the federal correctional institution in ———————. Within the Bureau of Prisons is a program called Vocational Training (VT) wherein the local prison partners with a local college or university in order to provide career training courses that are worth transferable college credit.

I work in the VT Program as a tutor and teaching assistant in the Residential Carpentry class. As the building tutor, it’s my job to take (mostly young) men from never having held a hammer to completely framing, subfloor or slab up to roof sheathing — a tiny home in three months. I love my job and find it intensely interesting.

I’ve long had an interest in sustainable building, community building, and smaller home designs. I was not prepared to find a small but dedicated (and growing) community of similarly-minded people here in prison. We have an architect from Tucson who is into natural materials, and a gentleman who wants to build a carbon neutral off-grid home. One guy wants to build a tiny cabin in Idaho, and another dreams of building homes on small trailer frames as a business. It’s exciting to have this support.

Which, Mr. Kahn, is why I am writing. I’m hoping you can connect me to resource books, papers, and other sources of information so that I can help this community succeed. The VT carpentry library is small and currently contains only a few volumes on tiny home design with almost nothing about natural or alternative methods of sustainability.

I’m working to change that, little by little. One of my goals here is to vastly increase the information available to the inmate population. Without internet or research computer access, that means the printed word. My vision is to have a robust selection of books on general sustainability, green building, water systems, solar designs — the works. I am asking you and Shelter Publications to donate books for the purpose of bolstering our sustainability knowledge set.

I making this appeal personally rather than as an official part of the VT program because the BOP has very strict rules about outside/private organizations donating to or participating in BOP programs. As an inmate, however, I can receive books and materials, then donate them to the library. I understand the purpose of these rules (I do not want to jog laps in the Coca-Cola Annex or spend time in the Inmate Leisure Library brought to you by Verizon,) but it does make certain things more difficult to accomplish.

I screwed up, broke the law and I’m paying the price. I could spend the next four years feeling sorry for myself, but that is not who I am. I intend to leave here a better person and to have made this place better for my efforts.

I ask that you help me serve this community, that these people can go on to serve their home communities.

Thank you for your time,

Respectfully, ———

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GIMME SHELTER – August, 2020

If you’re not signed up on the list to receive it, you can sign up for email delivery of the Gimme Shelter newsletter here.


Our Brothers and Sisters in France

GIMME SHELTER – August, 2020Our friend Paula, who lives in a houseboat in Amsterdam, once said to us that France was “the California of Europe.” There do seem to be many French people who share the concepts in our books (which I believe reflect the California lifestyle) in building, gardening, and the spectrum of DIY. The French translation of our book Home Work sold over 10,000 copies.

Our French friend and carpenter Yogan and his creations have appeared in a number of our books. He was hiking in the Pyrenees recently and came across this beautiful little home. He recognized it from Home Work, where it was featured in a section on countercultural builders in France, and shot this photo. It was built by Jeanne-Marie; she based the design on the old stone barns of the region, but used wood rather than stone. It’s one of my favorite little homes.

Epiphyllum Oxipetalum, Brahma Kamalam night-blooming flower(Home Work, published in 2004, is the sequel to Shelter. Many of the homes in Home Work were inspired by the builders and buildings in Shelter.)

Epiphyllum Oxipetalum, Queen of the Night Cactus

The flowers bloom only at night. This one is in our greenhouse. Lesley has been checking it every night and last night, voila! In India, it’s called Brahma Kamalam, named after the Hindu god of creation. In Japan, it is called “Beauty under the Moon.” It is very fragrant, may bloom once a year. And then — in exquisite restraint — for only one night.

truck camper

On the Road

We’re starting to gather material for another book on rolling homes. A lot has happened since 2014, when our book Tiny Homes on the Move was published. For one thing, there’s been an explosive interest in vans, as evidenced by Foster Huntington’s Van Life: Your Home on the Road, which has sold 75,000 copies. People are taking off for vacations in vans, and as well, some people who have been laid off and can’t pay their rent due to the coronavirus, are looking at nomadic living as an option.

We’re looking for the new generation of road homes, circa 2020 and beyond — different from the vehicles (or trailers) shown in present books. What’s new out there?

If you know of any unique units, please contact me:
Send Submission Email
.

Charlie Winton, Musician

Those of you who know Charlie from the publishing world (founder of Publishers Group West, the Avalon Publishing Group, and Counterpoint LLC); well, surprise! When he retired from publishing, he picked up his guitar and started writing songs. He’s just come out with his first album — Hold On Tight — and it’s great — rock and roll!

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Shelter and The Whole Earth Catalog in Abandoned Baja Hacienda

Hello there, Mr. Lloyd Kahn,

I hope that you and your loved ones are doing okay during these turbulent times!

I am a big fan of your books and have been poring over them for years for inspiration, joy, hope, and encouragement. I feel the pull to go on and on here and tell you about myself but I don’t want to take up your precious time.…

We fell in love with Baja on our travels as many do, and I know you can relate. We especially loved the oasis town of Mulege. We made good friends while we were there and had to go back. This past January we drove back there in our truck without the travel trailer this time. We rented a house from a friend that was in a hilltop neighborhood (Loma Azul) with the desert for its backyard with hikes through that magic desert to quiet beaches. We put our 10- and 7-year-olds in the local school; (they had been in Spanish immersion in the past but this was a new level). We had planned to be there for three months but sadly as we saw the news begin to break about the coronavirus, we decided to head back home to NC to get a garden started and help our families prepare to get hunkered down, and I am glad we did.

While we were in Mulege on a walk through the desert, we stumbled on an abandoned dwelling with a view of the ocean. It had a few little buildings and some outdoor patio spaces. Such a beautiful and dreamy spot.

Shelter and The Whole Earth Catalog in Abandoned Baja Hacienda

It clearly had been abandoned years ago and was in a state of decomposition. The buildings were filled with stuff! It seems someone had just up and moved away and then a big storm hit. Dishes, clothes, books, on and on!
Read More …

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The State of This Blog

I wish I had time to do more blogging. But the combination of trying to keep this publishing operation afloat, doing books, marketing (how I wish we could, as author Bill Pearl said to me once, “…just do a book and it would fly out and sell like crazy.” Well it don’t happen that way. Once you publish a book nowadays, you then get into a snarl of technical requirements. The almighty metadata. At times I wish I was an author and my publisher would take care of all the marketing and endless digital requirements.

The State of This Blog

Photo by Aubrey Trinnaman

I do a lot of Instagramming, because I’m most interested these days in the 20-40 year-olds. They’re a new ball game from their padres; they are picking up on our 47-year-old book Shelter, and saying this is what I want to do. Plus Instagram is ideal for photographers, just unfortunate that Zuck wormed into it (and piles on the ads). I do like posting photos, but with blogs, you can write.

Does anyone read blogs these days?

We applied for and got approval for a Paycheck Protection Program loan from the Small Business Administration that (if we do indeed get the funds) will pay for 2½ months of payroll. But things are still mighty thin. Bookstores are closed, and we’re trying to sell as many books mail-order as we can. We have a 30% discount for 2 or more books, with free shipping in the USA: www.shelterpub.com

I just ran across the below a few minutes ago. I had written something about our “tribe,” people who liked our hands-on approach to food and shelter, and who liked our cozy home, and the gardening, quilting, cooking part of our lives, and I had said how different our tribe was from the people who read Dwell, who I surmised to be in much greater numbers. I wrote that our people were like the book lovers in Fahrenheit 451, on the outskirts of the city, a small group of like-minded doers, but the masses were into another aesthetic. Minimal. Sleek. Expensive. And I got this comment on my blog:

This was before I started work on The Half-Acre Homestead (which is a few days away from being back in stock).

Anonymous
February 11, 2018 at 9:31 pm

Lloyd, I wouldn’t be so sure your tribe is smaller than Dwell’s … for a start, I’m pretty sure everyone on board at Dwell has read your books. More are probably following you. Your photos are abundant on Pinterest and Tumblr, and more have escaped into the wild, where they reproduce themselves in the form of strange little abodes in unlikely places.

And of course, all your photos have been seeds growing since the ’60s, every structure planting itself into a little crevice of a baby-boomer/genX/milennial/postmilennial brain … it might sit dormant for awhile, years of “normal jobs” and “nice apartments” and “valuable real estate,” until one day it sprouts through the rubble and we think, “Why not? Why not build it myself? Why not now?”

Please keep casting them far & wide … like most farmers, the principal reward for making the world a better place … is living in it.

–zolie

(Actually, it’s kind of zolie to say so, but I don’t think Dwell readers have our books or follow me.)

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