natural materials (281)

Homeless Oaklanders Built a “Miracle” Village

Article in The Guardian, words and great photos by Gabrielle Canon, Tuesday May 11, 2021

Homeless Oaklanders were tired of the housing crisis. So they built a “miracle” village.

Tucked under a highway overpass in West Oakland, just beyond a graveyard of charred cars and dumped debris, lies an unexpected refuge.

There’s a collection of beautiful, small structures built from foraged materials. There’s a hot shower, a fully stocked kitchen and health clinic. There’s a free “store” offering donated items including clothes and books, and a composting toilet. There are stone and gravel paths lined with flowers and vegetable gardens. There’s even an outdoor pizza oven.

The so-called ‘Cob on Wood’ center has arisen in recent months to provide amenities for those living in a nearby homeless encampment, one of the largest in the city. But most importantly, it’s fostering a sense of community and dignity, according to the unhoused and housed residents who came together to build it. They hope their innovative approach will lead to big changes in how the city addresses its growing homeless population.…

Now, roughly five months since they broke ground, a community has coalesced around the space that not only hosts events and workshops but also offers food, hygiene, and skill-sharing to the estimated 300 people who live in nearby encampments.

‘It is working,’ Schusterman says, smiling broadly. ‘This is the vision we had and it is working like a miracle.’

(I’m not showing photos due to copyright considerations.)

From Maui Surfer

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66-Year-Old UK Woman Told to Tear Down Self-Built House

This just came in from Anon:

Woman, 66, is ordered to demolish her £59k log cabin eco-home where she has lived for seven years after council ruled it was too big and breached planning permission.

The mother-of-three spent £59,000 of her life savings constructing the cabin from natural materials and applied for planning permission at the time in order to do so.

She was told she did not require permission as there was already a mobile home on the site in the quaint hamlet.

‘I was given this formal legal document dated January 23, 2014 that said ‘application not required’. ‘I built it exactly the same as it looks in the plans I submitted in 2013. It is absolutely identical.’

“But Herefordshire County Council has since performed a U-turn and told her the wooden structure is unauthorized and in breach of planning regulations.

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9504475/Woman-66-ordered-demolish-59k-log-cabin-eco-home-lived-seven-years.html

If you run up against a firewall here, use Chrome Incognito Window (under “File” pull down window).

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Home in the French Woods of Yogan, Emily, and Baby Orso

The works of our good friend Yogan have appeared in our last three building books. Right now I’m working on the story of his latest mobile home for our book Rolling Homes, and I ran across this photo of his present home in the woods.

This guy is prolific! See previous posts on his work, including his visit to California a few years back: www.lloydkahn.com/?s=yogan

His blog: yogan.over-blog.com

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Warmest Tent on Earth – Pitching in the Siberian Arctic Winter

The Nenet reindeer herders need to move their tent every few days throughout most of the year. Every time they migrate they must pack the whole tent away, drag it across the tundra on sledges, and erect it again in a fresh place, sometimes in temperatures of minus thirty degrees. Survival depends on working together as a team.

After staying in the wooded taiga for two months they start to migrate north following the ancient paths of migrating reindeer (caribou). In four months they will travel up to 1200km and must pack and move every three to five days to keep up with their herd. They must reach their summer quarters before the snows melt and flood great rivers with icy waters too cold and deep for the calves, born along the way, to cross.…

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Louie’s Shop

When I first met Louie, in the mid-1980s, I was stunned by the beauty of this little building, and even more stunned when he told me that his design was based on the painting of a Mandan earth lodge on page 4 of our book Shelter. Moreover, his cabin across the river was based on the drawing of a small Japanese cabin (bottom right, page 21) in Shelter.

At that point, I had published Shelter II in 1978, but hadn’t really planned on any new books on building.

If Shelter had inspired buildings like this, it occurred to me that it was time for a sequel, and therefore I started working on Home Work, featuring Louie’s creations as the first part of the book. It turned out that a lot of buildings had been inspired by Shelter, as you can see if you leaf through Home Work.*

Since then, we’ve become the best of friends, and I visit him whenever I can. I stay in the little circular room (at right in the exterior photo), and it’s always a wonderful experience — looking up at the radial framing of the roof (with a Ford truck wheel at the apex), looking out at the grapevines, enjoying the design and quality of the building.

I always consult him on projects underway, and on this trip I took along the 30 or so pages of rough layout of our next book, Rolling Homes, and got his feedback.

Now that I’ve returned home, I’m back to work on this book, and it looks really exciting — what with the huge interest in nomadic living these days.*

Stay tuned.

P.S.: I highly recommend the film Nomadland; it’s real (a rarity these days).

*Shameless Commerce Department

You can get both Shelter and Home Work on our website with a 30% discount and free shipping — which beats Amazon. There’s a money back guarantee on all of our books.
www.shelterpub.com

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Reconstructed Building at Fort Ross, Sonoma County, California

This octagonal wooden structure is one of the beautifully reconstructed buildings at Fort Ross, “…the hub of the southernmost Russian settlements in North America from 1812 to 1841.” See: wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Ross,_California

If you are ever driving north along Highway one towards Mendocino, and are at all interested in building or California history, I highly recommend stopping in at this spectacularly reconstructed fort.

www.fortross.org/reconstruction.htm

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Ranchera in Baja California Sur

In 1988, I bought my first 4 × 4 Tacoma pickup truck and headed for Baja California. This was shot on the Naranjas road, which goes from north of San José Del Cabo across the Sierra La Laguna mountain range to the Pacific Ocean near Pescadero. It’s a dirt road, rough in spots, and at times closed due to rock slides or washouts. This was at an immaculate rancho about halfway along the road. The ranchera told me she had six kids and that her husband was in the hospital. A beautiful home, built of (obviously) all local materials. These ranches, many of which are in almost inaccessible spots in Baja California, usually run dairy animals: cows or goats, or beef cattle. She took off her hat and posed proudly in front of her home.

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Shelter Publications World Headquarters

In the middle of a vegetable garden, hooked into the world with a half dozen Macs and a bunch of iPhones.

Built almost entirely of used wood from torn-down Navy barracks at Treasure Island (between Oakland and San Francisco) during the early ’70s.

I made friends with the wrecker, George Taylor, and we did a feature on his tools and techniques in our book Shelter.

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