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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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Homesteading in Alaska, 2020–2021

Hi Lloyd and company,

Greatly enjoyed your book, Small Homes: The Right Size. My wife and I live in a small home on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. We bought the land and the original cabin, which, according to the realtor, had no value: “free firewood.” So we of course did like some of the homeowners in your book, and decided to restore the place.

We added a 14×16 foot room and went from 500 sq. feet to now 830. Added a few outbuildings and now have a lovely place to call home on the edge of the wilderness. Moose, bears, lynx and more in the area.

Hope to make a second addition next year if time allows, so we can have a little more room; my wife would love a larger kitchen, and that should be it. I did all the work, with help from one of my sons and some occasional help from other family members.

If you ever are in Alaska, do stop by and visit.

I’ve attached one shot of the place, original log cabin on the right side and the 2019 addition on the left side. I’ve also attached two photos of our garden.

Keep up the good, inspiring work with your books!

–Ed and Theresa Gonzalez
Ninilchik, Alaska

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Michael Kahn’s Stained Glass Greenhouse in Arizona

My cousin Mike and I hung out together until we both went off to college. Mike started painting at an early age, moved to New York, where he sold paintings on the sidewalk, then to Provincetown, Cape Cod, where he painted, did pottery, and supported himself waiting on tables.

In the ’70s, he moved to a piece of land near Cottonwood, Arizona (near Sedona), where — partially influenced by our book Shelter — he started building a partially underground village of sculptural buildings, which he called Eliphante. I visited him and his wife Leda off and on, and in Home Work, published 24 photos of his wildly creative compound.

This is his greenhouse room built out of old auto windshields, put together with silicone caulk. The stained glass, which he got free, was siliconed on the inside of the windshields.

Mike is no longer with us, but you can learn more about him and Eliphante at: www.eliphante.com/…

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Shed Built from Nearby Salvaged Materials

Just built this cozy little wood shed in Trinity County California. All the lumber is salvaged, all the stone was gathered within 500′. The door handle is made from African coral wood and white oak I had from another project. The tin roof and windows were in a cache of reusable materials found on the old homestead. I believe the hinges were the only item purchased.

–J. Hemlock

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Surfer’s Shack by Bruno Atkey on the “Wild Coast” of British Columbia

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Surfer’s shack built by Bruno Atkey on the “Wild Coast,” about 40 miles by north of Tofino (reachable only by sea–no roads), on the west side of Vancouver Island. We went in Bruno’s 17-foot aluminum fishing boat, with 50 HP rope-pull-starter outboard motor), stayed there a couple of nights, fished, surfed, drank whiskey, and took a driftwood-fired sauna when I was shooting photos for Builders of the Pacific Coast. Bruno was one of the first surfers on Vancouver Island.

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Two Cabins on Washington State Island

We received these photos last week, from Vashon Island, which is in Puget Sound.

Hi Lloyd,

The A-frame cabin was built in the late 1960s by Tony Arndt, and my family purchased the property in 1978. My late Aunt Mary lived in it for some time with her son. I think she replaced the cedar shingles on the front and possibly the windows. Sadly, it is falling down now, I do believe beyond repair.

The newer cabin is my 12′ by 16′ cabin with a loft. All materials for windows and doors were salvaged for free. I’m trying to incorporate design elements from the forest as well as repurposing wood from the old cabin.

During the same time, my father and mother, myself and 2 brothers lived in a small one-room cabin and a bus on another part of the property, which is where I am building my cabin. There’s a 3rd larger cabin on the property built from all old-growth timber by my father. The property had no power or water when we purchased it in 1978. We dug our own well during the 1980s, and put power in.

–Chris Ramsell

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Old Barns For Sale in Vermont

Last month, we received this letter:

Hi Lloyd

I wanted to follow up on the email I wrote earlier this week about Luke Larson, a talented historic timber framer.

Luke is currently restoring a corn crib (and several other barns built in the 1700s.) I am sure that your readers would be fascinated by Luke’s outstanding craftsmanship. He would be able to share incredible insight about his techniques, the buildings he saves and the beautiful new timber frame structures he builds.

Let me know if you would be interested in an article.

Thanks!
Rachel (Kaplan)

Here is the article:

Green Mountain Timber Frames, a small company based in Middletown Springs, Vermont, specializes in transforming vintage, hand hewn timber frames into custom homes, studios, additions, and barns. Luke Larson now owns the company and operates it with a dedicated staff of craftspeople and history buffs. Luke is passionate about preserving the history that resides in old timber frame structures, and digs into the generations of folks who have built, cared for, and used these buildings. The structures undergo a complete restoration and are put back up on new foundations, ready to stand tall and true with integrity for many generations to come. Luke and his team are dedicated to preserving the craftsmanship from the past, as well as being students and teachers of the crafts of yesteryear. Take a look to see his current barns for sale.

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