salvaged materials (65)

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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House Built of Bridge Timbers in Big Sur

In 1968, I moved from Mill Valley to Big Sur and worked as foreman on a job building this house out of bridge timbers. The architect was George Brook-Kothlow. George had purchased all the bridge timbers from the town of Duncan’s Mills on the Russian River; they tore down the redwood bridge to build one of concrete, and George had hand-hewn 12 × 12 posts, 16-foot-long 6-by-16s and 16-foot-long 8-by-22s.

Carpenters Paul and Seth Wingate went down with me and we lived on the site, Rancho Rico, a 400-acre ranch with two private beaches. We remodeled some chicken coops for living quarters.

I spent about a year on the project. It was a struggle. We had to splice together two 8-by-22s for the 32-foot-long rafters, and lift them into place with a boom on the back of the ranch backhoe. There were 11 concrete pours for the foundation, each one coming 40 miles down the winding coast from Monterey. I quit after we got the building framed.

About 10 years ago, I went down for a visit. The family had moved into the chicken coops and they were renting the house for $13,000 a month.

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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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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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Handmade/Homemade: The Half Acre Homestead

When I start working on a book, it’s like setting out on an ocean voyage without a map. I get a theme, an idea, some kind of coherence on a subject,* then start.

When I built my first house in Mill Valley in the early ’60s, my friend Bob Whiteley and I laid out the foundation lines in chalk on the ground. “What do we do now, Bob,” I asked.

Bob said “This,” and took pick and shovel and started digging the foundation trench.

It’s been my M.O. all my life. When I don’t know what to do, I start. Things (usually) sort themselves out in the process. (I know, I know, I’ve said all this before…)

This book is about the tools and techniques Lesley and I have evolved in building a home and growing food (and creating a bunch of things) on a small piece of land over a 40+-year period.

I started by writing it in chapters: The House / The Kitchen / Kitchen Tools / The Garden / Garden Tools / Chickens / Food / Foraging/ /Fishing / The Shop / Shop / Shop Tools / Roadkill / Critters…What we’ve learned; what’s worked, what hasn’t…

Then I went through some 50,000 digital pictures and picked out 7-800 photos, printed them out contact sheets (12-up) and started organizing them under the above categories.

Next step: starting to put pages together; I am totally excited. I have (kind of unknowingly) been gathering material for this book for decades.

Now I gotta get out of here. Not only is it a gorgeous fresh spring day, but it’s my time of the year. Tauruses are feelin good…

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Michael Kahn’s Sculptural Village in Arizona

I’ve just been going through old photos and came across photos from 2002 of my cousin Mike’s place in Arizona, which he called Eliphante. Mike was one year younger than me and we hung out when we were kids. We looked a lot alike.

He was an artist all his life, painting and drawing from an early age. After high school, I went off to Stanford and he went to UC Santa Barbara (where he threw the javelin on the track team), and we didn’t get back in touch until the ’60s, when we both were caught up in the cultural revolution, psychedelics and all.

By then, he was living New York, where he did portraits and sold paintings on the sidewalks around Washington Square. Then he moved to Provincetown, Cape Cod, where he worked as a waiter to support his painting habit.

In  the ’70s he moved to the Arizona desert and, and partially based on seeing Bob De Buck’s wild creations in Shelter (pp.144-147), he started building what turned out to be a series of buildings. The windows in the room above are auto windshields he got for free, and stained glass applied inside with silicone caulk. There is a section on Mike and his wife Leda in our 2004 book Home Work (pp. 121-129).

Mike passed away 10 years ago, but Eliphante lives on.

https://www.eliphante.com/

https://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/31/garden/31elephante.html

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