When the Crate’s Better Than the Chair

Steve Badgett of the design/art/architecture collective Simparch tipped me off to Dutch furniture designer and architect Gerrit Rietveld’s set of chairs built out of crates, done back in the 1930s. As Rietveld put it, “A piece of furniture made of high-grade wood and manufactured completely according to traditional production methods is transported in a crate to avoid damage…no one has ever ascertained that such a chest embodi...

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Apron Contest Winner

...herself up in the apron like a “sexy burrito.” She cooks, of course. She even makes her own recipe books of tasty treats. In addition to cooking she notes, “ I am also in printmaking, so this apron can come with me to my art classes to make the bindings for the recipe book for the recipes that Apron and I were JUST working on! It is an artistic, apron-centric circle of life.” Congrats, Katie. I’ve got a batch...

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City Repair LA

...rojects. Lakeman himself acknowledged that a lot of people ask him why everything has to look like hippies built it. Here in Los Angeles and elsewhere we’re going to have to devise different city repair strategies and aesthetics. It’s easy to get hung up on street murals and cob benches. Like Lakeman says, we’ve got to look to nature and at each other to devise the form of our cities. The form these villager led interventions ta...

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Out Of The In Box

...domes leak!), I have a soft spot for DIY hippie design manuals. I recently stumbled upon Ken Isaacs’ 1974 book How to Build Your Own Living Structures, which contains plans for everything from a simple chair to a multi-level home, all in a distinct modular style. Best of all, it’s available as a pdf for free here along with a couple of other interesting books from the period. Above is Isaac’s clever cube crapper. Not much headr...

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Sourdough Pancake Recipe

Yes, that’s a real children’s book from the 1970s. A question came in as to what to do with extra sourdough starter. First off, check out the new way we feed our starter, which wastes a lot less flour. But another answer is to use all that tangy delicious starter to make pancakes. For years we’ve used Nancy Silverton’s recipe. Basically, the starter fills in for the flour and milk used in standard panca...

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A Primitive Bow Workshop

...ated tool, something that should inspire respect for our distant ancestors. Paul Campbell author of an excellent book Survival Skills of Native California was along to co-teach the class and help us all shape our bows. The first step was to find some suitable wood. We used willow, a wood used by Native Americans in our region. It’s plentiful and makes an acceptable if short lived bow. Ash and oak and bay trees are local...

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The Urban Homestead

...irst edition, the one with the “American Gothic” cover, was released by Process on June 1, 2008) Buy it at:  Amazon • Abe Books • Barnes & Nobel • Powell’s and your local indie bookstore This celebrated, essential handbook for the urban homesteading movement shows how to grow and preserve your own food, clean your house without toxins, raise chickens, gain energy independence, and more. Step-by-step projects, tips, and anec...

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Homegrown Evolution on WAMC

Kelly and I will be on WAMC, Northeast Public Radio’s Roundtable show on Earth Day, April 22nd at 9:15 am EST. You can listen in online here. Earth Day will be a busy one for us as Erik will also be on a panel for the National Conversation on Climate Action at 2 pm PST at MTA headquarters. More info here. We’ll close the day with a book signing at an innovative new neighborhood market called Locali. We’ll be there at 7 pm PST a...

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Author and Urban Farmer Novella Carpenter Rocks Los Angeles

...f meeting urban farmer and author Novella Carpenter who was in Los Angeles to deliver a lecture and sign her new book Farm City. She’s a phenomenal speaker, both hilarious and inspiring. What we like most about Carpenter is her honesty in describing the ups and downs of raising pigs, goats, chickens, turkeys, rabbits and more on squatted land next to her apartment in Oakland. As she put it, “I don’t like to sugarcoat things.R...

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