On the Back Porch of America

I rag on Hollywood a lot. But today, for a change, I get to point to something positive. Root Simple pal and LA bike revolutionary, Ben Guzman and his business partner Angela Wood produce videos, through their company Small Medium Large, that readers of this blog will love. Small Medium Large’s series, The Back Porch of America, is like the Foxfire books come to life. You can watch a couple of episodes here. This is what television woul...

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We heal together

...8217;m full of contradictions. We all are. My heart is tender today. My eyes welled with tears as I read some of the comments aloud to Erik. I’ve been reading far too much climate science since returning from the conference. This has had the effect of making me both angry and sad and very grateful for what we have now. The world is infinitely precious to me, all of the wonders and creatures in it, the hummingbirds in the sage, the chickens...

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Have you ever wanted a uniform?

...e strange local characters, like “the kilt guy” or “the bathrobe lady.” Still, I do like the idea of fashioning a garment which suits all of my needs (fit, comfort, pockets, good fabric etc.) and making it my very own. I also like to think that having a uniform would eventually save in laundry and reduce material waste over time. It would harken back to the days when people simply didn’t have more than a handful of o...

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Buddy Burner

An easy craft project for the family survivalist, taken from the brilliant 70’s Mormon classic: Roughing it Easy, by Dian Thomas. A buddy burner is a heat source for camping or emergencies made out of a tuna can, candle stubs and cardboard. It acts like a Sterno can, will burn for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, and can be recharged and reused. To make a buddy burner you need to gather: a clean tuna can, a piece of corrugated cardboard, a bunch of candle...

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Kintsugi: Creating Art out of Loss

...auty, loss, transformation, wounding, scars, entropy…  The responses, I suspect, would be as individual as the viewer. This art-of-mending seems related, somehow, to the “oh no, it’s the end times!” stuff Erik and I were blogging about last week (here and here). Kintsugi is such a subtle, wise practice. It’s not about fixing something good as new, as if it had never broken, but acknowledging that breakage, and making...

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Online Adobe Classes With Kurt Gardella

...Kurt Gardella, who built our adobe oven, will be teaching a few online classes. More information after the jump. Dear adobe friends, I wanted to remind you that I am teaching 2 Adobe in Action online classes beginning next Monday, March 17th. The History & Basics class will give you all of the skills you need to find and test soils for use in adobe construction and also take you through the process of making your own adobe bricks: C...

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Made in the shade- Passive cooling

...eated and cooled buildings are adapted to local climate conditions. Current construction practices tend to favor the same type of ramshackle 2×4 and drywall buildings from California to Long Island, and all the climate zones in between. Just stick an air conditioner on top, put in a heating unit, and you’re done. Sadly, most buildings are an energy efficiency disaster. Poor design is so prevalent, it is shocking once you know what to l...

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What the Internet Will Look Like After the Zombie Apocalypse

..., completely independent of the internet. The map above is the network built by HAMs in Austin, Texas. Basically it’s a bunch of hacked Linksys routers connecting wirelessly over a wide area. Plug a laptop into any of the routers and you can trade messages, files and live video back and forth. This is possible because it just happens that the frequency range of off the shelf wireless routers overlaps with amateur radio frequencies making it...

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From the Archives: Loquat Leather

...ut it’s not too bad. Mrs. Homegrown chimes in: My philosophy is simply that if one is going to go through the trouble of making fruit leather, preserves, pies etc., one should use outstanding fruit. The flavor tells in the end. After all, the starving times are not upon us. Even Erik can’t get super excited about this fruit leather–as I recall it tasted mostly of lemon and booze. Then again, some people may have outstanding loq...

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The Theme of a Great Garden

...rough stonework and the use of California native plants. The garden feels as if exists in a time before humans. It got me wondering how thematics would play out in a more modest home landscape. Perhaps, when it comes time to design a garden it would be useful to toss around a few abstract words and ideas to help unify the design vocabulary of the garden. Picking a theme or several related themes could make it easier when it comes to making plant...

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