Transition Culture

An Evolving Exploration into the Head, Heart and Hands of Energy Descent

Transition Culture has moved

I no longer blog on this site. You can now find me, my general blogs, and the work I am doing researching my forthcoming book on imagination, on my new blog.

HomeWork – Lloyd Kahn (2004)

**HomeWork – Lloyd Kahn. Shelter Press (2004)**


‘Shelter’ was a book that changed many people’s lives. Arising from the Back to the Land movement of the late 1960’s, ‘Shelter’ was essentially a scrapbook of photos, drawings, stories and anecdotes focusing on how people around the world (but mostly the US) created their own shelter. From timber frame to strawbale (the first reference to strawbale building in print…), to people living in trucks and tipis, this is a book which deeply touched everyone who read it. I have had my copy for 12 years now and still open it and find stuff I hadn’t noticed before. It is a treasure trove of ideas, and of inspiration.

Thirty years later comes the sequel, ‘Home Work – handbuilt shelter’, and it was worth the wait. ‘Home Work’ takes the same format, it is large, has more pictures than text, and is again a celebration of the shelter-making gene we all carry. There are tree houses that will take your breath away, some amazing yurt structures, some gorgeous strawbale houses, cob revivalists Ianto Evans and Linda Smiley put in an appearance, there are domes, barns, gypsy wagons, and, as in ‘Shelter’, peoples’ stories.

One of the things that is so touching about this book is that after Shelter, Kahn travelled around the States looking for more handbuilt homes, and many of the ones he found had been directly inspired by ‘Shelter’. Indeed, in some of their stories you can see a photo of their copy of the book, all dog-eared and held together with string, but still a revered object.

One of my favourite stories is about a couple who set out to built a log house for $6,000. When the digger man turned up to build their foundations, he looked at these obviously totally inexperienced would-be-builders and said “you kids gonna build this house yourselves?