Squat? Be an urban dweller?
What you did for your kids is akin to what a friend of mine did for me. Sold me his house way under market value, but also for a tidy profit over what he had paid for it a few years earlier. I hope eventually to be able to pay that forward. I try to look out for the people around me, and not always worry about maximizing profit, but being a loving human being to those around me.
I wish someone would write a coherent, thorough, useful, book on building your own house and doing all the work yourself: foundation, carpentry, cabinets, wiring, plumbing, heating and ductng, insulating, drywall, floors, roof, etc. etc. The book would also cover the necessary prerequisites: land, money, spouse or able partner, and time.
Starting from the intro, I was expecting the last Anarchist book to be Anarchist Shelter: how to reclaim liveable space without selling your grandkids to the bank. I guess a mark of good writing is that it wrong-foots the reader occasionally.
On the other hand, Anarchist Shelter would be a complex project: teaching neophytes to navigate
building codes and banks while living in a gutted urban building would be Nobel-Prize-worthy. A lot of kids can't financially afford the vermin-infested, lead-plumbed, knob-and-tube wired shack.
I have just heard the derailment of chemical train in Ohio has become a real tragedy with darkening sky, water pollution and sick or dead animals. Is it near Millersburg ? Are they providing some help to Ohio ? I hope they are diverting some help to this environmental disaster in East Palestine but then we know the wind blows where it blows.
Thanks for that piece. I never thought of Dan’s place as a hand tool mega-mart That thought is now burned in to my brain. I discovered Colonial Homestead when it was on the western edge of downtown Millersburg. I make a pilgrimage once or twice a year. I always bring something home even if it’s just a big smile from Dan.
Reading the comments and responses to your writing is always almost as interesting and enlightening as your story. Thank you.
Kentucky sounds like the place to be.
I know this article is maybe about a few things, but feel it's important to say it again: Dan is great. As a beginner, I couldn't think of a better place to buy tools. Very lucky to be an hour away from the dude. Thanks, Chris, for mentioning him in whatever blog post I read after being drawn to Lost Art Press. I have been there twice and left spending a smaller amount than intended. This is because Dan has always talked to me about what my goals were and gave me the best tools and advice for getting there.
I've also had the privilege of hearing some of his conversations with the random "tool experts" that stumble in. Glad I'm not the one trying to give him advice on the subject.
What a lovely piece, thank you. I'm from Kentucky (Lexington, actually) and most of my family still lives in Central Kentucky. But my wife and I raising a family in the Twin Cities, so I think about these ideas often.
One of your fellow Kentuckians who goes by the handle Mr. Chickadee on platform is making it happen in remarkable ways. Those lovely timber frames could work in an urban setting if placed on wheels or four granite blocks as an impermanent structure. This was an interesting piece.
Also, as Wallace Stegner and later Wendell Berry observed, to choose to stay in a place and put down roots can be a radical act. Berry chose a hillside farm overlooking the Kentucky River. That's not necessarily better or more authentic than choosing an old house in Covington.
I found it possible to have the best of both worlds living just outside a moderate sized southern town about an hrs drive from a metropolitan city. I worked in the city but lived outside the moderate town on a couple acres that allowed for a modest farm life. Garden, chickens etc. I had a nice work shop etc. But I doubt with today's prices on gas, housing and the fact that divorce is so common it can be done anymore.
The mural on the Frank Duveneck Art Center at the corner of 13th and Greenup has my favorite graffiti in Covington. Years ago, someone wrote "KAT" below the cat in the mural, and it's stayed there ever since.
I lived near 15th and Madison when I was kid. It's always been a little rough in that area, but it's better than it used to be.
The most telling tweet of 2022:
"overnight oats" "gig economy" "tiny home" you are a peasant who eats gruel
I definitely worry about the cost of housing for my children (HS- and college-aged) as they enter adulthood. Vulture capitalists are definitely a huge part of the problem. But given the state of the environment, the political climate, etc. I'm sad and worried about so many things for their generation.
Watch out for gentrification, the name of the game. It seems you are all good guys here taking care of your sons and daughters. I am impressed. Nobody gave me a house to live in, so I had to find one myself. It was hard. Gentrification is a controversial topic. It is when an area of the world change definition in terms of its inhabitants. City pioneering is rather interesting. Find a house or changing a house is not so easy as to buy a new shirt. Anyway there are places on our planet where housing is expensive for everyone, believe me, them houses are not affordable at all by any means. Man, a house is a fucking expense, before and after. But if you can build something, well things change in part. And then there are regulations of all kinds. When I tried to buy one I wasn't sure I could finally afford it. That choice is not for everyone. Like furniture and clothing, houses can be pretty crappy. I am not getting into the house business, too big of a subject. My area has been affected by a gentle gentrification.
I disagree with your postulation that young people can’t afford a house these days. My two sons (single with low paying jobs) just did it recently.
Besides many people don’t ever buy a house and are living quite well. Owning a house is an expensive money pit, I know I put a lot of money and effort maintaining mine.
When my wife and I bought a house interest rates were 11% and rising.
My dad who wondered how young people could afford their own house when I bought mine. Here’s a guy who went through the depression and served in WW2.
There was no such thing as credit like we have today during that period.
As for that workshop kit I’d love to put that in the backyard!
Directly behind my house is miles and miles of “greenway” for wildlife purposes.
I could install windows facing that way and pretend I was out in the woods.
Sweet piece of writing. I live in Chicago, currently in a Coach House. My landlord gives me the run of the garage downstairs, (perhaps begrudgingly?), so I have room for my mechanics workbench and my traditional cabinet makers workbench. When I built it, I intentionally kept it short....six feet, with the knowledge that someday I may end up in an apartment. In fact, I did live in an apartment for a short while a few years ago. The workbench was my dining room table. Tool cabinet hung on French cleats. Viola! a shop.