WooNeeding a break from roommates and social work environments, L Gilbert wanted an affordable home for one in pricey California. Equally eager for construction experience, L began to build a tiny wooden home using salvaged lumber (deck, outdoor shower, furniture, doors), local cedar siding, and birch plywood interior. After 6 months of intense work, the home was finished, costing $25,000 in materials: the savings on salvaged material were offset with splurges like a new trailer, solar panels, an efficient wood-burning stove, and a high-end compost toilet.
image: Kirsten Dirksen
To find an affordable place to park the new home, L began writing to farms in Northern California asking if someone might be interested in exchanging parking on premises for rent and some farm work. After months of waiting, a Christmas tree farm that had been ravaged by a megafire responded saying they had a spot and would only charge $300 per month rent as well as some help selling trees during the holiday season.
The parking sits surrounded by 50 acres of farm (40 acres of which were burnt by the 2018 megafire) and serves as an ideal location to retreat into quiet. “I think it’s a really interesting decision to decide to live alone,” explains L. “But for me, it was a long-term desire, it’s where I thrive the most, is to live alone. I love being around people, but I think having a space that’s my own is really important.
I do a lot of work in communities, and being alone is essential to recharging. I think that’s also why I want to build this space so I would have the energy to keep doing the work that I want to do with people.”Building through the haze of at least one fire and now living on a property where 50,000 trees burnt in the 2018 fire, L is hyper aware of the increasing frequency of megafires in the state and worries about the next one.