He got his start in publishing when Stewart Brand made him the shelter editor for the Whole Earth Catalog. The book that put him on the map as a publisher was “Shelter”, an international survey of alternative housing that he continues to sell over 4 decades later.
Kahn’s enthusiasm for shelter extends to “building every place I’ve ever lived”, including his current home which started as a dome and is now a more traditional shelter capped by a 30-foot-tall hexagonal tower (the only remnant of the dome).
His home is only a small part of his half-acre homestead where he and his wife Lesley Creed believe in doing things for yourself, when possible. Besides tending the organic gardens (and dozens of free-range chickens), Creed is a natural dyer, quilter, sourdough bread-maker and believer in the “value of actually working, not just trying to figure out how not to work”.
On our visit to the homestead, Kahn showed us his wild-caught pigeons, his seaweed harvest, well-fermented sauerkraut, home-cured olives, oatmeal grinder and workshop (where he still keeps his father’s “nuts and bolts box”). We caught Creed baking her sourdough bread (from her kitchen-harvested starter) and drying “bread seed” poppies.
Years ago the couple were pushing the boundaries of self-sufficiency to include goats and harvests of wheat, but Kahn found his limits. “With self-sufficiency you never get there, you never become self-sufficient. I mean we tried back in the seventies. We had goats and chickens and bees and I was trying to raise grain. Pretty soon I realized that if I want to raise enough wheat for the bread for a year here, it’s better left to a specialist, like I can’t be my own dentist. So you do, it’s a direction self-sufficiency. You do what you can do as much of it as you can.”
Shelter Publications: http://www.shelterpub.com/