Transcript: Podship Earth Episode 039: Makers

JARED BLUMENFELD:  Welcome to Podship Earth. This is your host, Jared Blumenfeld. Growing up, I loved making things. I would hammer together old pieces of wood to make a raft. I would go next door to work on my bike with Percy Stellabras and I'd sit under our cedar tree with Shane, Yanni and Jesse working on plans for a spaceship. Because my mum was a sculptor, we always had scraps of metal and clay with which to supplement our inventions. Lego was a backup for the rare times we didn't have actual projects like searching for Roman coins. If something broke, we'd learn to fix it. These skills have stayed with me my whole life. They give me a sense of independence and resiliency that no matter what happens, I'll be okay. This week, Brenna Sheldon and I explore the maker movement. We visit maker spaces where people share tools, ideas, and knowledge. We talk to Tim Anderson to get the inside scoop on the life of a maker. Tim Anderson was one of the original creators of the 3D printer and he's the author of the Heirloom Technology Column in Maker Magazine. Tim Is the most prolific author on Instructables.com. Instructables has step by step directions for do it yourself projects. And Tim has 226 projects ranging from building your own boat to making dried seaweed. Brenna and I go and visit with Tim and his maker farm. In Alameda, an island in the San Francisco Bay, we are met at the gate by a pig.  So, Tim, what’s the name of the pig?

 

TIM ANDERSON: Wonderous, the party pig.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD:  So, tell us a little bit about where we're at. 

 

TIM ANDERSON: This is Alameda Maker Farm. We've got about an acre here and there's like 25 members and they've all got different projects. We've

got an arborist who makes lumber out of backyard trees. We've got some artists who make big festival art. We've got a theater troop that performs in local parks. We've got a blacksmith who is also a preschool teacher. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD:  Did they find you or do you find them? 

TIM ANDERSON: It's all word of mouth. We've never had an ad. I want people who I can learn from how to be good for the earth. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD:  It's not just like theoretical, it's how you can make stuff. 

TIM ANDERSON Our problems are practical problems. We need practical solutions. Show me how it is that you managed to not destroy the planet.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD:  So, people hear about the maker movement a lot. Like what does it mean?

 

TIM ANDERSON: Do it yourself, hands on. It's the ultimate, personalized, customized thing. Your emotional connection to the thing that you make,  I think the best thing that you make is the thing you make for yourself, or you know, the best painting is the one that your grandkids makes.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: How did it first come about that you thought of this as a way of helping heal the planet?

TIM ANDERSON: Well, culturally I was raised during the Great Depression, and money could be used for anything except spending it.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Not The 1932 depression? 

 

TIM ANDERSON: Culturally, it lasted a really long time. I'm really excited and hopeful about this post-apocalyptic future. When there's only a drop of oil left, they're not going to be driving like things with jet engines. They're going to be like pedaling their moped. Right? And not even running the motor.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: The thing that I like about this is that you turn shit that you wouldn't normally think could be reused into stuff that is reused.

 

TIM ANDERSON: Yup. Yup. The original sin of like the being the original user of something. As long as you're not the original user, you don't have the original sin. It's all just morally free. I just did a show on guilt. 

 

TIM ANDERSON: I wasn't convinced by that show. I think we need more guilt. A lot more guilt. This is a solar golf cart. Every golf cart should have solar panels on the roof. There's no reason not to.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Can that be, is that just drip charging it or is it like fully allowing this thing to move? 

TIM ANDERSON: This one charges the batteries. You go a little bit faster when you're driving south though, cause there's more sun on the solar panels.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: This is going to be a comedy show for people with a very wry sense of humor. Doesn't 3D printing, which you'll credited with inventing, lead to the protection of lots of new stuff that we actually don't need?

 

TIM ANDERSON: You know, 3D printing is the solution to everything. It's also, especially the problem of boredom among journalists. Anytime a journalist gets bored, they just need to like write an article about 3D printing and then they just won't be bored anymore. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Why is that? 

 

TIM ANDERSON: Because it's exciting and you can, you can say everything. I mean, what's more exciting than 3d printing? It is so versatile. You can say anything about it.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Well, you invented it. So it sounds like you're just bored of people asking you.

 

TIM ANDERSON: I learned the wrong lesson for life. You know, I made 3D printers from junk. Any habit is an addiction, and I have a habit of building stuff out of junk. And so you know, when you're an addict, you know, people are constantly trying to give you whatever it is you're addicted to. That's a law of nature. Let's go outside the gate now and see what people left me last night as far as gift.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Doors are really good. I like doors.

 

TIM ANDERSON: Yeah, those are nice ones and it looks like one of them has both sides of the hinge. There’s a really great homeless camp that's getting built in east Oakland and doors are on the list of things they want.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Perfect. So we can bring them something they need.

 

TIM ANDERSON: Yeah. Yeah. And homeless camps are hotspots of really fast R and D.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: One of the cool ideas on how to house the homeless is tiny homes and you seem to have a lot of them right around us. 

 

TIM ANDERSON: This little building we're standing by right here, that's a fireproof tiny house made out of insulation panels. They built an 80-pound building in a few hours and then they put a basalt fiber screen on it and then stucco out it. And it can't burn, it can't rot. It would probably float. Everybody wants to live in a tiny house because it's a natural way to live. And there's this book about how to solve homelessness. It's called Tent City Urbanism. And it's about homeless people figuring out how to solve homelessness and how to try and convince your local town to let them do it. And there's all sorts of interesting observations about how just living in a group of small structures fosters people caring about each other, encouraging each other to be good people. People like sitting around a campfire basically, or a couch or whatever in a living room with the TV off. The TV is not running. So, everybody wants to live in a tiny house.

BRENNA SHELDON: In my generation, your kids want to live in smaller structures. We understand that the world is changing. We don't need all this junk. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, do you have a lot of media interest in the tiny houses?

 

TIM ANDERSON: Let's say you're a news producer and you locate a tiny house village somewhere. Well, I've been that tiny house and the news producer brings in a crew, tries to get an interview. If you don't let them, they got a drone crew and droned us because they call everybody in City Hall and say, how do you feel about this tiny house village that is facing eviction by the city? And so, then they wreck your tiny house village and then go on to the next story.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: This one right here is a cool tiny house. What's it’s story?

 

TIM ANDERSON: This nice little modernist, shingle shack over here. That's the thing that got me the thousand dollar a day, six months in jail, love letter from the city of Berkeley for letting my friend put that on land I owned in Berkeley. Liberal progressive doesn't mean, I don’t know, white knuckle totalitarian freaks. The way the mechanics of the enforcement is I'm a landowner. Somebody has a shingle shack on my land. They say, hey landlord, evict that person or we will find you and put you in jail, and then that person is sleeping on the sidewalk and they say, hey cop, go arrest that person on the sidewalk and the cop says, I can't do that. That person has rights, and they say, go do it anyway. And then eventually a judge says, hey, you can't do that. That person has rights and that's how everybody ends up like sleeping on the sidewalk because the cities are- it's very cheap for them to drive people off private property. Berkeley has been doing that for 100 years. The culture of enforcement is very, very similar for every town, even though every town has very, very different rules. That's the really bizarre thing.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, do you have people like preppers that come here? Are they coming to you saying we love the tiny house, we love the pigs. What else do you have for us?

 

TIM ANDERSON: It's mostly like urban moms who want their kids not to get sick, and they just want their kids to play with the cute animals.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: But now the animals are gone. 

 

TIM ANDERSON: They are out on the delta.  So, some people are going out to the delta where the animals are and that's pretty cool. And they can get in the pig pile. The pigs sleep in a big pile. So, it's a really nice thing to get into the pig pile with the pigs. You know it's, it's fantastic. 

 

INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEO FROM 1940’s: When you hear the sirens or anti-aircraft guns, you must take under cover at once. You must not stand staring up at the sky. That's the most dangerous thing to do. Take cover at once, but there's no need to rush. If you take things quietly, it will prevent panic in others.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: That was an instructional video from the 1940’s in England on the importance of not looking up. Tim has found a huge audience on Instructables.com where he has 226 “how to” videos that give you step by step instructions on everything from how to make a gas mask out of a snorkel, how to sprout your own sprouts, how to stump straighten your bicycle wheel, and how to run your car on hydrogen from aluminum soda cans. Later in the show, Tim will tell us how to make socks. Right now, Tim has just moved some bamboo, which is the subject of another very popular instructable from Tim.

 

TIM ANDERSON: Well, this is an eight by eight-foot clump of bamboo and a couple of yucca trees. This is actually the biggest thing that I've moved yet. It's about 30 feet high and these plants grew on pavement and so this was really easy because we just took a forklift and just like attacked it and skidded that the whole thing over. And my friend came with his tow truck and he's a virtuoso with a tow truck and it was actually really easy, just put a skidding it with a forklift, winching it onto this rollback tow truck and bringing it here. And now I've just fertilized it with my friend’s magic liquid fertilizer concoction. If you look over here, you can see a bunch of planter boxes, I get these apple crates. This is what all the fruit in the Central Valley gets transported in - these four by four-foot plywood, forklift trouble boxes. So, I line them with tarp and then I put a bulkhead fitting so I can hook it to a pipe. And I put water cells from plastic containers underneath it. I do a lot of experimentation with these planters to basically make fork-liftable gardens, fork-liftable orchards. The nomadic orchard instructable series.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: I noticed on the Instructables website you have a lot of stuff relating to boats.

TIM ANDERSON: There's a lot of freedom to be had on the on the water. The land animals are much less territorial about the water. Also, they don't have to worry about oppressing your human rights because mother nature will do that for them.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Brenna, Tim, and I drive to East Oakland to Nimby, the Bay area's largest maker space where we meet with Snook, Clody and Gage. The 60,000 square foot space provides makers a place to create in a collaborative environment. The name of the space Nimby stands for “not in my backyard.” Nimbyism as a political movement is about wealthy, generally white communities fighting to stop everything from sewage treatment plants to tiny house villages to maker spaces from ending up anywhere near their golf courses and country clubs. Today we visit painters, set and prop builders, glassblowers and car mechanics, along with computer programmers, all making cool stuff. Okay. Where are we now, Tim?

 

TIM ANDERSON: So, we're at Nimby, which is the bay area's biggest and the oldest makerspace and it's run by a totally sweet guy named Snook. Makerspaces such as this are a solution to the problem of providing cheap, accessible workplaces and places where people can be creative.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Why is Oakland like the epicenter of this?

 

TIM ANDERSON: Jerry Brown, when he was mayor of Oakland, he had an initiative to encourage the zero-commute lifestyle and to enable 10,000 live work conversions to basically let people work in their studios or live in their workplace. At the time, there were all of these former industrial sites.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Tell us about the space that we're in right now.

 

TIM ANDERSON: This is a big butler building, a big steel building. There's some creative work happening right now. It looks like someone is making a giant pool table, Jacuzzi bed thing over there.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Is part of your mission to get more people involved in making?

 

TIM ANDERSON: Are people just so delighted with the perfection of the stuff that they're consuming that they never want to modify it with their own hands? People look pretty prosperous, but they're living in the present, but not in a good way. They don't have any saying. So, what if somebody doesn't want to pay that person all of that money to sit in a chair, push buttons, whatever it is that people do with all these jobs that is not producing food, clothing, and shelter? How are they going to get that food, clothing, and shelter?

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: What's your reluctant prognostication on where we're headed as a planet?

 

TIM ANDERSON: As a planet, the hot places will get hotter. The wet places will get wetter, the dry places will get dryer. Those with means will move away from the disasters.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: And what gives you optimism?

 

TIM ANDERSON: Well, a to quote my friend Kate Ricky, “we will be fine.” She's a climate modeler and I asked her about all of this doom and gloom stuff, and every time I asked her it's like, oh, we'll be fine. Well, what about the southeast? “Well, people probably shouldn't live in the southeast, but we'll be fine.” What she means is humans will not go extinct. So that's, that's optimism. What optimism is, is that humans will not go extinct. I was just watching a history of the siege of Leningrad and it starts off as a prosperous city. People are shopping for shiny shoes and before long, you know they're concealing bodies so they can get ration cards and dying in the streets of starvation and looking back while they really should have bought a bunch of cans of lard. They should have spent all their money on lard. I'm just trying to have a lot of friends.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Because Brenna, Brenna was fascinated as we're driving up to meet with you. She was like, I wonder what Tim's done with the lard. I was like, why the fuck is Brenna -Brenna, why were you interested in Tim's lard? 

 

BRENNA SHELDON: I want to put the lard in my pie crust and see how it tastes. Crispy pie crust with lard.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: That's probably how he makes friends. He was just saying he wants to make friends. I thought it was like he was prepping for the Armageddon, but it's really to make friends with you so that you can -

BRENNA SHELDON: - make better pie crusts so that everyone can eat pie and be friends.

 

TIM ANDERSON: Yeah, it's really good lard. I cooked this sheep with a lot of hot pepper. And it kind of made the lard orange.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, one of the instructables that had the most caveats at the beginning was on how to make raccoon soup. A lot of people wrote in saying how disgusted they were and how they liked you, but they just couldn't believe that you are making raccoon soup.

 

TIM ANDERSON: People never know how they're going to react to something if it's something they haven't experienced before. It's impossible for anyone to predict how they're going to react, you know? They might think, hey, I would love to murder an animal and mutilate it and just gorge myself on its entrails. But then when they really come down to it, you know, they might not like it that much. 

 

BRENNA SHELDON: Do you spend most of your time sleeping outdoors? 

 

TIM ANDERSON: I pretty much work until I'm filthy and exhausted every single day until I can't function very well. And then I just kind of collapse on whatever the nearest, you know, vaguely horizontal surface is.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Talking of collapse, do you think that's where our society is headed?

 

TIM ANDERSON: We can aggressively collapse our own lives and proceed directly to the primary reinforcers or the bare necessities.

JARED BLUMENFELD: Like food?

 

TIM ANDERSON: It is not possible to exceed the yields done by skillful hand gardening. What industrialization does, it's more yield for labor input. It's a big machine. It is chemical sprays that kill everything before you're plowing. Your yields are not higher than if you are mulching and composting and growing it by hand. So, the actual amount of population that can be fed on a given piece of land is much greater without those big machines. So there will be this move back to the countryside. It happens in plague, it happens in supply disruptions, it happens in an economic dislocations. And it happens in epidemics of lifestyle, mental illness where people have meaningless button pushing, high stress lives commuting their lives away. So, you know, this idea of collapse where you're flattening the pyramid and you're proceeding directly and you're not monetizing one activity to gratify manufactured needs. Other countries that are not obsessed with GDP and are not obsessed with return on capital, like the Norwegian economists, they invented the concept of human capital. The Bhutanese have gross national happiness. Hurricane Andrew supposedly ended a recession because the destruction was counted under whatever their standard accounting practices as consumption, and that was economic activity and that's prosperity. Just take it all and burn it.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: You got these two trends, environmental collapse and automation. The cool thing about where we are right now at Nimby is people are gratifying themselves by building things with their hands, not letting the machine do it for them. 

 

TIM ANDERSON: Doing anything that you want to do is direct economic value. There's not an exchange, right? When your hands have to build something and you get to build something, you know you're living well. That's for you living well. Technology to me is the substitution of capital for labor. When the interest rate is low, the financial part of capital is cheap. Then you will create some technology to substitute capital for labor and it has the two functions of substituting for labor, but also it increases the productivity of the remaining workers. So, then you can afford to pay them more, and then there's this economic fact it has a name where steam engines, the more efficient they got the call they consumed. Because it became economic to employ steam for many, many more tasks. So technology has this perverse effect. The rising tide really does float all boats well here. People don't have the boats. And so, what happens to in a rising tide to people who don't have boats? They go under and that's what we see in all these homeless camps on the sidewalks here. Those are the people who went under. They couldn't pay the minimum amount cost of housing or their income wasn't enough for that.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: There are already solutions to housing people that need to be housed, and yet self-proclaimed progressive cities in the country like Berkeley won't allow you to put a tiny house on a piece of property. How do we change that? 

 

TIM ANDERSON: Lawyers. We get lawyers in the camps, you know, we have to sue them. Apparently, that's our system. It's an adversarial system and the people in the city who oppress people, who break the federal law and oppress people's rights and violate all of these federal decisions, apparently in our system they can't be made to obey the law. You know, when the authorities break the law, the citizens have to sue them. I've spent all these years in all these city hall meetings, and everybody tells me what I want to hear, and things get worse as far as I can tell. I would say nothing changes except things get worst. The bay area is the Mount Everest of artificial scarcity of shelter.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, Brenna, what stuff do you want to make? Do you have a maker instinct?

 

BRENNA SHELDON: Well my maker instinct is more around like food type items. I like finding recovered vegetables. That's great. Making soup, making pie, that kind of thing. I'll feed the makers. I made shoes. I'd like to make some more shoes, running socks. So I've got a little maker in me.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Tim has an instructable on how to make socks.

 

TIM ANDERSON: I have this way to make socks. What a great thing. The difference between having lousy socks and cold feet and having like unlimited free socks you can make for yourself anytime really, really quick. That's a big difference.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Give us a preview on your instructable on socks. How do you make plentiful socks that are warm, especially now it's getting a little bit cold and the number one thing I read that homeless people need is socks.

 

TIM ANDERSON: So, remember that time when the airline canceled your ticket and just robbed you? They owe you a few blankets, so just help yourself. It's included in the price of your ticket and basically you just fold them over and shove them through sewing machine. I have a zigzag machine and you set the needle, so it misses the outside of the cloth half the time. You just do that and then you, when you open it, it's like a mobius zigzag where it's stitched up like a baseball and there's no raised seam.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: I was really impressed with Tim because a lot of his instructables are around sewing, which I was like, that's so cool. Sewing seems like it's gone out of vogue.

 

BRENNA SHELDON: No, I don't even know where I'd find a sewing machine. I grew up with one. I like the hand crank, you know. Those are fun.

JARED BLUMENFELD: Yeah. The older ones are more indestructable.

 

BRENNA SHELDON: I'm sure they are.

TIM ANDERSON: I have this hundred-year-old sewing machine, which is perfect. You know, there are still factories making this exact sewing machine. And how is it that this sewing machine that's 100 years old? Not only the actual object is still perfect, but the design is still perfect. Meanwhile, like a car, you know, just kind of like falls apart just from sitting. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Is this built in obsolescence that you're talking about? 

 

TIM ANDERSON: The head of GM, his insight was that to compete with Henry Ford to make automobiles into a fashion item, where in order to stay up to date, you would buy a new car every single year. And they had the planned obsolescence, which was partly a fashion marketing thing, but it was also like an engineering thing, like really engineered to fail. And they worked on this for many, many years and it reached its highest point of refinement with the 1983 Chevy Citation. It looked exactly like a Prius and every single part of that thing stopped working in four and a half years.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: I am surprised there isn't more of a consumer uprising. When things break because they're designed that way, I would have thought people would be pissed off.

 

BRENNA SHELDON:We are pissed off when things break. However, I try to believe that it's just broken and that it wasn't planned that way. I don't want to be conspiracy theorist.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: It's reality. It is made to break.

 

BRENNA SHELDON: I guess the solution is just buy less shit.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: There are some things like my hot water heater which breaks every six or eight years probably. And that's really hard to fix. It's also hard to live without. 

 

TIM ANDERSON: This planned obsolescence works because the person making that purchasing decision only cares about whether it works while they have it and the secondary market is unimportant and certainly for the company, they went to eliminate the secondary market. They want everyone to have to buy a new thing.

 

BRENNA SHELDON: Is that why you think policy is more effective than technology?

 

TIM ANDERSON: Well, as technocrats, it's always tempting to look for a technical solution to every problem because that's our hubris and our pride that, oh, we're so clever and nerdy. We can just nerd our way out of everything. But when you have a problem, which is like a city employee spying through my fence and writing me saying they're going to send me to jail for six months if I let some person, you know, sleep in my yard. Well, it's kind of a nonlinear approach to think that I'm going to have a technical solution. What's my technical solution to that? I don't know.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: You could survey them with your own drone.

 

TIM ANDERSON: Take their picture and posted it on Youtube and make a lot of money on a channel that shows bureaucrats, you know, telling people to make homeless people sleep on the sidewalk.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: You heard it first on Podship Earth, Tim's latest invention.

 

TIM ANDERSON: Youtube revenue sharing of activist videos.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Okay, let's go and talk to these sculptors. Next, we meet with Clody Cates and Gaige Qualmann who are making a sculpture of guns at the Nimby maker space in East Oakland. How did you both get involved in Nimby?

 

CLODY CATES: Oh, I came here eight years ago.  I was looking for an art space and I found this awesome place. I loved it so much that I became a full time volunteer. I'm here pretty much all the time.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, Gaige, tell us about the sculpture, the many faceted guns sculpture.

 

GAIGE QUALMANN: This sculpture is for an organization “United players and art of peace.” 

CLODY CATES: They take guns from the buyback and they decided to turn into art instead of just throwing it in the garbage.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: And how did you think about the piece? Like as you were developing it?

 

CLODY CATES: We don't know guns that much and we did not know how they cut them and stuff. Gaige decided to insert driftwood and then burrow wood into the piece so it has some nature influence to it. That's a beautiful art challenge. 

 

BRENNA SHELDON: It's really graceful. From faraway, I saw this structure and shape and it looks like a tree and then I got closer and I was very disturbed seeing all these guns. Yeah. Especially in the present day and all this news we've been hearing recently, constant shootings, like I had this visceral reaction to seeing your piece there. 

 

CLODY CATES: Wow. Thank you. That's a good compliment because if it makes people think a little bit more about the situation and everything, we're happy, because it means we accomplished something positive in the world. And that's the whole thing about this movement, art of peace. It's to make people see there's a problem and we need to address it.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: How do you think about being a maker? Is it different than being a sculptor?

 

GAIGE QUALMANN: I think Maker is the larger umbrella that sculpture falls under. So we make sculptures and we make all sorts of stuff. Some people make robots, you know, some people make solar panels which is making big 3D objects.

 

CLODY CATES: We do props for films and special events, so we make all kinds of things. We touch pretty much everything except electronics.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: What other people are in the nimby space and like how do you feed off their creativity?

 

CLODY CATES: Well it's better now. Before it was a lot more like people that work here working on cars and more mechanical things. But within the last year we got more artists which is more fun because if we can share knowledge it’s nice. When people need help, they come to us, when we need help, we go to them and it builds a very nice sense of community and sharing knowledge is always nice.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: And is most of both of your work about reuse?

 

CLODY CATES: We can make art out of anything, and we like to try new materials all the time too. Bring it on. We like it.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: We go and meet with Michael Snook who founded Nimby with zero funding back in April of 2004. His hard work and dedication have built a boundlessly creative facility that's withstood the test of time. Countless major works at The Burning Man Festival over the years have benefited from Snook’s knowledge, resources and assistance. His extensive connections in the construction and shipping industry have enabled the procurement of materials and resources, making impossible purchases affordable. Nimby, and I'm sure it will continue to be is like a magnet for people who just want to make their own staff. Like tell us a little bit about the maker movement.

 

MICHAEL SNOOK: Most of us are tormented with ideas, and you know, you have to always be making something. So, with Nimby, we have a shared woodshop and steel shop for welding and sheet metal and all that, a machine shop. And you can just rent a space and work with a whole bunch of different likeminded people and hopefully not have to buy all the tools yourself. So we try to keep it cheap. We've got techie people building electric cars and we've got an urban pot now and all kinds of fun, interesting stuff. I get to see it being made by all the crazy geniuses out there. Sometimes you don't recognize the genius in the beginning. You're always being shocked and surprised. We'd probably have five or six hundred people a year through here, especially in the build season.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Can makers help save the planet?

 

MICHAEL SNOOK: Yeah, I think, I mean, at least at Nimby most everything we use is recycled material. We recycle a lot. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, most people think of Nimby, not in my backyard. That's the same Nimby. 

 

MICHAEL SNOOK Yeah. Every time we started a project, we'd eventually get in trouble for working in a garage or a parking lot or something like that. So we thought it was a funny name. It's kind of a sad name.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: But now you found a home.

 

MICHAEL SNOOK: Sort of, we have to leave this year. We will hopefully be finding a new home in next month or so. The city of Oakland made growing marijuana legal in the entire industrial swath rather than just somehow limiting it. So, the prices have tripled, quadrupled. We can't generate enough money to compete with $4 a square foot. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: That is a bizarre, unintended consequences of marijuana legalization is that the creative spirit of makers has getting forced out. 

 

MICHAEL SNOOK: I'm not sure if it's an unintended or not. We thought we were secure. We had a long lease. Everybody liked us.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, Tim, what's going on here? What's your take?

 

TIM ANDERSON: Our financial system is largely real estate backed and there's a tipping point that we have apparently reached where land speculation and holding things vacant drives up value. And then the micro regulations that makes the cost of construction is higher and higher.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Thanks so much to Brenna Sheldon, Tim Anderson, Michael Snook, Clody Cates, and Gaige Qualmann for showing us the joy of making, repurposing, and taking back our connection to the actual material world. Everyone we met was working hard and coming up with creative solutions. They were dirty and happy. When the age of consumption ends, the makers will be there to show us the way. The fact that liberal cities like Berkeley won't allow people who own land to put up tiny houses for people who are currently homeless shows how fundamentally things need to change. We need to work with a maker community to help turn this around. In the meantime, when you get the urge to make something, know that there's probably a community nearby that is standing ready with open arms to help. Next week we talk with Chad Hanson about fire myths, like the often-repeated line that fires are now burning so hot that they're creating moonscapes. Is that true? We'll find out. Thank you so much for being part of the Podship Earth journey. A big thanks to sound engineer Will Wilkins who is still kindly helping out while Rob Speight is on the world's longest vacation in Mexico. Thanks also to producer Nancy Ferranti, executive producer David Kahn, and from me, Jared Blumenfeld, go make something great happen this week.