Modern Nomad book excerpt on Occupy London

Boulderpavement, a literary magazine published by The Banff Centre, in Canada, has just published an excerpt from the modern nomad book that looks at Occupy London and the life of a temporary community.

Read it here: http://bit.ly/PEcYQY

The Foundation of Occupy London

Stroll past the Occupy LSX group at St. Paul’s Cathedral and you will notice the shipping pallets that a motley of tents—including one fetching polka dot number—sit. “It’s cold here,” one occupier told me in the large tent that was occupied by a well-organized kitchen, “but the pallets keep you a bit warmer. You’re off the ground.” He was a man who looked like he was used to sleeping outside. The temperature at the time hovered above zero and the air was crisp but calm. Last night it snowed.

Photo courtesy of Lenin’s Tomb

It’s appropriate that shipping pallets are literally the foundation upon which the Occupy Londoners have created their temporary tent city (the group’s next, and likely its final, appeal will be heard on February 13). As the Occupiers get pushed out from one space, bird-dogged by police on the way to their next squat and evicted from that, too, it’s possible the group will become much more mobile. “You can’t evict an idea,” is the rallying cry occasionally heard during general assemblies and conversations meant to boost morale.

At the Bank of Ideas, recently evicted from a former bank building near Moorgate Tube Station and down the road from the imposing Bloomberg news building, someone had posted a message calling for movement over occupation. On an 8½-by-11 piece of paper was a sort of ad-hoc editorial. Under the heading “Movement” it said: “Most significantly we are not really moving. The use of a tents is a significant one.” But tents were not practical, the message continued. Would it not be better to use buses so the movement can travel around “to spearhead local commissions for social justice”?


Photo via Tiny Pallet House

So the shipping pallets may soon be gone from St. Paul’s Cathedral, leaving the space a lot more bare. What will happen to the people is an ongoing discussion. What to do with the refuse? Well, why not build a Tiny Pallet House?

As Hurricane Gustav blew toward the Gulf Coast of the U.S., a crafty man named Michael Janzen who was plagued by memories of Hurricane Katrina got thinking about how to make temporary “disaster” housing using the simplest of materials. He drew up a blueprint for a shelter built from shipping pallets, and described them as a cross between Thoreau’s cabin at Walden Pond and the adorable Tumbleweed tiny house. Best of all, it would be free. “Any money I spend on building materials,” he wrote on his blog at the time, “will be recouped by selling discarded things I find.” Pallets, he admitted, don’t make the best building materials, but explained: “It just seems like poetic justice for a house that questions consumerism to be made from the very things that carried so many products to market.”

Want to create your very own Walden? This 117-square-foot cabin is made from one of many plans by the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company. The company’s owner, Jay Schafer, lives in an even smaller pad: a mere 87 square feet.

I first read about this on Design Observer in an essay by Mimi Zeiger, editor of Loud Paper zine and author of Micro Green: Tiny Houses in Nature (Rizzoli).