Modern Living: Karma Yes, Toilets No

Armed with toolboxes and traveling in dented pickup trucks, they prospect in garbage dumps, abandoned houses, cut-over timberlands, deserted beaches. Their haul seems shabby: driftwood, salvaged lumber, squares of flooring, old banisters, fragments of stained glass. But to the foragers, these gleanings are golden. Months or even years later, their booty reappears in the recycled glory of selfstyled, handmade homes.

Recently these architectural anarchists have been at work putting up hundreds of houses from Oregon to New Mexico. They are most active in the exurbs of the San Francisco Bay Area, where counterculture...

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