MOTHER NO. 1 Revisited: Advice on Building a Room, Tipis and More

Joel Davidson talks about the helpful advice he received from MOTHER EARTH NEWS NO. 1 when building a room on his house and using tipis.

| March/April 1975

MOTHER EARTH NEWS has come a long way from her modest start way back in January of 1970, and so have many of her readers. (Remember the saying on the cover of the very first issue? "A new beginning.") When MOTHER NO. 1 appeared I was teaching carpentry in the city, and some of the people in my classes showed an interest in domes, tipis, yurts, and country living. It wasn't long before MOTHER EARTH NEWS became one of our "textbooks".

Tips on Tipis

Later — about two years ago — all the members of our present group left Oakland, California. One couple headed south to live by the beach in a waterproofed cardboard geodesic dome, while others went to Pennsylvania to try their hand at commercial mushroom growing. Meanwhile, my wife and daughter and I spent the summer visiting contacts made through MOTHER and finally settled in the Arkansas Ozarks, where we made a down payment on some wild land and began our struggle toward a satisfying livelihood in these beautiful but rugged woods.

Now our group is back together again, thanks to a 69-year young stroke victim named Robert Eaton. Bob didn't relish the idea of spending his days in a rest home, and we needed larger working and living quarters so the deal was made, and his farm deep in the Ozark National Forest became home for us all. Robert is our resident old-timer — a good man to have around when homesteading questions come up — and we're his adopted family.

We've learned a lot from our attempts, experiments, successes, and failures here. Maybe some of our experiences will be an encouragement to others  — and MOTHER's readers might enjoy seeing how our doings — past and present — parallel the changes and discoveries in the magazine. In fact, as we look over our pile of back issues, it isn't hard for us to see where our ideas came from.

For example remember the tipi article in MOTHER EARTH NEWS NO. 1? Well, our Pennsylvania mushroom growers found themselves faced with a housing shortage, so out came the tipi plans and up popped four Indian-style dwellings: two made from scratch and the other two ordered from Nomadics. A bit of hindsight: All that experience with sewing canvas is useful, of course, but the store-bought Nomadics product is very fine and doesn't really cost much more than the home-grown variety.

Now that a number of us have built and lived in tipis, we have some additional information to offer anyone who plans to do the same.

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