INHABITAT: What inspired you to write Housing Reclaimed?
Jessica Kellner: I was inspired to write Housing Reclaimed after hearing stories on the news day after day about all the people losing their homes following the housing market crash of 2006 to 2008. In my work at Natural Home & Garden, I had seen many amazing homes built for next to nothing out of materials otherwise headed for the landfill. As people lost their homes after buying into a market in which housing prices had been falsely inflated, I began thinking about those homes as an alternative way that people could create shelter for themselves and their families without depending on the success of the real estate market and Wall Street. I saw it partially as a way to inspire hope in people’s minds about creating their own affordable housing, and partially as a way to fight back against a system that I believe robbed many people of their homes and financial livelihood to benefit wealthy investors.
INHABITAT: How has your work as Editor of Natural Home & Garden influenced your opinions on sustainable housing?
Jessica Kellner: My work at Natural Home & Garden has opened my eyes to the many options in sustainable housing, but what I’ve found truly influential in my work are the stories of people who have taken their homes into their own hands. Those who have said, “I’m not going to do the conventional thing and have a little white box made of plywood and vinyl. I’m going to make something that is shaped by my lifestyle and my family and my needs.”
Not so long ago, our homes were reflective of our families and they changed over time. You had a baby, you added on. Your parents got older, you added a story or a second structure. Today our “one size fits all” model doesn’t have the heart of those hand built spaces. And what I really wanted to show in the book is that that spirit isn’t just reserved for the wealthy who can afford a super-customized, architect-built dream home. We all have the power to do this.