Cutting-Edge Animation & Video, Made in Off-Grid Treehouses (Video)

trout gulch diy low impact photo

Image credit: Encyclopedia Pictura

From anarchist bed and breakfasts to communal woodland dwellings, we've featured a fair few DIY, low impact communities in our time. One of the most common criticisms we hear of the crunchier end of hippy living is that it is "neo-luddite", rejecting the modern world and hankering for a simpler, perhaps fictional, time. But that certainly can't be said for the folks at Trout Gulch who, when they are not building tree houses and milking goats, are busy making cutting-edge animation for the likes of Björk and producing TED talks on open-source ecology. When I posted a video of Marcin Jakubowski's TED talk on open-source ecology and the Global Village Construction Kit, I had no idea it had been created with the help of Encyclopedia Pictura, an incredibly hip and in-demand crew of filmmakers and animators with a penchant for DIY culture and low-impact living.

NPR has a fascinating profile of Encyclopedia Pictura and their DIY community/homesteading project Trout Gulch. The picture that emerges of the outfit is not one of rejecting modernity or technology, but rather embracing creativity in all its forms—including what we see in the world around us:

"We're building a 21st-century Hobbit village in which things are integrated into nature," Saxon says, "but we're harnessing cutting-edge technology and embracing the best of technology."

Saxon emphasizes a vision in which technology blends with nature -- and "Hobbit village" isn't far off the mark. Rabinovitch, a tall 33-year-old, lives in a small grass hut with a door that's 4 feet tall.

While they turn down work for ads for any product that they don't use (JEEP and HONDA were out of luck), their award winning music video for Björk's Wanderlust is just one example of the level at which these guys are playing. They are also, says NPR, experimenting with augmented reality in what they see as "the big, new, creative medium for the 21st century".

But it's their down-to-earth description of Trout Gulch that has me hooked:

We've spent the last two years helping to create a unique hillside neighborhood in Aptos CA called Trout Gulch. With a population of 18, we've built a patchwork of tiny houses, tree houses, thatch huts, bath houses, tool shops, outdoor kitchens, domes, swings, fruit tree orchards, goat paddocks, vegetable gardens, slides, and terraces. The neighborhood is soon to be home of Trout Gulch Farm, an organic CSA on 3 acres. We value DIY skills, long term thinking, experiential education, and friendship.

More on Low-Impact Living
inside an Anarchist Bed and Breakfast (Video)
DIY Low Impact Living in a Communal Woodland (Video)
The Global Village Construction Kit (Video)

Related Content on