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Dan Stiel's picture

Could "Jackrabbit Homestead" be a model for 21st century "homesteaders"?

This is "Jackrabbit Homestead," an art installation by Kim Stringfellow at this year's Desert X in Palm Springs, California. She explores the legacy of the Small Tract Act in California's Morongo Basin region near Joshua Tree National Park.

Her recreation of a 122 sq foot cabin built from a kit was not uncommon among homesteaders in the 1950s.

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Indy Thomas's picture

I live in PS and have seen the small homes built up by JT for decades.
Certainly low cost but has profound shortcomings for any one other than a hermit or a couple VERY well suited to each other.

The problem lies in the premise that someone can claim a small piece of land and then erect a shack on it and live in some semblance of comfort.
First off, the areas, such as the Morongo Basin that have empty land are empty for a reason. Water is scarce in the Southwest in general and the Morongo Basin has an aquifer that is in decline in particular.
Second, issues that suburban dwellers take for granted are challenges for tiny homes and their remote locations.
Water supply, sewer (or septic a whole 'nother challenge) electricity, schools etc.are non-trivial for people not embracing prepper lifestyle.
These are among the many reasons why the Jackrabbit homes failed and we have a local landscape littered with decaying shacks.

The fact is that homesteading is an endeavor that consumes most of your waking hours. I have friends who homesteaded in Alaska and they were endlessly working on their property just to make it survivable in the winter. Free time was scant and the weather was always a factor in activity.

This is an installation that poses a question from the comfort of artistic conceit. The very real challenges of housing are not solved by the resurrection of failed ideas from history.
Sure, it would be a cute weekend stay for bored hipsters from L.A. (of which the desert is crawling with ), but wait til someone has to poop.