Category Archives: Quirk It Yourselves – DIY

DIY, just not alone

Frugality, the looming “post-oil” era and a homey rebellion against the engulfing tides of plastic-packaged disposable everything have spawned a DIY movement that has a strong heartbeat here in Quirkutopia. Knitting and sewing, auto mechanics and woodworking,chicken raising, hunting and fishing, baking and canning: all of these and a lot more are making a resurgence here and nationally, with a bubbling scene of workshops and fairs and gatherings in Sonoma County and the whole Northern California region.
One annual gathering is Transition Sebastopol Reskill Fair in October at the Laguna Farms CSA (Community Supported Agriculture – more on those HERE).
At this Fair and other events in Quirkutopia (see a few HERE), you can learn “practical skills for a creating a resilient and sustainable community and life” according to promoters. Gathering on a local active organic farm, you learn things like recycling grey water, knitting, sewing, cooking and food preserving, bicycle maintenance, natural building, herbal medicines, basic home energy efficiency, practical food growing, harvesting rainwater, composting waste, edible mushroom growing, food fermenting and olive curing, knot tying, making your own clay based paints.

Many of the classes are taught by specialists like Alexandra Hart, onetime historical clothing pattern maker and author of Native Funk and Flash,(also the name of one of the many thrift and re-use stores in the Quirktopia region more on that HERE); Tamara Wilder, a paleotechnologist who teaches acorn harvesting and processing, including Pounding, Sifting, Leaching, Cooking and Eating. I think I’ve got that last one, thanks. The national Primitive Skills movement has been quietly growing over the last couple decades, popularized lately by many TV shows on survival. If some of these sound like skills you ought to learn from a well-versed grandmother, note that Sebastopol also has regular meetings of something called Insurgent Elders Gathering. They may be busy reorganizing the world, so don’t be startled to find a younger instructor. Not everyone’s been doing all their learning on their new computer tablet!

A Wilder Business

11/15/2013 Update! Recently expanded Moto Shop featured on NatGeo program “Let It Ride”!

National Geographic Channel has a new entry in the parade of custom motorcycle building shows, “Let It Ride.” It is focused around Zach Ness, the grandson of custom motorcycle king, Oakland-raised Arlen Ness. This young grandson along with his experienced crew builds custom bikes from scratch or with the seed of an old motorcycle. Time will tell how Zach treads in the trendsetting designer boots of his granddad.

In the 6th episode, “I Know What Girls Like”, Zach and crew attempt their first sport bike build (with a beat-up Yamaha base) “on behalf “ of the now 6000-ft Moto Shop, which has elbowed some more space from the building. See Zach banter with Wilder-of-few-words-and-many-wise-looks and the gracious and mirthful Aleks. Some great shots of Moto Shop were squeezed in there and the segment ends with a satisfying cruise at Thunder Hill. Find the episode info here: http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/let-it-ride/episodes/i-know-what-girls-like/. Be warned; it also features a segment on creating very…um…feminine makeover on a Harley Dyna.

Arlen Ness is one of the best-known builders in the world of custom motorcycles, and one might argue the king of quirky designs, including his famous painting style. Above is the “Mach Ness”. Photo by Michael Lichter

Arlen Ness is one of the best-known builders in the world of custom motorcycles, and one might argue the king of quirky designs, including his famous painting style. Above is the “Mach Ness”. Photo by Michael Lichter

1/9/2013:

Quirkutopia has spawned many an unusual business idea; brilliance born from the hearts and minds of true Quirks.

Meet Wilder and Alexandra Grippo, both raised in the hills and niches of Sonoma County and having been bitten by the moto bug. They both ride and even race a bit.

Meet Wilder and Aleksandra Grippo, both raised in the hills and niches of Sonoma County and having been bitten by the moto bug. They both ride and even race a bit. Photo courtesy of Moto Shop

Wilder and Aleks have started a business that doesn’t aim to sell you anything, nor do anything much for you. Hey, that’s not good capitalism, you say! Oh, but wait. This hard working and fun-seeking pair instead offer you the chance to learn – to fix your own motorcycle! We recently visited the Moto Shop location in South San Francisco.

The Moto Shop in it's sweet warehouse in South San Francisco.

The Moto Shop in it’s sweet warehouse home in South San Francisco.                           Photo by Heather Granahan

This is a different kind of motorcycle shop – it’s a 4,000 sq.ft. do-it-yourself shop where you can work on your own motorcycle(street, dirt, or scooter), or take a class and learn how to do it yourself. They provide really organized fully equipped workstations with all the tools and resources to help you fix and maintain your moto.

Lots of lifts, light and ventilation make it downright pleasant to work on your moto.        Photo by Heather Granahan

Lots of lifts, light and ventilation make it downright pleasant to work on your moto. No more hard-assing it on the cold ground.                                                                             Photo by Heather Granahan

The space is a lofty old warehouse with industrial trusses and one giant wall covered in street art. They invited a team of local street painters in and the result has authenticity and punch.

Here are a few clients bikes stored against the wall of art – a privilege available with a monthly repair station reservation.

Here are a few clients bikes stored against the wall of art at Moto Shop– a privilege available with a monthly repair station reservation.                                                                                  Photo by Heather Granahan

Alex’s professional graphic arts business adds a visual sensibility to everything Moto Shop.  Photo by Heather Granahan

Aleks’ professional graphic arts business adds a visual sensibility to           everything  Moto Shop.               Photo by Heather Granahan

You reserve the stations by the hour or day for a very reasonable cost. At your fingertips the possibilities are endless: oil change, carb rebuild, exhaust install, tire change, heated grips install, engine swap, chain replacement – you name it, you can do it. 

If you don’t know where to begin, take a hands-on clinic and learn how. There are instructors (both genders, by the way) who can be tapped for one-on-one individual coaching, too.

Getting some one-on-one coaching at Moto Shop.

Getting some one-on-one coaching at Moto ShopPhoto courtesy of Moto Shop

Soon, Wilder and Aleks hope to expand Moto Shops in new locations as the clamor is building from other burgs in ‘topia. South San Fran is actually a cooler neighborhood than some people might think…but we want a Moto Shop in Sonoma County, too!

Wilder’s late dad Bill Grippo was a master saddlemaker and leatherworker and the sign for his old business “Horesepower” hangs in the Moto Shop, seemingly foretelling his son’s interest. His European-born mother is an active artist living in Mexico.

Perhaps growing up under a “Horsepower” sign rubbed off on Wilder in some way…

Perhaps growing up under a “Horsepower” sign rubbed off on Wilder in some way… Photo by Heather Granahan

Just past the Horsepower sign is the Moto Shop lounge area where moto heads kick it with some grub and sometimes  have movie nights – moto-themed, of course. Connect with  Moto Shop on FaceBook ( http://www.facebook.com/BayAreaMotoShop?ref=ts&fref=ts ),  or the web (www.bayareamotoshop.com )  to get in the loop. Or moto your hiney down there, better yet.

How about movie night in the Moto Shop lounge? Or just grab a bite and hang out; it’s riding-boot friendly

How about movie night in the Moto Shop lounge? Or just grab a bite and hang out; it’s riding-boot and dog friendly .        Photo by Heather Granahan

South San Francisco has a cool old downtown neighborhood, a hidden corner of the Bay Area.

South San Francisco has a cool old downtown neighborhood, a hidden corner of the Bay AreaPhoto by Heather Granahan

Take a break from monkey-wrenching and grab a bite at Ed’s Diner in South San Fran.

Take a break from monkey-wrenching and grab a bite at the timeless Ed’s Diner in South San Fran. Photo origins lost in time

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Tour de Cluck

Tour de California – or France, you are being outdone by just about the quirkiest bicycle event in the world.

No, not this. Though around here, who knows what’s next. Photo of a  miniature we are bidding for on on ebay

It happens in Quirkutopia’s territory of Northern California in the laid-back town of Davis, home of University Of California Davis. Many know Davis as the bicycle capitol of the US, with something like 22% of the residents regular riders. (Boulder claims a higher per capita ownership, but fewer riders). Davis likes bikes.

Bikes and agriculture meet in Davis, CA. Photo sent by a remains-anonymous contributor, from laughingsquid.com, we think

Perhaps influenced by the agricultural focus of the original college core, the folks in Davis also like chickens. They like them so much many of them build chicken mansions to house them. Once a year in May they open them to the public for a bicycle coop crawl.

A mansion for Her CluckinessesPhoto courtesy of http://www.tourdecluck.org

On the Tour de Cluck everything gets fowl – even some of the riders who dress as chickens. All sorts of bikes show up – unicycles to six seater tandems. The bikes get decorated, the coops get decorated, the chickens dress up. We think. The humans definitely do.

In full regalia for the Tour de Cluck. Photo courtesy of http://www.tourdecluck.org

There’s entertainment, food – with an emphasis on eggs. We are particularly curious about  the combination of eggs and entertainment. And there are chickens everywhere. They literally rule the roost.

A wee treehouse for a couple hens. Damn, my own house doesn’t even have that much trim. Photo courtesy of http://www.tourdecluck.org

Tickets for the event are reasonable, just $15 this year for the day long event, but don’t try to get tickets this year. They are sold out! Maybe make like a ChickenHead and hang around the starting point point in tie-die chicken outfits, pouting with “hoping for a miracle” signs..?

Bamboo bus coop! No, not on the Davis crawl; somewhere in Oregon, from Craigslist but way too cool not to show you !

Another of the bus coop. One of the coolest things ever. Thank you,Oregon for keepin it quirky in Cluckutopia!

DIY – Just Not Alone

Frugality, the looming “post-oil” era and a homey rebellion against the engulfing tides of plastic-packaged disposable everything have spawned a DIY movement that has a strong heartbeat here in Quirkutopia. Knitting and sewing, auto mechanics and woodworking,chicken raising,  hunting and fishing, baking and canning: all of these and a lot more are making a resurgence here and nationally, with a bubbling scene of workshops and fairs and gatherings in Sonoma County and the whole Northern California region.

One annual gathering is Transition Sebastopol Reskill Fair in October at the Laguna Farms CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). At this Fair and other events in Quirkutopia (keep checking the site!), you can learn “practical skills for a creating a resilient and sustainable community and life” according to promoters. Gathering on a local active organic farm, you learn things like recycling grey water, knitting, sewing, cooking and food preserving, bicycle maintenance, natural building, herbal medicines, basic home energy efficiency, practical food growing, harvesting rainwater, composting waste, edible mushroom growing, food fermenting and olive curing, knot tying, making your own clay based paints. 

Many of the classes are taught by specialists like Alexandra Hart, onetime historical clothing pattern maker and author of Native Funk and Flash,(also the name of one of the many thrift and re-use stores in the Quirktopia region);  Tamara Wilder, a paleotechnologist who teaches acorn harvesting and processing, including Pounding, Sifting, Leaching, Cooking and Eating.  I think I’ve got that last one, thanks. The national Primitive Skills movement has been quietly growing over the last couple decades, popularized lately by many TV shows on survival. If some of these sound like skills you ought to learn from a well-versed grandmother, note that Sebastopol also has regular meetings of something called Insurgent Elders Gathering. They may be busy reorganizing the world, so don’t be startled to find a younger instructor. Not everyone’s been doing all their learning on their new computer tablet!