Mountain Home Provisions - in Oakland?
The idea for Mountain Home Provisions came to us on day in January - while sitting at our kitchen table in Oakland, CA. Make pottery (provisions) to sell in our spare time - so we can move to the mountains and retire some day. It seemed like a fun idea - stretching our creativity and it was a project we could do together.
Little did we know that covid-19 was coming.
When shelter in place rules started, we had a garage connected to our 1st floor apartment - that we turned into a studio. It was full of pottery we had made, waiting to be fired in the kiln we had ordered. We were beyond grateful for the studio we had built - since our community studio had shut down. We were thrilled that we had something to do in our spare time during covid. We started spending hours each night in the studio.
Meanwhile, the little park across the street from our apartment also started filling up - with a homeless encampment. While we have empathy for the unhoused and have always done all we can to help, the encampment kept growing. Soon, 30 tents and about 50 people took up residence 200 feet from our front door. The noise, the garbage, the drama, the prostituion, the drug dealing, the discarded needles from drug use - all increased daily. We did our best to not "focus" on the encampment. We played music or ambient sounds to drown out the noise and tried to keep our heads down - and just make pottery. Then the drug gang moved in. Standing on the corner - doing hand to hand drug deals all day and night - like some Hollywood movie. We learned to avert our eyes and not watch what was happening after a neighbor of ours who looked that way for too long was attacked with a paint ball gun while walking down our block. The daily horn beeps increased - as drug customers were instructed to beep twice when pulling up to the stop sign so a drug runner could bring drugs from the tents to the corner. Calling the police didn't have any positive effect on the situation. We and other neighbors filed hundreds of complaints. The City of Oakland was no help whatsoever.
On August 5th - we had just started making again after our summer update. We were in the studio getting ready to make some pottery when gunshots rang out and ricocheted off our apartment. We ran into the bathroom - the only room without windows in our apartment and called 911. As we huddled there - terrified waiting for the police to arrive - we had no idea what was happening outside. Our apartment had been hit by 5 bullets from a drive by shooting/drug deal gone wrong at the encampment. Our neighbor next door had two bullets break out her windows as well. We were so lucky that no one was hurt.
How do you regroup? Every noise made us jump, every argument at the encampment made us nervous. Standing in the studio in August was challenging - trying to be creative in that space was hard. We pushed on - for a couple of weeks - making uninspired pottery and just trying to get through it.
We had to figure out a way to get out of Oakland. NOW.
We put our heads together and came up with a plan. We found a great deal on 6 acres in the mountains. We WILL be building our Mountain Home. We will be transitioning out of Oakland and splitting our time between California and Oregon while we build our dream - an off-grid homestead - facing the sunrise at 5300 feet - pine trees and mountain air will fill our souls with all of the inspiration we need to make beautiful pottery. Our transition means that we will be taking a hiatus until we can switch kilns. The kiln we have now is wired for 208v - city/commercial wiring and cannot be used in most residential buildings. We will be switching to a gas kiln - which produces even more beautiful glaze effects and can be operated off-grid - on the mountain - once we get to that point.
The lead time on getting a kiln during covid can be weeks to months. We have made the hard decision to NOT wait that time out in Oakland - where the daily reminder of the shooting renews the trauma of that day. We had planned to do a holiday update in November with our current kiln and were looking forward to providing ware that would be wrapped up and shared under your holiday tree. Alas, our time line has been accelerated and we will be packing boxes to leave Oakland during this time instead.
We cannot thank our friends, family and customers enough for the love you have shown for the ware that we make. You have inspired us to forge forward with our dream of making pottery in the mountains and living a wholesome peaceful life while doing so. We will be back! As soon as we have our new kiln in our new studio space, we will fire it up and get going once again.
Stay tuned for updates - winter is coming!
Thank you for being part of this dream of ours!
Bill and Ami