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Mike Oehler 1938-2016  RSS feed

 
Cassie Langstraat
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(source)

mike oehler is an author who writes extensively about natural building and most specifically underground housing. His designs are the basis of Paul's wofati design.

His most popular book is probably The $50 and Up Underground House Book


His other books are:

The Earth Sheltered Solar Greenhouse Book
The Hippy Survival Guide to Y2K
One Mexican Sunday

Here are some related Podcasts:

Paul Wheaton Permaculture Podcast 091 - WOFATI Eco Buildings
Paul Wheaton Permaculture Podcast 215 - Glenn Kangiser on Oehler Structures

Oh here are some videos of Mike:

Get the DVDs for the Underground House Workshop and Shelter Seminar HERE!









Here is Mike's website: UndergroundHousing.com

Here are some more pictures of Mike:

Paul and Mike:



Mike Oehler, sepp holzer, & Mick Boynton:



A workshop Sepp gave where Paul and Mike attended!





Here is Mike Oehler's Permaculture Playing Card:


 
Davin Hoyt
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Field trip from Paul's to Mike's! Thanks Mike!
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Davin Hoyt
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Continued...
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Davin Hoyt
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Continued...
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Davin Hoyt
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Continued...
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Davin Hoyt
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Continued...
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Notice the rotted post bottom due to trash bag wrap and rain prior to appropriate cover. Ouch!
 
Cassie Langstraat
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Hi everyone,

I thought I should let everyone know that Mike Oehler passed away a few days ago.

We lost a really special natural building pioneer, and we sincerely hope he rests in peace.




2/4/2016

 
Joe Ruben
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Thanks for posting the sad news of Mike's passing.

His original book was a life and perspective changer for me. My wife and I got to see his place and get some further instruction / inspiration from him about 1985. What he called his "ridge house" was incredible. And so was his sense of humor! To quote Mike, "Since we are what we eat, I'm now a grizzly bear liver."

I'm pretty sure he'd like it if many of us got a smile out of such humor as part of how he will be remembered.
 
ari gold
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oooof. these were some of the first videos i saw, and part of what got me deeper into it all.

thank goodness y'all captured it as much as you did!

thoughts to him and his..
 
Justin Koenig
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I never met him but he truly inspired me. Thanks Mike rest in peace.
 
ronie dee
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Mike's book $50 underground house, was the first book I found in the 70's that dealt with underground houses. Back then the library only had 3 or 4 books dealing with alternate building. Mike had two of them.
 
Ty Morrison
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As an Idahoan, I must pause and linger.

As an architect, I think I'll stay even longer.

Idaho has lost a true symbol of what we can do with nothing but an idea and determination.

Mike embodied what architecture is all about: Your personal space in nature.

I believe Mike truly celebrated light and its arc across our lives.

His work will be a part of the foundation of all who go this way.
 
Lucas Harrison-Zdenek
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This is very sad news indeed. After reading the $50 underground house I started plans for my own semi-underground home. Much of the inspiration for my design comes directly from Mike's book and his videos. He was truly an innovative man who knew how to infect minds with good information. I'll be eternally grateful for his work and experience and I'm glad that I learned about him through my wonderful Permies community.
 
El Rowlatt
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Ah, I am sorry to hear this. Mike Oehler and his design genius turned the idea of a Hobbit house into an achievable dream for me.

May he rest in peace.
 
Mariamne Ingalls
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Here passed a great man.

Thank you, Mr. Oehler for everything; for all you did in these building innovations over the years, and for spreading the word of your techniques as much as you did.

Thank you for inspiring Paul, and so many others.

Rest in peace,
Mariamne
 
Michelle Schurko
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Mike's work opened my eyes to a whole new world where, not only building, but a lot of things can be done totally outside the box. My current house plans are heavily influenced by his designs. His contribution to our weird world of permaculture will live on, even though his physical presence will no longer be with us.
Much love to the entire Oehler family in this difficult time.
 
Jeff Higdon
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I'm so sorry to hear of my friend's passing! I still laugh when I think of how I first met him. I called several times hoping to get a tour but hesitant to impose. Finally I called and offered to pay him to allow my family and I to look at his houses. He called me back a couple of days later and said "I normally don't give tours, but the money helps!"
He only charged me a $100 then loaded me down with books and videos that exceeded that after I paid him. He was such a gentle soul!

He came to our house once, and invited us to his again for a meal. We laughed and talked and he really liked talking to my girls. He called me back this past summer and asked if any of my girls would like to spend the summer there and do the cooking for the woofers he was having, but my girls were busy with animals and 4H.

You will be missed by my family, Mike. Rest in peace. Those knees of yours were needing a break.

Jeff
 
Valerie Dawnstar
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I can't come close to the eloquence of some of these posts. I would just like to add my respect and offer condolences to those who knew him.
RIP Mike Oehler.
 
Ian Rule
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My best bud and I have had our life paths, passions, dreams and desires completely, utterly re-written largely by two awesome dudes - Oehler and Wheaton.
I take my PDC next month, he starts natural building school in two months. Its all thanks to these two amazing fellows.

Mike did a bunch of work with Louis Theroux (BBC), and was a lovable riot every damn time he appears on screen.
Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends - Survivalists (Cut to 30:00)

Greener pastures are hard to promise someone who already done greened the pastures in life...
We love you buddy, thank you for everything! <3
 
Jeffrey Bragg
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I am desolated to learn of Mike's passing. I never met him although I would have jumped at the chance. In 1998 (ahead of the big Y2K scare) when I lived in the Yukon with my then kennel partner, we built a big earth-sheltered storage bunker and emergency quarters using Mike's basic plans and principles. Although we left the Yukon and subsequently sold the property circa 2006-08, I'll bet the bunker is still there and in use. Earth-sheltered construction was a fairly popular option in the Yukon bush, where others had quite independently come to some of Mike Oehler's conclusions.

Ave atque vale, Mike, old friend that I never got to meet in the flesh, hail and farewell. You were a pioneer of self-reliant, independent, earth-friendly alternative housing -- long may you be remembered for your intrepid exploration of earth-sheltered construction on the cheap! I shall be broody for weeks to come knowing Mike has gone. I feel as though the foundation sills of my own independent life were being taken away one by one -- such are the feelings of old age and inexorable change. Sunt lacrimae rerum, et mentem mortalia tangunt.
 
Josh Pasholk
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We lost a legend today. Rest in peace Mike. You will be missed immensely.
 
Ian Naysmith
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Nam myoho renge kyo. Quite the character. Will keep him in my prayers.
 
Joe Sangemino
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Rest in peace, Mike. You were a real pioneer.
 
Dane Van Petten
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Oh No!

I recently got into this whole permaculture thing a year ago. After completing a season at an organic farm, my next step was to learn earth building. I had emailed Mike and set up to visit him this summer. He was so polite and encouraging; my fiance and I were so excited to get to spend some time there. I hope all his family is doing well.

Mike will be missed, but his dedication to alternative living and his legacy will live on.

Thank you all for the wonderful resources and information you provide.
 
rob roy
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In Memory of Mike
Friend Mike helped a lot of people to avoid a life of economic serfdom, whether they built one of his earth-sheltered homes, or not. We kept up with each other over the years and visited each other in New York and Idaho. I sold a lot of his $50 and Up and Earth-Sheltered Solar Greenhouse books, for which I wrote the Foreword, ending with: “I’ve always prided myself on sharing information on low-cost green building techniques in my books, but Mike outflanks me every which way from a Mexican Sunday: the guy builds cheap, dirt cheap, and I say this with begrudging admiration. After too long a remission, the happy hippie hobbit surfaces once again to improve the nick of time.”
Mike will continue to resurface every time someone picks up one of his books. Incidentally, while all his books are well-written, his best and most entertaining literature is the wonderful One Mexican Sunday.
Jaki and I will miss you, buddy!
rob roy
 
Alex Ojeda
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Thanks to Paul Wheaton (like a lot of things), I was introduced to Mike while we were making the permaculture playing cards. Mike was a character. He was so easy going. Later, Mike asked me to help him to do his next two book covers. He asked me what I would charge him. I told him I'd do them for free (the secret Super cool guy/senior citizen/awesome permie discount). He was very thankful. We did the covers and he was very happy. That made me very happy too. I was thrilled to be able to help Mike. It had been a while since I heard back from him. I'm under the impression that the books are being printed. I only hope that someone gets them out. They would be another two great pieces of Mike's legacy. He's an indelible part of so many of our lives. Like the super-cool, crazy uncle that we all should have!

One thing I'd like to say. I hope that we all can take his example and create something that really works and that anyone, anywhere can do. That we will spread the word about what Mike and others like him are sharing. In this way, they live on...

Mike, show the good folks in the afterlife how to do it right
 
Davin Hoyt
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Mike will live on in my thoughts and actions. I am very thankful to have met Mike last summer and I thank Evan for arranging the visit to Mike's Idaho ridge.
 
Todd Parr
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I first read Mike's book 10 years or so ago, and it gave me such a feeling of freedom to know that, no matter what, with a chuck of land, a shovel, an ax, some trees, and a few pieces of plastic, I would always have a safe, warm, secure place to live. That feeling has never left, and I'm very grateful for it.
 
Josh Pasholk
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Does anyone know when Mike was born? I'm trying to edit the wikipedia page about him. I am also having trouble uploading a picture to correct the fact they had Sepp's picture up for Mike. It's a lot harder than I'd thought to do this...
 
Burra Maluca
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I think it was 1937, but I'm not 100% sure.
 
Josh Pasholk
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Burra Maluca wrote:I think it was 1937, but I'm not 100% sure.


Thanks Burra! I'll note that and perhaps wait until someone can confirm for us.
 
Josh Pasholk
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So I'm trying to find a source for his death. All I can find on the inter-webs is this page. Can anyone link me to something that I could use? My changes on his wikipedia page keep getting taken down for not citing a source... Or should I try to use this page as a source? Still learning my way around wikipedia...
 
Jeff Higdon
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Hello Josh,

I went by Mike's house this past Tuesday to try to find out more and to see if there is any help needed to wrap up his affairs. I talked to a neighbor and she said that a person was living there helping Mike at the time of his death. Evidently he fell in the shower and hit his head. His helper found him the next morning.
There was no funeral. If you need to cite a source you can cite me or I think there are some details about it on Sandpoint online on Facebook.
I left a note but have not heard anything back from Mike's helper. I'm sure all of this was very traumatic to them.
If anyone here knows of any help needed to wrap up Mike's affairs contact me at happyhigdons at yahoo dot com.
 
Larry Melior
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R.I.P. Mike

He was born Jan 2 1938.....Passed away Feb. 2 2016

Mike's Obituary can be viewed here

http://www.newsbf.com/obituaries/201602/20Oehler.html



 
Jeff Higdon
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Thank you so much for posting that, Larry. I had not seen his obituary yet. If they do have a get together to celebrate his life someone please post it here or email me, I want to attend.
 
Josh Pasholk
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Thanks for the help guys, I'm trying to jump through the hoops the wikipedia sets up and do this the right way. I'm hoping to hear back from Wikipedia tonight or tomorrow so I can proceed without being labeled as a spammer.
 
Miles Flansburg
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I wonder if Alex would be someone to contact for more info and as a source? Who was Mikes helper? Alex?

From the OBIT...

"Condolences and memories of Mike may be forwarded to Alex Clemow, P.O. Box 6003, Missoula, Montana 59806 or e-mail alextgrt@aol.com."
 
Jeff Higdon
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Alex is Mike Oehler's niece and is handling his affairs. Much to my relief, she will be continuing the publication of his books. I was worried the ball would be dropped and his books would go out of publication, but thankfully she is taking over that.
Indeed she would be an excellent source. She replied to me when I emailed.
 
Jesse Grimes
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I was mikes Helper at the time of his death. I had been living there for two months prior, doing finish carpentry work on the Ridge House and helping Mike proofread several new books that he was planning to publish, including "How to Make a Hippy." It was initially thought that Mike died from a head injury based on how I found him, but the coroner confirmed that he passed because of a heart attack. It was indeed a traumatic experience for me, mostly because Mike and I were starting to become close friends. The night before his death, Mike called me over from the guest house saying "You look like a big, mean son of a bitch! I'm buying you a drink!" Anyone who has heard Mike's stories about fishing in Alaska will get that reference, if not, you can read about it when "How to Make a Hippy" is published. Anyway, we had a great night drinking martinis, Mike's favorite drink, and talking about the world, community, how to attract more people to settle on his land, and how good it was to be friends. I am eternally grateful for that night. I had already booked a flight to Arizona for a family wedding two days after Mike's death, so the whole experience was a bit rushed and surreal. Thankfully, I have been able to spend the last three weeks with family and friends, and am now back in Southern California. I've been waiting to post anything about it here until I could do some healing, and I am still waiting to go back to working on a video I was making about my experience at Mike's. I will post it here when it is finished.

I have also been waiting to hear from Mike's niece who is handling his affairs, and getting bits of news from Mike's secretary. There is not much to tell yet, as things are moving quite slow. Mike's body has been cremated, and the ashes will be spread at the Ridge House, or may have been already, I'm not sure. Mike's newest book, "How to Make a Hippy" was just about to be sent to the printer, and will be published, although I don't know where or when it will be available for purchase. It is a memoir of his life between the time he dropped out of college in 1960, and the period in 1968 when he decided to go back to the land and bought the 40 acres in Idaho. I have read it several times, and I am very glad that others will get to read it as well. Mike also had at least two other books that are complete and nearly ready to publish, a fiction novel and a memoir of his childhood during WWII, and he was working to rewrite his book "The Hippy Survival Guide to Y2K" as "The Hippy Survival Guide to the Collapse of Industrial Civilization." I don't know what will happen with these books. What I do know is what Mike had envisioned for the future of his land, as we had discussed it several times. He wanted his land to be a haven for wanting to get away from the madness of industrial civilization and prepare for the collapse that he was convinced is coming, and until that time a place for people to be inspired to go back to the land themselves. He was eager and open to have people settle on his land, as long as they contributed, and envisioned several villages scattered throughout his 46 acres. He was planning to build a large earth sheltered greenhouse next to the Ridge House, as well as a bunkhouse, so was looking for help with these projects. Mike had been a steward of this land for nearly half a century and had protected it from the local logging interests, so there are many very large cedars and douglas firs growing there. His fear was that after his death his neighbors, or any of the many other interested parties, would get hold of his land and log it for these large valuable trees, also bulldozing his houses as liability concerns. He had attempted, unsuccessfully, to give his land away to the county and the University of Idaho to be protected as a park and museum. At the time of his death, he was in contact with the School of Living in hopes of giving his land to them, but they were reluctant because of the distance from their other villages on the East Coast. Mike's original $500 house is still intact, and left just the way it was when he moved out of it in the 90s, and there are several other buildings scattered throughout the land, including the Garden House and the nearly completed Ridge House. It is a living museum of the amazing journey Mike undertook when he chose to go back to the land in 1968, and the innovations that inspired countless others to make the same decision for themselves. I came to Mike's land because I shared his vision, wanted to help him realize it and preserve his work so that it could continue to inspire others as it has inspired me. Unfortunately, although Mike had clearly shared his vision with me, and likely a few others, I don't believe he ever wrote it down or preserved it in a will. I don't know anything about the legal status of his land, or what will happen to it in the future. I would like to help protect the land and turn it into the park/museum/village he had envisioned, but I don't know what that might involve. I do know that it is something that would require a lot of help from others. Right now I am just waiting to see what happens, and hoping for the best.
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