Photos Featured 

The Church Of Carl Sagan Squat

Don't forget to click the gallery tab above to see a lot more photos that weren't included in the article!

Despite having heard countless stories and read many books about often wonderful squatting scenes in Europe and elsewhere, the majority of squatted buildings I've lived at in the United States have been hideouts. Only a few have been overt campaigns that were welcomed by the community. The rest of the time it's mostly just been a bunch of punks trying to find shelter somewhere they won't get harassed by cops.

So when I was invited to the Church of Carl Sagan, I was excited to see another real life example of anarchist philosophy along the lines of what I'd heard of and read about in other countries.

Now before we begin, I just want to point out that the Church of Carl Sagan is a pseudonym, and a bit of a inside joke. Since I first posted this article back when StP had a blog, I've gotten a lot of requests from strangers asking to know where it is, and if they can stay there.

The answer is basically, no. When the home of a group of individuals exists in such a grey legal area, it's not something you generally advertise to the world. Finding one to live in is either a matter of starting one yourself or becoming involved in the communities that surround them.

There's no sign up sheets or WWOOFing-style websites, you just have to get involved in the (mostly) anarcho-punk movement and keep your ear to the ground. It's not difficult to pick out the tourists from those with a genuine passion for something, so your opportunity will present itself if it's something you really care about and want to become involved in.

Now with that out of the way, let's move on. My original intention when I came out to Oakland was to film a documentary about squatting for the StP audience. Although after I spoke to a few people in the Oakland squatting scene, it was pointed out to me that there'd already been a boat load of similar things done before.

Now I realize that I could (and should) have gone along with my idea for the learning experience if nothing else, but this was told to me in the kind of snooty-activist fashion that basically insinuated I was stupid for even attempting; which took the wind out of my sails to say the very least. Looking back on it now, I regret not telling her to fuck off and move on merrily forward as I had intended.

Instead, I abandoned the idea assuming she was correct in that it was not very original. With suddenly no clear direction or goal in mind, I decided to do a simple photo shoot of the squatted home I'd been invited to stay in.

Living room pano stairs_10-08-2013_016.jpg

The house itself was felt like it was built somewhere between the 1930's and 50's, but the interior held the furniture of the 1970's style furniture you'd expect to see at your grandparent's house. Most of it came with the house when it was first squatted, with a few other curbside couches added later on.

Middle room pano_10-08-2013_033.jpg

The length of the house reminded me of row houses in Baltimore I'd lived in, but with the width of a 'normal' house that wasn't competing for space with it's neighbors.

olde english and red bull_10-08-2013_074.jpg

The living room was obviously the focal point of the house, with rarely a moment going by without it being occupied.

40 oz of freedom_10-08-2013_001.jpg

99 bottles of beer on the wall_10-08-2013_044.jpg

Beer bottles along the wall_10-08-2013_004.jpg

Beer bottles lined the walls in what seems to be an unspoken tradition in most punk houses.

Bike in front of fireplace_10-08-2013_030.jpg

Bikes in the room_10-08-2013_006.jpg

The pictures above seemed to capture the clusterfuck of free transportation methods being used at the house.

Chair to middle room_10-08-2013_021.jpg

I actually love old furniture like this. Anything I can lie in sideways and dangle my feet over.

Cutting board_10-08-2013_038.jpg

toaster and microwave_10-08-2013_041.jpg

I hate it when people assume squatters are just inherently dirty people, it's fucking bullshit. Although this kitchen was heavily used, it was cleaner than most punk houses I've been to.

Dumpstered food_10-08-2013_039 (1).jpg

Honestly I wasn't used to being around so much awesome dumpstered food. This is one of the things I miss most about communal living :)

graffiti painter's computer desk_10-08-2013_073.jpg

Even though I only photographed the two bedrooms of the house (the two that I was invited to), I still felt a little awkward about it, but got a few good pictures in the process.

rusty in the caboose_10-08-2013_067.jpg

This is my favorite picture of Rusty in "The Caboose" one of the bedrooms on the top floor.

Black Flag_10-08-2013_068.jpg

beds and covered window_10-08-2013_057.jpg

damage done_10-08-2013_064.jpg

writing on the wall_10-08-2013_061.jpg You only live once_10-08-2013_059.jpg

"The Caboose" was probably my favorite room to photograph since there was a lot of interesting graffiti on the walls and was one of the more chill hang out spots in the house.

Gravity got me down_10-08-2013_075.jpg


I think my only regret about the time I spent here was that I didn't get more portraits of the folks living there, but I didn't really think about it at the time. Also, I think most people would have passed on it considering the nature of their living situation, but fortunately I did get pictures the two people above, which are some of the best pictures I've taken recently.

There's a few more pictures in the gallery below, but the ones above are really the ones I wanted to highlight here. If you like em, post a comment or follow me on instagram at


  • bash back door_10-08-2013_052.jpg
    bash back door_10-08-2013_052.jpg
    113.1 KB · Views: 186
  • Bathroom mirror_10-08-2013_047.jpg
    Bathroom mirror_10-08-2013_047.jpg
    230 KB · Views: 205
  • beware of the dog_10-08-2013_050.jpg
    beware of the dog_10-08-2013_050.jpg
    99.3 KB · Views: 170
  • Box wine reading material_10-08-2013_048.jpg
    Box wine reading material_10-08-2013_048.jpg
    119.4 KB · Views: 183
  • Bucket Flush Lid_10-08-2013_045.jpg
    Bucket Flush Lid_10-08-2013_045.jpg
    276.3 KB · Views: 166
  • chalk, pens, paper._10-08-2013_008.jpg
    chalk, pens, paper._10-08-2013_008.jpg
    133 KB · Views: 163
  • chattering teeth_10-08-2013_018.jpg
    chattering teeth_10-08-2013_018.jpg
    316 KB · Views: 179
  • Clean dishes_10-08-2013_034.jpg
    Clean dishes_10-08-2013_034.jpg
    110.1 KB · Views: 179
  • Coffin guitar case_10-08-2013_040.jpg
    Coffin guitar case_10-08-2013_040.jpg
    364.5 KB · Views: 149
  • compost and recycling_10-08-2013_036.jpg
    compost and recycling_10-08-2013_036.jpg
    295.4 KB · Views: 194
  • Cooking stuff_10-08-2013_037.jpg
    Cooking stuff_10-08-2013_037.jpg
    334.6 KB · Views: 182
  • Doorway to revolt_10-08-2013_005.jpg
    Doorway to revolt_10-08-2013_005.jpg
    108.7 KB · Views: 167
  • Drawings on the table 1_10-08-2013_013.jpg
    Drawings on the table 1_10-08-2013_013.jpg
    409.8 KB · Views: 163
  • Drawings on the table 2_10-08-2013_014.jpg
    Drawings on the table 2_10-08-2013_014.jpg
    362.7 KB · Views: 172
  • Drying dishes_10-08-2013_035.jpg
    Drying dishes_10-08-2013_035.jpg
    126.3 KB · Views: 180
  • Fancy lightswitch_10-08-2013_011.jpg
    Fancy lightswitch_10-08-2013_011.jpg
    235.9 KB · Views: 139
  • filling the bucket_10-08-2013_046.jpg
    filling the bucket_10-08-2013_046.jpg
    95.3 KB · Views: 163
  • food concerns_10-08-2013_076.jpg
    food concerns_10-08-2013_076.jpg
    362 KB · Views: 176
  • Fuck around, find out_10-08-2013_060.jpg
    Fuck around, find out_10-08-2013_060.jpg
    157.8 KB · Views: 181
  • Fuck the Police_10-08-2013_010.jpg
    Fuck the Police_10-08-2013_010.jpg
    283.7 KB · Views: 154
  • gas mask_10-08-2013_063.jpg
    gas mask_10-08-2013_063.jpg
    164.8 KB · Views: 161
  • help me get a hangover_10-08-2013_002.jpg
    help me get a hangover_10-08-2013_002.jpg
    222 KB · Views: 162
  • House meetings chalkboard_10-08-2013_020.jpg
    House meetings chalkboard_10-08-2013_020.jpg
    178.3 KB · Views: 166
  • juxtapoz mag_10-08-2013_028.jpg
    juxtapoz mag_10-08-2013_028.jpg
    374.3 KB · Views: 197
  • Living room pano 1_10-08-2013_007.jpg
    Living room pano 1_10-08-2013_007.jpg
    256.3 KB · Views: 181
  • Living room pano low shot_10-08-2013_012.jpg
    Living room pano low shot_10-08-2013_012.jpg
    179 KB · Views: 177
  • my name is..._10-08-2013_058.jpg
    my name is..._10-08-2013_058.jpg
    163.4 KB · Views: 189
  • no sticker_10-08-2013_032.jpg
    no sticker_10-08-2013_032.jpg
    146.2 KB · Views: 171
  • Odd lightswitch_10-08-2013_031.jpg
    Odd lightswitch_10-08-2013_031.jpg
    105.5 KB · Views: 179
  • offensive feminist_10-08-2013_009.jpg
    offensive feminist_10-08-2013_009.jpg
    424.3 KB · Views: 162
  • paint cans on table_10-08-2013_071.jpg
    paint cans on table_10-08-2013_071.jpg
    333.8 KB · Views: 152
  • Paying the bills_10-08-2013_043.jpg
    Paying the bills_10-08-2013_043.jpg
    338.2 KB · Views: 158
  • punk girl in blue_10-08-2013_065.jpg
    punk girl in blue_10-08-2013_065.jpg
    211 KB · Views: 182
  • rusty in black and white_10-08-2013_077.jpg
    rusty in black and white_10-08-2013_077.jpg
    131.6 KB · Views: 154
  • spice rack_10-08-2013_042.jpg
    spice rack_10-08-2013_042.jpg
    183.1 KB · Views: 178
  • squatting symbol_10-08-2013_062.jpg
    squatting symbol_10-08-2013_062.jpg
    133.9 KB · Views: 163
  • stairway to 2nd floor_10-08-2013_003.jpg
    stairway to 2nd floor_10-08-2013_003.jpg
    180.7 KB · Views: 150
  • Strange light fixture_10-08-2013_017.jpg
    Strange light fixture_10-08-2013_017.jpg
    212.6 KB · Views: 152
  • the caboose_10-08-2013_053.jpg
    the caboose_10-08-2013_053.jpg
    355.7 KB · Views: 175
  • Toilet paper on sink_10-08-2013_049.jpg
    Toilet paper on sink_10-08-2013_049.jpg
    66.1 KB · Views: 162
  • Underground railroad zine_10-08-2013_029.jpg
    Underground railroad zine_10-08-2013_029.jpg
    308.4 KB · Views: 189
  • Upside down jesus cross_10-08-2013_019.jpg
    Upside down jesus cross_10-08-2013_019.jpg
    95.5 KB · Views: 188
  • Upstairs hallway_10-08-2013_051.jpg
    Upstairs hallway_10-08-2013_051.jpg
    81.7 KB · Views: 183
  • we dont smoke rocks, we just need socks_10-08-2013_055.jpg
    we dont smoke rocks, we just need socks_10-08-2013_055.jpg
    193.6 KB · Views: 171
  • Ashtrays in living room_10-08-2013_015.jpg
    Ashtrays in living room_10-08-2013_015.jpg
    322.4 KB · Views: 159
  • Bikes and closet_10-08-2013_022.jpg
    Bikes and closet_10-08-2013_022.jpg
    170 KB · Views: 146
Last edited:
Hey, I'm Matt Derrick, the founder of Squat the Planet. If you're reading this, you obviously want to know more about me, so here we go: So if you haven't guessed from seeing this website, I'm a big computer geek / gamer, but I like to do other...
View all 27 featured items
Click here to buy one of our amazing custom bandanas!


Jun 21, 2013
Clearfield, Utah
Awesome pics!

Glad to see a well-run squat.

Next time I'm down that way I'll try and stop through and hopefully donate some supplies.


Apr 16, 2014
Great photos. Did they have a produce stand out front for the neighbors? I may be thinking of some place else.

And to the kid that slept next to pixar, slightly in testing tidbit. When they moved down from Richmond in order to have a campus that stretches over five Emeryville blocks they joined the redevelopment group (all the big box stores, the mall....Novartis and Bayer etc) & had the zoning changed allowing their campus to block access through the neighborhood...With the caveat that they would build a park the public through access through it. Then they built...and when I left in October continued to build a monster campus and put the "public park" (read....A sidewalk and one picnic bench mainly used by their workers) @ the end of their campus; breaking their word to the community.

I only know this because I worked across the street from them for years and their fucking campus made me late so many times it irked me so I found out how they managed to make it so giant.

To be fair....The bong hits of medical my may have had something to do with my lateness as well. Lol.


Apr 16, 2014
Also op... seems like u left recently? Did you hear if hot mess was still open or if they finally got evicted. I am curious. :)


May 21, 2015
Scarborough ON Canada
I love to see people doin' it right! One of these days, I'm going to take my tools on the road and tour around fixing up squat kitchens and plumbing. There's no reason we can't have nice places. :)

Users who are viewing this thread

About us

  • Squat the Planet is the world's largest social network for misfit travelers. Join our community of do-it-yourself nomads and learn how to explore the world by any means necessary.

    More Info

Support StP!

Donations go towards paying our monthly server fees, adding new features to the website, and occasionally putting a burrito in Matt's mouth.

Total amount

Monthly Goals

  1. Paying the Bills
    $50.00 of $50.00 - reached!
    The first $50 in donations go towards paying our monthly server fees and adding new features to the website. Once this goal is reached, we'll see about feeding Matt that burrito.
  2. Buy Matt a Beer
    $75.00 of $75.00 - reached!
    Now that we have the bills paid for this month, let's give Matt a hearty thank you by buying him a drink for all the hard work he's done for StP. Hopefully this will help keep him from going insane after a long day of squishing website bugs.
  3. Feed Matt a Burrito
    $100.00 of $100.00 - reached!
    Now that the bills are paid and Matt has a beer in his hand, how about showing him your love by rewarding all his hard work with a big fat burrito to put in his mouth. This will keep him alive while programming new features for the website.
  4. Finance the Shopping Cart
    $105.00 of $200.00
    Now that the bills are paid and Matt is fed, perhaps it's time to start planning for those twilight years under the bridge... if only he had that golden shopping cart all the oogles are bragging about these days.