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The Church Of Carl Sagan Squat

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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.


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.


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.


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




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



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


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



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.


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 :)


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.


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

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"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.



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


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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. :)

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