David Hoffman is not your typical outlaw. For one, every conversation veers toward the inevitable topic of conservation and sustainability. He can’t understand why people need things like septic tanks – or why they use perfectly good drinking water to wash their cars.
It’s not Hoffman’s ideas that got him into trouble. It was the execution. Forty years of it.
Four decades ago, Hoffman started some home improvements on his house in the wooded hills of the Marin County town of Lagunitas. He harbored ideas and theories of how people could live more sustainably. Then he started building.
He dug a massive valley near the slope of his home and installed a pond. In the middle of it he built a concrete boat to house a 15-foot well. The groundwater would refill the pond, through a sun-powered pump.
As the owner of a tea distribution business, Hoffman also built a tea house with ornate metal carvings of dragons and a sloped tile roof.
He carved elaborate caves to dry his rare tea leaves. He constructed a tower bearing a solar shower that hovers over a moat carrying recycled water from the house.
“Most people come here, they see the visual, they see the structures,” said Hoffman. “For me what’s important is the systems behind it.”
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