Building With the Future in Mind Since 1955

Over 20 years ago I anchored a radio program on KGMI AM-790 — “On The Level” — about housing and remodeling. My weekly, one-hour show lasted for about 4-1/2 years. Every single Saturday morning at 9 am, November ’91 through late ’94.

The show did wonders for getting A-1 Builders on the map, given that KGMI was Whatcom County’s largest radio station… and very conservative at that, even before they brought on Rush Limbaugh.

Allow me to share the telling, pertinent story behind why my radio show ended.

IMG_2220Let’s rewind the tapes to National Population Week in 1994. I began my radio show with this introduction:

“Today we’re going to remove the walls, roof and foundation that define the typical home we’ve discussed here on my radio program.  Let’s discuss, instead, our larger home, devoid of human structure.  Let’s strip away the built environment. Let’s discuss our  environment.”

Unlike the typical topics I covered during my 4.5 year stretch on the air, I didn’t talk to a roofer about best practices, or about sustainably harvested lumber, or about reducing dust mites in one’s bedroom. Instead, we let our hair down and discussed the impact of a global paradigm that doesn’t question limits to growth.

My guest was Michael Gailer, a Seattle spokesperson for internationally renowned Zero Population Growth (ZPG). The interview that followed was staggering in its depth and clarity. We boiled the conversation down to this:

Is there any significant problem faced by mankind that wouldn’t be further aggravated by the unfettered growth in human population?

Michael and I concluded, after 60 minutes of discussion, that there was no such problem.

KGMI management, on the other hand, concluded that a radio program about housing should be about bathtub caulking, laughing dummies, and free popcorn at Bellingham Sash and Door.

So I was replaced… by a nationally syndicated pair of laughing dummies.

Why this story? Because censorship helped me arrive at this place. This blog — THE HAMMER — enables me to be free of such filtration, uncensored.  Believe me, we won’t concern ourselves with bathtub caulking, laughing dummies, and free popcorn. Instead let’s take a journey along a ridge.  On one side is the built environment: that which we humans have built.  The other side: our natural environment.  We know they’re interconnected. Hence the ridge that ties them together.  

Let’s consider that connection. 

Your house is a box encapsulating some outside space.  We build a box, trap some air in it, and then condition it for comfort.  Stick a roof atop the box to keep out the rain; add an inorganic spacer below the box to keep it out of the dirt.  Done.

Whether or not we open any windows or exterior doors we know the spaces, inside and out,  remain interconnected.  Inside and outside are separated by semi-permeable membranes… our walls, ceilings and floors (much like our own skin and how it manages the separation between inside and out). So we had better care for our home’s skin because, as just one example of so many we’ll explore, some of the air we breathe inside our living room may have originated from our raunchy crawlspace.

Seems to me, if we’re going to be healthy inside and out we had better know what’s going on here. We had better know how to navigate this ridge.

Consider joining me on this journey as I observe the boundary between the built environment and human ecology.


There’s a lot of ground to cover.  Seems to me that before we leave the trailhead I owe you a manifesto: my personal declaration of just what ties all of this together… A-1 Builders, Adaptations Design Studio, my columns, my radio shows, my whistle blowing, the missions of the organizations I helped design and build.  All of it. There’s a theme here: a manifesto. A trail description. I owe you one, so stay tuned: my next blog post will contain my manifesto.

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