in this area
in the morning and then used their shower. But,
alas, our dreams of getting buff and staying clean
HW: Michael, you have come across in the news
media as extraordinarily gracious toward the police.
Were you surprised by the way they treated you,
especially in this day and age of heightened security
MT: We were in a high state of panic nearly all the
time. But we knew if the space reached a “plateau
of completion,” the actions against us would be
lessened. It’s an odd calculation.
Before the judge, they started reading the charges
against me. They said, “He entered a storage closet,
which gave him access to a ladder that went up to
a loft space, where over the years he created an
I’m watching the judge, and I see [his] expression
change, and they start describing the apartment
in full detail: “The apartment was fully furnished,
had sectional couches, matching lamps ....” At that
point, the judge called everyone close to him, and
they talked for a while and said, “We gotta give this
kid a misdemeanor charge.”
The cop who brought me to the police station
said, “How am I going to write this up?” I was like:
“Well, trespassing with an intent to decorate?”
AY: I think our commitment was our redemption.
HW: Do you have anything to tell others who are
entertaining the idea of doing what you guys did?
Or a warning?
MT: It’s worth noting that you can put a cinder
block in a backpack. That means you can build a
house anywhere you want.
Townsend and Yoto’s “Living in the Mall” project:
Howard Wen reports on technology and tech culture for
several publications and websites. He can be reached at