Oakland's Institute of Urban Homesteading represents one of many earnest efforts within the Bay Area and nationwide to make something new out of a very old idea. It also happens to be one of the best. As with urban farming, which is but a piece of the bigger "urban homesteading" pie, the concept boils down to this: Take something humans have done to survive since the dawn of civilization, and spin it for contemporary city living. In today's world, the approach reaches beyond its pragmatic roots to a more spiritual, even existential, purpose. That's because in a society mediated by high-tech devices, cluttered with mass-produced goods, and fueled by cheap foods, making your own stuff is an act of rebellion. Through classes on gardening and animal husbandry, foraging and food preservation, and more, the Institute of Urban Homesteading helps to bring concepts of self-sufficiency and environmental sustainability out of the past and into the mainstream, beginning here in the East Bay.