Friday, September 09, 2011


STORIES REACH ME OF A LAND---- FAR BEYOND GAPING  CANYONS---Where clever "Hobbits" have retreated to live their lives in underground houses--that they build themselves.  A place without power lines--where water and sewer systems are custom built--one by one---a community without stores---where only industrious, creative "Hobbits" dwell.  I will go and see---and take you with me.
I drive across a long flat plain---
through rolling hill country
Across the awesome canyon.
Out there---- in what was considered wasteland----perhaps 200 creative people live---people who dare to do a different thing---who march to a different drummer.  The tires are a clue--what do you think imagination can do with used tires?
Moving closer---I feel the magic  ----many have fantasized doing this---and here it is --for real--people living underground---their lifestyle powered by the sun.
Imagine--designing and living in your own personal castle!
Here's one under construction.  I inquired about the legalities-- Zoning--building codes etc:   Bottom line:  THEY HAVE IT COVERED.  Very bright, determined people fought and won the battle for legitimacy.  New Mexico has strong---blue state thinking---and are innovative in many ways.
Beer cans---secured with concrete.

And they will gladly tell you all about it.  You too could become a "Hobbit" and live in an "Earthship."
Perhaps buying this fixer-upper
That's me--Admiring a wall of beer cans---hoping a hobbit will emerge.
AH YES---Here's what I wanted to show you.  Note the tires are stacked in staggered rows--each is filled with dirt (for firmness and insulation ) and secured with concrete. Chickenwire and concrete will result in a smoothe  finished wall.  Often they get the tires free.

A particularly well made one! Can you see the dozen others scattered across the landscape? Note that all face south to catch the winter sun.


A Rancho Grande---with scads of solar power---I count 26 panels--each delivering up to 120 watts. Far more than the ordinary household needs.  ( I have 3 of that size on my roof --providing all the power I need---even to run power tools and watch tv etc--And I'm Ok even without sun for 3 days---power is stored in 3 AGM batteries)

Community spirit thrives--I am told---but these special people apparantly appreciate privacy.
RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  My hat's off to these pioneers in alternative housing.  But I do not believe it is the wave of the future---just some components of it---I believe the spirit shrinks with this much apartness---from urban density---and from community.  I cast my vote for Palo Solari's Arcology--that I visited last year.  A "beehive" community of efficiency and connection.  And of course I cherish my own lifestyle of mobility---and connection with my community of Nomads.


Randy said...

Message body

This is actually a comment from Kerry that I'm transposing from an e-mail. I didn't want my readers to miss it's insights.

Hey Randy! As usual, keep up the great work.

The abandoned resort was interesting. I have spent a huge amount of time volunteering with Habitat for Humanity at several reservation in SD. I can't really have such a charitable take on this facility's demise. Unfortunately, we as "white" society have done a spectacular job of creating, enabling and financing a multi-century train wreck of a reservation system. Failure of any native run enterprise is generally the norm, and even a forgone conclusion of the natives as the ribbon is being cut at the grand opening. I pass no judgment, continue to support efforts to limit the suffering, and expect no real significant improvement in my time on this rock.

As for the Earthships, well not all is as it seems. I just finished an interesting little paperback about off the grid living in the US. The writer devotes a fair amount of copy to the earthship idea, and real world performance. It seems that the founder has a bit of a dark history, and is largely disliked by those that built his ideas. There are many issues with the homes, including the fact that they take an enormous amount of labor and material to build, and have far too much thermal mass for the desert environment.

I would be happy to give you my copy, and mail it out, if you are interested.

Stay safe and happy, Kerry

Sondra said...

I saw a vidoe about the problems this fellow had trying to get the building codes changed to include experimental housing..It was a nightmare for him..HE had good ideas and in theory it works..but the homes end up being very expensive to purchase or build. ONE thing I like is the water catch thats a good IDEA that could be used around the world..>I hear Micheal Reynolds went to Haiti to build some Earthship dwellings--you would like the guy Randy...he is a no nonsense kinda fellow!

Anonymous said...

Tires packed with dirt, not just filled but packed-tamped down. Lot's of tires, if you look at the pictures, lot's and lot's of tires.
An Earthship is a labor of love, it's so much work it has to be love.
Lot's of them there too... Takes all kinds of people for this world.

Anonymous said...

I lived by 3 reservations in Minnesota. Red Lake, Leech Lake & White Earth.
I have to agree with Kerry's comment on what happens when the money pours in to try a business on a reservation...

Most casinos seem to be different. I have a friend who thinks they have silent partners from back east with experience in running gambling establishments.

For over ten thousand years when one people took another's land one of 4 things happened. They were displaced, they were killed, they were enslaved (and later assimilated) or they were just assimilated.
We did something different and put them on reservations.

Jim said...

ANONYMOUS: "We did something different and put them on reservations."
But that was AFTER we displaced them and took their children away and killed the adults -- with our gentile government even paying a bounty on their scalps (physical confirmation of a kill). Bounty hunters were the first scalpers, but which race gets all the credit in the movies? If a lie is monumental enough, most mortals apparently will embrace it without question.

Jim said...

Per the earthships, we have a rural subdivision near here which has one. While it was under construction, I had scoped it out on cold and hot days and it was always surprisingly comfortable inside -- even with gaping holes in the walls.
But there were 20(!) sliding door glass units angled for maximum winter solar gain with absolutely no exterior shading. I predicted the home would overheat like crazy once it was fully enclosed. On a winter day many months later, I noticed someone had moved in and covered all the windows with reflective pleated shades -- trying to bounce most of that solar energy right back outside. Only one or two of the shades was open a foot or two at the bottom. I felt redeemed.
Exterior shading is so easy to incorporate into a design . . . I can't explain why so few use it. In most locations you would never want the sun shining directly on south-facing glass (or the walls either for that matter) during summer days, and properly designed roof overhangs accomplish that. Thermal mass can only be considered "excessive" when it is overheated . . . and that's what invariably happens without provision for summer shading of the south-facing glass areas.

matt said...

If anyone is interested in the Earthships and architect Micheal Reynolds,I highly recommend this documentary. It is an AWESOME story and very entertaining.

Stream for free on youtube:

castello said...

Thanks Matt. I saw that a few years ago and was looking for it. Are there any good updates?

Anonymous said...

a little reality about the "Noble Red Man"

1. The Sioux were in the Dakotas because the Winnebago pushed them out of Minnesota. INDIANS... took the land from OTHER Indians. So stop the "Evil Whiteman" crap... PEOPLE are flawed... ALL people

2. The Indians did not "Revere" the land. They moved their camps when they had exhausted the local game and resources, and when even they couldn't stand the stench of their garbage dumps.

3. People talk how the Indians took only what they needed and left the rest... Bull Feces... They had no refrigeration and ran Buffalo over cliffs, killing HUNDREDS... there's no way they could use but a fraction...

4. The only reason they had a minimal impact on the environment is because their hard lifestyle made them die young, and perennial inter-tribal warfare, prohibited their population from getting large enough to have an impact

Jim said...

Hey Anonymous -- per your comments on the "noble red man" -- do you have any objective sources for your profound and self-serving insights? Or is this just your personal racist bile oozing out?
Even if what you say is true, two wrongs don't make a right. The white man stole their land, attempted to indoctrinate their children, and committed genocide on a grand scale -- killed THOUSANDS of buffalo from moving trains just for sport (and to deny the natives their food source); stacking their skulls in piles 30' high -- collecting the bones to grind 'em up and use for fertilizer back East -- purposely infected blankets which decimated villages . . . or do you have some cracker take on these historical facts too?