• Outside Earthship Biotecture Visitor Center
  • A pineapple, it GROWS inside greenhouse.
  • Roof rain catchment
  • Detail above rain catchment
  • One man's trash is another man's treasure.
  • Bottles waiting patiently to become part of building.

Earthship Biotecture, those Mountains either love you or spit you out

Over the last 20+ years, I’ve been loosely following the architect Michael Reynolds and his mastermind, the Earthship. We initially learned about his concept on the early vestiges of the Internet: could have been The Well or CompuServ BB. Back then there was a blippy blurb about Dennis Weaver and his newfangled home made out of used tires. The idea of a symbiotic relationship between microclimates, systems, trash and shelter was and still makes for a good approach to sustainable/resilience living. Fast-forward about 15 years, with the release of Garbage Warrior, a wonderful documentary about Reynolds and his crew, we became further enamored by his vision. (Please note I’m not saying his is the only vision out there for sustainable building, but its pretty gall dang inspired!)

A few years ago I went back to college to finally finish my degree (a whole different story). The best part of this program was developing my own curriculum with the approval of the college faculty. Because of this, Garbage Warrior was required viewing on two instances: 1. Documentary Filmmaking; 2. Green building concepts and practices. In both classes I painstakingly dissected this film and concepts presented. Including how unorthodox building concepts can shape state policy as well as bring community together or divide it. So, when we arrived in Taos, New Mexico it was imperative that we checked out the Earthship Biotecture Visitor Center.

We arrived on a bright fall day and greeted by a lovely woman from Boston. My excitement could not be contained; she was either amused or little concerned that I might be slightly insane. While engaged in the walk around of the center, a tour guide busy preparing for her big group answered some of our questions. She explained in detail the systems of the water catchment system as well as the power. At that moment, I realized everyone explaining all of the different systems in this center were women. My husband asked very technical questions and these women did not skip a beat. A round of applause for smart ladies!

During course of conversation, we mentioned that we were looking for a new home. The tour guide, said to me, “You’ll know if Taos wants you here, the mountains will either make you feel at home, like you’ll find a new job and housing right away or they’ll just spit you out. That’s the magic of these mountains.” My heart sank as I had said the same thing of the hills in West Virginia. How I miss those hills: the deer paths I’d follow amongst the hickory, maple, poplar, birch and ground pine. The silence in the winter, the orchestral sounds of peepers in Spring, the emerging fiddle heads through the forest humus, the quietude. Those hills hugged my heart tight, is it possible to find that again? Where? Is it Taos? Is it somewhere else?

I am still homeful.

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