The Future of Living: Self-Sustaining Villages | James Ehrlich | TEDxKlagenfurt

What a great idea! I have often dreamed of buying some rural land and building an Earthship. From Wikipedia:

An Earthship is a type of passive solar house that is made of both natural and upcycled materials such as earth-packed tires, pioneered by architect Michael Reynolds.

An Earthship addresses six principles or human needs:

  1. Thermal/solar heating and cooling
  2. solar and wind electricity
  3. self-contained sewage treatment
  4. building with natural and recycled materials
  5. water harvesting and long term storage
  6. some internal food production capability

Earthship structures are intended to be “off-the-grid-ready” homes, with minimal reliance on public utilities and fossil fuels. They are constructed to use available natural resources, especially energy from the sun and rain water.

My time living in rural New Hampshire taught me about my own needs. I learned that being close to friends and family is a priority for me, and living in a close community (like the one described by Ehrlich in the TED talk) is more appealing than the isolation of a single rural sustainable home.

What I love about Earthships in particular is their independence. The homes are partially subterranean, which makes their internal temperature stable. It sounds (and looks) like a hobbit house! Who wouldn’t love to grow flowers on their roof?

Earthships are also passive solar homes, which means they can collect and distribute solar energy. Some designs have a greenhouse area in the front of the home, which sounds amazing to me. I love to have lots of plants in my living space. It also adds to the astronaut feel– like Don Cheadle in Mission to Mars!

The ability to completely personalize your living space is also a draw. You can create stained-glass type walls with bottles, curved walls, arched doorways, domes, and niches– sounds like a dream! Some of the homes people have built remind me of Luke’s home on Tatooine (funny that Don Cheadle’s character in Mission was also named Luke), and some look like they were a part of Epcot’s “The Land” pavilion.

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“The Land” in Epcot, my favorite park at Walt Disney World

My ideal situation would be an intentional community, like Ehrlich’s, but of Earthship homes. I would like to be close to my home city to lessen the sense of isolation, but if I felt like the people and the community were a perfect fit for me, I wouldn’t rule out moving to a new place. Maybe the American Southwest or Pacific Northwest… the perfect place to drive my future veggie-oil car! 😉

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