Desert Quest – A tale of Earthship Academy
Whoa! What a trip. Two months of pure labor intensive euphoria.
When I had first heard of Earthships, like many of you, I knew it was something special . I needed to know more, I had to get my hands dirty first hand, really, I needed to feel the magic.
After my application was approved and it really sunk in – I was super excited. Who knows what to expect. Even after reading this – you wont know either – unless you do it. Friday, day one, was filled with meeting thirty people from all over the globe and getting a pleasant orientation with Mike Reynolds and Kirsten Jacobson (two of the three founders of the Earthship Academy along with Ron Sciarrillo.) Later we entered our sleeping quarters, no need for a description here except for be open minded when you come and willing to have a crash course in communal living. Which for me as a person who is alone most of the time, was something I needed to experience and was glad I did.
We had the weekend to ourselves to get to know the area and each other then right to work at the job site the next Monday. We were blessed to have Jonah teach us the basics of tire pounding. Yes folks this gets laborious as it should. After the first 3-5 days of this we finally were able to see the first glimpses of a structural wall. A small prize for 30 students getting their first licking. Fortunately none of us passed out in the heat – as we were the summer 2012 class in the middle of the torching 100 degree days. Looking back – we rocked it!!!
A few weeks go by – thermal wrap, bond beam, vigas (logs), front face, boom boom bam. Mike would show up periodically either to make sure the building was going well or to have an internal laugh watching an inexperienced crew being brain and body washed into shape.
Amzi, one of the instructors and co-foreman knew how to keep things light – with the introduction of Flamboyant Friday, everyone’s spirits would skyrocket with Drag Queen Halloween debauchery. I am sure there are photos going around somewhere (peculiar smile.)
After the first month things started to slow down – we were setting the roof, wing walls, struts, and gray water cells. Things needed more attention and the learning took a different approach. More time was spent with adobe walls and troweling. And spectacular student inspired spirals of bottle works and can walls. Our one bedroom global model was really starting to take shape.
However good we were – we were not without mishap. But with ease the crew showed us that mistakes are a learning opportunity and how to correct them and still make the building perform at optimal performance. After 40 years these guys really do know what they are doing and we are very forutnate to have them around.
In the end, I have to give Mike true credit for saying that an earthship is a “low-tech” building. We really were 30 inexperienced eco-ambassadors who wanted to learn Biotecture for various reasons. And with a little guidance from the crew we made it happen.
A VERY special thanks go to: Kirsten Jacobson who dreamed the academy up 10 or so years ago and watching over us like her children :-), Ron for being such an optimistic leader, Amzi for always willing to thoroughly answer tough questions pleasantly, Jonah for his unedited desire to spread Biotecture like a virus, Amanda for showing us the ropes on plumbing with a smile, Nhac for, well being Nhac, and Teran for endless roof support. And of course Mike for dreaming up this stuff for us to make it happen and spread the love. Thanks Earthship Academy – and all all other fellow alumni – Love and Peace and Rock on!