Earthship Academy instructor Tom Duke walks you through the Academy classroom at the Greater World Earthship Community and shows you where students have their lecture classes and do their hands-on systems labs. At the end there is a brief peek at the inside of the EVE (Earthship Village Ecologies) project.
I’d venture to say that a good 25% of the education that I took away with me from the Academy came directly from the people who work there. Not from what they were teaching us about earthships, but from who they are as people, what they believe in, how they live and why they are passionate about it. That part of the learning was optional and I’m glad I took advantage of it and got to know some of them a little bit better “outside of class”. Most of our instructors were very open and comfortable talking about their personal experiences and beliefs, they invited us into their homes and some joined us for Saturday night parties or at the local brewery. For me personally, many were my my age (give or take) and it was great to hear from Phil and Tom and Rory what it was like bringing up kids in an earthship in the Greater World Community.
There’s is definitely a familial feeling and close relationship between the staff – they bust on each other and themselves constantly, and they all imitate and rip on Mike Reynolds, their boss. All done with love, of course. The fact that they are comfortable with themselves and who they are makes for a comfortable learning environment. It’s the kind of class dynamic I tried to foster when I was teaching high school English. When a student knows you as a person and not just a “teacher”, they are free to be themselves.
I could write pages about our individual instructors, but I guess the guy who impressed me most was Phil Basehart, Mike’s primary builder and one of his long time employees. He was definitely a great teacher, I always felt like I walked out of Phil’s classes with a whole new toolbox full of knowledge. But standing around a hot fire under the stars on cold night with cold beers is a much better way to get to know someone. He’s got three kids and a son just a few months younger than my little one, and I finally got him to admit he’s a year younger than me after some prodding. We’re at similar stages in life, but I am a bit envious he went straight into building earthships 20 odd years ago and never looked back. His years of experience and knowledge of earthships is probably only second to Mike Reynolds. I had no idea what I was doing with my life 20 years ago. Oddly enough, that’s about when I first heard of earthships, as I mentioned in a previous post. Maybe I should have gone to see that “houseboat”.
What impressed me most about Phil, though, is his personal dedication and honest passion for earthships and what they mean for a better future. His last classroom lecture was about the humanitarian work Earthship Biotecture does, and he had a slideshow presentation to go with it. Phil has been all over the world teaching the techniques and building earthships for victims of natural disasters, the poor, the disadvantaged and needy. He’s been to places like Haiti, after the earthquake, the Philippines, after a typhoon; Malawi, Africa, India, Mexico, Easter Island and many more, building schools, homes, shelters and community centers. With each slide he showed us of the various builds, he pointed out the local people and gave them names and stories and backgrounds that made them come alive. He gave us the history of the place and the government, told us about the corruption and the culture, the conditions locals lived in and how difficult life often was for them. And Phil made it very clear that this is what Earthship Biotecture is all about to him. Helping people. Doing something to leave this world a better place. I think we all left that class feeling both exhilarated and emotionally drained, and I realized I need to find the time to volunteer for a future humanitarian build… or stage my own. (More on that subject coming soon.)
My apologies to those waiting for an update, the last two weeks of the Academy were packed full, and I didn’t have the energy to write, let alone type on the touch screen keyboard of my phone. Also, sometimes a bit of distance gives a better perspective, and I’m 900 miles away from Taos now, back at home.
Work continued this past week on the Easter Island music school. Tires were pounded for a fourth vault and the vault was installed and plastered. One room is completely finished and the rest are on their way. The Earthship Academy students and local volunteers made it possible to do almost twice as much work on the building as originally planned.
Students took their final exam in the classroom which they aced! Earlier in the week students and crew were treated to a concert by the young music school students from the island. The concert was wonderful and reminded us all why we chose to be a part of this amazing project!
Michael Reynolds and six Earthship instructors will stay on the island for another 5 work days with some of the remaining Academy students and continue work on the building. There will be a special inauguration ceremony on December 17th. Read More
The Earthship Academy Global Session on Easter Island is in its second to last week. Our students are from 15 different countries and also include local residents and Rapa Nui people who are going to continue the construction after the Academy leaves. We have already accomplished more that planned in terms of structure. Four of the eight vaults of the Earthship Flower are up on the tire work and the classrooms are in different stages of completion. One classroom is nearly done and another is close to done. Cisterns are installed and gray water planters are dug and awaiting plumbing.
There have been several hits on a Global Model Earthship being built for a Taos family who was displaced after losing their home in Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Last year, we had 35 students and several crew members begin the tire pounding and within a week’s time were able to complete the 9 courses of the main structural tire wall. The Bilal family has been in Taos since that time and have been the focus of our local humanitarian effort.
Since last spring, Earthship Biotecture has donated time and labor working with our interns, Academy students and various high school groups towards enclosing and eventually finishing the Bilal family’s Earthship. Several groups have worked with us over the year to pack out the back tire wall creating more support and preparing for the roof to go on. Read More
The Earthship in Ushuaia is nearly complete. Solar panels are on and columns to hold the poles for the two windmills are being built with cans and cement. The evapo-transporation cell for the black water has been built outside and is now being filled with rock and soil. On the inside of the building the second to last coat of plaster is on nearly every surface and color finish coats will begin today.
In the classroom, instructors are preparing the students for their final exam by reviewing material covered over the past month.
We are thrilled with the success of our first Global Earthship Academy and have our awesome hosts, the city of Ushuaia and all of our students to thank! If you are interested in future Academy sessions in South America, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
We are rolling along in our third week of the Earthship Academy session in Ushuaia, Argentina. The roof is completely on and just needs to be sealed. The glass is mostly in the front face. The interior floors are being poured. The septic system is complete and the bathroom is getting bottle walls and finishes.
We had 70 people from the local community attend our open day last Sunday and we made the cover of the local newspaper. This week in the classroom students learned about food production in Earthships, Simple Survival Earthship Systems, the Power Organizing Module and all its components and were given an overview of all the different types of Earthships by Michael Reynolds.
Michael Reynolds also did a site visit to another town in Argentina, El Bolsón, and is designing a project there. We are already considering another Earthship Academy Session in Argentina in 2015.