The real question may be if something is outside of the old system is it invalid or is the old system even valid anymore, and what are we gonna do about it? Are we gonna wait on others to show us the way or pave our own way?
Earthship is very interested in not just creating new structures or retrofitting pre-existing structures to make them more sustainable both in an affordable, safe way, but to also empower their followers to teach, to create, and to learn. Although the manpower at Earthship is not overflowing. Most of the energy and interest is currently going towards the clients who at this time want an Earthship from scratch, but time has also been made to create an Academy to offer an extensive education on Earthship principals and techniques.
When it comes to bridging the old with the new that is where the interns and academy graduates come in, not into an old corporate paradigm, but to a new fresh philosophy with grounded principals that work. A lot of young people are interested in interning and learning how and Earthship functions and how to build one. We have over 1,000 responses, and not to sound too cheesy, but the future is in their hands to make these changes. The high interest show that they are not happy with the old choices anymore.
What have the past interns done so far? Time will tell - just being here with like minded people encourages and inspires them and they learn for themself what they do and do not enjoy with hands on experience. We only really follow the interns who stay involved and connected - not only do they become builders, but different positions are being born as needed. Interest is growing fast, but the capital isn't here yet - it comes after that. We are not a corporation with an HR department that labels and manages various positions based on job duties - there are only like 10 of us in the office and some of them are the building crew and leave often. Also there is only one building crew. If something needs to get done someone is found to do it - sometimes this is an old intern who want to stay. There are not current specific job openings.
Someone asked me if the interns would receive a certification like LEED? An LEED Certification is the closest thing the outside system has created to help move towards a more sustainable world. I responded to say that I am not sure an outside certification like LEED is even relevant to what we are doing. My sense is that the LEED certification is playing damage control with designs that are inherently flawed - on top of the fact that the certification probably isn't nearly progressive enough to implement the change fast enough that is needed. I doubt passive solar heating or geothermal cooling is even mentioned in LEED instead they add expensive equipment pieces to use power a little more efficiently - power that is still burning fossil fuels or nuclear power - power that is being transmitted far distances with line losses. Power for AC or heating units that isn't even necessary in the first place. I think that is inherently inefficient, therefore certifications like LEED in my opinion are a waste of time trying to fix a system that is heading for more output demands then they can or should handle. Eventually they will get to the root of the problem with is the infrastructure design itself. Another issue is the fact that is it hard for any certification to keep up with innovation. Building codes for this reason has actually worked against earhship in that past.
After watching Garbage Warrior one can get a better idea of the obstacles and challenges that have been over come thus far - the theme seems to be just because something might be in the best interest of the people doesn't mean it is easy or sometimes even possible to enact. It looks as if a progressive innovator is asked to spend just as much time seeking validity and even irrational invincibility as time spent on innovation, which is also an inefficient use of time and resources.
As you can see the only certification we can have is an internal one. Certificates are handed out after the internship program and more importantly after the academy program a even more credible certificate will be given out. The "where are they now stories " relevant to the what Earthship could call their previous graduates will be posted soon. The interns who have completed a full build usually 6 weeks long and who find something they like to do here stay. One past intern could use AutoCad proficiently and created drawings for the company is now back home to Turkey hoping to create a building for an education center. Another works in the office has a yoga teaching and electronics background and now does systems wiring in addition to office work.
There are both professionals and students here from various backgrounds. My personal back ground is electrical engineering and I have different industry experiences. I personally find it hard to stomach working for money when the choices are or will hurt people or the environment in the long run. I've worked for a defense contractor, the patent office, and a hydrogen production start up. I did not feel I was contributing to society in a meaningful way even when finally found a 'green job' making gas pumps i.e. chemical planets for the fuel cell cars. Since the fuel cell car never took off the company ended up chasing profit margins back to the petrochemical industry. I was the only one who left the company for this reason, but I am not the only one here who understands that choice. I did not believe in the choices most corporations are making and fear of losing healthy care and retirement is not enough to keep me there. People come here to see and experience the reality of anther choice that honors their integrity. Maybe they are called to continue their affiliation with Earthship afterwards maybe not, but I think all leave more empowered to make more responsible choices in the future and with hope that change is happening.