Getting on the Boat and Wading through the Muck

It is completely discouraging to see that someone who goes through legitimate pathways to become an architect, and build buildings that function so well in their surroundings should be given so much trouble. Both inspiring and upsetting, the documentary “Garbage Warrior” describes the conflicts and ridiculous struggles that Mike Reynolds and crew from the Earthship Biotecture project have had to go through to build sustainable buildings and communities within the United States.

Imagine not needing any utilities and being set up to grow your own food. Meanwhile our leaders in Washington only consider green energy and sustainability as related to major corporations and lobbyists. Why bother using clean coal if there’s a way we can live without it in net zero buildings (period, end of sentence).

Granted, these buildings do not fit the typical idea of what we imagine a typical American house to be, and so obviously hoards of the general public will be against them. It is as discouraging as when I recently went to a town meeting regarding a new windmill proposal that was getting attacked because they thought it might cast a shadow or flicker on the local golf club, causing them to lose customers. Earthship Biotecture does not use typically use the materials we have become accustomed to in housing. Utilizing local recycled and salvaged materials and dirt directly from the site allows them to nearly eliminate shipping costs and reduce material costs. It is a major difference from one of the highly recognized projects I worked where I had to coordinate furniture deliveries shipped from all across Europe. Yet ridiculously, it is these high profile projects that are given all the acclaim. It is nice to see that Earthship is getting some much deserved recognition after 35 years, at least from other countries.

The world is changing in tremendous ways and it seems if our profession stays within the currently accepted boundaries, we will fail to keep up with it. The government and the AIA should support experimentation in architecture, instead of trying to reinforce an out-of-date codes and laws. Instead of building weapons and allocating so much money to ‘defense,’ we should be creating programs to build housing prototypes. It would be a great way to address the natural and manmade disasters occurring in the world today and cope with the most pressing issues of basic survival.

Movie Trailer:

Legal Resistance Interview:

Full Movie:


About Meghan Dufresne

Meghan R. Dufresne, LEED AP is an architectural designer and writer based in Boston. Interests include sustainability, gardens, art, sound, touch, experience, and merging buildings with the surrounding landscape.
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