El Prado, 13th September 2016

Dear Lux Earthshippers,

It’s been an intense time so far at the Earthship Academy in Taos, New Mexico.

What kind of place is Taos, you wonder? It’s absolutely beautiful to be at this high altitude in a plain surrounded by mountains. The climate is arid (6 inches of rain per year), and my skin feels really dry here. The air is crisp, it’s very quiet and remote. The Greater World Earthship community is surrounded by sage brush and sun flowers, though when you go closer to the Rio Grande canyon, the vegetation gets a bit lusher with more presence of water. There are mountains that are over 13.0000 feet (4000 m). There are coyotes howling at night, snakes including rattlesnakes, tarantulas, wild horses, deer… You can see very far (so comforting and such a contrast to plucky little Luxembourg hills), and because of this one gets the privilege of perceiving many different weather systems at once. When it rains, the skies are just beautiful, the light dramatic and rainbows abound.

We all get to stay in earthships, for instance the Towers, and older, two-storey earthship with a large balcony and greenhouse (including bananas), and an aquabotanical system. Other Academy participants are staying at other earthships around the community, the old Simple Survivals, newer ones like the split level, and some really experimental ones like Eve and the Castle compound, which has a pyramid. The community feels dispersed and the land ownership is private with round lots so public land remains in between and ecologies are not much disturbed.

The Earthship Academy is six days a week, 9:00-16:30 with a small lunch break. We have alternating days of practical on-site work and classroom/tour days. The instructors include Mike Reynolds, but also younger, experienced builders. We’ve also visited various earthships in the Gravel Pit Reclamation project, the Phoenix earthship, and the two newest additions, the Waybe and the Pickory. During the practical days, we’re working on a few sites, Vallecitos, where we pounded tires and are now doing the bond beam, Lone Tree, where there is interior carpentry (doors and cabinets) as well as can walls, vaults, cooling tubes adjustments, and flagstone tiling done this week. There are two other sites, one of which is a project for a family whose home got ripped apart by hurricane Katrina, and the other one I’ll be going to on Friday for plastering – not sure of more context at the moment. The group of people that has gathered for the Academy are all passionate and wanting to take the ideas of the earthship further. Some of them have already elaborate designs and very many skills, but the group is quite mixed, majority of course Americans, but also a couple of other people from Europe (Germany, Norway, Sweden/Denmark) and Oceania. It’s great to be working alongside other people and learning from them, chatting and just working really hard. It’s great to be building something greater than oneself, participating in a task that is only a fraction of what is needed and that one will not necessarily see finished.

Until we meet again! May your dreams be wild.

katy x

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