Image Credit: Zak Suhar, Portfolio
In early March, I interviewed "ecotect," author and creator of the Earthship, Michael Reynolds. I had just finished reading Reynolds' book, The Coming of the Wizards, and I was looking forward to meeting the man who speaks so passionately about sustainable housing.
Akilah: What inspired you to study architecture?
Reynolds: I stumbled upon it. I had no idea, like most kids, what I wanted to do. My father was a builder. I worked with him to build our house.
Akilah: What class had the biggest impact on your ideas?
Reynolds: All of the architecture classes inspired me to go another way. It was all bogus. I would sit and think, "I would never do anything like this." I was more inspired to do what I am doing now from the physics and biology classes.
Akilah: What was it about your study of the pyramids that fueled your ideas about the Earthship?
Reynolds: It was somewhat related. I stumbled into the legends and myths of the pyramids. The Great Giza, of course, is one of the seven wonders of the world. There is a lot more going on, however, than a stack of stones. I built a few pyramids myself , magnetically aligned them, and experienced living in them. Involvement with and exposure to the pyramids affects how I look at the world.
Akilah: In what state is it the most difficult to build an Earthship and why?
Reynolds: It's really not the states. It's the counties, and the hardest by far are Ventura County (Los Angeles), and Pima County (Arizona). They represent the epitome of how codes and regulations inhibit the evolution of humanity on this planet.
Akilah: What county or counties are most supportive of the Earthships?
Reynolds: A lot of places. We call them pockets of freedom. There are counties all over the US that do not require permits and permission for homeowners to build on their own property.
Akilah: What do you find most disconcerting about the state of human consciousness?
Reynolds: Codes and regulations. The belief systems that we practice, be it politics or religion. We are corralled into a particular way of thinking that keeps us from moving forward.
Akilah: This is what you call swarm thinking (it used to be called herd thinking) and what you comment on extensively in The Coming of the Wizards?
Reynolds: Yes. We have got to step out of this belief system, and we need to step out fast. We need to respond and respond quickly. Through a certain amount of systems and dogmas, we're just on lock-down. It's no one's fault. We used to have a sense of wonder and curiosity, just gazing at the moon and the stars. Now, especially in the developed world, all we see are little weird mini-versions of ourselves on television, and we have these walls around our minds and thinking. I call it inverted evolution
. Akilah: What is it about the state of human consciousness that can make us all hopeful?
Reynolds: Once we get past those belief systems, those dogmas, human beings have creative potential that we can apply to create beauty.
Akilah: What is your vision of the future of architecture?
Reynolds: There is no future for architecture. It's nothing but non-functional monuments in honor of the architects themselves. Biotecture is what I refer to as the phenomenon of understanding the earth, including biology, physics and astro-physics so that human beings can enter into an intimate relationship with the earth. It's being a part of a relationship that enhances the planet, not one that destroys it.
Akilah: What would you say mostly describes what you do: architect, environmentalist or artist?
Akilah: Are you happy?
Reynolds: Oh yeah! I am a very happy man.
Akilah: Thank you for sharing your ideas and time with me. I appreciate it.
Please see the video selection of Reynolds' TedX talk for more information on biotecture and zero-carbon living. Also, if you are in the Philadelphia area, the documentary "The Garbage Warrior" will premiere at the Philadelphia Ethical Society, in Rittenhouse Square on May 24, 2013. Contact the Ethical Society for more information and screening time.