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Earthship Seattle Visitor Center Meetup

Come find out about Earthship Seattle’s new endeavor: a visitor center within King County to serve the community at large!  What? How? Who? … You’ll have to show up to find out! 😄


All Those Bottle Bricks….

Now that I had the basic concept of Earthships rooted in my mind, I began to do some digging on their materials. One thing that piqued my interest was the construction of the walls!  While it was apparent some modern methods were still used, the method of upcycling really caught my eye.  What exactly was it about these materials supplements that worked for the structure?  I decided to do some digging and try my hand at building an Earthship this past Sunday.  What follows should illuminate your imagination a little bit.

Plastic Bottle Bricks.  Sounds simple enough, and simple it is!  Plastic bottles are among the many industrially indigenous materials to every region of the earth.  They come in all sorts of colors and shapes.  Once stuffed to the brim with plastic bags they are stacked in staggered lines layered with cob to build a wall.  I investigated and found an article from The International Association of Advanced Technology and Science*1 that found these walls to be 20 times more structurally sound than normal brick walls.  So what about the other brick replacements?

Glass Bottle Bricks.  Those three words might stir up a scene of a bar fight, but I assure you it’s something quite more beneficial.  Used not just for structural strength and heat retention, but also as a means to beautify.  I discovered last Sunday at the Seattle Earthship build that you do not just shove a glass bottle in the mud and repeat.  You want to collect like colors so that you can cut off the necks and duct tape them together. Filling them with liquids is not advised*2

Bottle wall

Bottle wall

Beer Can Bricks.  Same principle applies as with the plastic bottles mentioned earlier; only they do not have to be stuffed with plastic bags.  The metal void both reinforces the concrete and serves as an air pocket for insulation.  Once stacked these walls are given a face coat of cob/mortar and sometimes plaster.  Using these materials means you spend less on your mortar or cob mix.

Cob – This is a term some of you may not know about.  It is a natural alternative to cement or mortar mixes that has been around for thousands of years.  The basic principle is to mix sand and clay together with a binder to create a stone-like material.  Binders come in the form of straw, plant fibers, and even hair.  Mix until globby: not too runny, but not dry.  The cob secures and weights down all the bottle/can bricks you have laid then essentially turns to stone.

I was able to experience this past Sunday at the Earthship Seattle build and had a great time!  Florian guided the attendees thru what to do to finish a glass bottle wall.  Some of us worked with sifting clay and making cob, while others set bottles in place and lay cob in a fashionable manner.  There is still much to be done there, and with regular workshops there is plenty of opportunity for YOU to come participate (for those of you interested*3).  See you all next week! – Seth

*1 Plastic bottle Brick Study – http://www.jiaats.com/Journals-Pdf/March-2015/jcme/Jcme-12.pdf

*1 Glass Bottle Bricks – http://earthship.com/blogs/2015/01/make-bottle-bricks/

*3 Earthship Seattle FB – https://www.facebook.com/EarthshipSeattle/?fref=ts


An Aquapon’s Delightful First Earthship Meeting

Earthships. What are they? Are they talking about the Earth as a ship, or what exactly? Makes sense right? Sailing thru space and such. While I already knew the answer, I figured why not learn more locally if I can, so I did. Running ‘Anything Aquaponics’ here in Seattle, I have been interested in integrating Earthships into system designs for some clients, and having seen it done on a small scale I reached out to ‘Earthships Seattle’. They encouraged me to join their Meetup group and attend a meeting.

This past Monday I had the great fortune of dropping in on an Earthships Seattle meeting. Some attendees and myself were greeted by the host Florian at the door and ushered inside. Being among the first to arrive, we mingled while consuming the delicious appetizers as more members poured in. The food was just as diverse as the group; Individuals from all over the country, Central America and Europe. Stuffed peppers, pressed chocolate, and fresh bread from a Ballard bakery were among the many delightful hors d’Å“uvres. Once the group swelled to just over 20 folks the meeting formally began.

Event Organizer Sophie initiated a ‘fill-in-the-blank’ style of introductions to go around the room. Most people appeared to be new to the ‘ships’ as they are referred in these circles, but we privy to the concept and were inspired to drop in and learn more. A few members of the group have completed the Earthship Academy workshops and have built multiple ships all over the world. Tele-conference was also conducted for those who could not physically attend, but were still interested.
Following the introduction session a video clip from Democracy Now on Earthships was put on. The piece was on Michael Reynolds (the father of Earthships) the story behind the movement. One topic he covered that I bring up in my aquaponics classes is establishing local food security as a social dissent deterrent. Put more succinctly: feed hungry people and they are less likely to commit crimes.

Seth R. Connell

Seth R. Connell

Mr. Reynolds’ sense of humor was acceptably dry and industrious; poking fun at the global market machine by referring to glass bottles, soda cans, and used tires as ‘indigenous to all continents’. When questioned about his Architecture license being revoked by the government he confirmed the case. Reynolds went on to describe that because Earthships are so efficient and different that they do not abide by modern architecture’s international building code standards. After losing his license he came up with the term ‘Biotecture’, which ended up being the latter half of his new business ‘Earthship Biotecture’.

Other key points on the video to bring up for anyone not familiar are rather unbelievable to newbies. Benefits such as year-round indoor gardening, constant regulated temperature, solar/wind/alt power sources, and Eachship boasting a utility bill grand total of under $100 per year; those are the main head turners. Structures are on average comprised of 45% recycled or upcycled materials, and the rest purchased.

Upon the videos end, hearing their stories over the course of the night was rather inspiring. Some of the certified ship builders had actually spent months with Reynolds. From what I was able to gather, these homes average out to the same expense per square foot as a modern home. While that may be true, to this writer the benefits of Earthships drastically outweigh the plain functionless structure of the cookie-cutter boxes most of us call home.

Local Earthship events were mentioned as well if you feel like getting involved. What the group has dubbed the ‘Trash Studio’ is located in the Columbia City neighborhood of South Seattle. It is near completion and they have setup the final few workshop days on their Meetup.com page. Upcoming workshops are on the following dates and you can RSVP on their Meetup page: 3/16, 3/20, 3/27, and 3/29.

There are a variety of other opportunities for Earthships to be built in Western Washington which were mentioned, many of which are still up in the air, and our state’s legislators make it very difficult to approve plans. There are ways to work with city/county inspectors to get these projects accomplished and I’m sure there will be more information available as those respective projects move along.

About this time the meeting concluded and some people disembarked for home. I stayed and talked more in depth with those who stuck around, as well as signed up for some volunteer positions on the board. My aquaponics company keeps me busy, but there is enough downtime to contribute my time to helping this group get these ships in the ground (not off it).
If you are one of the people who actually practices being the change you want to see in the world, rather than just saying it, then you should definitely join this group! There are many other positions available for people to join this great group of skilled enthusiasts and certified builders. Workshops, meetings, and even road-trips to Earthships are among the activities they hold.

I personally had a fantastic time and am excited to play a role in the group. Can totally see myself turning from a professional Aquapon into a bit of a E-shipper/Shippie or whatever the proper moniker is. Please find them on meetup.com or on Facebook.
http://www.meetup.com/Earthship-Seattle/
https://www.facebook.com/EarthshipSeattle/


Update from the Trash Studio

Packing out the tire wall

Packing out the tire wall


Summer has been a busy time at the Trash Studio.
The front retaining walls are complete, three cisterns are installed, the berm is nearing completion, and the roof is in full swing!

The roof has 6 beams that need a few finishing touches before the decking is installed.
Once the decking is complete, installation of the vapor barrier, insulation and tar paper roofing material will complete the roof.

In the past week, we’ve made many batches of cob to “pack out” the tires inside the Studio. Soon we’ll be making cob to cover the tires completely!

Today we used the last of our clay, so we’ll need to source more. If anyone has any leads on where to obtain clay, please let us know!!
While we wait on the clay, we’ll continue construction on the roof.

Plastic bottle bricks and cob

Plastic bottle bricks and cob

We’re in need of 3-5 volunteers per work party to assist with carpentry on the roof.

If you want to learn a bit of carpentry, sign up and come on out to the Studio!
Also of note, a sliding glass door was recently donated to the project to be used on the front face.
Thanks for reading and we hope to see you and your friends out at the Trash Studio soon!


The Lorax Family’s thoughts from the Earthship Seattle Road Trip

Earthships are the convergence of smart resource use (building with trash!)  and dozens of climate-appropriate strategies. As designers, practitioners and teachers of Permacutlure, we were interested in checking out the earthships to understand how they can best be utilized in creating sustainable human habitat. During our visit we enjoyed seeing and living within the wide range of aesthetics, from subtle to extravagant, as well as the learning about the evolution and knowledge acquired from mistakes and hard work. If you haven’t checked out the Earthship Village just outside of Taos NM you should! We are very much looking forward to seeing how they upscale the design from a single family unit to a more dense structure with lots more food production! We’ll definitely use the insights from this trip in the future.

Kelda, Nick and Gela Lorax
Lorax family

Lorax family

Gela outside the Lemuria Earthship

Gela outside the Lemuria Earthship

Gela in the Lemuria Earthship

Gela in the Lemuria Earthship


Bellingham Or Bust!

Bellingham event

Bellingham event

On Friday, Feb 13th, Earthship Seattle headed up to Bellingham to help out our friend, Giselle, start an Earthship Bellingham group. She wanted to host a screening of the documentary, Garbage Warrior, to introduce people to the concept of Earthships and to sign up to get involved. Giselle has traveled to Seattle a few times to help with our Trash Studio build, and showed so much enthusiasm that we fell in love with her!

Before the screening, earlier in the day, we all headed to the Bellingham city planning office to ask about permitting, etc. We spoke to one man who ended up telling us about an architect who had built Bellingham’s first off-grid home. In great excitement to learn about this we found the address and info on the web, and headed over to the home to see if we could speak to the builder/owner. He wasn’t home, but his nanny was there and allowed us in to have a look. Later that evening the architect/owner came to our movie screening panel discussion so we got to meet him and we are grateful to have made the connection! His name is Dan, and we are hoping he’ll write a short blog entry for us to post here one day soon about his design and plans to start a green design firm. We need MORE people like him on our side!

In the evening, the screening was a GREAT success, with an estimated 75 people or so attending. A lively panel discussion happened afterwards, and then a large group of folks headed over to Giselle’s house for a party to celebrate. the new connections and a bright new future for Earthship Bellingham! Congrats to you, Bellingham!!

See the video of Giselle’s introduction on YouTube


Earthships are Healing

Zarna working on the Trash Studio

Zarna working on the Trash Studio

Hi, I’m Zarna, a steering committee member of Earthship Seattle. I’ve been an activist all my life, and have struggled for justice on three different continents. I’ve struggled for the environment, fair trade, student rights, social justice, women’s rights, and for political transparency. One thing I’ve learned is that the activist struggle is relentless. It’s a continous rage against the machine of capitalism, greed, prejudice, and fear.

While every minute of the struggle is worthy, and every victory – big or small – is celebrated, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the nature of the work. To fight and fight against a system that continues to burn fossil fuels even when hundreds of thousands of people march in the streets…it can lower even the most enthusiastic spirit. Knowing that in less than two hundred years human beings have destroyed a global ecological balance that took thousands of years to form – that is an overwhelming truth even for a seasoned activist.

Burnout becomes a genuine threat at that point for anyone and particularly for me. I wonder if I can continue on this path when it’s so emotionally and mentally draining to fight an oppressive system.

That’s one of the reasons why Earthship Seattle is so important to me. The work we do is about building something tangible beyond that oppressive system.

It’s incredibly healing for me to be at an Earthship Seattle work party, working with dirt and recycled materials, knowing that with every bottle brick we make and tire we pound, we’re taking pollution out of the environment. It’s healing to be in such a positive atmosphere, where community members come together without words or placards but instead with shovels and positive energy. It gives me the strength and motivation to keep going on this path, and feel hope that good sense and community will triumph in the end. That’s why I’m able to continue my work in activism through grassroots direct action, while also presenting concrete solutions against the system through Earthship Seattle.

Earthship solutions don’t depend on waiting for politicians to FINALLY make the right decision, or corporations to grow a conscience. To build an Earthship and help others in the community build Earthships – that is the healing art of Earthship Seattle. It’s unique among activist groups because while we know that our mission won’t be easy to accomplish, we know that we’ll be building the whole way.


Tune in for Earthship Seattle on The Joe Show

The Joe Show

The Joe Show

Tune in on AM 930 Progressive Talk KBAI on Wednesday 2/4 at noon.

Joe will be interviewing Zarna and Chrissy from Earthship Seattle, about Earthships and related activities in Seattle and Bellingham.

Listen to The Joe Show!


Movie Screenings

Hey there!  If you want to host a private movie screening at you house for your friends and family.  I am available upon request to do that with you.  I will bring the movie and answer any questions your people might have about these amazing homes.


There’s a lot going on!

Upcoming Dates - Event Poster

Upcoming Dates

Our team has expanded, which is increasing our outreach capabilities.

We have a lot of events coming up that will help raise awareness about Earthships.

Our current project, the Trash Studio, deserves an update of its own. Coming soon!
But just so you know, we need dirt! So if you know someone who can volunteer their truck, please get in touch with us.

Our Earthship Seattle Meetup group is a great way to stay up-to-date with all our events!

  • November 11th, 6 pm: Presentation/workshop at OHM Seattle (led by Rachel Payne)
  • November 14th, we will promote the Earthship concept at the Swan Creek Food Forest in Tacoma.
  • Late November/early December: Movie screening at Seattle University (led by Zarna Joshi)
  • November 24th, 7 pm: Movie screening at Soul Food Books in Redmond (led by Jamie Owens)
  • November 25th, 6:30 pm: Movie screening at Bellevue College (led by Denise Whitlow)
  • Early December: Movie screening at University of Puget Sound in Tacoma (led by Chrissy Cooley)
  • December 6th: Workshop at Monkey Loft in Seattle (led by Jamie Owens)

Please come support us!