Rammed earth? Off-the-grid? Solar power? What do these things have to do with communication?
Over Reading Break I had the good fortune to visit my son, Taryn Gillies (a UFV Architectural Drafting student) at the Earthships intentional community in Taos, New Mexico. According to organizations such as the Federation of Egalitarian Communities, intentional communities are planned residential communities that are a genuine attempt to “live out ideals of connection, sustainability and economic justice.” This is where communication comes in: it takes a lot of good teamwork skills to live successfully in one of these types of communities.
While Earthships themselves are residential structures that collect and recycle water, harness solar power, and utilize recycled material in their construction, they are also the central feature of this particular intentional community. The houses are pretty fascinating and I enjoyed the opportunity to stay in one. The house I stayed in with my son is 2805 m (9200 ft.) above sea level. It has 3 bedrooms, 3 full bathrooms, 4 fireplaces, 2 lounge areas, a kitchen with a thermal fridge, and a garden growing inside. Water is collected from snow and rainfall, stored in cisterns and eventually goes through three filtering systems (drinking water, grey water, and black water).
If you want to find out more about earthship architecture you can visit earthship.com and if you want to know more about intentional communities you might want to check out information on the Fraser Valley’s own Yarrow Ecovillage.
Dr. Marcella LaFever (University of New Mexico, 2005) is an Associate Professor in the Communications Department at the University of the Fraser Valley. She specializes in intercultural communication and brings that expertise to various subjects such as communication for workplace, instruction, social media, team and public speaking contexts.