Alayne Meade first learned the term “Earthships” when her boyfriend mentioned the word to her.
“He told me about Earthships after reading a magazine article, and I thought it was crazy at first. I mean, I grew up in Michigan. We didn’t have Earthships! “And here was this article telling the story of people living in houses made out of mud and recycled rubber tires, and a bunch of bottles taped together and used as bricks. “In college, I had taken classes in environmental studies and the more I learned about the Earthships Biotecture World Headquarters and Visitor Center in Taos, N.M., the more sense I thought it made.” There currently are 75 homes in the Earthships community, and after a little research, Alanye opted to join them to attend a month-long Academy session. That was a little more than a year ago. “Within that time, I began to assess how we use power and water, as well as my own use of these resources,” she said. “Just seeing and living in this environment increased my interest in it instead of against it.”
It was during this time Alanye met Rose Tourje, founder and president of ANEW, who had wandered into the Earthships Visitor’s Center because she was curious about these houses. Some of the first structures built had been dug down into the earth; however, the newer ones instead used the main tire structures to build the earth up around the tires.
Alayne became as interested in ANEW as Rose became interested in the Earthships. “Living off the grid doesn’t mean you’re sacrificing everything,” Alayne explained. “We have electricity. Internet. Cable. Phones. We function just like any other neighborhood. We just get our electricity through the wind and the sun. “The more I learned about what ANEW was doing, the more I began thinking that both groups were doing the same thing,” Alayne said. “Both were using things that had been used for something else and we both were reusing them for another purpose.”
Rose asked what was needed at Earthships and Alayne quickly told her they needed chairs for students to use in the Academy class. “Students come from all over the world for the month and typically go home and do their own projects, integrating a lot of the same concepts they’ve learned here for living off the grid.
In the meantime, ANEW did what it does best: It repurposed two truckloads of chairs, furniture and office supplies and delivered them for use at Earthships.