Updated: Sep 16
Earthships Biotecture, Self-Sufficient Homes, Meet Michael Reynolds and White Sands National Monument. Story of an inspiring man, information, experiences.
The real reason for my visit to New Mexico and one of the most inspiring encounters I had the chance to have was in the small town of Taos. I had managed to get an interview with the world famous architect: Michael Reynolds.
For this film, I was looking for people who live their dream and this man is an example. Despite the criticism and despite being threatened with having his architect's license taken away, Mr. Reynolds persevered. Today, it has been almost 50 years since he established the Earthships, which are self-sufficient houses.
Very often, we say that we must take care of our house, but he thinks the opposite, that it is our house that should take care of us. Living in Quebec then, I wondered if these houses in the desert could survive the severe winter cold. He replied that each house is unique and is built according to its environment. In other words, there is no identical house and the plans are made from nature on the premises. For example, it is necessary to observe where the path of the sun takes place to get the maximum out of it per day in the solar panels. If in a period of the year there is less sun, you may want to think about adding a wind turbine to fill the batteries with energy.
Why does Michael Reynolds call his bio-constructions self-sufficient and non-eco-responsible houses, a bit like these same kinds of houses all over the world? Because his first idea is not to depend on the government to live and its infrastructures. I asked him if he had any complications with the government for not depending precisely on these big economic monsters. He replied that in the United States indeed, he must pay a minimum amount to be able to use the territory. But afterwards, he has a free conscience, because he knows that if these infrastructures no longer work at some point or another, he does not depend on them to have a quality of life. He gave the example of hurricane Sandy which passed over New York in 2012. People could not even use their toilets...
We obviously visited one of the self-sufficient houses and a guide explained to us among other things the way of the water in the house so that it is used to the maximum in a natural filtration system. In the desert, it is obviously very hot, and we were surprised by a natural air conditioning system. But the most remarkable thing about these homes is that they are made of 100% recycled materials. This is the main reason why Michael Reynolds was threatened with having his architect's license taken away. Imagine that 50 years ago, it was not something well seen in the world of architecture to use waste to make a house.
Today obviously, this man is considered a visionary, I would even boldly say that he should be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. All his life he tried to help our planet, to help us get rid of our mania for overconsumption. The Earthships Biotecture site is also an academy. On site, you can observe the different stages of construction. The first step for the base and insulation of the house is to use old car tires and fill them with sand. Plastic bottles are also incorporated. A little later in the process and for the luminosity of the rooms, glass bottles are sliced in half and placed to form marvelous colored stained glass windows. These are in the most beautiful houses I have seen in my life. I practically couldn't believe these dwellings were made entirely of garbage!
White Sands National Monument
White Sands National Monument is a white gypsum dune landscape of immeasurable beauty. The main thing to do is really admire this gift of nature from miles around. Maybe you will try to slide on these dunes which look like snow, in my memory the slopes were not very big, but it can be a good entertainment. The National Park Service only protects part of this landscape. I found it peculiar that the US military decided to test their missile in this region of their country. So sometimes it is impossible to visit the dunes.
After the Cadillac Ranch event, I was looking for the amazing sunrise experiences and thought White Sand National Monument would be one of those places. I was a little wrong. At the time, I didn't have as much research experience and I found myself making several errors in the shooting schedule.
I am confronted from the start with my first obstacle: the park has opening hours, and technically, I am much too early to be able to enter. I decide to go there anyway on foot, leaving my car at the entrance to the park. I start walking and look for this incredible view of a gypsum dune, pure white as salt. The sun is starting to rise and I still can't find the shot I want. Quickly, I climb on one of the sandbanks around me to see if I'm close, but I can't see anything around. Disconcerted and a little on the run over time, I have no choice but to settle in this improvised place which does not at all resemble the vision of what I had of the place at the start.
Back at the entrance to the park, the guard is there and asks me all kinds of questions, I pretend not to understand and get into my car. We pay the entrance and then I understand why my plan did not work: you still have to drive 5 to ten minutes in the park to be able to admire this view. All in all, I loved walking barefoot on these largest gypsum dunes in the world, and even though I didn't get the sunrise shot I thought, it's a story to tell.
Leave everything and travel, become a nomad. Many people dream of it, but many also fear doing it. Be inspired by the adventures of an independent travel filmmaker who challenged herself to make 10 travel films around the world and become a full-time nomad.
Where are we?