Academy of Natural Sciences Explores “Unconventional Dwellings”

“Conventional buildings need to be completely outlawed. There should be not one more of them built.”
– Jonah Reynolds, Earthship Biotecture

Hut House in Taos, NM, from Garbage Warrior, by Oliver HodgeLast week’s Thursday night lecture at the Academy of Natural Sciences addressed how architectural trends and green infrastructure initiatives are fortifying the grass roots environmental revolution of Philadelphia. Jonah Reynolds, son of Michael Reynolds - founder of the Earthships Biotecture – spoke on his experience building “unconventional dwellings” around the world. An architectural concept popularized by the 2007 documentary, Garbage Warrior, Earthships are buildings that capture and meet 100% of their energy and water needs, treat and recycle domestic wastewater, provide both indoor and outdoor spaces for growing food year round and use natural and recycled waste materials to construct energy efficient, durable structures. Jonah Reynolds spoke on the principles of Earthships alongside Bridgette Meinhold, senior writer for the future-forward design website, www.Inhabitat.com.

Over the past forty years, over 20,000 Earthships have been built around the globe. And while the number of these radically sustainable buildings increases each year, Earthships have yet to be built in cities. This week's lecture addressed Jonah Reynolds’ partnership with the Philadelphia based non-profit, LoveLovingLove Inc., an organization which has raised support and secured land for constructing the planet’s first urban Earthship in Northern Philadelphia this summer. LoveLovingLove’s Executive Director, Rashida Denise Ali, has spent the last four years educating her local community about the financial, health, and environmental benefits that Earthship construction and Earthship renovations can provide for low-income communities - neighborhoods traditionally disconnected from the environmental movement. 

The ultimate mission of LoveLovingLove Inc. and Earthship Philadelphia is to “take Philadelphia completely off the grid - to be truly sustainable in everyway.” Jonah Reynolds confidently believes that Philly can accomplish this formidable task, a mission that is rooted in taking meaningful action now. Reynolds urged his audience to adopt this mindset, one that is urgently needed to improve Philadelphia’s community and economic resiliency in the face of a changing climate.

Following this summer’s Earthship construction project, Jonah and Rashida are planning to secure additional property in Philadelphia to establish the first Urban Earthship Biotecture Academy. When asked why Jonah has decided to choose Philadelphia for the urban academy location, he explains, “I have a special place in my heart for this city. The people here and the energy – it feels amazing.” Reynolds’ decision to choose Philadelphia was also reinforced by his partnership with Rashida and LoveLovingLove Inc.

Individuals interested in volunteering with the Earthship Philadelphia Project and LoveLovingLove Inc. are encouraged to contact Rashida Denise-Ali at rashidadenise.ali@gmail.com. For more information on the organizations presented in the lecture, visit lovelovinglove.orgearthship.com and inhabitat.com

ANDREW SCHLESINGER is a passionate environmental thinker and designer. He can be contacted at andrewpschlesinger@gmail.com