Earthships In New England? An interview with Jennifer Stacy

Nov 30


Earthship Biotecture

Earthship Biotecture

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I interviewed Jennifer Stacy, the New England Education Outreach Coordinator for Earthship Biotecture. Originally being from New Mexico, I had heard of Earthships before and understand much of its construction methods.


I interviewed Jennifer Stacy,Earthships In New England? An interview with Jennifer Stacy Articles the New England Education Outreach Coordinator for Earthship Biotecture.  Originally being from New Mexico, I had heard of Earthships before and understand much of its construction methods.  When I found out there was a chance that one might eventually be built here in Massachusetts, I had to talk to Jennifer about it.  Although Mike Reynolds introduced the idea of Earthships over 30 years ago, there has yet to be an Earthship built in Massachusetts.

Taken directly off their website, it is described as:

Earthship n. 1. passive solar home made of natural and recycled materials 2. thermal mass construction for temperature stabilization. 3. renewable energy & integrated water systems make the Earthship an off-grid home with little to no utility bills.

Biotecture n. 1. the profession of designing buildings and environments with consideration for their sustainability. 2. A combination of biology and architecture.

To learn more about Earthships and their origins, please follow the links for Mike Reynolds and Earthships.

MSC:  Jennifer, how did you become involved in the Earthship movement?

JS:  Well, I began my scholastic career as a student in Environmental Science.  I knew I wanted to do something that would involve working toward improving the environment, but didn’t know exactly how.   A few years after graduating with my B.A., I decided to pursue a Master in City Planning degree in hopes of integrating environment and planning.   It was since being back in school that my brother recommended that I watch the movie Garbage Warrior, which was very inspirational!  I then went to Nogal, New Mexico to participate in a build project and attended a seminar about Earthships that was held by Mike Reynolds in Taos, NM.  After working with the crew and learning so much about Earthships, I knew I wanted to help spread the concept.  I became the New England Education Outreach Coordinator and have been working to connect the movement with higher education, youth, community organizations, etc ever since!

MSC:  That sounds like a tough job!  The Earthship itself has a very foreign aesthetic to it, how do you “sell” it to be an appealing home here in New England?

JS:  Good question.  The great thing I find about New Englanders is that they are very open to things that are “green and sustainable”.  If it was up to them they would be living in homes that are self-sufficient, low-maintenance, and cheap to operate.  Can you imagine paying less than $100 for utilities for a year?  The great features are what we are focusing on to help bring this style of construction and living to the New England (and specifically Massachusetts) area. If these buildings can survive the cold winters in New Mexico, they will survive in New England.

MSC:  In that sense, what are some major questions people have about Earthships?  As you go from one meeting or presentation to the next, what are your biggest challenges to the future of Earthships in this region?

JS:  I would have to say that the biggest challenge is changing the mindset that your home doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s.  As I stated earlier, New England residents are very open to eco-friendly design and lifestyles, but the “look” of the building is where they have the hardest time breaking out of the box.  I spend much of my time showing images and real-world examples of how the construction methods, systems, and aesthetics in Earthships all fit together in a holistic way.

The glass bottles and recycled materials provide the homeowner the opportunity to customize their homes as they please

MSC:  Therefore, although there may be a few individual homeowners who would be interested in this type of home, it seems you’ve still found it hard to explain Earthships to the masses.  What are some approaches you’re taking to reach a larger audience?

JS:  There are two main ways to approach that.  The first is to find people who can work through their political ideals to back the project.  Again, “peer pressure” tends to find many politicians and other possible backers of this project to hold off on passing approvals for building permits and other things simply because this form of construction is so new to the area.  The second approach is to work with groups like neighborhood organizations, planning boards, various city and county commissions, and other influential groups who deal with residential homes on an everyday basis.  If we can work side-by-side with individual communities and neighborhoods, we can more easily showcase the benefits of Earthships.  I also feel that if partnerships like this were to occur, we could design Earthships to have a more regional aesthetic and not look so “foreign”.

The earth-filled tire walls provide thermal mass to insulate the home

MSC:  I can see how a vernacular aesthetic would play a big role in helping people to accept the Earthship’s form and construction.  With that being said, what is the future of Earthships both here and abroad?  What do they hope to become?

JS:  The goal has always been self-sufficiency.  When Mike first started the Earthship movement, he was looking more at the ability for materials to be re-used in simple yet functional ways, with the concentration being on the Earthship itself.  As time passed, however, the Earthship naturally took on the form of being the center for building community relationships.  When there was an Earthship being built, people from all over the area would come together to help one another.  They would share stories, talk about their families, and set up relationships that would last for the rest of their lives.  Therefore, we see the future of Earthships not only as a sustainable house for people to live and play in but also as a social movement to bring communities closer together and become more invested in one another.  Sustainability is more than just the building; it’s about positive behavior and community.

MSC:  Well, I’m sold!  The last question is always a fun one.  Therefore, if you were any locally-harvested or re-used material in an Earthship, what would you be and why?

JS:  I would definitely be one of the aesthetic glass bottles in the Earthship’s wall because each one has its own story.  It was manufactured somewhere, sold in a store and used by a consumer, tossed aside until someone who builds Earthships later retrieved it, and then placed in the walls of the home to add a certain color for light to pass through or on the interior for decoration.  The bottle becomes a part of this sustainable system where it not only protects the home’s inhabitants from the elements but also gets to experience the Earthship and its users.  Remember the old saying, “If the walls could talk”?  Well, in Earthships, they do!

MSC:  That’s a great answer!  Thank you for your time, Jennifer.  I’m sure we’ll be seeing each other soon.


For more information on Earthships in New England, you can contact Jennifer Stacy at

Other Earthship Links:

Earthships on Facebook!

Earthships on YouTube!