Tuesday, July 27, 2010


The ecologically uncompromising architecture movement, so beautifully documented in the film "First Earth" by David Sheen, is concerned with a lot more than just ecological integrity.

It uncompromisingly rejects the traditional roles of banks, moneylenders, insurance companies, and all other the agents of usury and "protection money" who have poisoned the home-buying process. These are owner-made dwellings, rising out of the earth and fashioned by hand from renewable and recyclable materials -- cob, rammed earth, mud brick, hay bales, or whatever ecologically harmonious resource is suitable for a given environment. The cost of building such a house is low; it requires no bank loan, and the "no mortgage" part is essential. The pace of construction is open-ended, and it doesn't have to be completed in one season. Because these houses are architecturally conceived and grounded in curved surfaces and irregular, sculpted spaces rather than straight lines and 90-degree angles, some builders find it best to proceed with the master plan of building a single room first, then adding another each successive year.

The movement uncompromisingly posits land as the source and basis of all wealth. If worked energetically and lovingly, the earth will yield our food and our shelter. Since nobody can live without some money, it also easily gives us a cash crop which shall not be named here. Land is cheaper than today's houses, but depending on the location it can be a lot more valuable, doubly so if it contains a source of clean running water. If in possession of a small patch of clean earth, clean air, and clean water, a person becomes a kind of mini-monarch.

This movement pays no respect to building codes, zoning laws, permit applications, or any of the other bureaucratically imposed rules, regulations, and artificial, materials-manufacturer-friendly standards which more often hinder rather than encourage us to create wholesome and livable spaces. Most locally-enforced rules impede progress, at great expense and unnecessary bother.

The environmentally uncompromising architecture movement breaks all the rules, much to the consternation of those who make the rules. Our rulers have a thing or two to learn, for they are as yet unaware of the power of an aroused populace.

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