A Compilation of All my eco-building and workshop posts on Steemit
As many of you will know, I am an eco-building enthusiast and have written SO many posts documenting and sharing my stories and experiences. Since 2006, I have built 4 earthships and held workshops during each build. We learn so much about building every time we do anything, and I have shared many of my lessons and given my best advice within these posts. If you are thinking about one day starting on the path to living off-grid and becoming self sufficient, then this post will be one to read and bookmark!
This post is a compilation of all my eco building post that I have written on Steemit. It can be so hard to piece them together from my blog page, that I think it is very worthwhile putting them all in this one post, for you and everyone who may find this page now and in the future.
It is our choice what our futures look like, and the decisions we make today will shape our tomorrow. So if you are reading this, a post can change your life!
Diary of a first time Eco builder Part 1
The creation of my life's dream, a totally off-grid self sufficient home - Earthship Karuna
I am so happy to finally be penning down what is for me, the most exciting, great and long lived achievement of my life. Anyone who has known me as a young adult will testify that I would talk about not much else except Earthships. I just couldn't help myself! I got the bug back in the year 2001 after a lecture by Earthship inventor Michael Reynolds. That was the day that my life changed forever. After listening to Michael talk, I knew that this was my mission. Someday or other, I would build my own fully sustainable off-grid Earthship home. It really felt like an amazing idea, and one that I had no idea how I was going to pull off. I had no building experience, not much money, and no clue even what country I wanted to live in! There were a lot of question marks, but also a lot of passion and determination.
The Remarkable Diary of an Earthship Eco Builder Chapter #2. The dream was born.
If you are thinking about one day building your own 'eco home' or want to live self-sufficiently then this diary is written for you! Welcome to the start of this journey and sharing. I invite you to engage with me and ask questions, to which I will endeavour to answer you all!
This Remarkable Diary of an Earthship Eco Builder is many things. It will be a fantastic learning opportunity as I delve into some of the theory and knowledge behind sustainable building. It will also cover some technical aspects of building with my own pictures of the build and links to good resources for more in depth information. I will share my story and what I learned through my own experiences of eco building for my first time. I have learned a lot during my first, and subsequent builds, and will offer you my best advice and ideas for you to be able to fulfil your eco building dream. I will also introduce you to some other great people here on Steemit, who are involved in many related topics, and have also been a big part of my journey.
The Remarkable Diary of an Eco Builder Part 3: HOW TO ACCOMPLISH ANYTHING IN LIFE!
In Part 2 of the Remarkable Diary, you have heard how I found out about Earthship Biotecture and the whole idea of Sustainable building and the off grid lifestyle. As anyone who has had a Eureka moment knows, these are profound experiences in our lives and are great milestones that change and shape our experience of our present and future. This was certainly the case for me! I had learned about a way of living that made perfect sense, and I was determined that someday, somehow, I would make this happen.
Did you know that the main reason for people failing to complete Eco builds is not by making mistakes? The main reason that people fail to self build is, in fact, by not starting in the first place! Most people who are thinking, dreaming and desiring to self build never actually get started! Relatively few people who start to build actually fail. In my experience, I have found the main reason for this to be confidence. It is not easy to self build. No one with any experience can honestly tell you otherwise. It is experience that gives us confidence, and yet we can't get confidence without experience. There lies the catch! Some people do a course, or try to get some kind of experience, and that is great. Many people don't really have the time or money to participate in these things, and so they never really get started.
The Remarkable Diary of an Eco Builder Part 4. Finding My Spot in India at Last! The Journey Ends and Starts!
It was a long journey before I finally reached my destination. One thing I learned is, it is the journey and not the destination that counts.. For me the journey spanned several countries and about a decade of time. Whilst I never knew exactly where I would end up, when the day came that I finally found my spot, I knew it RIGHT away! It was one of the happiest days of my life, and quite unexpected!
To link back to the story so far ... I had just visited the Earthship HQ in Taos New Mexico after doing my 5 year vision plan. This was a three step process that we went through as a group to vision and detail exactly how we want our lives to look in 5 years time. This process ended with us having 5 or so affirmations that we said to ourselves. It is a really powerful thing to do, and if you didn't see the last part please do check it out (after this part of course!)
The Remarkable Diary of an ecoBuilder. Part 5: A plan and vision was born
This is the most exciting part of the entire story.. the start! Thinking back now, it was much more exciting starting than finishing! I think this is because there was no actual finish point. Even today I still have one or two things that still didn't get done! So, there I was, finally ready to begin building my dream home at last! I really had no clue where to start. My mind was absolutely full of an endless list of questions, and there was no clear answer to many of them. There are always many options when building, and a big part of Biotecture is observing your location, land, resources, climate, and so on, and responding to that. Whilst I did have three books that taught exactly how to build an Earthship from scratch, they were by no means a bible. I was doing this in a totally different location, and was unable to get many of the materials that were used in the traditional Biotecture approach. I wanted to make something very beautiful, that looked different to the normal Earthships you see around the world. Also, a big part of my mission was to make something that was not only eco friendly, but also without compromising comfort or any of the things that most people need to be happy in their home.
The Remarkable Diary Of An Eco Builder Part 6. We've Started!
I don't think I really knew what to expect when I put the word out for help to build. I guess the location and timing were just right, and as we began setting the foundation course of tyres out there were around 25 people already here who had all come to help. Luckily the location where I am based is also an established guest house, and so everyone could rent a cottage and stay close by and work. In fact, pretty quickly we filled all the rooms up! Once that happened I decided to open up the veranda around my geodesic dome so around 5 people could stay there. I offered these spaces up to very special people who were really supportive and ready to work and learn as part of a small group and community. The vibe was fantastic and we had people from all over the world and of all ages. We would work all day on various things, not just building and at the end of the day I would somehow have the energy to cook for us all a lavish dinner and eat together at my home made table. These were good times of sharing, story telling, and just meeting and eating with lovely people from diverse backgrounds. Now I know how to make the best Russian Borscht!
Epic Tales Of An Eco-Builder Part 7: The 200 Ft Tree Challenge!
Welcome back to the build! If you have been reading previous parts you will know that we have now started the actual build of my life's dream, a totally off-grid sustainable Earthship home. I received an amazing response from international volunteers and could barely accommodate and keep up with the flow of passionate and curious people! I was very fortunate to have quite a few volunteers who also had a lot of experience and skills to share.
The Remarkable Diary Of An Eco Builder Part 8: The Show Must Go On!
With such a long lead up, and slow beginnings, the main phase of the build went very quickly and painlessly. When I say the main build I mean the walls and main house excluding the roof! The roof was without doubt the most challenging part of this remarkable build! We will come to that shortly.
We had around 20 volunteers and a backbone of 6 Nepali working on the tyre ramming. It was quite repetitive and easy since it was just one large circle. The mood was high and no one was daunted by the work ahead since most were volunteers who would generally stay just a few weeks at most. The Nepali love to work and they were totally into making this crazy tyre structure with a bunch of International people. There was lots of comradery around, and many lovely exchanges between us all. In truth, most of the tyre work happened by the Nepali hands! Volunteers do make a great contribution, but you can't compare the amount of work, or the quality of the work. The Nepali could just about do an entire course of tyres in one day. We had a total of around 18 courses and so this work did go quite quickly. It didn't happen in 18 days though! Not even close. There were many breaks and fiddly bits to deal with, and so it took around 6 months to get to the final course.
The Remarkable Diary Of An EcoBuilder, #9. The Roof! I love it when a plan comes together!
The roof of Earthship Karuna was without doubt the most extravagant, difficult, and expensive part of this build! Not only is it very big, but I also designed it with a 15 foot skylight that opens! That was so important for having good natural light, as well as for improving airflow and ventilation. The entire design and strength was based on my knowledge of Sacred Geometry. This roof is totally unsupported by any central pillars or beams other than the structure itself. It is similar to a reciprocal roof design, but instead of weaving wood sticks, we used very solid beams that were screwed to a central ring. The roof is not round, but is a 16 sided structure, and so the central ring is also 16 sided. The creation of this central ring and skylight was the first step in this mammoth and highly technical task of roofing Earthship Karuna. Luckily, I was blessed with another angel who turned up at just the right time. Ross turned up from Totnes in the UK with his tools and enthusiasm. We had never met before, but he had also heard about the project through facebook. We had a brief chat and before I knew it he was here! Please enjoy the ride, and read the story of the roof unfold!
The Remarkable Diary of an ecoBuilder - Part 10: Interior Design! ;-)
How do you layout and design a house in the shape of a circle!? That was the challenge I had, and one that I spent countless hours playing with. I made a large number of designs and layouts. I had so many ideas and I couldn't have them all! I also had some help from a dear friend who drew some wonderful layout ideas.
There were a few things that I knew I wanted, and that led the way for a lot of the planning. I decided very early on that I would make the entire house open plan, with the exception of the bathroom. Due to the height of the roof, it would have also been quite difficult to close off the ceiling except for under the mezzanine. I also knew that I would have two planter cells by the kitchen and both front windows. Upstairs would be more private, and so I located the bedroom and a lounge area to be upstairs.
THE BIG REVEAL, EARTHSHIP KARUNA IS COMPLETE! THE REMARKABLE DIARY OF AN ECO BUILDER PART 11
What started out as a far fetched dream when I was 25 years old, finally became reality in June 2012 fourteen years later. After many years of waiting, many years of searching, and many years of building, my life's dream finally came true, and in style! I don't have the words to describe how I felt for the first month after ALL the madness finished and everyone had left. I spent many hours and days looking up at the roof in awe. Whilst the whole Earthship did look beautiful, there was something about that huge tall 32 Foot high roof. The skylight let in so much light that the entire house was constantly lit up! I even had built in sun dial as the skylight let in a visible circular disk that moved as the sun tracked over the roof in the afternoon. I was in love with the planters, and even though the plants were still quite small, I could see great potential for them to flourish. I had a bamboo plant, a few bananas, some aloe vera, and a few ornamentals to begin with.
The FINAL Remarkable Diary Of An Eco Builder Part 12: Advice to people considering self building and more!
We made it! If you have been following this diary you will know what an adventure it has been! It all started back in 2001 when I first heard about Earthships and took me on a long search that spanned several countries and almost a decade of time. I had a lot to learn before I was ready to build, and I don't mean technically! It takes a certain wisdom, patience, and perseverance that comes with having experience with life and with people to be able to self-build successfully. I have seen several people build and have a really terrible time in the process. This was almost always because of the way they had either set up the whole build in terms of planning and execution, or because of communication and personal issues. I have learned a lot during my build experiences, and have tried a few different approaches to the whole self-build idea. I would like to share with you some of the most important things that I can offer you as a potential self-builder.
My Eco-Build Workshop Challenge.
Build a Tiny Earthship in 2 weeks on a $3,000 budget with 30 unskilled volunteers!
Welcome to my second eco-build story that is in sharp contrast to the 15-year long adventure to build my own Earthship home! This is the first in a new series that I am very happy to be sharing with you. It is an unusual story that brought together people from all over the world, in an attempt to build a small roundhouse whilst training and teaching everyone involved. It was a brave en-devour that brought together several elements that would make this challenge very challenging. Building anything in 2 weeks is a challenge, but doing it in India and with mostly totally unskilled people made it even more so. After spending so much time and money building a luxurious home, it was always a desire of mine to be able to demonstrate that it can also be done on a shoe-string budget and very quickly indeed if the design was simple enough.
Eco-Build Workshop Challenge Days 1-3. "Build a Tiny Earthship in 2 weeks on a $3,000 budget with 30 unskilled volunteers!"
The start of this workshop had my adrenaline pumping and all my skills tested. Whilst I had done my best to make sure we had everything we needed to begin, this was not the case when I arrived. They still hadn't got enough tyres, and there had been no work performed to do some levelling of the small area where we would build. Luckily I arrived a few days before the volunteers to try to make sure I had time to organise things. I was assured the tyres were on the way, and that they were the right size. I had a good look at the plot with Joan and we had a few long chats whilst staring at the empty space, soon to become a small and hopefully beautiful mini Earthship.
Eco-Build Workshop Challenge Days 4 - 6: "Build a tiny Earthship in under 2 weeks on a $3,000 budget with 30 unskilled volunteers!"
Welcome back to the build! It's day 4 and it is amazing to see how much we had done in less than a week! The combined energy of this group was a lot, and together we were able to keep a respectable pace of tyre ramming going. Tyre ramming is hard, and when the climate is hot, it becomes even harder! I am familiar with the tapering off effect that I see with volunteers on the third or fourth day, it is just normal unless you are fit and used to working hard. So people rolled in a bit later than normal, but once they arrived they were keen to keep going.
Eco-Build Workshop Challenge Days 7-9: "Build a tiny Earthship in under 2 weeks on a $3,000 budget with 30 unskilled volunteers!"
Wow, its the end of Week 1 already! Even though every day was so full of activity and progress, the first week went very quickly. The group really jelled, and it was the last day for around 12 volunteers who left with a wealth of experience and valuable eco building knowledge. At the same time, 12 new volunteers arrived for the second week of the build. It was sad to see some faces go, and also very nice to have some fresh blood! This happened on a Sunday, and I gave the day off to those that were staying for the whole two weeks. On that day off I gave the new volunteers their full day lecture so that they would have the same grounding and important knowledge given to them. It was easier to do this a second time, and also nice to spend a day teaching and taking it easy physically after a full week in the sun and dirt.
Eco-Build Workshop Challenge Days 10-12- GLASS BOTTLE WALL AND ROOF: "Build a tiny Earthship in under 2 weeks on a $3,000 budget with 30 unskilled volunteers!"
Suddenly we are on the final leg of the build! It's amazing how the last 5 days just whizz by, but we are in a good flow and everything is taking shape! On days 10-12 we focused on finishing the main walls of the Earthship with glass bottles. We couldn't get enough tyres on short notice, and I was very happy to shift the last few days efforts from tyre ramming to bottle work. This meant that we could work even faster and get the roof on before the end of day 12. That would leave us two more days for the maisoners to plaster the ferro-cement roof frame that we had made, whilst the volunteers finish plastering the main walls on the inside and outside.
The Grand Reveal Of The Eco-Build Workshop Challenge Final Day - "Build a tiny Earthship in under 2 weeks on a $3,000 budget with 30 unskilled volunteers!"
What a journey it has been! What started as a far fetched idea has now nearly become reality as we reached the final two days of build! The most important work happening was the plastering of the roof structure. The volunteers were all busy mixing cob and plastering the outside and inside walls. We also had a lot of glass bottles that formed part of the main load bearing walls, and these were also being plastered so that just the bottle face showed and everything was flush.
THE EARTHSHIP HUT BUILD: 20 VOLUNTEERS, 14 DAYS AND $5,000 USD BUDGET! DAY 1: PREPARING AND LEVELLING THE GROUND
This blog documents a two week build with volunteers and led by myself (Alex Leeor) & Jonathon Kalviac. We set out to demonstrate and teach how to build a small but functional home in just two weeks and on a tiny budget of $5,000.
People came from all over the world to be a part of this build and learn the skills needed to be able to build for themselves. For many of them this was a life changing experience, and a few have gone on to build on their own.
This build is testament to the fact that anything is possible with motivation and the right group of people.
There are millions of people seeking this knowledge with a desire to live off-grid and become self sufficient. I hope this video gives you the inspiration to try it for yourself!
The time has come for us to stop thinking and dreaming, and to start eco-building! Just Do It! Watch This!
In 2014 , I initiated and led an Earthship self build workshop. I invited people from all over the world to join me, and build a small Earthship labour hut that would accommodate 6 Nepali workers during their stay here. We didn't hire any skilled labour and relied on the people that volunteered to perform the build. As always, synchronicity being what it is, we had a few amazing carpenters and artists and even the kids joined in on this one! They took two weeks off of school and had the time of their lives!
EARTHSHIP SELF BUILD WORKSHOP: DAY 1 THE BEGINNING!
We got the whole community involved on this workshop, and i started my outreach using Facebook to invite people from all over the world to join us. The response was pretty amazing, and within a few weeks I had a long list of people from nearly all the continent's of the world wanting to come and join us for this build. We charged a minimal amount that would cover their food and accommodation, which was not much in India at around $150 per week, and people could stay one or two weeks. I also got very busy locating tyres, which in India can be a challenge. It's not that there aren't plenty or tyres in India, but what has happened is that they have started using them in furnaces to burn and melt things like sugar.
THE EARTHSHIP HUT BUILD: DAYS 2-5. Why tyres make the ultimate eco-building material and how to build with them
Today I would like to explain just why Earthships work SO well, and give a bit more detail about building tyre walls. The first week or two of any small Earthship build is mostly concerned with tyre ramming and some void packing of the walls with mud. This knowledge is one of the most important aspects of Earthship construction in terms of an Earthships performance and durability. Luckily, building a house from tyres is WAY less technical and complected than any traditional brick and mortar build.
The Earthship Hut Workshop. 20 Volunteers, $5,000 and 2 weeks! Days 6-10 - The Roof!
I meet hundreds of people every year who come to visit Earthship Karuna to learn more and be inspired. In fact I just had 8 guys from Madurai turn up at my door who are super keen to build something off-grid! Most of the people I meet are not builders, or architects, and nor do they want to be! What they do have is a desire to live off-grid any hopefully someday manifest their own home. That was exactly the position I was in back in the year 2001 when I met Michael Reynolds, the inventor of Earthship Biotecture, in Brighton UK. I followed the path that led me to many countries, and over the course of nearly 15 years I found my way to finally achieving the great goal of self building, and finishing! I am sharing these stories to show you how we have built both big and very small off-grid homes. I also want you to see that people with no experience and a little guidance can self build successfully, and I hope to give you the inspiration and confidence that you can also do it!
The Earthship Hut Workshop Finale! 20 Volunteers, 14 Days, $5,000 Budget
Welcome to this final instalment of the Earthship Hut Series! If you have just found this for the first time then please do read and enjoy, and then you can also read previous chapters. As anyone who has self built before can testify, it is hard and rewarding work. Many people take months and even years to self build, and yet we were able to have the roof on before everyone left, 2 weeks after starting from the ground up. The main reasons for this are:
How I Helped a Yogi Build A Fully Fledged Earthship With No Budget and 30 Volunteers! Rishikesh Yoga Ashram
This is the story about Yogi Amitram and I, and the incredible achievements of building a 1200 sqft off-grid Earthship at his new Yoga Ashram in Rishikesh. Yogi Amitram was inspired by Earthship Biotecture and got in touch with me in 2014 to ask for my help to assist him with the creation of the first Earthship inspired Yoga Ashram in the world. I get a lot of calls for help, but Yogi Amitram's passion, conviction and his beautiful nature inspired me to help him. He had no money and was planning to fund raise for the build as we went along. He had faith and total belief in what he was doing, and was happy to attend a workshop I was holding in south India at just that time. Yogi Amitram traveled 1000's of Km's to attend, and I was duly impressed that he not only did all the grunt work in his white robes, but also somehow managed to keep them clean! That is a sign of a true Yogi!
Building the first Earthship Ashram with 30 Volunteers and NO Budget! Part 1: The Beginning!
I arrived in Rishikesh with great expectation, excitement and nerves. What I was about to do was even more ambitious than any of my previous workshops, mainly because of the time frame and size of the Earthship that we were making. I had come up with a totally original design that is based on a model that functions well in hot and cold climates. Yogi Amitram has requested two large U shaped rooms as well as a front greenhouse for grey water recycling in food producing planters (botanical cells). Amitram also wanted mezzanines in both rooms, which meant that we needed a tall roof to accommodate the height. We had a big group of around 30 volunteers, and a few Nepali to help with the grunt work and heavy carrying. We didn't have any skilled labour for most of the start of this, and so as always it was up to me to play all the roles necessary to ensure this large building would work out!
THE GRAND REVEAL: Building the first Earthship Ashram with 30 Volunteers and NO Budget!
Welcome to the final part and grand reveal of the Earthship Rishikesh Yoga Ashram Workshop! If you didn't catch the last post, this is the story of Yogi Amitram's mission to build the first Off-Grid Earthship Yoga Ashram in the north on India. Yogi Amitram contacted me and asked for my help to assist him building this Earthship in 2014, and I happily agreed! This build was particularly special because the plan was to make a fully fledged Earthship with all the systems and self sufficiency that Earthships can have. Not only that but Yogi Amitram had NO money of his own to do this with, and was able to fund raise from friends and his many connections to fund the build. He never had the money upfront, but instead proceeded step by step, with faith and conviction that he would manage to raise enough to keep going.
TO THE FUTURE!
The ecoVillage Coin: A New Approach For Off-Grid and Sustainable Communities.
My Vision For Blockchain Based Communities Worldwide.
There is a global crisis in affordable and functional housing, as well as a cultural and community breakdown happening in most of the world. People are sucked into a lifetime of overwhelming debt so that they can own a home and try to find security. The problem is that when you can't repay the loan, you have lost your security and just about everything you had. The knock on effects of having to live and work just to pay the bills stretches far into our culture and the zeitgeist. The stress and competitiveness of our current free markets have stretched the elastic band to breaking point, and people desperately need a way out. With the demise of the family unit, people are more vulnerable than ever as they get older.
All it takes is ONE thing to go wrong, and a cascade of consequences can leave you homeless and penniless or worse. There is very little provision made for vulnerable people and an ageing population, or indeed for anyone who gets ill or loses their job etc. Today being poor has been effectively criminalised, where people are forced to break the law due to their circumstances, or end up so downtrodden that they become mentally ill or resort to criminal activities just to survive.
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