Andrea Roa Buco, 33, Hong Kong via the Philippines
What was it like growing up here?
Batug is a very sleepy village. There are only 134 homes with a 500 population. It was a very quiet time growing up. People were focused more on their family. Lights out by seven. Sleeping by eight. Very normal, simple life. We have garden in the back. Catch the fish in the river. We eat caribou, frogs. Dogs also.
What facet or facets of Earthships is most compelling or attractive for you?
The most attractive facet of Earthships is the people who build them. Beyond question. Nothing happens without the group of people, as we’ve seen here. And like Phil said yesterday, we have four disparate groups here. We have the pros, we have the people who’ve been at the Academy, we have the volunteers and we’ve got the local community. All working together. Most of us with zero experience whatsoever in all of these different tasks.
If you were to try and do that in some academic sense, and plan it all out, and we’ve got these different nationalities, and we’ve got these different customs to consider, and the local mores. Scholars would have a field day. It’d probably take them six years to figure out how you could get all this done. And we just all bloody show up, and boom it gets done. So that is the answer to the question – the most attractive facet of the Earthship thing is the people.
What is your goal for Earthship Seattle in the next couple years?
To bring more awareness to Seattle. Just spreading the word about Earthships because 99% of the population doesn’t know anything about Earthships. They don’t know they exist. But then when people learn about it, most of them, at least nine out of ten, think that it’s really cool. That it looks great, or is good for the environment, or it’s good for them. They really like it. They’re like, ‘it makes so much sense’.
Also, the goal is to build an Earthship in Seattle. To have a demonstration Earthship that would be used as a visitor center in Seattle in a permanent place. The way I see it, the city would own it. People from the city could visit it for free and people from the outside could pay five or ten bucks to go inside and experience what it is to be inside an Earthship, learn about it, see some educational materials inside, etc.
Lastly, it would be great to see sustainable communities emerge like eco-villages that are totally sustainable.
A couple reasons. First, my wife and I were interested in Earthships. We were turned on by a friend back home. We went up to Ithaca and saw one of them that was built up there. We were actually looking at building one ourselves at some point so we wanted to come out and learn more about the concepts and learn how to build them and just meet the people that are Earthship.
And then at the same time we wanted to come out to the Philippines and help out. Tacloban got hit and we wanted to contribute in our own little way. Also, my wife’s family is out here so it was a kill a bunch of birds with one stone type of thing.
We moved around a lot of dirt and materials. (Laughing) One of the things we did is get a lot of people stoked.
What do you think the effect has been on the volunteers?
I won’t name names but one guy said this was the most profound experience of his life. And he’s had a very rich life. It shows what people can do when they’re committed to a certain project around certain values. You can actually accomplish an amazing amount. When we showed up here it was just flat grass, and now we have something that almost looks like a castle. You could probably throw hand grenades at that thing and it would still be standing.
Why were you drawn to Earthships in the first place?
Because I want to be free. I don’t want to work forty years for a leaky house that takes monthly bills. That’s just modern slavery to me.