On Saturday, May 22, students Amanda and Connor, alums Lauren and Bryan, and their friend Amanda drove to Lucas, Iowa to help Jim and Nancy Curtis work on building their new home. The trick is that this home is being built with old tires, aluminum cans, and earth. The goal is to have a home that is not only low-cost but also energy and water independent.
You can read more about earthships on wikipedia.
At the top of the page you can see Bryan loading sand into a tire, while Connor packs it in with his hands (painful) and a sledgehammer (heavy). Each of the tires has over 300 pounds of sand in it when fully packed. It’s pretty amazing how solid the wall is.
Here you can see Lauren and Amanda mixing cob (sand, clay, and straw) to fill the chinks in between the tires. This is a not fun process involving some very sticky mud.
And this is the other Amanda forcing cob into all the nooks and crannies. Aluminum cans are used as filler so you don’t have to make as much cob.
By the end of the day, we had helped Jim finish the tire wall for one of the two domes for his new home. You can visit Jim’s website for more info. Another volunteer group put a video of their trip on youtube, and although it isn’t us in the video, it gives a good idea of the work.