EarthShip Dreaming: Confessions of a Techno-Yurt Wannabe

3 11 2009

Earthship with optimising Solar panels

I have a confession to make.  I want to live in a Techno-Yurt, or an EarthShip maybe. (Dr Quantum has a more recent post all about Earthships here) A nice roundish sort of organic shape where i can live in peace and harmony with nature AND get online, play music, the occasional video and generally do the technological stuff I like doing while going far from the madding crowd.

By the way if you don’t know what a Yurt is already check out Goulburn Yurt Works. But between the reality and the dream falls the shadow (as Albert Bronkowski once observed).  So permit me to go sideways and down for a moment would you? I refer here to the housing crisis that is upon us here in the fair state of New South Wales (in which you will find Sydney, Australia)

Wot I know about the housing crisis in NSW – To rent even a shoebox in the Inner West of Sydney has become unimaginably costly. Case in point:  i looked at a bed-sit in Annandale on the weekend . They want $210 for a tiny little no-bedroom nothing that stinks of cigarettes. The carpet is pocked, spotted, grooved and ridged. Long ugly marks scar the ceiling while a dull shit-brown covers the walls and all surfaces. This place was inhabited by a HEAVY smoker.

So it has come to this. The agents don’t even need to throw a coat of paint on a place anymore before they bend you over and roger you from the rear. There’s a shortage – take it or leave it. But, and here comes the sting . . .it’s OK these days coz everyone’s doing it. Which brings me to my next point. Getting off the grid.

The simple solution is to take up residence on a park bench somewhere. Now ideally this park with my bench in it would be a little slice of paradise. Sadly park benches in paradise are getting hard to find these days. And those that do exist . . .don’t get me started about the paperwork to get onto a park bench these days. Then there’s a queue a mile long, and even when you do get your bench there’s bands of violent drug affected teenagers roaming our parklands at night.  What are you gonna do? It’s a really good question actually.

Now this next bit; i swear to God that I am not making this up. North of the border up in BrisVegas the plight of the disaffected, specifically the homeless has reached plague proportions. In fact so bad has the homeless situation become that one forward thinking social worker has invented the new-age Aussie swag tent for homeless people. Remember i said i am not making this up. In a world with zillions of acres of empty space and enough recyclable material to rebuild ancient Rome we now find it necessary to be handing out swag-tents to people who cannot afford to live in ridiculously over-priced housing. Hands up all those people who can see what is wrong with this picture.

The great Aussie homeless person’s swag-tent is just big enough to sleep a single human being. It provides basic protection from the weather with a light foam layer sewn in for a mattress. The woman who actually invented these things – i have heard her interviewed on the radio – is a real champion. She is obviously a dedicated and sincere soul who wants to do the best she can for people in a very harsh situation. Homelessness.

But now picture this:  you’re homeless. Night has fallen, but you’re OK. You carry the Great Aussie Homeless Person’s Swag tent on your back. Much as does a snail or other mollusk. So you’re walking sloowwwly up a street somewhere in suburbia and the lights go out in the house you’ve been er . . .monitoring. It’s bed-time folks. You count to a hundred and just hop over the front fence and throw your swag in the bushes of their front yard. Hey . . .it’s the great Aussie homeless person’s swag-tent home. This has been made absolutely necessary by the large numbers of people now sleeping unprotected on park benches, under bridges, in laundries of apartment buildings and basically anywhere there is an available nook or cranny. It gives the term unprotected sex a whole new meaning don’t you think?

Anyway, I was finding it all just too difficult to comprehend.  . . and then it hit me like a tonne of smelly bureaucratic bricks. Obviously what has happened here is that the relevant public housing policy-makers are somehow unaware that it is possible to build an inexpensive, comfy and perfectly pleasant home for people otherwise lacking accommodation out of a variety of cheap and/or inexpensive materials and deisgns. My current favourites are the Yurt and the Earthship. In fact Earthships and similar structures can be made mostly out of garbage – and they are really beautiful.But don’t take my word for it – have a look for youself.You can see Earthships online right here.

Of course the big banks bless them, would view this low, low cost housing trend with a fair amount of disdain because, as these things go it would threaten to cut into their billion plus dollar profits. These huge profits are largely derived from lending money to people pursuing their very own version of the great Australian/American dream. Unfortunately the cost of a dream home, or even a stinky shoe-box for that matter has become so outrageous that the only way anyone can afford to own one is to get, find or create a job or a business in which one hours income could be used to feed, clothe and house an entire village of starving people in say Africa or any number of places.

One simple solution to ridiculously expensive housing that most people can’t afford would be for the reserve bank of say, oh the USA, to take the advice of the cowboys of the entrepreneurial financial world and go right ahead and deregulate the system of loans. Bingo. Hello Global financial crisis. Hello all you homeless people and thanks for dropping by. Careful with the Molotov I just bought that Mercedes last week.

There are those who suggest that the Global Financial crisis was engineered by a bunch soul-less sociopaths at the top of the American political and financial system. Check out Michael Moore’s latest movie – Capitalism: a Love Story – and don’t miss the bit where the American Congresswoman makes this exact claim. Gripping stuff. Regardless of exactly who is to blame and whether it was all done on purpose is almost inconsequential.(But hey, it’s great to see these miscreant cowboys of capitalism getting some prime time exposure)

The simple fact is this. When the people lead the leaders will follow. So here’s the true confessions of a Techno-Yurt Wannabe. I dream of living in a nice round Yurt that’s connected to the internet but powers itself by solar, wind or other eco-friendly means. I will grow my own organic food or work with my neighbour to produce enough for us and a few more as well. We will barter at the markets with other like-minded and supportive souls. By and large we will not sit around bitching about the sociopaths of power politics and finance. The crises that inspired us to turn our backs on those poverty stricken people may yet have them wash up on our shores where we will do our best to offer healing, nurture and acceptance.

In the meantime I will continue my remix of the recorded sound of a butterfly beating its wings  in a remote valley of the Himalayas interlaced with the sound of birdsong from the Brazilian forest. This is looped back with the sounds of beats from the African village with whom we share much, give much and receive much in the globally networked village of friends.

That’s my Earthship Dreaming.  I am a Techno-Yurt wannabe. Long live the evolution.

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