Can 'Earthships' Solve Canada's First Nations Housing Crisis?

'I just hope it doesn’t look like a Flintstones house'
By Luke Roney,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 24, 2016 4:51 PM CDT
Can 'Earthships' Solve Canada's First Nations Housing Crisis?
An earthship near Taos, NM.   (AP Photo/Erica Asmus-Otero)

Could earthships be the solution to the housing crisis in Canada's First Nations communities? US company Earthship Biotecture thinks so. “This housing that we make is made to take care of people. Feed them, keep them warm, with no utility bills," the company's Michael Reynolds tells the Guardian. By contrast, he adds, “Really, all government housing is junk." But what's an earthship? According to Inhabitat, it's a "low-cost home that strives for self-sufficiency ... built primarily with recycled materials." Earthship Biotecture has built earthships for people in need in several countries, such as Haiti, India, and Sierra Leone. Now it is building one on Canada's First Nations reserve. According to the Calgary Herald, the reality for many reserve residents is overcrowded, sub-standard housing.

Take Francine Doxtator, for instance. She lives in a leaky trailer, "ravaged by mice and black mold," with her disabled daughter and five grandchildren. Soon, however, Doxtator and her family will be the first First Nations family to move into an earthship. "I still don’t believe it’s happening,” she tells the Guardian. The $57,000 house, funded by Earthship Biotecture, contributions, and fundraising, will include solar panels, a cistern to collect rainwater, and hundreds of old tires that will "create a dense thermomass" for temperature regulation. Local volunteers will help build it. The hope is to eventually have a local team that can help others build earthships of their own. But, one of the volunteers tells the Guardian, strict building codes may be a hurdle, as well raising the money to build an earthship in the first place. As excited as she is for her new digs, Doxator does have one concern: “I just hope it doesn’t look like a Flintstones house in the end.” (Read more First Nations stories.)

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