On the desert mesa of New Mexico, miles from the nearest town of Taos (pop. 5,700), Star-Wars-like shelters rise from the earth, half-buried and covered in adobe. Called “Earthships” – brainchild of architect Mike Reynolds in the 1970s- they’re nearly completely self-sufficient homes: no electrical grid, no water lines, no sewer.
The Greater World Earthship Community, about 70 passive solar homes built from earth and trash on 633 acres, had a rough start; they were shut down as an illegal subdivision in 1997 and it took them 7 years to come to compliance. Though today, the county fully cooperates with Reynolds and his Earthship Biotecture operation to turn trash (tires, cans, glass bottles) into shelters and has even given them 2 acres to experiment with housing in anyway they like (they also provide their recycling).