When Jeff and Ivy Stevenson dropped everything and moved to Parson in order to build an Earthship, their families were a little bit skeptical.
“My family was quite hesitant. They didn’t know what we were doing. They said ‘You’re building a house out of garbage?’,” said Ivy.
Gradually their families came around to the idea and now offer them their full support, even if they still don’t fully understand what an Earthship is.
“My grandmother calls it a spaceship and my mom calls it a mud hut,” Ivy said with a laugh.
Technically, what the Stevensons are building is actually an Earthship-inspired house because ‘Earthship’ is a registered trademark of Earthship Biotecture, a New Mexican company started by architect Michael Reynolds. Earthships are fully sustainable and autonomous dwellings. Earthships are completely ‘off the grid’. Power most often comes from solar energy, heating is made possible with large windows and the greenhouse effect and rain water is harvested.
Most of the materials that the Stevensons are using for their Earthship are recycled, including dozens of scrap tires that are being used to create the inner portion of the wall with concrete going around the tires to further solidify the walls. A glass wall on the sun-facing side of the building will keep the interior warm in the winter and an awning will create shade and prevent overheating in the summer. Ten rows of tires will give the house enough height to allow the couple to build a small loft inside.
They hope to be living there by next summer, when they plan to start building a much bigger Earthship next door. The larger Earthship would then become their residence and the one that they are currently building would become a guesthouse for visiting friends and family.
It was over coffee with a friend in Calgary two years ago when the Stevensons, originally from the Edmonton area, first heard about Earthships. Jeff was hooked on the idea from the beginning.
“The thought process in my head was ‘Ok, That sounds awesome’, [because] I used to build pillow and blanket forts and then tree forts when I was a little older…Then I started looking into it a little more and it just sounded like the right thing to do.”
Ivy and Jeff were less than enthusiastic about their day-to-day office jobs and saw this as an opportunity to get out and do something that they wanted to do.
“When you take that leap into the unknown, amazing things can come of it,” Ivy said.
The couple then began searching online for land across Alberta but settled on a plot of land in Parson just off Highway 95. The road from the highway had to be extended up the hill to the area where they are now building the Earthship.
Both Ivy and Jeff are clear to establish that they aren’t just doing this for themselves and that they have a much bigger focus in mind with this project. They are hoping that what they are doing will have an impact on others and inspire more people to get involved in projects such as these.
“There aren’t a lot of Earthships going up in this area so if we can show people that it works and that it’s doable and that it’s inexpensive, then maybe more people will want to [build them],” said Jeff.
“This isn’t just for us, it’s for the earth and it’s for all of humanity,” said Ivy.
For more on the Stevenson’s project and how you can get involved, visit the Columbia Valley Earthship Experience Facebook page.