Last month the Art and Art History Department hosted Chism Scholar and Living Art Resident, Alix Henry. Alix Henry is an internationally recognized architect and environmentalist known for her cutting edge research and development in the field of sustainable architecture. Alix has been actively involved in the building of “Earthships” both here and abroad for more than 20 years. Earthships are off-the-grid homes constructed with recycled and renewable materials that use passive solar for heating and energy and contain an in-house ecosystem that allows the treatment and recycling of both greywater and blackwater. She is often the architect of record for many Earthship projects in and around Taos, NM.
In 1996, Alix Henry built her own Earthship where she and her family reside. Her international outreach includes being a principal participant demonstrating hurricane-resistant Earthship construction in Tegucigalpa, Honduras in response to Hurricane Mitch, which devastated the entire country.
Here at the University of Puget Sound, students from across campus worked together with Alix to build a new sustainable compost bin for the community garden. The project started months earlier when Alix Henry and Professor Michael Johnson began discussing the planned residency. Should we design and build a rain catch system? Should we build a gathering space showcasing Earthship building techniques? Then Professor Johnson was talking with one of his sculpture students, Liv Turner Sage ’20, about the upcoming residency – she mentioned the need for a new compost bin in the Community Garden. That was it!
We will build a new compost bin that students will be using for years to come.
This was a project that brought together a number of groups across campus, as well as local businesses: the Garden Club Members endorsed the project; Sustainability Services provided cardboard and aluminum cans as a building material; Facility Services helped deliver dirt and provided some much-needed tools; Les Schwab on 6th Ave. donated used tires; Students from across campus came together to build the structure.
Other activities Alix was involved with were meeting with Professors Rachel DeMotts and Peter Hodum in the EPDM Program, screening the film Garbage Warrior (the story of Mike Reynolds and the birth of the Earthship movement), and finally the inaugural 2019 Art + Sci Salon event where Professor Johnson and Alix Henry sat down to discuss her and her family’s quest to live off the grid by spending 10 years building their own Earthship in Taos, NM.
It was a great week filled with sustainable adventures!