Michael Reynolds's vision of the future is totally wireless: There will be no matrix of pipes or power lines connecting humans and their homes to supply plants and water- treatment facilities. The creator of the Earthship -- a self-sustaining, eco-friendly form of architecture made primarily from refuse -- sees a world that lives totally off the grid. Earthships, made from old tires rammed with earth, utilize rainwater, thermal energy and solar power, concepts Reynolds developed in response to the way Americans tread so heavily on the earth.
"In the early '70s, we were just trying to recycle beer cans, to make a building out of it," says Reynolds, a builder, environmental activist and founder of Earthship Biotecture in Taos, New Mexico. "Then the energy crunch hit. Then the electricity crisis. Then we had sewage problems, water problems. We've just been responding to the news over the past three decades. We're using many of the nasty by-products of our society" -- stuff that would normally end up in a landfill.
Reynolds estimates that there are more than a thousand Earthships around the world, including several along Colorado's Western Slope. And while a progressive approach to conservation is their primary appeal, the structures are also marvels of design. With tires for building blocks, the homes are rounded, with few sharp edges; many have indoor gardens, pueblo-style kivas and grand, sun-sucking windows. Reynolds's firm has helped construct everything from single-room 'ships to huge, lavish estates.
Earthships are more accessible than they may seem, Reynolds points out. He'll elaborate today when Earthship Biotecture leads an intensive one-day workshop on Earthship concepts and connects would-be builders with resources to get started. The session will run from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. in Room 235 of the University Memorial Center on the CU-Boulder campus; the registration fee is $100. For more information -- and more photos of Earthships -- visit www.earthship.com. -- Laura Bond
Have Cameras, Will Pedal
Local photographers Randy Fay and Nancy Lewis-Lentz pedaled more than 6,000 miles during their most recent bike tour. At one point, they had to dry their rain-drenched underwear on the back of the bike trailer, and the sight led them to dub themselves the "hobobikers."
"When you're traveling on a bike, you can't bring much," says Lewis-Lentz. "We cut our toothbrushes in half and empty out half a tube of toothpaste. We don't have big lenses on our digital cameras."
But they did return with big, powerful images, which are on display at Artistic Edventures, 151 West Mineral Avenue in Littleton. The exhibit, The Art of the Hobobiker: Photographs of Mexico, Canada and the United States, opens tonight with a wine-and-cheese reception from 6 to 9 p.m and will stay up through March 31.
"When you're going by bike, you get to see every inch of your travels," says Lewis-Lentz. "You get a lot of details and an entirely different perspective."
Especially on your underpants.
Call 303-794-5333 for information. -- Shara Rutberg
An Angelic Benefit
In 1994, Sebastian Metz launched the Denver Guardian Angels, beginning a career as a volunteer community crime fighter. As an associate director of Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods, Metz also helped run the People's Fair. So it's no surprise that the community is lending a hand in a time of trouble. In January, Metz underwent open-heart surgery to correct a heart defect that he's unwittingly carried since infancy. Tonight, friends and family are hosting a fundraiser to cover the hefty medical bills he's amassed during rehabilitative therapy at Craig Hospital. The event, which includes a silent auction and music from local band Katoorah Jayne, begins at 6 p.m. at 4267 Tennyson Street, Unit A. Click on "Sebastian's Weblog" at www.katoorah.com for more information. -- Laura Bond
They Got the Beat
It may not be a six-string, but a laptop still rocks.
Mainframe maestros have long used computers to concoct and remix sound effects into coherent beats and harmonies, but only recently have club-goers been willing to throw down cash to watch some guy rock out on a laptop. It may not look as cool as a guitar or even a keyboard, but the sounds produced in the digital landscape can be just as complex and provocative as those coming from a four-piece on stage.
"I often tell people that it's noise being put into a new structure. It allows us to create whole new palettes of sound," says Kristy DeAnda, who has spent the past ten years producing computer music for multimedia performances and all-night parties.
A few weeks back, DeAnda and her compatriots organized a contest for local computer virtuosos to test their synth skills. Contestants had to create a song in under 48 hours by using twenty short sound samples given out on a website. The most versatile of these performers will present their technological wizardry at tonight's Monster Laptop Rally, beginning at 7 p.m. at Revoluciones Collective Art Space, 3515 Brighton Boulevard. There's a $12 cover, which includes workshops for budding computer musicians and performances by beat stylist Dev79 from Philadelphia, traveling spinmeister Sporadik, and Rasmussen, a local "noise group."
Carpal-tunnel wrist guards are highly recommended.