SURROUNDED BY hundreds of tires and aluminum cans in a vacant lot on 41st Street near Lancaster Avenue, Rashida Ali-Campbell said that after years of trying, she and like-minded residents will start building Earthship Philadelphia all weekend, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., in West Philly.
"I first saw the earthships in a movie called 'Garbage Warrior,' " she said. "They were in Taos, New Mexico. And I thought, 'How could I get one in Philadelphia?' "
She contacted Jonah Reynolds, who has built earthships with their inventor, his father Michael Reynolds, for decades in Taos.
Reynolds will teach West Philly volunteers how to pound tires that become the foundation - along with soda cans and concrete - of a solar/thermal, eco-friendly, earthship house that grows its own food and recycles its own water.
Taos has lots of functioning Reynolds-built earthships, ranging from some that look like the Flintstones' residence to a $495,000 desert palace that looks like Queen Bey and Jay Z live there.
Ali-Campbell, 37, who runs LoveLovingLove Inc., a nonprofit that provides anger-management and violence-prevention counseling for youths in city schools and emergency shelters, said Earthship Philadelphia will be the first such house in an urban environment.
She reached into a tire and picked a few tomatoes growing there in the sunlight.
She said a homeless man dumped some tomatoes in the lot and, after a while, the seeds took hold, the plants grew up through the tires and the crop is delicious.
Mint, basil, garlic and lemon grass are also thriving amid the tires.
"This reminds me of why we're here," Ali-Campbell said, explaining that Earthship Philadelphia will produce enough food in its gardens to feed its residents and its neighbors.
Healthy food, Ali-Campbell said, reduces stress and diabetes in low-income people, who are prone to both.
"Hippocrates said, 'Let food be thy medicine,' " Ali-Campbell quoted, smiling warmly. "Earthship Philadelphia will follow his idea, but in the 'hood. There will be a pond here, where children can catch a fish and then cook it. There will be chickens.
"A family of four will be able to eat comfortably inside Earthship Philadelphia and never have to go to the store," she said.
Ali-Campbell said there is an Earthship at Silver Lake Nature Center in Bristol Township, Bucks County, "but people from this community are never going to see it. Earthship Philadelphia is for people in this urban neighborhood."
"Needy people are not thinking about holistic living because they are busy thinking about where their next meal is coming from," Ali-Campbell said. "Earthship Philadelphia will bring holistic living right into the 'hood."