MEDIA ROOTS – The documentary Garbage Warrior follows Mike Reynolds, a pioneering architect with a heart of (recycled) gold. Recognizing humanity’s collective stampede towards self-destruction, Mike works tirelessly to provide families in New Mexico with self-sufficient, sustainable housing. His designs contrast starkly with the bland, conformist and unsustainable residential architecture present throughout the U.S. today by combining natural materials with local products to create residential masterpieces. Each house provides its own electrical power, water, and sewage processing. Furthermore, the construction process produces minimal waste, thrives on experimentation and is entirely flexible to the unique needs of each family.
Instead of embracing or rewarding Mike’s selfless vision to empower society, his local government throws roadblocks in his path. Mike’s frustration dealing with government red tape raises an important question: when hindered by the U.S. government, do we break the rules, enjoy the benefits associated with such liberty, and hope the government doesn’t notice? Or, do we accept regulatory oversight, allowing our liberty to be infringed upon, and waste time living with official approval? These questions not only face eco-pioneers and locals striving to be sustainable, but also to the civil liberties violations associated with Washington’s War on Drugs, surveillance state, and general encroachment upon the Fourth Amendment.
Urgent societal issues of global resources come to the forefront in this documentary. Eventually, our planet’s inhabitants will have to confront the dilemmas associated with peak oil, water scarcity, and climate change. Our willful ignorance of these topics will only continue to render this planet uninhabitable for future generations. If we all follow Mike’s lead, we’d be able to take care of take care of ourselves, our communities, and revive our only planet.
These issues should appeal to Republicans insistent on self-sufficiency and limited government, and Democrats insistent on environmental responsibility. The distrust of the U.S. government, which is shared by members of the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street alike, is further impetus for taking care of our communities and ourselves. Also, the empowerment associated with sustainable practices is addictive–self-reliance revives forgotten crafts and encourages innovative design. As Mike advises us, we shouldn’t let society’s rulebook stop us from achieving self-sufficiency and from taking care of one another.
Documentary – Garbage Warrior
Christian Sorensen for Media Roots
Photo by Flickr User Lewis and Clark Community College