Saturday, September 10, 2011

Spiral Island

Off the coast of Mexico, a man called Rishi Sowa is famous for collecting thousands of plastic bottles, bagging them together with old fishing nets and upon them building a self-sufficient floating island. He built one which survived several powerful tropical storms (but one too few) and began again with a larger one pictured here.
 He builds a plywood platform on top of the plastic bottle nets and then covers the surface with dirt from the shore. He has mangrove and banana trees, chickens, a solar cooker, a makeshift washing machine and whatever else he can devise.
My first thought when hearing about this several years ago was to build my own on the Utah Lake. My second was an image of outraged Utahns informing their dutiful police officers to come and put an end to my fun. Orem, Utah is the quietest 80-90,000 citizen village I have ever heard of.
Here an Orem city police officer is seen "patrolling" the lake shore asking us, and then these kind folks, the quality of the fishing. I don't really think I could blame him for spotting a floating island with a cabin on board below safety standards and seizing an opportunity to bring something more than traffic ticketing stories to the dinner table.
Perhaps surprisingly, Mexico (whether strictly from resource limitations or not) is far freer in this respect than America , who has sold more than a little of her liberty for order since 1776, even in Andy Griffith towns. A man with a house built from railroad ties  will find himself mired in legal paperwork if he wants to defend his freedom to be peculiar in a neighborhood of well-to-do 50-somethings, and I highly doubt I'm going to get away with building something that isn't a cement foundation 2X4 skeleton sheet-rock skin "house" made according to the local formula.
It's time for that sort of thing to change. It's hardly published in the newspaper but even now, on the banks of the Provo River's inlet to Utah Lake, there are several dozen tent colonies, including some families with children, who live, at least during the warm months, in large camps. It's no less possible or legal to take to an island of your own craft. Take to the lake, transients! How much more dignified would you be pioneering green alternatives in the spirit of the eccentric but delightful Rishi Sowa than crawling through mass-produced nylon tents like swamp dwellers?
Eventually I will build a beautiful artificial island on the Utah Lake but in the decades that precede, I would like to see my charming little city open its mind without abandoning its innocent and loving traditions.
Don't live in a degraded version of the mainstream and call it rebellion. Create a recognizable and unique variation to what is and walk in the light of day.

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