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Underground America Day

Created by Malcolm Wells, a proponent of underground architecture, Underground America Day is "a time to honor the 6,000 or so North Americans who make their homes not only on the Earth but in it." Wells, who passed away in 2009, created the day in 1974 with hopes it would get people thinking about designing and building underground structures. According to Wells, the basic steps to construct them are: "Build a strong, waterproof building. Insulate it. Cover it with earth. Plant it with native plants."

Wells has suggested many ways—some being facetious—to mark the day, such as "Dig a hole and put your house in it. Cover it up," and "Stay home from work and put some dirt on your roof." Although, he's also said, "On May 14th each year hundreds of millions of people all across this great land will do absolutely nothing about the national holiday I declared in 1974, and that's just the way it should be," and that "It's a holiday free of obligations."

How to Observe Underground America Day

Malcolm Wells suggests observing the holiday in the following ways:

  • Dig a hole and put your house in it. Cover it up.
  • Think about moles…
  • Mail some dirt out of state.
  • Stay home from work and put some dirt on your roof.
  • Touch a basement wall.
  • Eat a parsnip or a radish.
  • Imagine a corporation actually conserving resources. Forget it, it's unimaginable.
  • Start a coal mine in your backyard.
  • Ride the subway with a friend.
  • Bury some treasure.
  • Listen to a Chinese conversation through the earth. (He suggests this for those who live on the opposite side of the world as China.)
  • Get lost in a cave for 11 days. When you're found, be sure to say, "Happy Underground America Day!"
  • Have a Malcolm Wells look-alike contest.
  • Fly through the Grand Canyon.
  • Build a vast underground shopping center with acres of townhouses, professional buildings, shops, and all-weather parking.
  • Look down a well.
  • Hold a parade under Main Street.
  • Draw a set of plans for an above-ground building—but don't build it.

Exploring earth shelter resources and Wells's earth shelter designs, reading a book by Wells, and learning more about underground and bermed homes and structures, including their advantages and disadvantages, are some other ways you could observe the day.

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