Imagine a community of adventurous pioneers who leave the Earth’s surface to drift and glide amongst the clouds in machine-like dwellings, self-sufficient and free from and trappings of everyday life as we know it. Such a community exists in the whimsical world of the Cloud Skippers.

Over time a need developed to better harvest the Earth’s resources. While some looked about, others looked up, finding enormous possibility in the Earth’s atmosphere. By harnessing the tremendous energy of the jet stream, they envisioned a new, better way of living. Thus Cloud Skipping began.

By employing large wings and exceptionally long cables, Cloud Skippers hitch the constant winds (100+ mph) of the jet stream, lifting entire communities into the clouds. Fully-equipped Cloud Skippers glean the bounties of the Earth’s atmosphere, using electricity-generating wind turbines and solar panels along with large funnels for rainwater collection and storage. To sustain dwellers and livestock alike, resident’s plant and tend gardens enriched with organic composted waste.

Staying afloat requires work. A delicate equilibrium must be maintained to remain anchored in the air. Abrupt shifts in weight can dislodge a Cloud Skipper from the jet stream – low levels of rainwater storage or sloppy waste management, excessive hoarding or rapid shifts in population – any dramatic change may result in a loss of altitude, or worse, a precipitous fall to Earth.

The unique emphasis on weight shapes a new economy with its own values and currency. Gravity banks deal in kilos of crops, or gallons of water, in lieu of more traditional monetary loans. As material over-consumption may have catastrophic consequences, money as we know it is redefined.

Cloud Skippers must also take into account the constant shifting of the jet stream’s course. With no solid connection to the ground below, the idea of community is re-imagined. Assuming a nomadic nature, Cloud Skippers fly whichever way the winds take them.
Through such trials and demands, a strong, fluid bond develops among Skippers in their efforts to survive in such a precarious environment. Balance is emphasized, manifested in a collective responsibility of the entire community and reinforced by personal discipline as well as respect for the limits of one’s environment and the needs of one’s neighbors.

Relying on each other’s good will, Cloud Skippers fly high and free.

Type: Speculative
Location: Atmosphere
Completion: May 2009
Project Team:
(with Studio Lindfors)
Principal: Ostap Rudakevych
Collaborators: Gretchen Stump

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