The EdenSpace Project Sustainability Roadshow

Ok well its starting out modestly and a little bit tongue in cheek, but I was blinking on a title for this blog post so I thought why not take an opportunity to talk about EdenSpace. The site and idea is still in the early stages of development (time is a relative thing) so let me if you have any ideas or suggestions – I am open.

So if your wondering what is EdenSpace. Its a name I decided to use in 2000 as I came back to Arcosanti and realized how Cosanti and some of Paolo Soleri’s work made me feel. Specifically I’m talking about the idea of the notion that there was a time when humanity and nature were in balance. Some say this was a real time and during the neolithic period which is when it is even rumored that some of the civilizations around at the time were actually better run and in some ways more advanced than the current patriarchal one that seems to define pretty much all the cultures of the world today. As you might expect there is a whole story behind this which is much too complicated to get into now.

The point is that EdenSpace refers to a healing architecture that as part of a comprehensive approach can help us to more fully realize our potential as human beings. I believe this is what Paolo Soleri was trying to visualize when he created first Cosanti and then Arcosanti. I created the EdenSpace Project to encourage an evolution of Arcology towards something I felt was more dynamic and less architectural in the sense that to create Arcology we need to see that architecture is only one part of the piece of holistic sustainable habitat creation pie.

Today I am on the way to CT via the Port Jeff Bridgeport Ferry to meet with Eric Fedus who has been associated with ZERI for a couple of years now. We worked on the Bucky Fuller Institute Challenge for innovative sustainable designs in 07 or 08. So I;m going to discuss the possibility of working to develop a new initiative focused on Integrated Farming and building on George Chan’s and Alexandre Takamatsu’s Integrated Farming Systems (IFS) work on medium sized pig farms in Brazil.

Planning for Tuesday and WED to be in the NYC. I’m meeting with someone I met at the UN where ZERI Founder and Club of Rome member Gunter Pauli keynoted at UNESCO’s Decade of Education in Sustainable Development launch. Pamela Peeters is an environmental economist based in Manhattan and focusing on environmental issues and green fashion/living. One of the things she has been doing is organizing green film festivals called Sustainable Planet

Architect Terri Chiao who visited Arco last year actually created some buzz with her cabin in a loft in Brooklyn with coverage from Inhabitat; a well known sustainability blog. Hopefully I will get a chance to meet with her and see her project today.

Ganas is an Intentional Community in Staten Island that I hope to finally visit while I am in the area.

Finally I am interested in getting a chance to see more of this project in NYC called NY Sun Works. I like the concept of education and see it as a good way to initially help fund a Closed Ecological System (CES) themed/oriented project that is centered around the concepts of Integrated Farming/Food Production and Design.

The Challenge of Mapping out Different Scenarios for Arcosanti’s Future

Below I consider my experiences and awareness of what is termed in the NGO community as Outcome-based Mapping. When I was involved with a small nonprofit called oneVillage Foundation (2003-2010) we got a 15k grant from a grant-making foundation in Canada called Commonwealth of Learning. The money went to fund and distance learning program focused on educating youth about Information Technologies and how to use them. This  initiative also supported the establishment of a telecenter called the Winneba Open Digital Village that we had funded in Winneba Ghana (mostly with our own money).

One of the things we had to do was a part of the evaluation of that grant and its impact on the local community of Winneba was do an series of Outcome-based Mapping Reports. While designed primarily for aid programs in non-affluent countries funded by organizations in the affluent countries, it may also have relevance on projects where a multitude of stakeholders contribute to a project that may be distant from their everyday lives such as is the case of Arcosanti. The point is to figure out how to make sure there is a mapping process that links together all the stakeholders so that we are effectively working together to make the Arcosanti dream a reality.

Its important to note that I do not have a formal or defined role in the leadership body that is in charge of designing and deciding the future strategy of Arcosanti. However as a community member of Arcosanti and employee of the Cosanti Foundation – which is non-profit that manages the Arcosanti project – I feel I have a stake in it. Therefore, I have decided to embrark on an exercise to write a document to discuss and present different scenarios for Arcosanti’s future.

Arcosanti is now in a time of leadership transition unprecedented in its history. In Sept of last year we saw the handover from the Presidency of Paolo Soleri to the new president Jeffrey Stein. Part of Jeff’s goal, as I understand it, is to develop a more robust organizational process at Arcosanti. A key step towards is to come up with a five year strategy and mandate annual budgets as well as other key mechanisms to ensure accountability and effective movement towards the performance benchmarks outlined in the strategy document. Yet what I think is vital from all this is to enable a real and robust discussion that includes all the stakeholders and ensures that they all have a voice and input into what becomes the ultimate formulation of a strategy and eventually its implementation towards an idealized future development at Arcosanti that brings the vision close to the reality.

There are various methods for visioning, developing, strategizing, implementing and tracking of strategy plans. An important element is leadership consensus about not only the need to develop a serious plan or strategy, but also a clear idea of what it is they are doing is about. What is the focus of the mission and vision articulated? There is a lot out in the Internet about strategy planning and design not just in terms of creating nice looking documents but more importantly developing the art of convening stakeholders in a NGO towards some kind of shared consensus on how to proceed collectively as a group. Learning how to dialog and work as a group is probably a more important step to building an Arcology than the building itself, because ultimately it’s a collective effort of people with great passion that build ambitious things like what Arcosanti aspires to become.

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Understanding the Meaning of 2012 and the Prophesies behind it

I am thinking this morning about a trend I have been noticing and also have been a part of for quite some time – the modern “doomsayers” movements. While the mainstream typically has heaped scorn and ridicule on this movement and in many cases for good reason…Yet the fact remains that similar to the New Age and Conspiracy Theory movements, many of our greatest cultural artifacts and influences have come from the creative people who have contemplated the movement’s musings, root inclinations and of course considered how their end-game scenarios might actually play out in the future.

The fact is I live at one of the most well known places for such thinking – Arcosanti. It was Paolo Soleri who over 40 years ago began his quest to warn humanity of the errors of its ways in embracing what he saw and continues to see as the twin demons of the American Dream and Globalization – suburban sprawl and hyper-consumption. Thus he as the media has sought to label his work has been sometimes been referred to as the “prophet in the desert.”

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How Green are Modular Building Systems?

Someone in my network is looking for help regarding help on an effort to find modular housing for a project proposal in Libya:

I have had a request for a sample for modular housing in Libya, 5-10 units @ 100′ sq. each.

Any promo materials you have please forward and I can let you know if they’re interested… please allow 30 day turnaround from your submission

I had learned a little bit about modular systems in my past research on ecological design. In contemplating the email I realized it would be interesting to use the email as an opportunity to find out what is available as way to update my knowledge of the sub-field and update my knowledge of the field.

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Blue Economy Update: Solar Kit Shows Kickstarter.org’s Potential as Catalyst for Peer to Peer (P2P) Grassroots Financing

The Blue Economy Website/Network is an initiative of ZERI Foundation (www.zeri.org) and the author Gunter Pauli. In the companion book Blue Economy, ZERI founder Gunter Pauli discusses some of the leading innovations of the sustainability and appropriate technology movements.

Last year I got a chance to meet with ZERI Founder Gunter Pauli again at Orme School (a boarding school about 8 miles north of Arcosanti) in October. Gunter was there on a speaking engagement because a colleague of his Robert Haspel (who helped form ZERI New Mexico) went to school there.

I thought that I had been talking about the book a bit too long to not have read it including the work on this post so I just ordered it here for 35 dollars including shipping.

Summary of the Book and Companion Website

The presentation of the book enables it to be summarized nicely. The goal of the book and the overall Blue Economy project is to within 10 Years, hone down a strategy focusing on 100 Innovations, that can create 100 Million Jobs. I would see this as not just a linear quantitative achievement in today’s simplistic economic terms but rather to see it more holistically as enabling a critical mass movement that lead to the unlocking of the synergistic potential of the Blue Economy.

More about the book is here – including a nice summary of each chapter.

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NASA’s Grand Plan to Replace Fossil Fuels with Algae

Schematic explaining NASA's plans to take sewage effluent to grow algae inside membranes located in the ocean.

In the previous post we learned about Dr Baum’s work to promote the potential of algae as a Do it Yourself (DIY)  solution to change our lives and remove or at least reduce our dependency on a corporate system that’s highly reliant on fossil fuel technologies for providing us the products we need to survive in the modern world.

Now we are going to hear more about the grand plan for taking algae out of the research laboratory and putting it into a large scale industrial system for producing algae to replace the current industrial refinery and petrochemical model that is the basis for our modern lifestyle.

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