Arcosanti Musings

Some months ago when I went to Arcosanti Manager Meeting as a Stand-in for my boss. They discussed an article in the Washington Examiner – that was we felt unfairly critical of Arcosanti:

Soleri’s vision — of Earth’s population confined to high-density communities — is shared by some of the more extreme elements of the environmental movement now gathered in Copenhagen. There’s even a new, Soleri-inspired project starting in Abu Dhabi. But it’s hard to imagine many Americans ever living in an arcology, except perhaps at gunpoint. If you want to see why, just pay a visit to Arcosanti.

Byron York, The Examiner’s chief political correspondent, can be contacted at His column appears on Tuesday and Friday, and his stories and blog posts appears on

Read more at the Washington Examiner:

A Vivaldi themed act came up to Arcosanti last night. Attendance seemed good. I missed it because I was washing dishes. Really I am not bitter about it but I would have liked to have seen it.

I dont much about the AZ Green Party Event other than I know it is in May and its the last thing our current Kitchen Manager will be doing here before she leaves..

22 people from Wentworth just finished their workshop and it seemed they were pretty satisfied with the chance to work as a way to complement their academic studies. It was hard to get to know them all but I got to know a few including Scott Morgan who has a small firm doing green design/build work:


Give the Earth a Hand by Living More Sustainably in your Everyday Life

One of the challenges of global development strategies is that they have not been well coordinated and designed to ensure that the bulk of the world’s people who are not in affluent regions do not make the same missteps of those in affluent regions. My colleague Nadia Begin shared with me this video by Greenpeace India which documents some of the issues with infinite wants in a finite world. More important titled “Earth Day: Give the Earth a Hand” it expresses the desire of the world’s unspoken majorities to live with clean water, clean air and to protect and respect the environment which is the source of our life.

See also 256 other Greenpeace videos on YouTube:

The very nature of modern life has expressed its dysfunctionality in so many diverse and holistic ways . One of the ways I have long observed is the way in which our food is processed to such a degree that we no longer really understand what we are eating or the fully ramifications of what we eat.

Shine is a new brand on Yahoo. Its interesting to see mainstream attempts to finally address the emerging disaster of our high processed diets in which our bodies have to deal with many foods that are not only alien to it but also toxic:

Introducing Tucson-based Organic Gardener Emily Piper

I was recently made aware of Emily Piper (the woman who will be traveling with Jade Sylvan when she visits and performs at Arcosanti):

“I am a School Garden Coordinator for the Community Food Resource Center, a department of the Community Food Bank in Tucson. I provide teachers with resources to help get them started for organic vegetable gardening. We require that schools engage in a composting project and teach about food security if they want to work closely with us. I teach workshops on site design, soil and composting and planting a healthy garden at the schools. We think the most successful gardens are those which are self-sustaining, which is why we teach about soil types for effective watering, composting to reduce external inputs, etc. We suggest sunken beds for passive water harvesting and we are hoping to assist schools with water harvesting barrels in the future.

I also work in the demonstration and market garden here at the food bank, where we use the same sustainable methods of sunken beds, composting, mulching, and more. We save our seeds and have a 14,000-gallon cistern to collect from our roof. When that was installed we did a groundworks workshop with Watershed Management Group.

I have also met with Brad Lancaster, author of Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands, about his sustainability work, as well as members of a community in Cascabel, Ariz., about sustainable methods.”

ATTRA Site Showcases SolaRoof, Solviva & other Greenhouse Best Practices

We are now researching some specific numbers about how much water is needed to store heat in a greenhouse.

My colleague Tracy Hightower gave me this link to  research done by ATTRA (National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service) references Solviva and Three Sisters regarding Greenhouse Waterwalls. More information about Waterwall is available here on a free ebook that documents the poineering work at Solviva.

They also give mention of Rick Nelson’s SolaRoof Work in the middle of the very long webpage. Rick’s colleague Bård Hans Sylling will be coming to Arcosanti tomorrow to present the SolaRoof concept to staff and community members here.

Boston-based Performance Arist Jade Sylvan to Perform at Arcosanti in July

Jade Sylvan ( is a Boston based performer who was introduced to me virtually by Michael Gosney (Cosanti Foundation board member). She expressed interest in performing at Arcosanti as part of a trip to the Southwest US. We discussed here travelling here sometime in July.

Jade Sylvan has done talks about the Internet and the rapidly changing face of media and society. In this context she has explored what these revolutionary changes in he we see, share and discuss human reality and experiences collectively means to the modern artist as well as the modern audience.
She expressed interest in performing at Arcosanti as part of a trip to the Southwest US. We discussed here travelling here sometime in July (7-18) and arranging ,a performance here.

Currently, I am bringing this forward to get support from the community, gauge interest and also see if there is interest in having the CC set aside some funds for her travel/performance costs.
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Some Old Friends Visit Arcosanti

Aaron Paul Brakke was at Arcosanti in the fall of 2000 during the launch of the first Ecosa Institute “total immersion in ecological design” seminar. The course took about 4 months and two Arcosantians (me and Karen Talyor) participated made possible thanks to a 50 percent discount in the regular price which was 5k. The Ecosa program was started by Tony Brown who before becoming an established green architect in neighboring Prescott, was chief architect during the early days of Arcosanti (late 70s early 80s).

Unfortunately, much to my chagrin, they were not able to continue the program at Arcosanti, but it was still a very special time for me in which I had a chance to consider Arcology in relation to other movements and innovations going at the beginning of the ecological design movement.

While Aaron was here with the other 15 Ecosa Students he had the chance to meet one of the resident volunteers Estefania Villiamar who was from Columbia and had just finished her workshop and they became a couple. I met Aaron and Estefania once since then in NYC around 2004/05, just when their youngest child was born.

Now they have two both of whom I saw when they came to visit here on Wed. Now in Columbia and married, they came back to the USA, to see Aaron’s brother Paul get married with Aaron as the best man. I bought a bell for them for their brother at the gallery as a wedding gift. They did not have time with their schedule to wait for the gallery to open because they had to go to the rehearsal later that day.

Both Aaron and Estefania are architects. While she was here in 2000, she worked on the Nudging Space Arcology model. Aaron updated me on the challenges of working in Columbia and told me about several projects he had been working on. This included his effort in a small firm – Visualeyes Architecture + Design –  in which he was director of design. He is now teaching architecture in Columbia. You can see some of his work here: