Recent Bay Area TEDx Sustainable Cities Series Features Presentations on Arcology

Last Saturday, Cosanti Foundation president Jeff Stein presented at an event organized by a group based in SF called TEDxMission. The name of this particular event was called TEDxMission 2.0 The City. It featured discussions with leaders in the sustainability field. There was a specific focus on innovative ideas and technologies relating to urban design (and particularly in terms of the Bay Area): “to share the powerful narratives of urban innovators and organizers, stewards and artists, builders and tastemakers.”

Besides Stein, the other speakers I recognized were (my thought is that these people could be a potential network resource for making Arcosanti more sustainable):

  • Brock Dolman is a permaculture expert who is well known on the west coast. He is a Occidential Arts & Ecology Center Lecturer  (OAEC) in Occidental CA and a guest lecturer at the Regenerative Design Institute in nearby Bolinas. Sewing Circle is an intentional community  small ecovillage/intentional community that is interwoven with OAEC similar to the way Cosanti Foundation is with Cosanti Originals at Arcosanti.
  • Geoff Lawton excited a lot of people by what he was able to achieve in Jordan on a dryland permaculture project that showed much was possible even in a very desolate desert environment. Considering the challenge that Arcosanti faces in growing food in a similar climate, he might be a great link towards increasing agricultural productivity.
  • James Hanusa has been active in the Bay Area Sustainability community. We crossed paths via the Global Summit 2010 at Fort Mason in San Francisco. Currently he is CEO of the Urban Innovation Exchange a SF “economic development organization that co-creates innovation ecosystems rooted in sustainability and culture with an experiential approach.” Most recently according to their website, they enabled a design charette between Rio and San Francisco for the Bay2Rio+20 Group. Hanusa is doing work that seems to fit well with Michael Gosney’s presentation to TEDxMission at an earlier event: “Designing the Control Panel for Spaceship Earth.

Digging deeper into TEDxMission I found a familiar face who I have collaborated in various ways with in the past. Michael Gosney was one of the speakers at a recent event they organized. Michael was a former Cosanti board member and Paradox Conference co-organizer (a series of conferences that took place at Arcosanti in 97, 99 & 01). His networking efforts through the conferences helped me to learn about many of the interesting efforts in the Bay Area regarding the sustainability movement.

I also in my research found that Michael has compiled an interesting set of interviews on his online radio show EcoEvolution on His EcoEvolution Show on features many of most exciting voices of what he terms EcoEvolution the process of transforming our world to a more holistic and eco-centric world view that enables us to live in harmony with each other and the planet systems upon which we depend on for life.

In the most recent interview Michael interviews Jeff Stein about Paolo Soleri, Arcosanti and Arcology:

Eco Evolution – Paolo Soleri, Arcosanti and the Sustainable Cities With Jeff Stein President of Cosanti Foundation and Arcosanti.

This is all great talk about Arcosanti and Paolo Soleri. However, I’d like to hear more about what is being done to bring more hands-on sustainability approaches  and appropriate technologies to Arcosanti. These were the kinds of things that I was expecting when I came to Arcosanti in 1998 in search of innovation in the development of model sustainable cities.

To be honest I’m disappointed that Arcosanti has not taken more of leadership role in the fields of sustainability and ecological design since I took my workshop over 14 years ago.

Here is what I suggest to get reclaim the excitement of Arcosanti’s heydays in the 70s:

  1. Set a specific set of targets for what Arcosanti is providing to people coming there and how to build on this.
  2. See the workshop program at Arcosanti develop into cutting edge program that links architecture, planning and engineering and all the vital sustainable approaches and technologies into a seamless and holistic approach to building compact, sustainable urban habitats.
  3. Identify and take the key steps needed to create a Critical Mass movement towards the realization and practical implementation of the Arcology vision and theory that engages Alumni, residents and other groups and organization that have a common link with our values and aspirations to address the problem of conspicuous consumerism, car culture, excessive commercialism and suburban sprawl.

Below is Michael Gosney’s TEDxMission presentation about Arcosanti and Arcology “Designing the Control Panel for Spaceship Earth”:

Watching the video made me realize that I am part of his social network for a reason, we share the same vision and that was what brought us to Arcosanti. It was this vision that led to his leadership putting together a meeting of the minds for three days at Arcosanti in 2001 called Paradox III that included some of the leading thinkers and pioneers of sustainability.

My being at Arcosanti during that conference was a formative event in my life. It led to me to consider a whole host of innovative thinkers and visionaries – contemplating their dreams of a better world and how they might relate to the development of future sustainable human habitats. And yes this might someday include the design of what Soleri calls Arcologies.

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