Visiting the Ecosa Institute Studio in Prescott AZ

EcosaLogoEarlier this week on Tuesday Paul Hansen Mitev and I met with the current Ecosa Institute Coordinator Levi Mason.

In 2000 when I was a resident at Arcosanti, I enrolled in the first Ecosa Institute, Total Immersion Seminar on Ecological Design. This was 4 month program that gave me a deep understanding of the green movement as it pertains to creating change through marketplace driven activities that revolve around green business and architecture, rather than political or social activism (which is not to say that it is exclusive of those things either).

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Paolo Soleri Memorial: Day 1 Cosanti – 09.20.13

Jim Carnahan explains the agenda and his role.
Jim Carnahan explains the agenda and his role.

After a long trip from MA to AZ by car, I finally arrived at my destination: Cosanti in the Phoenix suburbs to begin a discussion about how the alumni of the Arcosanti Workshop Program could become more involved in moving the Arcosanti project forward in a decisive way. It also included those from the Cosanti Apprenticeship Program, which ended in 1970.

About 150 people participated and they ranged in age from 92 to 20. While there was an element that involved the honoring of Soleri, it also included several sessions to discuss the way forward and possible ways that alumni could support the further development of Arcosanti. The first day focused on giving a space and a soapbox for members to express their views on things in a more general way and then ended with a panel discussion of local experts familiar with Soleri which I missed.

James Carnahan, who did a workshop in May 1972 as was on Staff from 1972-77 was introduced to the group. He had worked with Jeff Stein on preparing the sessions and brining in professional facilitators to help us guide the process in an effective way. While I was skeptical at first about this it seemed it worked rather well and folks generally seemed rather pleased on the outcome of this event and were looking forward to getting down to business.

Event Discussion Agenda – A draft agenda was put together that basically went along these lines:

  1. Friday, September 20, 1pm to 4 at Cosanti Foundation: The Legacy of Paolo Soleri – what are the important ideas and how can they be implemented locally and globally?
  2. Saturday, 9am to noon at Arcosanti, two broad topics:
    1. How might Arcosanti function in the future?
    2. Discuss organizational forms suitable for implementation of the ideas coming out of Friday’s conversation.
  3. Sunday, 8am to 10am at Arcosanti: What role(s) can the alumni continue to play in support of the various missions, goals & objectives we have been talking about?

The following content I cobbled together based on my incomplete notes so I probably missed a lot of good stuff. Its my attempt to compile a set of reports on each of the three days we participated in this event together. If you have any suggestions, additions or corrections, please let me know by email at: buderman@gmail.com.

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Cosanti Foundation President Jeffrey Stein speaks to Arcosanti and Cosanti alumni.

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Arcosanti Reformulation Project

I am in Arkansas now and considering the long travel ahead of me to get to Arcosanti and the Memorial for Paolo Soleri. For a long time, I discounted my coming to this event due to financial concerns and other priorities.

What led to the change was the thought that there is chance that something important can be developed for the future of the project. I figured what the hell, its not often I get to be with 150 other people who care enough of Soleri’s vision and dream to come back to a place they once called home – even if for a very short time.

I have also been posting a lot online and privately with a discussion that was initiated by one of the Alum to a list of some of the people attending.

I have also been considering how to formally link Arcosanti and Paolo Soleri with the organization I am trying to get off the ground with Jimi Carnazza – Full Circle Earth.

Arcosanti & Full Circle Earth: To Develop a KnowledgeBase for Compact Urban Themed Sustainable Habitat Development

What I have come up with is a statement on the role of Arcosanti in bringing two of the founders of this organization together and to consider some of the things that can be done to promote Arcosanti and Arcology on a practical level. The reality is that incorporating Arcology theory into practical practice is not an easy thing to do and this is why so few have done it – that I am aware of at least. To consider an applied Arcology model or even a theoretical framework for the dissemination of this idea,  we need to form and build networks with the mix of people needed to actually build such a prototype. In this process, we need to reconsider what Soleri meant by Arcology. We also need to explore how he wanted to implement the first one at Arcosanti as a prototype. So as we consider sustainability and Arcology on a practical level, a lot of questions are going to have to be answered. Its definitely not a job I think we can do alone so if anyone reading has any interest in what I am writing about please contact me (Jeff Buderer: buderman@gmail.com).

(Re)formulating Arcosanti: The Alternative Arcosanti Project as an Start-up KnowledgeBase for Building Sustainable Arcology Themed Developments

So far I have created a wiki called the Alternative Arcosanti Project. Its work in progress – a mish-mash of what I thought were some core ideas of how to or what to consider in (Re)Formulating Arcosanti. So I proposed the name “Arcosanti Reformation Project” as one possible title for the group, rather than just something generic like the Arcosanti Alumni Group.

At the end of his life Soleri talked about the need for something more fundamental in society than incremental reform which seems almost everyone would agree has gotten the progressive no where in terms of improving the overall socioeconomic dynamics of society. Yes Soleri had become a critic of the reform movement and saw it as a failure. That we are not moving forward as a society corruption seems to be growing. Such a trend and relationship between corruption of the society and workshop of money and power as ends to themselves seem very predictable when looking at historical trends. Soleri warned us about the unhealthy worship of money and materials values.

To Create Change You Must BE The Change

Our critical mind might wonder whether Arcosant itself could not have taken more of a leadership in being a model for a more sustainable urban habitat? So my suggestion is that by calling any movement to reform Arcosanti, a (Re)formulation process, we are putting Soleri’s very own prescriptions (or at least in the process considering some of concerns and trying to consider how a culture might be formed around these for building future societies) for fixing society and the world.

We are acknowledging what he had a problem with, while we are taking action where he seemed to be unable to act as a leader. We are empowered with the realization that we must first create a model of change most immediate to us, especially before lecturing the larger society about what is wrong with it. We must be a model of the change we want to see by figuring out how to put those ideals we hold dear into practical practice in our lives – in order to be taken seriously.

So in order for Soleri’s ideals and vision to survive of not just Arcosanti but Arcology itself, we must see that Arcosanti and Arcology must be reformatted or reformulated. From that process what needs to emerge is:

  1. A solid, consistent and compassionate ideology for changing not just the built environment but the very nature of what we see as our humanity.
  2. This ideology must not be classroom and neither should it be workplace based.
  3. The success of the movement will be based on the development of powerful human relationships and bonds within the process of living and working together to build the Worlds First Prototype Arcology.

In the above-mentioned process an “Arcology Ideology” can be truly birthed as something that is not seeking to impose things on people as one person’s ego-centric impulse, but getting us to more deeply to think about how we might actually work together effectively with others as part of their shared interest in “building” a healthy and prosperous humanity.

 Notes and References

European Tour Stop @ Mont Cenis Academy in Herne Germany

Entrance to Mont Cenis Academy

At Arcosanti I had a chance to learn about many exciting green or sustainability projects around the world including one which was named Mont Cenis Academy. This was made possible due to my participation in the launch of Ecosa Institute Total Immersion Course on Ecological Design in 2000. It was through Ecosa that I first learned about Mont Cenis Academy in Germany. At that time I saw a possible link between the two projects and often referred to Mont Cenis as one of the more inspirational ecological design projects that I was aware of.

While in Europe, I decided to make a visit (on May 19th) to the place and to explore what it is really like and how successful it is in becoming a model ecologically designed project/building.

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The High Price of Car Culture

In the summer of 2012 we were staying on the roof because it was hot inside. Somebody had this weird eye allergy and it looked worrisome. So I took him to the local hospital. He ended up being fine but on the way to the hospital I was speeding because I was still worried about his condition and it was late in the night and I was tired. Unfortunately I got flashed by one of those Big Brotherish, Robot Speeding Ticket machines.

A former boss once had a bumper sticker on her car: REALITY IS WHEN IT HAPPENS TO YOU. You have to think about that for moment and consider what it really means. Sort of like I think when the Chinese might have said that old Chinese Proverb to one another: “May you live in interesting times.”

We don’t have to use our imagination much to consider the sudden and shocking way that our lives can be devastated and even destroyed by a single simple mistake in judgement when driving. To imagine the shattering glass, metal, plastic and human bodies too. Suddenly two separate autonomous bodies merge as one in a violent crash of high speed metal and plastic crashing, smashing and literally exploding into steaming heaping hulk of destruction. In the really bad accidents – that’s when the crying and screaming starts if people are still alive or conscious – that is. At least with a gun, the violence is much cleaner and clear cut.

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