Tour of Full Circle Earth Greenhouse in Woburn MA

end of jimi greenhouse at gardenOn July 20th, Carmen Thennes and I had a chance to go to Woburn MA to meet with James (Jimi) Carnazza. I first met Jimi at Arcosanti in the Fall of 09. He did an internship there in construction.

After leaving Arcosanti, Jimi has been working as a educational consultant helping special needs children and adults develop life skills. In addition, he has asked me to help him start a nonprofit called Full Circle Earth (FCE). We officially established the non profit in the state of MA in August of last year and are now working on 501c3 status with the IRS. I was one of the three founding board members and currently serve on the board.

The mission of FCE is to raise awareness of the ways to increase the availability of locally produced, healthy and organic food. Our work centers on an effort to establish a training  and educational center to sustainable living and food production. This includes a greenhouse and surrounding integrated food production systems as well as agricultural plots. This capstone/flagship project of FCE will feature key emergent technologies such as aquaponics, wormcomposting, biogas production, compost tea making, rainwater collection, the use of earth building techniques and other appropriate tech.

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Introducing ArcoPedia: an Alternative Approach to Arcology Theory

I have set up a wiki that I call ArcoPedia. The idea is to consider an alternative perspective of Arcosanti in terms of how it could be contributing more effectively to current best practices in the ecological design movement as it is increasingly impacting the mainstream society.

My most recent addition to the wiki was a page on Green Roof an ecological design concept that has long intrigued me. The page/article is titled: Why Green Roofs are more than Just about Keeping Buildings Dry

This is related to the upcoming discussion on School of Thought today in terms of my thinking about the need for a comprehsive approach to rethinking existing and prevailing urban design and development practices. Actually most of the planning community has been extremely disguisted with current “best practices” that perpetuate sprawl and the commercially dominated aesthetic of urban/suburban spaces that is of course a key driver to the consumption/consumer driven economy.

Thus the idea is to consider the possibility of

  1. limits to growth of the city and the urban effect – in that a point is reached where the urban no longer can create a positive aspect of urban life called the urban effect. So then at what level might an Arcology be too big?
  2. design of cities with the Arcology model that considers diversity of density in terms of thinking about different gradations of density as the city goes from core to periphery.

Also in relation to the above is the idea of building urban spaces that balance and combine the best of urban and rural life rather than simply saying that Urban is BEST. Complementary to this is the idea of seeing the suburban as a flawed but possibly well intentioned way to do this. Also important is seeing suburbs as a way to naturally transition urban life with rural. So for example in permaculture theory we are taught to promote this idea of gradations between human habitat and pristine nature. The key consideration is to think about what is most appropriate for zonal gradation. One thing that is stressed in this school of thought is locating food as close to the human habitat as possible. Of course for permaculturalists,  food production systems are most ideally integrated with the built environment/habitat itself.

Thus the core goal is to consider how to remake the suburban so that it undergoes a process of densification and at the same time offers a menu of choices for people to consider in terms of density and lifestyles. Possibly the Linear City model that Soleri puts forward can be seen as a way to combine that densification of suburbia by offering nodes of convergence at key mass transit stops within each of the concentric rings that typically define the evolution of suburbia in metropolitian areas.

03.06.09: Greenhouse/LaLoggia Presentation

At Morning Meeting today it was a bit windy and we held the meeting in the Lab Building to keep warm. Actually the temps are pretty mild for the year but the wind is so gusty that it seems much colder than it really is.

We are starting out the Colly Soleri Music Center concert season with a bang.

This weekend we have the film shoot for the indie movie Carried Away.

Then on Mar 14th Theoretical Isolation: A Post-atomic Experiment will be performed at The Center by Ira Murfin, an alum of Arcosanti. He is organizing this event which includes some performers from his Chicago based theater act. While he is here he’ll be offering a acting workshop on the Tuesday before the performance.

In the Afternoon, the construction team had a chance to go over some of the plans and ideas revolving around LaLoggia and accompanying Arcosanti Greenhouse complex and discuss these with the Feb Workshop.

The idea is to develop an integrated greenhouse farming system that both produces food and also energy for the buildings up above (The greenhouse is part of the Energy Apron).

During the afternoon I also had the chance to tell the story of how I met my friend and colleague Joy Tang after leaving Arcosanti in 03 and going to the Planetwork Conference at the Presidio in SF. Since working together in oneVillage we have seen our work as the evolution of that being done in various ecovillages and similar socially and ecologically conscious projects around the world.  A key aspect of our work is identifying the role of Information Technologies in providing assistance to communities to become more sustainable. Also related to that is the development of strong cultural identities in these communities. So one aspect of our work has been to promote cultural exchanges between societies.

During the presentation I talked about how Joy has been in Taiwan working to raise awareness of the value of African indigenous culture in the context of Taiwan’s own indigenous tribes. This has materialized in the group Unity Drum which is a fusion of African and Taiwanese indigenous music and dancing. Most recently the group performed for the well known Japanese fashion designer  Issey Miyake at his Fashion Show in Taipie on Mar 5.