I'm called "Claire" or "Clara," "RC" or "RuthClaire," my given name. I'm a grandmama now but I was 18 years old when I tumbled into the studios of Paolo Soleri in Paradise Valley, and my plan was very simple:
Stop in. Briefly visit with my friend Cuyler Page, who had packed his bags and left Ithaca immediately after Paolo came to Cornell's architecture school to talk about his work and show pictures of it.
That was the plan. "Hello/Goodbye" Cuyler; then - move on.
Mann plannt und Gott lacht (Man plans and God laughs), my Vienna-born grandmother would have said.
It was early morning; the summer sun was already bright as we steered onto then-unpaved E. Doubletree Ranch Road. In front of 6433, a one-story wood frame house, I spotted Cuyler performing modern dance exercises with a small group of people. He stopped when he saw us, greeted me, introduced me to Colly Soleri who invited us all to join them. My shy cousin Clark, who’d been driving, hung back; but Debbie, my travel-partner from NY who'd come out to San Francisco to find me at the behest of our mutual friend YCharles Ludlam (the "Y" is silent, he'd clarified), stepped right in with me. Sally, the teacher, gave the newly expanded group a few more new combinations to try before she had to leave.
More introductions: to Paolo, Colly, Kristine and Daniela Soleri; to Sally; to Alan Saret, an artist from NY. Then Cuyler suggested - actually he offered to lead me to - a glass of water.
Ha! I'd have followed a Yeti to Tibet for water but my friend simply walked ahead of me, down a slight slope, beyond which I found myself in the most habitable space I'd ever, in my entire life, been in. I would not, could not have, simply had not been able to imagine it kinesthetically from the slides he'd shown me the previous winter when he'd stopped in at my apartment on West 83rd Street in NYC.
His photos, interesting as they'd been, had scarcely prepared me for the real thing. Might as well have been a creature of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth who’d wandered away from the comforts and security of the hobbit-hole and could scarcely believe "home" was still there after the journey's travails: that's how perfect a fit it seemed. The gentle clinking of bells hanging everywhere in the all-but-invisible-from-the-road atelier whispered harmonious welcome.
Relatively untutored in architecture, I marveled at the absolute creatureliness of the place. I sensed rather than discerned the complexity of its deceptively simple design, the ingenuity of its execution. Its architectural vocabulary was unusual for suburban Phoenix but it made complete sense environmentally and graphically, was just as right economically, made total ergonomic sense of a landscape containing intricate nuances, the subtle complexities of which did not immediately present themselves. At least not to me.
I've been a long-term, many-times returnee ever since. I strive to observe with respect, without ever sacrificing genuine curiosity.
Now, I'm turning thought into deed by building a cyber-forum into which others interested in arcology and matters arcological may venture.
Welcome to my experiment!
ArcologyCentral is an expression of my interest in sustainable arcological design. I'm especially curious to learn what resonates for those who've worked in any capacity at Cosanti or Arcosanti, including but certainly not limited to those who completed a construction workshop, seminar week, Elderhostel, or Haystack program. I hope it will be of benefit for ArcologyCentral to serve as another form of entry into the global discussion I feel is needed - that we need to have - about the meaning of arcology and about Arcosanti itself. Although there are Facebook pages for arconauts (no, Paolo didn't coin that word: but it does seem to fit; if you have a better one, please - out with it!), I feel the more opportunities to get together with or reconnect with other people who "went there, did that, " the more discussion we create, the broader those discussions can be, the more possibilities there is for coming to a consensus about how it can fulfill its vital mandate. If Arcosanti is to serve well as a laboratory, I feel it incumbent upon us - upon me - to talk about the experience of our experiments within it, our experience of it, who we have become because of it.
My hope is that ArcologyCentral can help to foster and promote applied arcology research - primary, secondary and tertiary - to help implement or even goad sustainable arcological design: for new and old projects, for real world problems large or small, including situational challenges and concerns.
ArcologyCentral.net is not authorized by Arcosanti or the Cosanti Foundation. It is simply a personal cyber-handshake to all those who may be willing or wishing to entertain the material culture experience of an "urban laboratory."
About an Arcological Imperative
"Arcology" is not a political system per se. But IMO sustainable development - sustainable arcological development - is imaginable and possible only if we choose how the 'body politic' expends all of its/our resources. Therefore, a disclaimer:
Here and now in the good ol' US of A, if we're calm, lucky, and even more canny than we imagine we are, a genuine commitment to sustainable arcological development will help transform global material culture for the benefit of all humankind. Good plan, right?
It seems obvious that what we have been doing is not spending public monies well and wisely. But (I did say this is a disclaimer) if you think that statement is questionable, a glance at current (as in: up-to-date) information about the USA's domestic economy is here provided in the form of data from the AFSC, the American Friends Service Committee, which advocates for Global Peace and Justice. As one who seeks non-violent solutions to all problems personal, professional or political, I believe arcological design is/can be a useful concomitant of that aspiration. To see for yourself, please click on the link below:
Caveat emptor: Don't say I didn't warn you. "Frugal," we ain't been.