In 2003, Paolo Soleri, Tomiaki Tamura, Mary Hoadly, Daniela Soleri, Will Bruder, Jeff Stein, Michel Sarda, Fran Kitayama, Roger Tomalty were, among others, Trustees of the Cosanti Foundation. It was and is the responsibility of the Board of a non-profit's to set policy. Therefore, since Paolo's response to the information that the apiary then located at Arcosanti was being poorly managed was his agreement that the apiary was of value, that it should be developed, what else could that have been other than affirmative policy regarding development of an apiary?
At that same time, some alumni expressed their wish to support development of Arcosanti BeeWorks. The upshot was that as a matter of policy, it was understood that support for an Arcosanti apiary was/is, should/could/would be of practical value.
In a nutshell: Yes, to Arcosanti BeeWorks.
The first step was to put, as immediately as possible, the apiary at Arcosanti into the most capable hands Arcosanti could find. After the hives that had been in Camp were taken away by unknown persons, the hive equipment and remains of an extractor moved out and disposed of by Arcosanti Organics, Gerard Kaur, bee-keeper in Dewey and long-time friend of Arcosanti who'd been supplying Arcosanti with honey, was invited by Arcosanti Organics to bring his own hives to Arcosanti.
All the apiary equipment in Camp was cleaned up and moved out by Arcosanti Organics. Gerard Kaur responded affirmatively when asked to take on the project of helping develop and manage the apiary at Arcosanti. That is how Arcosanti BeeWorks - with its own unique label for its honey - began.
Arcosanti BeeWorks was launched with 5 hives at the south end of the water-retention dam. The goal was to expand the apiary to 20 hives, to be located in the 3rd pasture, as Mary Hoadley had suggested. Arcosanti Organics used a space in Camp to store two bee suits, which it purchased so residents interested in bees could, if they wished, learn beekeeping with Gerard. Before his untimely death, Ben, having learned beekeeping from his grandfather, talked with Gerard about working in the apiary. Ben's death was a horrible blow, exacerbated by the disappearance of the two bee suits, gloves and veils, along with a library of beekeeping books that had been donated, as well as the smokers that were also part of the original equipage.
Such losses led to thinking it was necessary for Arcosanti to have BeeWorks come to an agreement with Arcosanti Organics about allocating some lockable space for the storage of apiary resources, possibly in or near Camp. The Board was presented with a letter asking for such an agreement but no immediate action was taken. Some time after this, Paolo Soleri stepped down as President of the Board of Trustees.
Gerard's hives produced honey sold under the Arcosanti BeeWorks label. Bee products (soap, salves, honey-related foods, et al) were discussed but without an actual agreement, without a safe keeping-place for apiary tools and supplies, without policy decisions made by the Board regarding agricultural development, without consensus from the greater community of Arcosanti, how is agriculture - and especially, the apiary at Arcosanti, to be developed? An apiary's production will create profit when it is well-run but there are costs involved, such as:
- apiary certification
- teaching costs (one student per year is optimal)
As of this writing, just over a decade later, with the Community of Arcosanti having been asked to develop an agricultural plan that will include management of the greenhouses still under construction, there is no official (as in: contractual) recognition of BeeWorks' role in the agricultural plan. Nor is there, yet, an agricultural plan that includes the orchard - or whatever may remain of the orchard that was.
Since the orchard of peach trees was ripped out some years ago, I believe it is incumbent upon the Arcosanti community to put orchard development high on the community agriculture agenda. I hope Arcosanti's orchard will include a variety of fruit trees, including quince so Arcosanti can supply fruit for jam-making, an enterprise located at Cordes Junction undertaken (and run, for some two decades) by Randall Schultz, long-time Acosanti resident and one of its managers (Maintenance). I also hope to see Arcosanti invite BASEG, the coalition of German landscape architects, to assist with evaluation and implementation of its agricultural plan, but until it's clear just how the new agricultural plan will be developed and what it might include, I suppose I'll probably have to keep my interest in including BASEG on hold.
Suggestions, as Jeff Kuntzleman has said repeatedly, are not enough. For ideas to become reality, they need leadership and direction. Leadership takes time and energy. Leadership also, ultimately, implies the existence of a team.
Organizing the Community of Arcosanti is - a task, eh?
I myself hope to see established an Arcosanti Community Development and Management Co-operative, since IMO Arcosanti badly needs a rational business model that will allow its people - its "tribe," as Jeff Stein put it - to build a financial base that is growth-oriented, egalitarian, principled, and viable. I've been advocating for a co-op because a co-op is, in my experience, an elegant (in the mathematical sense) plan. For me, the question isn't "Why establish a co-op?" The question is rather "Why not establish a coop?" I can't see any reason not to, nor can I see any impediment to starting one. The start-up costs are minimal, the potential is almost unlimited, the benefits are huge.
The question I have, however, is: What are "the people of Arcosanti" willing to do to achieve the (I-daresay-not-so-very radical) goal of building more Arcosanti?
The late urban economist Jane Jacobs, who wrote eloquently about cities, noticed that urbanites live in neighbourhoods. In fact, generally speaking, most people identify with their own particular area/place of residence and/or work. In Principles of Urban Structure, Nikos A. Solingaros suggests that humans' existence "depends upon the ability to interpret the information present in their surroundings." Neighborhood awareness must surely play a part in how we come to have a sense of self, a neighborhood-related identity. Solingaros posits this relationship as a mechanistic performance, an idea which I feel needs more scrutiny, but there is plenty of evidence to support the influence of neighborhood culture upon children's development.
In NYC's Manhattan, for example, one might live and/or work in Soho, in Harlem, Chelsea, on the Upper West Side, the Upper East Side, in Washington Heights, etc. In Montreal, Westmount, le Plateau, Old Montreal, St. Henri are all quite distinct, from a cultural perspective. But my question here is, what neighbourhoods might we see at Arcosanti?
In other words, can we ask questions like: What do you want your Arcosanti neighbourhood to be like? What amenities do you want to have available to you in your Arcosanti neighbourhood? Who decides, who will decide where at Arcosanti you will live? How will it be determined what sorts of businesses, social, cultural, and/or recreational opportunities you will find and/or be able to establish/create in your neighbourhood?
How will Arcosanti as it is today build itself? Can we build a community of Arcosanti on the site of Arcosanti, neighbourhood by neighbourhood? What if a group of people want to build some of Arcosanti using techniques other than those utilized to date? For example: rammed earth reinforced with barbed wire sprayed with concrete?
Can there be/will there be experimentation with design (even with Soleri's many designs) that will allow for some engineering impunity? Will there be, can there be development of co-housing, time-shares, or the like? If not, why not?
Communities all over North America, all over the world, are developing community agriculture programs. What's prevented the "tribe of Arcosanti" from developing one - or even more than one - at Arcosanti?