Having had that undesirable experience not just once but several times over the course of my life, I specifically hate the sound a bone makes when it snaps. I do not care to recall how much it hurts. I dislike the discomfort, the nuisance value, the inconvenience of what is inevitably a prolonged recovery.
I don't encourage anyone to do it. In fact, no matter how much you may be able to learn from such an experience, no matter how educational it might be, I can't think of any way at all that it's "fun" - or a 'nice' or 'good' thing to do. No matter what bright young movie stars might say to pop magazine reporters. And it's certainly not pretty.
The photo, BTW, is me with my ice-bagged thigh in the Arcosanti wheelchair that was swiftly rigged by the quick-thinking gang of Arconauts with whom I was going to go to the recycling depot in Sedona. On the spot, they cleverly and neatly engineered it to safely accommodate me. The whole gang - bless every one of them, may their hearts be praised - was bent on getting me to a hospital ASAP, which required a car since there was no way on earth to have gotten me into a truck, with or without aforesaid wheelchair. (The dog in the background of the photo is Guide Poodle - worried as can be, poor thing.)
What I managed to break when I slipped and fell was my femur. The largest bone in the body, no less.
The remedy for this is super- sophisticated surgery. Permanent reinforcement with a pound of steel-bolted titanium that doesn't somehow rattle the wand-wielding airport security folks. What is visible in the x-rays of my thigh looks like a Mazerati-designed candlestick has been neatly embedded in the middle of my femur. (Lord forgive the countless wicked battles which have made possible the surgical excellence of modern medicine, and the inexcusable sin of not having bought up the entire opium crop of Afghanistan, post-invasion, so it could be turned into medical morphine for Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders, who perform surgeries all over the world. (Slicing into flesh without the mercy of effective painkiller should be unthinkable.)
What's now at the top of my agenda, having to handle the business end of a newly acquired (albeit, I hope, temporary) mobility disability, is the already problematic matter of how un-ADA-compliant Arcosanti is. Big time. It is uppermost on my mind, and it has remained there because I've decided this event is an incredible opportunity for me to consider what Arcosanti is doing as well as to contemplate what Arcosanti can strive to accomplish.
First, some background: There was no ADA in 1970 when ground was broken for Arcosanti. When it (the ADA) was enacted as federal law in 1990, there was no retrofit of everything that had been constructed between 1970 and 1990. In fact, Paolo Soleri, may he RIP, remained practically obdurate when it came to identifying 'accessibility' as an issue. It didn't turn his design crank, he didn't see it as vitally necessary. Plus, as I look back at this, he was not pressed hard by significant relationships with any people who might have successfully coaxed him into paying strict attention to ADA guidelines. (Me, among them.)
It's as much my own omission as anyone's. Although he sweetly called me his "troublemaker" (indulgently enough, bless him: he actually let me, in the mid-to-late 1990s, persuade him to agree to let Arcosani's alumni put effort into somehow organizing themselves, to put heads, hands and hearts together to help Arcosanti build more Arcosanti) he neither understood nor did he get to appreciate how optimizing Arcosanti for disability would be of benefit.
Despite the fact that at the time he agreed to 'let alumni help,' I'd already had to accept an identity label as a 'disabled person' due to the sequelae of having survived a life-altering MVA in 1993, I did not lean especially hard on him. I did not try to reach intimately or deeply into his personal consciousness so that I could specifically smack hard, efficiently and repeatedly, on a big fat tack with a big fat 'disability' label on its head.
BUT: Then was then, now is now. Pace Paolo, I have started hammering and I am gonna continue to smack as hard as I can on that tack, wherever/whenever/however I can. Coz the bold bare truth, dear Arconauts, dear Arcosanti-interested reading folk, is that Arcosanti is not completely ADA-compliant. In fact it's still quite far from ADA-compliant.
It's not just that the lovely Gallery at the top of Crafts III is wheelchair inaccessible. Or that the Cafe now located on the main floor of Crafts III is equally wheelchair-unfriendly. That's just for starters. The ramp in the Vaults couldn't be readily navigated because the turning radius at its top was too sharp until it was remedied (yesterday: Thank you, David Tollas!) to accommodate the wheelchair I myself was sitting in.
Pits, troughs and fissures in a cement walkway will catch the narrow wheel of a wheelchair or the legs of a walker. There is no railing for the walkway around the Crescent of the Music Center, rendering that lovely walkway stunningly unsafe.
More: the slope of the walkway between the Vaults and the Green Room of the Music Center, down to the Red Room, is steep, pitched too steep to be navigated safely in a wheelchair or with a walker. There isn't even a handrail so that someone whose gait is unsteady (for example, someone with spinal injury, CP or MS) can get safely to any of those places without assistance, no matter what nifty interesting event might be taking place in any of them.
Ergo: Unless you happen to be effectively fit and able-bodied, forget community movie-watching or some socially significant gathering you wanted to attend in the Music Center or the Red Room.
Stairs are great if you can climb them but what if you can't? What if you need alternatives to stairs because you are not able to use them?
Me, Yes, if I'm careful, I can bump up stairs on my rear end, one at a time. But cold concrete ain't too enticing for such action; plus the concrete surface of all those stairs is rough enough to pretty much destroy the clothes I happened to bring with me.
All of which is just for starters because all of that is just about physical mobility, limb-related handicaps; it barely touches on the full gamut of what 'disability' can mean: blind/visually impaired; deaf/hearing-impaired; autistic, emotional/mental handicap.
You know what I mean?
My not being prepared for all this brouhaha is - well, a nuisance; but the bare facts of the gap between what is and what could be are not an earth-shattering revelation. Nor are they breaking news.
What I offer here is simply simple observation. What is more, it's all old news: 10 years ago, not only could a fine wheelchair-ready elevator for Crafts III have been purchased for $4000 - it could have been installed by a couple of the folks who were at that time working on the Maintenance team. It was not. How come?
Well, it happens I've explained some of this (always very gently) to visitors who've come along with me on site tours in my role as a docent before last month when I gimped myself. Moreover, while conducting such tours, I've consistently invited visitors to 'come on along' and enroll in the Arcosanti workshop program so that even more good heads can work together to get on with remedying these very real, very legitimate concerns.
Perhaps some of the people to whom such invitations are extended will take up the invitation. I hope so; but that invitation is not limited to newcomers. Not by any means. IMO, It is first and foremost an invitation to Arconauts everywhere as well as to those with whom Arconauts hang out.
Because the fact remains: these concerns can and must be remedied. If Arcosanti is to be a place that demonstrates how the principles of arcology are meaningful for the world, Arcosanti has to be accessible. To everyone.
All this led me to wonder: Why should Arcosanti not provide leadership with respect to a globally important design matter? Why should Arcosanti not strive to present "cutting edge" design solutions to ADA issues and concerns? (See link below for the ADA website.)
All those questions led me to wonder further: What it will take to set a straightforward, realizable goal? Like this one:
"Arcosanti as a prototype for arcology will demonstrate the most innovative, workable examples and models of ADA-compliance."
Leadership, of course, is needed; but how will that leadership emerge and how will it manifest?
My first thought was this: In the roster of Arconauts there are many with a broad range of handicap experience - especially if all their networking connections are included! Therefore why not establish an 'ADA Arcology Advisory Committee' so all the good folk working in Design, Planning and Construction at Arcosanti can confer and consult with our own experts, who will function as such committees do in cities/villages all across the nation: monitoring, reporting, and advising on any and all ADA-related matters.
My second thought, thanks to a late-night conversation with Cuyler Page in BC, is an outcome of this anecdote: When it was in the concept stage, the Children's Museum of Cinncinnati was offered a grand sum of money (millions of dollars) by a potential donor who imposed a strict condition: a gift would be given iff (if and only if) the completed project would be totally accessible.
Pretty much a no-brainer to say Yes to that offer. Right? Of course. Museum said Yes, donor said Yes. The consequence is that <http://www.cincymuseum.org/childrensmuseum> is a cutting edge exhibition space that is also cutting edge ADA-sensitive design.
It stands to reason that if arcology is good for the world, urgently needed by the world, if the USA's Surgeon General's recent directive, imperative call for "walkable cities" and "more pedestrian activity" <http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/walking/call-to-action/index.htm> is as pressing as he affirmed it is - (an assertion with which I completely concur) - it is equally or even more essential that the first prototype for arcology be made accessible for everyone who could/would benefit from it, who'll benefit by participating in its programs, benefit from enjoying its beauty, benefit from attending its events, benefit from experiencing what a superior 'people-place' can be when superior ADA-design practice has been incorporated as an integral factor into its design standards.
Now consider this related question: What is needed for Arcosanti to become known as a completely safe place? A place in which safety matters, is paramount? A place designed to encourage all those who care about the future of the world to actively contribute to building a place that virtually anyone can enjoy?
What and whom is Arcosanti for, if it is not for everyone, not for the world?
For more information about the ADA and specifics re guidelines, click on the link below to view the ADA website: