Take waste, for example: I remember Paolo Soleri saying, some 40-odd years ago in an off-handed way with respect to his plans for Arosanti, that he was 'merely a plumber' - as if waste management were not as essential to construction of habitat as a sound foundation must be. Perhaps he meant it as a kind of joke - his humor was often subtle - but plumbing is fundamental in western society and should by no means be taken for granted even if that's a common tendency.
I'm strong-minded about this, having lived in places with no indoor plumbing or running water, having witnessed people in the rural South who lived in "shacks" with open sewage running outside. Folks who survived the "dirty 30's" by gleaning farmers' markets at the end of the day for scraps, flattening tin cans, saving glass jars to reuse and reuse some more all helped me see aware how innovative people can be about waste management; plumbing is certainly related. So I also got to wondering how cleverly innovative Arconauts will be when they freely exercise their capabilities to address a variety of dreams shared at Arcosanti.
Arcosanti has been held steadily in situ tending the water hole put in place below Paolo Soleri's swimming pool by Mary Hoadley, first woman in Arizona to manage an industrial-scale waste treatment system. The feat of the Oxidation Pond as an experiment in handling black water on a large scale evinces decades of dedication attesting to powerful conviction that the potential and overall efficacy of that system is capable of doing what it's spozedta. I daresay it must be meant to inspire our concern for the most basic aspects of waste management. (FYI, see documents below for some current how-to thinking on this subject.)
I know I'm not alone in thinking about plumbing. Visitors and Arconauts alike ask or comment upon Arcosanti's current waste management program, wondering if/how it can fulfill a grand vision of what arcology waste management systems might achieve. As a docent guiding visitors, I'm asked point-blank if there is a grand plan for waste-management as well as who's involved (professional expertise/advice-wise) with its development. I don't know for sure and I suspect that the jury is still out on that one since the scuttlebutt has it that no major construction can occur without correcting the present system (and paving the access road).
What I'm wondering myself is: How can what has been put in place thus far serve to inspire the adventuresome garbage Warrior-style greenhouse that, Hunza-like, can convert pure waste to pure energy?
One hasn't yet been built but it's inspiring to see the pick and shovel work being done to separate gray water from black. Huzzah, huzzah, hooray for the hard-working Arcosanti workshop teams! It's exciting to ponder some of the many varied and possible innovations that might manifest, any combination of which will surely enhance the already great value of the considerable holdings at Arcosanti for which The Cosanti Foundation is responsible. But whatever the plan may be, even holding fast to Mary Hoadley's near-legendary and practically immutable involvement with waste products hasn't given Arcosanti - at least not yet - a "farm to table" garden matching its economy of scale, even if there is one in (of all places!) Detroit <http://www.globalpossibilities.org/a-new-kind-of-urban-farm-in-detroit/> and a training program for one in (of all places!) California at San Quentin prison <PlantingJustice.org>, while the practically primordial relationship between food production and waste management is (maybe predictably) evident in Amsterdam: <https://www.facebook.com/NowThisFuture/videos/vb.1010847105623136/1141378185903360/?type=2&theater>
Arcosanti's commitment to strategic planning for totally effective waste management hasn't yet fostered development of site-based craft industries to manage reclamation of site-produced waste as, for example, Construction Junction does in Pittsburgh <http://www.constructionjunction.org/> nor has it compelled notables like Garbage Warrior architect Michael Reynolds to offer specialized workshops to explore his alternative approach. Anna Edey has also yet to come a-calling to talk about her Solviva <www.solviva.com> waste handling method. I don't know what evidence there is of any ongoing support for the prospect of an Arcosanti Living Machine <http://livingmachines.com/Home.aspx> although that idea was introduced some 15 years ago by once-was Workshop Coordinator Wes Ozier, even if it seems possible one might be viable given its strategic realization in Scotland <Findhorn: new frontiers for sustainability>.
Nor has there been a concerted effort to implement methane generation, Arconaut Brendan Siegl reminded me, so as to use the lagoon waste as a power source for foundry and kilns. Surely such a system <http://www.jcgep.org/about.html> is one that will save a great deal of money, yes?
Still, it's gratifying to see the dedication and extraordinary effort of inspired energies like those of Mary Hoadley applied to some of the tasks of resource reclamation. Such energy does help to mobilize collective will on behalf of this planet all humanity must learn to share. (Speaking of which, BTW, there was a timely seminar on June 21 about the related, equally fundamental concern of community agriculture: <https://living-future.org/events/urban-agriculture-and-community-farm-systems>)
I myself have an affirmative bias about waste management: I serve on a Regional Resource Advisory Committee in the Central Kootenay Regional District of BC where there's now a Zero Waste policy so I am totally in favor of people being willing to help manifest some sort of Garbage Warrior mentality - which can been seen happening in a variety of ways as the articles below indicate. More power to such happening...
One inescapable fact, however, is that even if "Muddling Towards Frugality" has been going on for decades, it muddles on in a world still sliding perilously further away from frugality, perhaps even more so today than in 1979 when the book by Warren Johnson, then a San Diego State University Geography Professor, was published. (Not an easy muddle to wish a solution for, but how many of our muddles have ever been wished for?)
For me, mulling on muddling got me pondering how Arcosanti can better impel all its core mandates. In the course of my mulling, I came across Sam Talbot-Kelly, a Vermont-based artist who's spending time in the Kootenays this year, whose intriguing investigation of the 'archetype of authority' in our lives supports the idea of authority being less about 'power over' than "leading to expressing 'empathy, sovereignty, and humility.'" That idea and Sam's artistic exploration of it just caught my attention.
A primary reason it drilled me is that sandplay, a principal research tool in the doctoral study I've begun that was seeded by the 2015 grant from the NY Center for Architecture's Brunner Foundation, uses archetypal investigation, exploration, documentation, and analysis to obtain fundamental information about our perception of the human ecosystem that has been driving the architectural environment of Arcosanti.
Reading about Sam's work led me to consider the intriguing possibility that more than one "archetype of authority" may appear in sand trays people make. What will such archetypes reveal about the arcology-minded?
The splendid sandplay installation in the Red Room is still underway. (Silly me: I thought it would take just a few weeks in 2015 for its complete construction but a year later, with a great many dollars invested, it's still shy of completion.) Still, it is utilizable and beginning to serve its purpose although I did not expect to have to put that aspect of the research on hold at all and was nonplussed when it was suggested to me that it ought move it to another location.
It occurred to me that it might be possible to find space for it on the east side of the Amphitheater's Crescent in the area allocated for a Library. No small move, that would be, especially since I've been totally stoked by how cunningly the Red Room installation was made possible, perfectly showcased in that place by Randall Schultz, fine wood worker, maven as long as I've known him of Arcosanti's ArcoMart, chief dragon of its Maintenance team, with the design details of Its pride of place setting perfected by Scott Riley, Jeff Stein, Tomiaki Tamura, Mark Baris, and Lana Morris, I'm totally stoked, can hardly wait to see the final outcome! A hearty round of applause to thank them all. Their amazingly gratifying design will permit all the assembled materials for sandplay to be put to use by all who can play with them. Witnessing the sandplay pictures made with miniatures and sand (a micro projective test) will inform the macro context of Paolo Soleri's "playing in the sand" - and that is what I've been aiming to do for many, many moons, now.
"Patience is a virtue!" grandma used to say, so I am doing my best to exercise my patience muscle (the exact physical location of which is, BTW, a well-kept secret).
I'm not excited to relocate the installation without seeing it completed where it is - without testing it in situ - because I 'd like to see us start where we are, utilize the available micro-context at will to broaden our perception of what the macro context includes. Employing the methodology of sandplay will afford us an appropriate context for augmenting what we might think we can know about those who are arcology-minded. Recording individual (and group) sandplay responses to daily (as well as eternal) questions is inherently a basic contribution to how facile it may be to promote arcology.
If it is to be as convincing as it is meaningful, we can/should all strive together to gather from those who seem arcology-minded a body of objective evidence about its human ecosystem. To utilize sandplay as a tool for allowing self-reflection, to make use of deploying miniatures in sand for an experiment of the sort proposed, may be almost as unique a leap for Arcosanti as Arcosanti was from Cosanti; but the similarity in principle - framing the built environment concisely to leave the natural environment intact - mirrors, it seems to me, the participation in enactment identically.
Time will tell; but the projective test of sandplay can be performed as an integrated miniaturization of an individual's self-expressive complexity. Employing miniatures in such model construction will serve to bolster and expand the arena of whatever discourse has been taking place at Arcosanti, whatever discourse is already in its possession, but expand the appreciation of and communication about its idea of arcology.
To further that, I've been seeking to persuade the model-keepers of Arcosanti to include the placement of a model of Arcosanti itself proximate to all the shelved miniatures in the Red Room so that it can be immediately available to the players. As a 'play within a play,' it will be useful to see how players will incorporate into a sandtray picture the idea of Arcosanti represented in an available model.
In Japan, where many Arconauts live and sandplay as a clinical process has been cutting-edge since its discipline was first introduced decades ago by Dora Kalff, CJ Jung's associate, there's been expansive experimentation taking place within the Japan Sandplay Association. Using sandplay as an investigative research tool at Arcosanti adds an entirely new dimension to that research arena. I see this as an orderly approach worthy of Paolo Soleri's intention, inspiring an improvement of the potential for arcology to be perceived as an achievable, realizable approach to sustainable human settlements.