Major news, it was, back in the day, for a girl to be handling that heavy equipment. Deftly, too, did Ms. Natalie Keller demonstrate quite some talent. Yes, indeed, she did.
The recent article, which appears under "Life," a section of the esteemed newspaper sandwiched between "Arts" and "Real Estate," manages to neatly diss the place, effectively burying its people by ignoring them. Accompanying the text are what look to be WSJ staff photos: attractive images of a lithe beauty neatly tucked into, draped upon or prancing across some of the many sculptural forms at Arcosanti.
A strikingly crafted gal for strikingly crafted forms seems fair. But since there are no captions to identify where any of the photos were taken, it's not likely viewers will have a clue what they're seeing unless they happen to already be on fairly familiar terms with the place.
The text of the article, moreover, leads the reader to imagine Arcosanti has turned into an irrelevant commune - as featureless, community-wise, as a dried-up ghost town. This, I have to concur, in a way is sadly understandable. Many people - me, among them - recognize that Arcosanti will benefit greatly from serious bootstrapping, a concern that has not infrequently been directly addressed in this blog.
What I find unfortunate, however, is that not a hint of what is significant about Arcosanti's history survived WSJ's fine bluepencil-wielders to illuminate what has determined its intent. It keened me particularly because just a few months ago in its same Life section, an article on Renzo Piano appeared, lauded the Pritzker prize-winner for his admirable design and equally admirable execution of an extensive and apparently intensive reconstruction of Giambellino, a populous suburb of Milan.
Piano's accomplishment is admirable and intriguing, bound to be of certain interest to anyone who's already encountered the idea of arcology but - surprise, surprise! - neither article connects the dots, offers the fact that the premise of Piano's important focus (the appropriateness of a pedestrian economy of scale) was the principle proposed by Soleri over half a century ago.
Granted, Soleri certainly wasn't alone in advocating for the application of foot-scale to urban habitat design problems but - le voila: once again, his historic contribution to contemporary engagement in eco/socio-friendly desire for "walkable cities" (as well as eco/socio-friendly debate about what's needed to create "walkable communities") is disabled.
I don't get it. Why would the WSJ not want to advantage its readers with contextual information about the trend towards "green" development?
I've seen this tactic before, the shutting away of an unusual-for-its-time but not impractical idea about how we might effectively get to diminish our egregious over-consumption (which BTW is carefully tracked by WorldWatch Institute - see link below) and find that avoidance a pity, every time it occurs.
When an unusual-for-its-time but not irrational and certainly not impractical idea gets deemed "Utopian fantasy," not only is its aesthetic rejected, its personal satisfaction capacity effaced, its intimacy derided; but - very problematically for those who want to invest advantageously (as in, wisely) - its economic potency is rendered inconsequential.
Another missed opportunity. Dang!
It's hard - for me, anyway - to see how applying the "Utopian Fantasy" label to a modest model for eco-sensitive development is a healthy prescription for the woes of the would-be leaders of capitalism's cut-throat world. Particularly because from a (small "c") conservative - as in. "conserving" and "conservationist" - point of view, the truly "Utopian" fantasy is the one manifesting as our burdensome, utterly irresponsible over-consumption of the planet's most environmentally sensitive, precious resources.
Gotta hand it to the WSJ: A more thorough devaluation of an old/new idea with vital economic relevance is hard to imagine.