The owner did not respond affirmatively to the letter I'd handed her in response to one she'd given me. My letter detailed my main concerns about the lack of exact financial accounting on the statement she'd given me. Her figures - or rather, the absence of figures one expects to find on a business-for-sale account statement - had made her suggested buyout price hard for me to agree to. It might or might not have been reasonable; but money's been tight and I wanted to be sure...
Only: How could the village have no place for people at large to wash their clothes, no place to congregate around laundry? Not!
A few days after the laundry's doors were locked, I got an answer to my request for a more complete financial report. The answer was: Ixnay to negotiation. In fact, the response letter seemed to be taking me to task for even asking for more precise accounting: I had no business asking for more information than had been given; I had agreed to the asked price when I was informed what was wanted, when I first asked. I could have the machinery if I paid the asking price. Period.
I felt the slap-in-the-face "How dare you?" tone to the letter. Made me wonder who'd written it, I didn't know her intimately, my impression of her until then had been that she's basically quite pleasant.
I sent a letter of apology for the apparent misunderstanding, to spell out that I hadn't agreed to the wished-for price when it was stated. Explained I had meant that I understood what she wanted, but expected to be able to make an offer independent of that, which is what I had done. Her vehemence saddened me but risk-conscious me couldn't agree to take it all on spec.
The no-laundry problem did get resolved: I shared the story of my attempt at negotiation with a few friends and one of them (not the one who suggested it should be renamed Vicious Cycle, nor another who thought we should organize a non-profit Laundry Society to run it, but one who is like-minded and better-heeled - i.e., has more money to burn - than I. Once the owner's palm was crossed w/ enough silver to close the deal, it was all good on her, good on everyone.
The Sturm und Drang, however, rang some warning bells: Trungpa was right (to paraphrase what he said in a talk he gave at Naropa in 1986): The problems of human beings require human solutions. Technofixes - even if we feel they are or will be sound ones, good arcological solutions to human problems - aren't enough, all by themselves.
That, I believe, is what has, up to now, impeded completion of the physical infrastructure of Arcosanti. No human habitat, no human dwelling-place (nor any animal one, for that matter) exists without infrastructure, without social organization of some kind.
Arcosanti's social organization was not included in the original plan (pacit talk at Cosanti in the early 1960's about how "sweat equity" would be used to earn space), nor has any viable comprehensive plan for social organization and development yet been thoughtfully, carefully cultivated.
Which has meant that development could only continue as a wild thing does: hit or miss.
Which surely is why, 42 years later, that it is loved but not inhabited by the over 6000 people who have come to help build it.
How can communities build people if people do not build communities?