Yesterday we toured Arcosanti, an intentional community construction zone founded by Paolo Soleri, an architect. We were very excited to go. It's trying to create an ecocity for 5000 people but only 70 people live there. Ming grades it an incomplete.
Our tour guide seemed kind of bored. Maybe he just comes off that way, because he actually shared a lot of info and showed us some cool stuff. The place is a non-profit but is partially funded by some special bells they make. Soleri bells. We got to see how they're made, burnished and patina, using a method called silt-casting.
Almost bought one of the cheapest kind, which is $35. I thought my aunt would really like one. Not sure why. I also almost bought some uniquely beautiful earrings but they were $22, a fair price but more than I wanted to pay.
Instead we bought postcards. We also ate lunch at their cafe, a buffet for $10. (The tour was $10 too.) The food was mostly all vegan and nutritious and good but very humble. There was a cabbage dish spiced with turmeric and ginger, a black and red lentil dish that was simple but kind of spicy, something they called goulash which was pasta with beans and a red sauce, salad with many salad toppings, bread & butter but there was no bread at the moment I passed through. Oh and there was kale soup but Ming and I didn't have any. I put green olive slices and red onion crescents on everything, a weird choice. And some radish slices and cucumber slices.
I liked the huge arch things. I liked hearing terms I was unfamiliar with. I have a reputation for not caring about architecture. So it was not my usual thing, though I like all things ecological. So it kind of was my thing.
"What would you like to remember about the tour?" I asked Ming just now.
"That another way is possible," he said. I giggled. "Seems to me like another way is impossible."
I wanted to ask some questions, but there was no q & a period. I wanted to ask...
1. How community is the intentional community?
2. Do little animals like to live in the bell clappers?
3. Why is the music in the cafe "country?"
4. What happened to the bakery?
and most importantly
5. Are you immune to needing permits here?
That seemed like the first and most basic question. But none of the other people asked it, and the other people did ask questions--older white people who seemed to have money and were used to butting in. Well, they asked about water and power and such.
I remember when our tour guide was explaining this waterfall thing that they almost never run. He explained how people are happier when we're near running water, that it's good for our mental health and keeps us happy. Yet the waterfall is almost never running. Somehow that seemed to typify the place. It was missing the mark.
I asked Ming if it was a cult of personality and since Soleri died in 2013 the project was doomed to fail. But they had been there since 1970 and only completed a tiny portion of the vision. Soleri had this other place called Cosanti where he lived much of the time, coming to Arcosanti for one or two days a week.
"What does it say about the ecocity when its own creator doesn't want to live there?" Ming and I wondered in the car after the tour.
I like visiting intentional communities and seeing how other people do things. The community aspect was barely touched upon in the tour. People come and go a lot.
People pay to take workshops there they do all the work. Seems weird to pay to do work, but other ecoplaces do the same. After they've completed a workshop, they're free to come and go as they please. They're supposed to go out to get and share knowledge then come back and improve things, is the idea.
Nice to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.