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My Arcosanti Experience | Excerpt | Stalking Castaneda

Arcosanti

Arcosanti

This excerpt from my forthcoming book, The Eye of the Dragon, Stalking Castaneda is about my Arcosanti experience. I figure it will give the reader some perspective on “intentional communities.” Names have been changed and initials altered to protect identities. Here it is:

. . . September of 1999 found me on Interstate 40 (which parallels or overlays Route 66) heading to Arcosanti, Arizona, a small community founded by the famous architect Paolo Soleri. Arcosanti boasts to be the “City of the Future,” that is, a city that will grow upward—no urban sprawl. I had found the concept interesting, perhaps a solution to our pollution problems. I was also looking forward to try life in a rural intentional community, with a group of people who, supposedly, shared a common purpose and lived a full, vibrant life close to nature, conserving an ecological balance.

Responding to an email I had sent, they informed me that a full time landscaping position was available. I decided to try them. I planned to live there part of the year, and maybe travel part of the year; it would be my home base. During my first interview with KZ (the landscaping director) she said that my traveling plans agreed with Arcosanti.

 °  °  °

My first months in Arcosanti were fabulous. I loved the place with its rocky desert hills, cliffs, canyons, and impressive lightning storms—talk about roaring thunder. There were monthly concerts, and sometimes we danced in the auditorium. It was mandatory to complete a workshop of five weeks to become a permanent resident, and that was an educational endeavor. It was also fun! 

We helped in Arcosanti’s construction; we harvested the olives and worked on the vegetable gardens; we did the landscape; we welded and did woodwork; we worked in the kitchen. During our last week, we chose a field to specialize in: woodworking, welding, landscaping, cooking, or working at the foundry making the famous Soleri bells.

Consequently, I was surprised to hear from a stone that things would turn sour. It happened one day after work. I was out in the desert chaparral practicing the magical passes, when it occurred to me to talk to an interesting stone. I found a shady place behind some bushes, and gazed at the stone until my concentration was complete. 

The stone communicated! Three sides gave me visions of people engulfed by great anguish. The fourth side had a man  lying on the ground, perhaps dead. He had long hair and a long, unkempt beard.

The visions were graphic, but I couldn’t believe the stone. It had to be a mistake. Was it lying? Did I misinterpret? Five months later everything had changed. 

In a meeting in which I expressed my feelings of dissatisfaction toward a negligent and incompetent administration, I saw the distress, the anguish and the tears. All was revolving around the man with the beard and others like him, who shouldn’t have been there in the first place, for they were troubled individuals in need of professional help. And I remembered the stone!

The concept was interesting, but in practice Arcosanti was not delivering on its promise. I personally handed Mr. Soleri a copy of a letter I had sent to management regarding the matter; he never answered. He even avoided me once at the swimming pool, when our paths crossed as he was leaving. Obviously, our vote did not count.

Arcosanti was run by its founding members, and what they said was final. It was to be expected, after thirty years they had turned inflexible and possessive. Egomania was as prevalent in Arcosanti as it was anywhere else . . .

wrkshp199910031

The October 1999 workshop participants

From Top Left:James Reinhardt, Rio Guzman, Pliny Reynolds, Kelly Schenk

      From Bottom Left:Yu Miyamoto, Melissa Andrew, and Christopher Gidley

Amazon kindle 2; the next generation: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00154JDAItag=thenet-20

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4 Responses

  1. My wife and I were at Arcosanti from 11/2006 until 12/2007. Man, did you nail it. I was a tour guide (among other things) and one of the hardest things to explain was why Paolo didn’t live in his own creation. I never had a good answer for that one. Well, OK, I did, but “Because he has given up on Arcosanti and just doesn’t care” didn’t seem like the right thing to say on a tour.

    Good luck on the book. Do you have an approximate date when it will be available?

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  2. Hi Ric, Thanks a lot for visiting and sharing. I was wondering if Arcosanti had changed for the better. I guess not…
    My book is almost done. But I don’t know yet when it will be out. I have to look into publishers and publishing alternatives. Any Ideas?

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  3. I’m not a writer, but here is some information on self-publishing and electronic publishing: http://www.jerrypournelle.com/reports/Hamit/epublishing.html

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  4. Thanks for the link. I will be checking it out soon. I stopped by your blog and left a comment on a post; It reminded me of my times in Mexico. A picture of you guys would help you.

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