Years ago (2006?) I visited a magical place in Arizona called Arcosanti. I’ll let you follow the link rather than trying to explain this complex place in my own inadequate words, but suffice it to say it left an impression on me.
I developed a curiosity about Paolo Soleri and his work and vision. Someone reminded me the other day that his former home and workspace, Cosanti, is here in the Phoenix area, much closer than Arcosanti which is 80 miles north.
So I decided to go check it out today. Cosanti, like Arcosanti, remains active in production of Soleri Bells. If you visit on a weekday, you can watch the workers actually pouring the molten metal over the molds to make the bells. I chose to go ahead and get a tour on a Sunday instead, so I didn’t see that, but the tour was very informative. I learned a lot, and appreciated being able to see a remarkable place, which was built in the 1950s when it was out in the middle of nowhere, not surrounded on all sides by lavish, wealthy residences and nearby auto thoroughfares as it is today in Paradise Valley.
After the tour, I bicycled back to Tempe, which took me a couple of hours. I was pleased to note how much of the distance I could cover on separated auto-free bike paths, although I was also chagrined to see one bright-green golf course after another throughout the Scottsdale area. What a wasteful use of water in the desert. Still, I appreciated the bicycle infrastructure and the setting-sun view behind the palms in one park where I rested on a bench.
Please enjoy these photos, and I encourage you to take a look at the website links above to learn more about Soleri’s visionary ideas. I find them inspiring.
Sadly, however, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention something that nagged in the back of my head during my tour: Soleri’s younger daughter spoke out some years ago—shortly after his death at age 93, in 2013—about her father’s abuse of her as an adolescent. I am continually struck, angered, bewildered, and perplexed to think of how many great visionaries, artists, politicians, and leaders in various fields have made tremendous contributions to society, while simultaneously victimizing women and/or children in private. I sincerely hope that with greater transparency and public scrutiny of such abuses, they will decrease in our society.
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