Monday, February 2, 2009


Hanging on my front porch is a bell like the one pictured here. Made of bronze, it is old and weathered and the patina has changed over the years that we've had it. I'd guess it is about four feet long and weighs 15 pounds or so. In a strong wind, the long clappers hit the sides of the bell. There is a clapper inside the bell with a design that allows its sides to strike the bell and produce a different tone than the outside clappers. We allow it to ring all it wants in the daytime, but if we are having one of our infamous Santa Ana winds, we take it down at night, as we want to insure that our neighbors are able to sleep through the night.

It came from Arcosanti in Arizona, a place I've known about way back into the late 1960s and to which I took Jerry sometime after we married. Arcosanti is an amazing place, and something about it touches an "arty" core inside my being. I couldn't possibly tell you the "how" and "why" of Paolo Soleri's Arcosanti and do it justice, so I've borrowedfrom their website <> and trust that you will go there on your own, for it is absolutely fascinating.

Here's what you'll read: "In 1970, the Cosanti Foundation began building Arcosanti, an experimental town in the high desert of Arizona, 70 miles north of metropolitan Phoenix. When complete, Arcosanti will house 5000 people, demonstrating ways to improve urban conditions and lessen our destructive impact on the earth. Its large, compact structures and large-scale solar greenhouses will occupy only 25 acres of a 4060 acre land preserve, keeping the natural countryside in close proximity to urban dwellers.

"Arcosanti is designed according to the concept of
arcology (architecture + ecology), developed by Italian architect Paolo Soleri. In an arcology, the built and the living interact as organs would in a highly evolved being. This means many systems work together, with efficient circulation of people and resources, multi-use buildings, and solar orientation for lighting, heating and cooling. In this complex, creative environment, apartments, businesses, production, technology, open space, studios, and educational and cultural events are all accessible, while privacy is paramount in the overall design. Greenhouses provide gardening space for public and private use, and act as solar collectors for winter heat. "

For those of you within visiting distance, you really should do yourself a favor and make a trip over there. You might find yourself bringing home a bronze bell of your own. Part of financing Arcosanti is from the sale of these wonderful bells. They have a wonderful gift shop where the bells can be purchased. They also have an online gift shop. The bells are not cheap, by any means, but I will say that like everything else, they were much less expensive pre-1980 when Jerry and I bought ours.

I truly appreciate the vision of Paoli himself, as reflected in this statement: "The problem I am confronting is the present design of cities only a few stories high, stretching outward in unwieldy sprawl for miles. As a result of their sprawl, they literally transform the earth, turn farms into parking lots and waste enormous amounts of time and energy transporting people, goods and services over their expanses. My solution is urban implosion rather than explosion."

Arcosanti is the outworking of his vision ... in process. It is a fascinating place.

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