Paolo Soleri moves into the meeting room for the School of Thought discussion. He does not shuffle, his steps are silent. His khaki pants and sport shirt are too large and baggy as though his body shrank after he donned them.
The temp is in the 80s. The outside door remains open. Yet the small room is cool. It is a box of smooth, unpainted concrete walls, unadorned except for a sand cast mural in the high ceiling. Twenty people, their ages bracket a half-century, fill the room. It is 3 p.m. on Thursday, the hour for the weekly School of Thought (SOFT) conversation.
Soleri’s 92-year-old eyes have achieved a permanent twinkle that rebate 20 years to his face. Unspeaking, he sits on a couch, his eyes move to mine, welcoming me, and move on greeting each person with a nod, a smile, or a squeeze of his eyes.
His voice is thin and dry. “Before we begin, let us find out who is here. Speak up I don’t hear well.”
Tom from Iowa, Frida from Austria, ‘Tonio, from Italy, John, from South Carolina, Charles, from Phoenix, Bess from China, AL from the road, and so on around the room. Some add a comment of their gratitude to be here, of their inspiration to dedicate time to environmental concerns.
He asks for questions before beginning. I get in first with one from my kit bag of travel questions.
“What is the biggest change you’ve observed in the last fifty years?
“Technology,” he answers without hesitating. “It a revolution that has given us exciting advances, the promise of a satisfactory environment for each person. But it has also confused us and brought us fear.”
When asked how much of Arcosanti is his, how much is the community’s, he responds “the structure is mine, the content is the community.”
And when asked, “what do you treasure most?”
He answered, ‘to be alive—that’s not much.”
Then, a smile curled across his lips, he made an additional observation, “not only is my hearing almost gone, but my brain is nearly dead.”
Here is a list of words and phrases from a nearly dead brain over the next ninety minutes.
Colossal environment of the auto