Friday, April 25, 2008

Arcosanti and then Prescott

Originally uploaded by bonbayel.
My Mom kept telling us about this unusual location along our route. We missed it going to Sedona, since our trip was so long, but since we left the Grand Canyon early, we figured we could catch it - and Montezuma's Castle, which we'd just heard about - on a round-about way to Prescott.

My father's sister, Betty, had worked in Talliesin with Frank Lloyd Wright in the early 50's, and there she must have met Paolo Soleri, the Italian artist/artisan/architect who conceived and built this urban experiment in the desert, which he called Arcosanti. Mom and Dad visited Arcosanti when Betty joined them at an Elder Hostel in Arizona. She took them both here and Cosanti, visiting with Soleri and his wife, and to Betty's old stomping grounds Taliesin.

Soleri had grand plans for a city with 5,000 residents, who would work and play in Arcosanti. His design includes wonderful arches and apses is intended to have what we now would call a tiny footprint on the environment. His choice of materials - most concrete - were chosen so that volunteers and interns with little or no construction experience would be able to work together to turn his vision into the actual city. The site was originally funded by some quirky ceramic and bronze windbells that Soleri and his wife made at their first location Cosanti.

Unfortunately, the city never really reached the proportions he envisioned. There are now about 100 people on site at any time, so living there permanently, some interns and some paying volunteers, as well as other guests. There are workshops on the urban environment and construction methods, where the interns and volunteers help construct a little more of the vision, and there are windbell making courses as well, since they are still a major source of income. Hanne, the business woman, could get all the numbers to add up here, and considered it a 70's utopia (she was born in 1970 - so that is the folly's of her parents' generation!)

I did buy a little ceramic windbell, which we haven't hung up yet. I'll add a picture when we do.

After our visit here, we crossed the I 17 and headed for another PEO B&B at Sally and Gregg's in Prescott, which prides itself on being a cowboy town. In fact Prescott was the only area we actually saw working beef ranches with grazing cattle. We were told that sometimes there are also antelope grazing with them, but we missed them.

We had dinner, at the recommendation of our hosts, at the Palace Restaurant and Saloon , where we just happened to hit the monthly Monday night show night, which was a blue singer accompanied by a fiddler and lots of fun!

What impressed me most about Prescott was the black sky, where you could see all the stars and a tiny sliver of moon. They have an ordinance forbidding street lights! (I was looking for a link about the wonderful dark sky, and discovered that not everyone think it's a good idea. To read the grump's opinion, look at Light Sky, Dark Sky.)

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