Back in September my sister and I decided to take a road trip to Sedona, Arizona to experience beautiful red rocks, vortex hotspots, and energy absorbing crystals. We decided to stay at Arcosanti, an “urban experiment” that tests Eco-Architect Paolo Soleri‘s vision of creating a self-sustaining community. Soleri coined the term arcology: a combination of architecture and ecology to create a space-like city that looks like something from Mars. I was excited to see that the Sunday before last, the Los Angeles Times published a travel feature on Arizona! It inspired me to write about my own experience and tell you guys about it too!
Arcosanti is a spiritual sanctuary. The building faces beautiful orange rock cliffs with olive colored bushes clustered along the valley. The desert was quiet, the air was crisp, and the rooms were minimal, with just everything we needed.
Soleri believed in saving space, being efficient, and living an “elegantly frugal” lifestyle. He designed the community to be close and compact, as opposed to the urban sprawl I grew up seeing all over southern California. The compact city feel was pleasant and brought a sense of unity and strength to the community. My new neighbors were not strangers but rather friendly faces who I chatted with each evening when trotting to my desert dorm.
Walking along the property you could see elements of sustainability within his architecture. Soleri, along with 7,000 volunteers, used concrete to withstand desert elements, reduce heat absorption, and positioned the community in a way to keep the property shaded and cool. There was even a small recycling facility on the property to refurbish waste the community accumulated. A good portion of the food at Arcosanti is harvested from on-site terraced greenhouses which grow in-season produce to reduce the amount of water to grow food. Additionally, community members utilize reclaimed rainwater and seek natural, renewable energy sources like wind and solar.
It was inspiring to see people live in an efficient self-sustaining community that required few imported goods to function. However, it wasn’t perfect. Before passing in 2013, Soleri had hopes for a population of 5,000 people to live in Arcosanti, which was not close the actual number of people that we saw. Although, I’d still say that the arcology community he created is a great success. It’s important to test run this type of community to spread the positive outcomes from living sustainably. There’s a peace about eco-friendly living because it evokes a simplified version of life. It’s about taking what you need, trying vegan meals, sharing items with your neighbor, and valuing nature around you. That’s the type of life I saw at Arcosanti… it was a breath of fresh air to escape the LA-buzz. I am blessed to have had the opportunity to experience such a special place!
Along the grounds I wore this beautiful cream lace dress I picked up for eight dollars at a Goodwill thrift store in the Los Angeles valley. It is so delicate and rosy; it seemed to be a perfect summer-to-fall piece. I paired it with this secondhand bangle and my handy Brazilian trapezoid heeled booties I scored at another Goodwill store.