Here’s an exchange that occurred on the A Life’s Work Facebook page between SD, someone who “likes” A Life’s Work, and me.
SD: I was at Arcosanti…about, (gulp), ten years ago…
Me: Have you been back to Arcosanti?
SD: Yes, we took our three kids to the celebration for Paolo’s 90th in June (2009). Great reunion. Wonderful to share with the children this place that’s so integral to their families history. (Their Dad and I met there).
Me: I considered taking my camera to that, but thought it would be too mobbed.
Oh, how wonderful that you met your husband there! One of the things Soleri said when I interviewed him was that great friendships had been forged at Arcosanti, and that’s a very positive thing. Indeed it is.
There’s an aura (I suspect Soleri would disapprove of that word) around Arcosanti that’s similar to what hovers above artist residencies, and this aura is palpable but impossible to put a price tag on. It saddens me when I hear that an artist residency or a cultural institution or a theater is on the brink of oblivion because it’s economically unfeasible. These places are about community; they bring people together and that’s no small thing nowadays. How valuable is that? How do you quantify that? Do some things transcend the bottom line?
See also Unquantifiability of a Place, Part 1.