Life at Arcosanti
What’s It Like to Live at Arcosanti?
The most basic interpretation of what an arcology is – living leanly and in close contact with nature while still experiencing a rich and rewarding life – is what residing at Arcosanti is like. Undeniably unique and rare in our hyper-connected, hyper-consumeristic culture, the chance to live at Arcosanti is an opportunity in our modern times to participate in a radical lifestyle experiment.
Like communities anywhere, especially those in Arizona, the total number of people living at Arcosanti changes with the seasons. On average, the community body is 70 full-time, year-round residents.
Although community life at Arcosanti is vibrant and there are traditions and customs that guide how we live and work together, residents do not consider Arcosanti to be an intentional community…or a commune…or an artist colony. Something those types of communities have in common – and that Arcosanti does not share – is having a common social, political, religious, or spiritual vision. What we do have is the distinct sense of being a part of something larger than ourselves, with a focus that aligns with our personal values.
Learning by Doing
At Arcosanti, the notion of “learning-by-doing” has always been important. Developing the community of residents at Arcosanti is something that continues to evolve and we are learning how to be a thriving community by doing the things that thriving communities do: we coexist in an effort to create a different urban prototype. As arcology city designs suggests, our diverse group of residents who live, work, and play in this integrated setting, are encouraged to develop culture and interaction.
Many of the residents at Arcosanti work for The Cosanti Foundation, though some work off-site and still others are entrepreneurs through the Foundation-supported micro-business incubator program. In addition, a number of interns and volunteers live at Arcosanti for shorter periods of time, working on seasonal programs, projects, or initiatives. Learn more.
As a community, available staff, volunteers, interns, and residents gather each weekday for Morning Meeting, an informal exchange of information, where ideas are shared, issues are raised, requests are made, and announcements are made. It is a perfect place to see the community on a regular basis, to greet, to share, to encourage group cohesion, and deliver important information.
Arcosanti’s Community Council is a group of 5-7 elected residents who meet weekly to facilitate initiatives and activities that promote the overall well-being and cohesion of Arcosanti’s diverse community. The Community Council mediates disputes among residents and sponsors a number of programs designed to enrich the lives of the Arcosanti residents.
The Benefits and Challenges of Living at Arcosanti
While the bond of the community at Arcosanti is very strong, it goes without saying that it is not easy to work – and live – with the same group of people day in and day out. Yet the benefits of being an Arcosanti resident abound: connection to nature, fundamental socialization with others, shared resources, and interconnected multi-use spaces, among others. There are also inherent challenges to living at Arcosanti: sharing space with people with whom you don’t always agree, not always having clear boundaries, and encountering the visiting public on an almost daily basis.
At times, living in an incomplete experiment that hasn’t yet reached the critical mass necessary to make it a truly urban experience, coupled with an aging infrastructure in need of maintenance and preservation is tedious. However, like Walden Pond’s impact on Henry David Thoreau, Arcosanti residents’ strong connection to nature that is interwoven with their close community bond has an overwhelmingly profound and positive effect.
How does someone become a resident of Arcosanti?
For many years, the pathway to residency at Arcosanti was to experience a 5-6 week Workshop. Today, to become an Arcosanti resident, a person must be an employee of either The Cosanti Foundation or Cosanti Originals, although not all positions within the organization require residency at Arcosanti.
Long-term volunteer projects and internships are also opportunities to become an Arcosanti resident.
Expressing one’s individual creativity and demonstrating entrepreneurial initiative have a strong tradition at Arcosanti and over the years, many small side-businesses have formed out of the skills of the residents. In the spirit of developing the “Urban Laboratory” and empowering a thriving community, The Cosanti Foundation, in partnership with the Community Council, has introduced The Micro-Enterprise Program. Allowing Arcosanti residents to pursue their own independent businesses full-time, The Micro-Enterprise Program furthers diversifies and enriches residential life at Arcosanti. With the understanding that a marketplace is central to any community, The Cosanti Foundation and Arcosanti Community Council hope that the Micro-Enterprise Program will enhance the well-being of the entire resident community.
Launched in the spring of 2020, the Micro-Enterprise initiative is in its early stages and includes an apparel and branded merchandise business; a sustainable agriculture business; a sustainability-minded nonprofit; an artistic cooperative; and an event sound business. Keep up with the challenges and triumphs of these small – but growing – business initiatives through their blogs.
The Arcosanti Cooperative
The Arcosanti Cooperative helps activate, support, and grow the entrepreneurial projects of the Arcosanti residents & extended community. The ArCo-op was founded in 2017 by Arcosanti residents interested in catalyzing opportunities and re-igniting the spirits of entrepreneurs involved with the project. The ArCo-op runs and operates various programs at Arcosanti including a small business incubator, annual art show, convergence event, and various micro-enterprises. Visit the ArCo-op website at arco.life to see about our businesses, events, and membership opportunities!
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