Enrichment Through Travel

This spring five residents of Arcosanti set out on month long travels. They bring back an expansion of knowledge, skills, and experiences that enrich their own professional and personal development, as well as our Arcology.

Image by Jessica Jameson

In May our Arcosanti Foundry Manager, Ali Gibbs, headed to the big apple to work with MSW Consultants, a group that works with municipalities across the country to conduct waste characterization studies, litter audits, and other jobs that help cities know what types of waste and how much waste is being put into landfills in their area. Ali went to NYC to participate in the largest waste characterization study in human history. They helped sort over 100,000 pounds of trash into nearly 1000 categories during the 5-week project. Their data will help inform the New York City Sanitation department about what exactly is being put into the landfill by its residents.

In addition to being the manager of the Arcosanti foundry, Ali has been developing a career doing event waste management across the west coast. They most recently managed the green team for June Jam, an Arizona festival that takes place in the forest outside Flagstaff. In a few short weeks they will be headed up to northern Nevada to work with Burning Man’s Transfer Station Authority, the department that manages all waste produced by the few thousand staff that make Burning Man and Black Rock City possible. They are part of a greater Trash Pirate community and one of three Trash Pirates who reside at Arcosanti. Ali has long been using their interest and expertise in waste management to help the Arcosanti site responsibly manage our waste streams! 

Image by Lachie Pern

At the end of spring, our newly appointed Communications Marketing Strategist, Molly Almeida, traveled to Andalusian Spain and Morocco on a grant from her alma mater, The Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Molly won the Donald Kelly Travel Award from her BFA printmaking program in the Spring of 2020 to witness and experience how Islamic geometric design invokes infinity. She traveled to the Sahara to compare the spiritual experience of being in an expansive minimalistic space to that of dense patterns and architectural forms found within the medinas. Molly explores themes of memory and spirituality in her work. She utilizes her own sense of patterning, texture, and space as a way to convince the viewer of the reality of a distant broken memory embroidered by fiction. She has since returned from her trip, excited to translate her experiences and inspirations into her art practice. 

During the Month of May, our Arcosanti Ceramics Manager Angela Piro, Foundry Artisan Richard Sanchez, and Café Baker/Tour Guide Maria Botha traveled to Japan. The trio experienced the country visiting typical tourist attractions as well as getting a more in-depth experience through WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities On Farms). Angela, Richard and Maria had the opportunity to escape from the larger cities, slow down, and learn Japanese farming techniques. They enjoyed preparing and sharing farm-to-table meals with their hosts, fellow WWOOFers, and friends.

Image courtesy of Angela Piro

Angela had her eye on ceramic history, methods, and equipment. She witnessed ancient kilns and ceramics of the Heian period in a ceramic museum. She found silt casted ceramics as well, pleasantly surprised to see a method that she has become so familiar with practiced in other cultures.

“I visited a house that had a huge community kiln inside with 6 levels. I was inspired by the attention to detail and by the community involvement in making ceramics in different villages of japan. Some villages are dedicated to just that. I also liked how their architecture related to their craft like ours does” 

Image courtesy of Maria Botha

Richard, foundry artisan and a woodworking craftsman, was excited to learn about Japanese bronze working and wood construction methods. He was inspired by how the Japanese preserved their natural lands and forests, and had an acute attention to detail, very important skills for craftsmen. “The contrast between innovation and creativity while still honoring tradition and history is unlike any culture I have visited. I was especially inspired by the kindness and courtesy even in the fast paced, densely populated city of Tokyo.” 

Image courtesy of Maria Botha

Maria appreciated the hosts’ resourcefulness. “ Our hosts had not only incorporated sustainability into their permaculture design, but into the design of their homes as well. For example, Paul and Yuki heated their bath water with heat from the sun on the roof! They also had south facing windows to help warm the house in the winter, and they were planting trees by those windows to provide a green shade in the summer. Another host Atsushi had a surprisingly elegant composting toilet. I learned so much from all of them. I hope they come to Arcosanti so we can continue learning from each other.”

Featured image of Chefchaouen, Morocco. Courtesy of Molly Almeida.

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