Saturday, December 28, 2013


TO SAVE THE HUMAN RACE.  And before you roll your eyes---let me introduce Joseph Smyth---architect and visionary whose work includes the Children's Hospital of Washington DC and the groundbreaking planned community of Glade Springs, Pennsylvania.  

I met him in Cottonwood, Az---chatted a bit ---immediately sensed that I had stumbled across a true visionary.  Of course I asked for an interview.  Soon I was sitting across the table from him --learning a bit about his favorite subject SUSTAINABILITY.

He has made presentations around the world on this subject---most notably at the Rio conference.
Old enough to be retired but going strong---he shows me this upcoming presentation to local high school students.
He was acquainted with and inspired by  Palo Solari, designer of Arcosanti--the futuristic city under construction between Phoenix and Flagstaff.

 Here's what I gathered  from  my interview of  Joseph Smyth::

1. Civilization began when humans clustered in agrian based communities/cities---communicating, cooperating, creating culture--enriching each other in a thousand ways.
2, Urban sprawl (auto centered living) by requiring vast, massively wasteful and destructive infrastructure--is incredibly expensive--enslaving us in long work lives to pay for it--- divides and isolates us--- swallows up our resources.
3. Creative Clustering can reduce the cost of city building / housing to a small fraction of its current cost and preserve our environment.  Building  pedestrian friendly cities--can make life more interesting and  liberate us from much drudgery.
4. Sustainability must be our prime goal or we will wreck ourselves and our world.  What humanity  needs is a design revolution.  We can have the good life---indefinitely---when we design and live sustainably.
HE WENT ON TO SAY: (I paraphrase ).
Sustainability  is about a true sense of ownership. (i.e. enough personal control to feel accountable and responsible for a thing)
Rent is the opposite of sustainability. (i.e. not enough investment to feel responsible for a thing)
He asked me a seminal question:  Who washes a rental car?
Honoring natural and man-made beauty is a principle of sustainability. (what we hold dear is what we will take care of )

Those traveling just north of  Springerville, Az---stop at AVERY'S and see his influence.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  How lucky I am to meet such interesting people.---people who care about the good of the world. The good life. The long lives we enjoy are the gift of visionaries, designers, inventors like my friend Joseph.  To whatever extent we are "tweaking" our own life and the things we own---we are also visionaries and inventors---participators in the process.     . 

Saturday, December 14, 2013


He's parked every day at Hwy 89A and Cornville, Rd---Cottonwood, Az----declaring his message to the world via chalkboards.  (better than painted signs because you can easily update your message)

I've seen many and so have you----decided to engage this gentleman---see if I could get a new slant.  He told me his personal story:  was a drunk---got saved---found conventional churches unsatisfactory---felt "called" to take his message directly to the public.  Been at this for some years now. 
Has three dogs for company---mother and two pups---they sleep with him in the mini-van in a secret location at night.
Then we get to his "message":  Churches have it all wrong, he said---pointing to scripture to prove his point. His theology is convoluted ----difficult to summarize.
What interest me is his GALL---to declare himself---go PUBLIC---along the roadside--override the shame/embarrassment of doing so in this manner.  I asked if he likened himself to old testament prophets---they too were often odd outsiders.  He said yes.
He and his dogs sleep, eat and live here.
his home a metaphor for the chaos in his head.
RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  What he does not lack is PURPOSE and identity!  He is vigorously ON PURPOSE and he's positive that he is a child of God.  He aches to be understood however. (I can do that and more:  I can appreciate--and I did.  It's my payment for the story---I also gave him money) 
I weep for this man like I weep sometimes for myself and  all humanity---burdened with existence without an obvious point.  He DECLARES his purpose----without any proof.  AND THAT IS WHAT WE ALL MUST DO.  There is no proof to any point of living----only confirmation by others.  We are all like the Mormons and other religions--generating a comforting culture and a chorus of consensus---without an ounce of proof.
But this oddball man is hanging out there all alone---without a chorus of confirming friends.  Holding maverick views that  the world will never even listen to.  Weep with me for him and all his kind.  Only the love given him by his dogs  keeps him marginally sane. 
And to make good on my title question: What he is really saying is NOTICE ME.  What he is really doing is PUSHING AWAY NOTHINGNESS.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


IT'S JUST DOWN THE ROAD A MILE----from my campsite---I'll go get the story for you.

A lovely little valley perhaps 10 miles as the crow flies from Sedona, Az.

Through this entrance, down a steep drive
Till the road ends here.
Into a private drive across this bridge
I park and walk around
looking for headquarters and permission to walk around---which I received
A giant labyrinth (a confusing network of paths or passages)
Don't know what this is---Assume it's used in rituals of some sort.
Or this---but it's lovely
Those fabric covered sheds may not be related to the deaths I mentioned.  Probably not----suspect it was destroyed.  Anyway it was a temporary building covered like these to make a sweat lodge that the deaths occurred.  Are you beginning to remember the story?  It made national news.
Here is where a "guru"--charging thousands for the "experience" persuaded a large number of people to endure a super heated enclosure for the spiritual growth it promoted.  Two went beyond their limit and died.  The guru is now in Jail.
RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  I'm not proud of this story---am reluctant to share it with you because it is too easy a target---maybe even a "cheap shot".  Nor does this "accident" fairly represent spiritual seekers.  People suspecting there is more to life than the obvious----go questing on every continent for that something more:  American Indians in their spirit quest----Australian Aboriginals in their walk-abouts.  Sedona and its environs is the American mecca for such quest.  People herebouts believe incredible things----take the new-age philosophy to wild extremes.  I've met several just camping in this spot.
People I respect and love are believers---and the new-age religions are less toxic than the old age religions (fundamentalist) so that I don't know exactly where to draw the line between harmless and harmful believing.  I think I need help from my readers.