There has been more conversation lately about sustainable living. Among ideas of sustainable energy and being environmentally friendly, there is a lifestyle change that we all need to consider to make this happen. Climate change is right in front our face. Whether it is human caused or the course of an Earth cycle, in my opinion it is hard to ignore. Less than usual rain causing humungous wild fires and destruction, increasingly powerful tropical storms and hurricanes unlike anything we’ve seen, and more animal species threatened for extinction than we’ve ever recorded in history due to ecosystems degrading their ability to support life. The top of the food chain is humans – that’s the undeniable fact. In case it’s been awhile since you’ve been in a science class, if the bottom of the food chain is in trouble and diminishing, the top of the food chain might not feel the effect just yet, but it soon will. Either the top of the food chain dies off too, or has to adapt to another lifestyle in order to counteract that it’s current lifestyle is no longer sustainable. This appears to be the state of the Earth – right now.

Arcosanti Vaults Meeting Room Entrance

The incredible thing that we’ve underrated, is that WE have the power to make a difference. Humans are the most capable species on this Earth and we are abusing the privilege of living on a self-sustaining planet. We are exploiting our resources, polluting what is left of them, and ignoring the health and stability of the very system that allows us to have the lifestyle we have. It is incredible to me when it appears leaders, governments, and people of influence in this world are not putting more focus into sustaining the place that we live. Let alone that when the conversation starts talking about sustainability, environmentalism, or communal social groups, that those leaders carry an uninterested undertone. Those are the topics that should be the headlines of our news – the state of the very planet that is letting all of us live at the level we’re at.

Arcosanti Amphitheater: Soleri’s Room

There was one man who decided to do something about it and turn his idea for a solution into something real – Arcosanti. It is a micro-city built by Architect, Paolo Soleri, to test his ideas of restructuring the urban sprawl of cities. This resonated with me as I have been continuously thinking of how to rescue our oceans. The idea came to me various times that the issue is not necessarily top-down – governments laws and restrictions or industrial negative influences – but that it is primarily bottom-up. The individual population has a huge influence in consumer habits, waste production, and contribution to the need for more space, more resources, more of everything to sustain. We may think that growth is enabling us or that bigger is better, when really we are on the path to inhibiting ourselves. Wasted time, resources, and creating more and more waste:

The problem I am confronting is the present design of cities only a few stories high, stretching outward in unwieldy sprawl for miles. As a result, they literally transform the earth, turn farms into parking lots, wasting enormous amounts of time and energy transporting people, goods, & services over their expanses. My solution is urban implosion rather than explosion. –Paolo Soleri, 1977

I went and took a visit for myself. There was something that I observed instantly. It’s something that I feared in that moment, I knew would be so difficult to overcome. It would be one of the most difficult ideas to influence. It may be the very hindrance that contributes to the leaders of the world uninterested undertone. It’s that this lifestyle – although resourceful, communal, and simplistic – is not glamorous. It is not Lamborghini’s and designer handbags. It is not Starbucks and pumpkin spice lattes. It is not a desired lifestyle for many. It almost hurt me a little after seeing this lifestyle, that although this is one way that a community has tried to counter the destruction of the Earth by becoming more resourceful and mindful of the way they use their energy, food and mind – I wouldn’t want to live that way. Thus, because I have the opinion of myself that I am not overly needy of a glam lifestyle, it may have been a little shocking to me that I didn’t think I could live in that society. If I couldn’t, then how the hell am I going to try and convince others to do so?

Community Dining Hall

First of all, this is only one example of a community trying sustainable living. Yes, the architecture is interesting, the message is positive, and the people are absolutely the sweetest and most genuine – but I find it hard for a lot of people in this world to accept the truths behind living sustainably. Smaller living quarters, no exuberant materials, no 5-star restaurants, no shopping malls or massive gyms. The lifestyle is drastically different than what the norm has become, and the norm has unfortunately become a standard from a non-sustainable model.

Arcosanti Living Room

This is when I have to have hope that the people can harness empathy for the Earth and it’s inhabitants – including ourselves. Like I said earlier, this is a bottom-up project. This is going to require us to consider our lifestyle, our use of resources, and our effect to this planet. I have to hope that selfishness will not be the trait that destroys us. Sustainability, environmentalism, and community are not topics to be ignored. They should actually be the forefront of our efforts, they should be admirable, and they are not something to be ashamed of.

Arcosanti Vaults

Even if your daily efforts are to refuse the plastic straw at a restaurant, take your reusable bags to the grocery store, turn off the water while brushing your teeth, or carpool around your city – there are small, individual actions we can take to move towards a global solution. The first step to making a change is awareness – something I hope I’ve shared in this post.


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