Studying utopia and distopia, a group of Arizona State University students visited Arcosanti to experience Arcology philosophy. Professor Michael Ostling shared a bit about their experience:
“We’ve been reading all semester about “utopian” solutions to issues mainstream society has been unwilling or unable to solve (and in our class, “utopian” doesn’t mean “impossible” but radical, bold, intentional). It’s one thing to read about Plato’s Republic or Le Guin’s Annares or real communities such as Oneida or Twin Oaks–it’s something else entirely to visit such as community and see it thrive (and also see its complexity, its lived experience).
My students, on the whole, prefer to dismiss utopias as, well, utopian (the hangover from the standard definition is hard to overcome). Our visit, and your tour, made such dismissal more difficult: they could not deny that Arcosanti works, that it is full of thoughtful, caring people, that it might serve as a model to the world. We learned a lot, and we took on the burden of hope–hope whichh, after all, imposes the obligation to try to realize its goals in the world.
It’s easy to treat utopias as castles in the air. Arcosanti reminded us of Thoreau’s quip: ‘That is where they should be: now put the foundations under them.’”
(photo by Michael Ostling, text by Shannon Mackenzie)