Housing Policy and Us


Jeff Stein

News this week from the NEW YORK TIMES. Their Sunday editorial, “Americans need More Neighbors” is a clear way of restating Arcosanti’s central theme, something we’ve been trying to describe by example in the Arizona desert for two generations. That is, there are all sorts of reasons – from human evolution, to our own mental and physical health, to the health of the rest of life on earth – that we should stop living as hermits in a thin film of single family houses spread-out over miles, miles that can only be traversed by machines. 

As the TIMES states, “That’s why a recent breakthrough in Minneapolis is so important. The city’s political leaders have constructed a broad consensus in favor of more housing. And the centerpiece is both simple and brilliant: Minneapolis is ending single family zoning.” According to Minneapolis (and according to us, too) single family houses contribute to climate change, constrain the economic potential of cities, and they drive up the cost of housing.  

Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey points out that, “cities are in constant evolution,” and single family housing limits that . “Residents – especially younger residents –  want to live in a different kind of city than did their parents,” mayor Frey says. “Dense, diverse, vibrant.” 

And coming next: the Oregon legislature is considering a statewide ban on single-family housing / zoning. Understanding  (rightfully so!) that at the very least duplexes and triplexes are cheaper to build and more sustainable in terms of energy and resource use and sociability. 

After that, of course, someone should be building more neighborhoods like Arcosanti’s East Crescent, designed for a bit more complexity than mere housing can provide.  Segregate the performing arts in so-called Cultural Centers on the edge of a city? Why not integrate the arts in the middle of your own urban neighborhood!

There’s a lot to look forward to, both at Arcosanti and, you know, pretty-much everywhere else, too.  Remember the work you have done here? Do some more, will you, wherever you are! Recall that Hopi saying: “Bloom where you’re planted.” And please, lets hear how you’re doing that.

By the way, we’re listening to the wonderful FORM | Arcosanti performer Julie Byrne right now, and you can, too:




One comment

  • Thanks Jeff for this great first entry in our Arco Alumni blog, with the news from Minneapolis.
    I am an alum from summer of 1974, Cube living then. Yes, we need to keep working on housing issues in our cities.
    For 40 years, I have been a legal services housing attorney in Boston, where triple decker housing was pretty much invented. In my work over the years, I have defended many low income and elderly Boston residents from evictions to keep them in their apartments in the city. We also have an initiative to help long-time elderly homeowners share their houses with others, to age in place.
    BTW, we are double alums, I believe, of Arcosanti and HR 71

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