The following is the Cosanti Foundation Board’s response to an article published on March 8, in the Phoenix New Times. The entire Board felt that it was important to respond promptly to this article and to point out a few areas that were not reported on as accurately as they could have been. As a Board, we agree that it is important to address these challenges head-on and make every effort to dispel any false or erroneous statements. We remain committed to our previous statement and we are available to answer any questions or concerns that may arise.
Letter to the Editors:
Re: #WhatNow: A Conspicuous Consumption of Culture Grapples With #MeToo, Robert Pela,
March 8, 2018
The Cosanti Foundation, a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization, operates Arcosanti, the urban laboratory, and community located north of Phoenix embodying the concept of architecture in harmony with ecology as conceived by founder and architect Paolo Soleri. As the beneficiary of Soleri’s ideas and works, The Cosanti Foundation would like your readers to understand its support for Daniela Soleri and her courageous essay relating her tragic experience of abuse by her father, as recounted in Robert Pela’s recent article and interview with her. Mr. Pela’s article omitted several facts that we believe are essential for your readers’ understanding. Immediately after the publication of Daniela Soleri’s essay several months ago, after making discreet attempts to reach out to Ms. Soleri in order to seek her input, the executive committee of the board of directors of the Foundation issued this statement in support of her telling her story. This statement was sent by email on December 14, 2017, to the thirteen thousand persons who comprise our online constituency, and was subsequently quoted in several online articles, including online magazines Curbed and Dezeen:
“Many of you, friends, supporters, visitors, builders of Cosanti and Arcosanti over many years, have seen a recent essay Daniela Soleri has published online that tells a story of abuse. We, here, respect Daniela’s decision to speak out; and the Board of Directors of the Cosanti Foundation has the following statement to share…
“We are saddened by Daniela Soleri’s trauma. Her decision to speak out about her father’s behavior towards her helps us confront Paolo Soleri’s flaws, and compels us to reconsider his legacy. With Paolo Soleri’s creative intelligence, he understood the need for discipline and limits to the urban form. However, his narcissism prevented him from understanding the need for discipline and limits on abusive behavior. We support and stand firmly with Daniela.
“We know that Arcosanti and Cosanti are much greater than the ideas of one man. Over the past fifty years, more than 8,000 participants from all over the world have contributed to Arcosanti and Cosanti through our workshops and programs. Our work in urban planning will continue. It was considered radical fifty years ago and has proven itself relevant today. Our goal is a built environment inspired by Soleri’s architecture that fosters community, integrates the natural world, and nurtures the best of human nature.”
Your readers may also be interested to know that when the board received a communication in 2011 disclosing allegations of abuse by Paolo Soleri of his daughter, he was removed as president and director of the Foundation and he was prohibited from sketching live nude models.
Consistent with the Foundation’s vision to seek equitable and sustainable relationships between human activities and the Earth’s ecology, and its goals of inspiring cultural transformation, the Foundation’s anti-harassment policy prohibits unlawful harassment of any kind in the workplace, including sexual harassment. Further, this policy encourages workers to report any perceived harassment and prohibits retaliation in response to reports. At Arcosanti and its sister location in Paradise Valley, Cosanti, resident employees, and volunteers have attended anti-harassment training to promote a culture of respect and integrity. The Foundation separates the man Paolo Soleri from the ideas, regrets the failings of the man, and honors the ideas with its dedication to working for better urban environmental design for humankind and the planet. To explore the ideas, please visit Arcosanti in person or at arcosanti.org.
John Walsh, Chairman of the Board of Directors, The Cosanti Foundation