Lovolution Village was started February 2005 after Wayne Sumstine and I took at trip to the resort town of San Carlos, Sonora Mexico. Our next door neighbors at the time were Yaqui Indians and they had originally lived in one of the Yaqui villages not far from San Carlos. Bored with staying at the luxury hotel where we had a few nights free visit, we went to see where our neighbors were from. Because of a military roadblock and long lines of traffic waiting for the inspection, we turned off on a dirt road where a sign pointed to another Yaqui village.
There was an old Church in the middle of the village with a grave yard in front of it with white crosses sticking out of the hard dirt. It wasn't kept well as if it was a deserted church. We saw several children playing near it. We got out of our car, walked up to the Church, and waited for the children to approach us. After a while the children became curious of us. Only a few of them knew Spanish. Their first language was Yaqui. Wayne was able to speak with them through his limited Spanish.
More children started to appear and then a mother with a small son resting on her hip came to the Church and started to talk with us. We noticed that her small son had an eye infection, puss oozing out of it almost shut, and that he needed to see a doctor. I asked the mother if she was going to take her son to see a doctor. She said she wanted to, but she didn't have any money to do so. I gave her some money. She asked us if we could come back with clothes and shoes for the children and even food for them.
We asked her where all their parents were and she told us in her broken Spanish that they were at work. Many of their parents work in the Maquiladora miles from the village and make very little money working for the American industrialists. There was a school room in the village for the children and a teacher came in during the week days to teach them for another Yaqui village. Wayne, our friend, Kate, and I were moved by the experience.
Back in the United States, Wayne contacted elementary schools and asked them if at the end of the semester we could pick up their lost and found clothes for Mexico children. Many schools were happy for us to take their lost and found clothes. Several of the school's principal even sent a note out with the children to ask their parents to collect clothes and toys for us to take to Mexico.
It didn't take us long for us to have bag loads of clothes. But there was another problem, getting through the US/Mexican border. The Mexican offices don't allow charity organizations to bring in larger amounts of clothes without taxing them. Since we were a tiny charity organization, we didn't have the money to pay a tax, so we had to only take a few bag loads with us at a time. We had collected truck load of clothes and household things, but we could only take a car load at a time.
Wayne and I made two more trips to Mexico to the village. Each time our friendship with the children grew and we wanted to do more for them. Older children intrigued with my hand-held Spanish to English translator machine wanted me to bring them back translators next time we come. We got a donation of several computers, but after having our computer friend, Len, analyzed them, they were not good enough to take to Mexico. Then there was a problem of getting them online and training some of the kids so that they could maintain the computers. After seeing where some of them lived, we wanted to help them build a new village, one that could raise their standard of living with access to 21st century technology while maintaining their Yaqui traditions.
How could we do this? How could we do this when our western civilization didn't even know how to do this? All western civilization knew how to do was to destroy indigenous cultures and exploit natural resources to the point of exhaustion. Our contact with the Yaqui village made us question our own existence more deeply and to take our own cultural poverty more seriously. The European village model which was imported to America by the colonialists, created urban sprawl and the extinction of countless North American plant and animal species. In no way did we want to bring the white person's contamination to the Yaqui children.
As artists living in the United States , Wayne and I had our own financial. Even though on our first charity trip to the Yaqui village we were able to stay for free at a Catholic mission in Guaymas, Mexico, it was still expensive for us to travel to Mexico with having to get car permits, Mexican car insurance, and visas. Our poverty was their poverty and the whole world seemed to be spiritually bankrupt. Poverty wasn't decreasing in the world; it was increasing as the few in the wealthy classes all over the world were getting richer and richer. Now in the United States, 48 million people lived in poverty. Poverty in the US is more wide spread by far than in any other industrialized country in the world.
What I learned from the Yaqai children is that we need a new world. We need to think like a village and build like we are one family. Even though we hope to bring more goods to the Yaqui village for those who are in need, we are also in a desperate need for a new model to end the tyranny of poverty everywhere on the planet.
What is good for the Third World is good for us. A truly helpful model will not just look at the privileged class and build a "gated arcology," for them, but it will build for the needs of everyone. With arcology, we can do this. We can bring together human rights, especially the idea that housing is a human right, and arcology. Presently, the six billion human beings alive on this planet today, if they are lucky enough to have shelter over their heads, are living in unsustainable housing. Ultimately, rich, poor, and middle-class alike, need to be re-housed into ecological architecture, arcologies.
The compact design nature of arcology reflects back to the prehistoric Anasazi peoples of the Southwest. Looking at the archeological sites of such places as Pueblo Bonito in the Chaco Canyon National Monument in New Mexico or Tuzigoot National Monument in Clarksdale, Arizona, one can see that the foundations of their villages where built underneath one roof, walls where shared creating a high destiny lifestyle.
Pueblo Bonito ruin dates to A.D. 900's. It was once up to four stories high and contained 800 rooms. There were 32 kivas (round ceremonial chambers) made of more than 100 million dressed stones. It was a ritual and cultural center for other smaller pueblos around the monument. These can be thought of as prehistoric arcologies that were able to exist in balance with nature of thousands of years.
To think in terms of building a sustainable village, like the Anasazi dwellings, we have to think of designing not a house, but a village. We can not longer afford to think in terms of single family dwellings, but think about what is good for the entire community. When one thinks of all the refugees throughout the world as well as the one's who became refugees through environmental disasters like what happened to New Orleans or the millions of homeless people in the United States, we need to think in terms of building villages within villages, an arcology for millions of people.
What I am visualizing is a mass exodus occurring from our dying civilization to a more evolved, holistic developmental pattern that allows us to have individual freedom along side of the responsibility of the collective. I'm seeing the labor force of the world turning around and moving in a new direction that brings us back in balance with nature by building a network of arcologies.
I'm excited with the idea of arcology as a center of culture, a place where arts are not on the side lines of civilization but are the life blood of the people. Such a vision gives the children of the world a future of human dignity, a future where they can enjoy the revival of now-threatened plant and animal species, and have the time and resources to pursue the adventures of the mind and heart, producing great art, advancing miraculous science, and living with the beauty of star light forever.
Eutopia or Oblivion?