I often wonder what magical components come together in specific places at specific
times to cause something wonderful to happen, something that makes perfect sense,
something that pleases everyone, causing a celebration of life - all life -
not just human life, not just ecological life, but ALL life.
Ian McHarg, in his landmark book, Design with Nature tells us how to
look at the land so that its processes, its long-term geological creation, guide
land-use planning...Phillip Lewis in Future by Design, gives us a method
for determining what we care about deeply, in the built and natural landscape
so that we can identify the critical ecological and human patterns that can guide
planning so that we create a marvelous unity....Tony Hiss in his lovely book Experience
of Place, helps us understand how our sensibilities respond to the built
and natural landscape and why we like some places and become stressed and angry
when we are forced to suffer ugliness, noise, confusion....Jane Jacobs has studied,
meticulously, the elements which caused cities to sustain, over centuries, a
cultural and economic vitality.
And there are others, many, many others whose writings guide us to an understanding
of ourselves, how we evolved, what we like and why, what we need and why...not
the superficial needs that torment our cultural conversations today...our profound
needs, our genetic needs, those that soothe our spirits, give us ease, joy.
If the books of hundreds of authors grace library shelves to assist us in creating
a pleasing, supportive outcome for the present and future, why does good design
for living happen so infrequently? Why is there not an audible, concerted, powerful
outcry against ugliness and destruction of the graceful natural landscape?
There is an outstanding rationale - which became the prevailing force for decision-making
as long ago as the 17th century, long enough ago that most people are unaware
that such a moment occurred. When French philosopher, Descartes declared the
earth to be a machine whose parts we could understand like clockworks and Sir
Francis Bacon proclaimed the earth fuel for human consumption, for human betterment
so that the superior human mind could conquer nature and make her our slave.
Separation of mind and spirit were key to vanquishing the essential unity that
our spirits long for now, that these significant authors describe now - in an
effort to help us find our way home.
We can all join together to rebuild this harmony of mind and matter... earth
and humans rejoined. What a happy prospect!