078 Mark Lakeman on City Repair

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Is your neighborhood not all it could be? Do people drive too fast? Does it feel lonely and anonymous? Is there no safe place for your kids to play? Mark Lakeman has some ideas for how all of us can transform the communities we live in. Hint: it starts with a potluck! Mark is the co-founder of the non-profit placemaking organization The City Repair Project, and principal of the community architecture and planning firm Communitecture. He is also an urban place-maker, permaculture designer and community design facilitator.

And if you’re on the West Coast of the US, you have a chance to participate in a series of workshops this month. For more information visit marklakeman.net. To find out about events in Los Angeles visit change-making.com.

If you want to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected]. You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. The theme music is by Dr. Frankenstein. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.

Mosaic Artist Jeffrey Bale

Jeffrey Bale is one of my gardening heroes and this video is, in my opinion, mandatory viewing. Bale’s artistic medium is the pebble mosaic and he’s taken his craft to levels not seen since the ancients. Bale spends three months every year traveling the world and searching for inspiration for his work. His astonishingly beautiful and insightful blog chronicles his travels and work.

Bale captures what I think is missing in a lot of contemporary art and landscape design, a sense of the transcendent and the search for what philosopher Charles Taylor calls “fullness”. Our gardens and cities could benefit from many more spaces like the labyrinth portrayed in this short mini-doc. Best of all, in the video, Bale demonstrates how he makes his mosaics. Bale has no trade secrets. He wants us all to participate in creating a more beautiful world.

Working Big: A Teacher’s Guide to Environmental Sculpture

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Let me tell you how on-board I am with any children’s DIY project book that begins with pictures of Robert Smithson’s monumental land art.

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Working Big: A Teacher’s Guide to Environmental Sculpture resonates with me due to many childhood trips to the LA County Art Museum at the height of the minimalism art era. Working Big applies some of the art notions of that period to group activities for kids using cardboard, plastic bags and junk. The result is visually striking projects reminiscent of Smithson and the Ant Farm.

If only the NIMBYs around the Silver Lake Reservoir would let us do this:

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Damn the nanny state!

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You can download a copy for free, along with a lot of other amazing and outré 1970s publications here.

075 Visionary Architect Glen Howard Small

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Flying House from the Biomorphic Biosphere

Our guest this week is architect Glen Small. If you’re not familiar with his work I’d really recommend taking a look at some of his amazing buildings, drawings and models while you listen to this podcast–you can see them on his blog which is Small at Large and at glenhowardsmallarchitect.com. Glen was one of the founders of the architecture school SCI-Arc and is probably best known for his visionary Biomorphic Biosphere Megastructure, which we talk about during the podcast as well many other projects and buildings such as the Downtown Troposphere and the Green Machine.

Green Machine 1977-1980

Green Machine 1977-1980

He was also the subject of a documentary by his daughter Lucia Small, My Father the Genius. During the conversation we discuss the state of “green” architecture, Small’s large proposals as well as his buildings in Nicaragua and much more.

If you want to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected]. You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. The theme music is by Dr. Frankenstein. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.

Take a class with architect Glen Small

Image source: Small at Large

Visionary architect Glen Small doesn’t need a computer. He can take a bunch of scrap paper, cardboard and some glue and make amazing models. He’s also of the last generation of architects who know their way with pen, paper and watercolors.

Small was one of the early proponents of a style of architecture informed by natural forms and environmental concerns. He was one of the founding members of the architectural school SCI-Arc. And I’m hoping to have him on the podcast soon.

If you’re in the Southern California area you have a great opportunity to take an inexpensive, hands-on architectural modeling class with him at Copper Mountain College in Joshua Tree, CA.

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