A lot of my Asylum City planning is conveyed via Youtube, using a somewhat impressionistic style, some call it stream of consciousness. I’ll do some work in post production to illustrate my points, using the techniques of place based education.
I currently live in an area unofficially, yet affectiontionately, known as Asylum District, through which runs SE Hawthorne Boulevard, in Portland, Oregon. Dr. Hawthorne was a chief doctor for the state mental hospital, located a few miles west of my District headquarters.
The hinterlands around Portland feature lots of ranches, with horses, and lots of resorts. People who can afford the overhead of horses tend to congregate around Bend, Terrebonne, and Madras, Oregon. One of my recent Youtubes switches over to pictures of Smith Rock (see above), as I start unfolding my Quaker inspired DIY curriculum.
I imagine use staging an ongoing set of experimental lifestyles based on prototypes. That’s the Disney / EPCOT angle. Sometimes we have horses in the picture, which our students learn to care for, and maybe ride on occasion.
Probably by now you think I’m influenced by Westworld (the HBO series) and you would be correct. My imagination hearkens back to the original movie starring Yul Brynner. The motif I’m especially drawn to is especially pronounced in Cabin in the Woods (Joss Whedon).
I’m talking about the tunnels under, the janitorial caverns, the behind-the-scenes engineering. We get a lot of that from theater, but more directly from circuses and theme parks, even health spas such as Breitenbush. The full time staff live on site and make sure guests learn the ropes. Like a cruise ship, or any hospitality business. Maintenance elevators, control rooms, and whole corridor systems and floors, may stay separate, admitting authorized personnel only.
In this story, I want to focus on the DIY shops, the maker spaces, the places where arts and crafts happen, but also prototyping and design, repairs, modifications. The existing Asylum District and environs already has spaces one might rent for such purposes. Perhaps you upholster, or paint, or sculpt. The maker space called Hedron (near Bullseye Glass) gave us a tour. Book time and use the CNC machines, lathes, whatever tools.
One of our District faculty members, the jack of all trades in our midst, has enough supplies and equipment to form the nucleus of a makerspace easily. For one brief shining season, he got set up in the basement of The Dollar Store, but then one of the owners fell ill and the store, right on Hawthorne, went out of business.
The Fly’s Eye Domes (FEDs) I always imagined, and which museums have showcased around the world, did not materialize in the horse camps, as pods for software engineers working with native American casinos. The idea of remote living as a backdrop for working on coding projects did not sell, even on a timeshare model. Perhaps the Coffee Shops Network (CSN), offering a new kind of casino (games for charity, winners pick causes), will give birth to such personal workspace ergonomics.
But the already-employed were not our only potential clientele. Students from around the world, interested in forming friendships in the name of future diplomacy, would become more the focus of my invisible college. Friends World College has been lurking in the background, as an informative model.
You might be wondering if a Quaker school would offer training with firearms, a topic I’ve taken up at some length in other venues. We need to tease apart the ideas of ballistics used as weapons versus ballistics used to lob payloads in and out of remote locations.
Sports involving target practice need not involve hunting animals. On the other hand, not that many ranches feature exclusively meat-free dining. Our plan is to offer choice and to provide opportunities to acquire new skills, without encouraging our students to engage in outward violence. Shooting need not mean killing, right?
Some of the engineering we engage in, features exercises and simulations. In storyboard, we’re all about testing equipment bound for refugee camps, for when disaster strikes. The teams we send to the scene already have some experience, with the more senior responders having more field experience. The equipment has already been field tested, to some degree. We can put a village together, complete with meeting facilities and clinics, in relatively short order.
Setting up a shelter unit may well take teamwork (these aren’t just sport tents for hikers).
Where does the electrical power come from? My engineering team favors micro-hydel, like in the Bhutanese himalayas. But then such experiments, with different power collection and generation systems, are precisely what the makerspaces are there to facilitate.
Quakers may not be welcome in every neck of the woods around the world, owing to subculture tensions. The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) made it a point to disconnect proselytization (missionary activity) from running camps and doing projects.
Missionary work is so often about building the characters of the missionaries, but then character building happens in myriad ways. The point: working on engineering projects may be as much an investment in skills-building as anything to do with recruiting into a religion.
A board game featuring The Evacuation of Gaza, in response to emergency levels of degradation, is one I’d like to introduce at Lucky Lab. That brew pub sits right atop the old Asylum property, for which Asylum District is named.
The new food pod (food carts form “pods” in Portland) marks the eastern border.
Lucky Lab is a haven for board games. Evacuation… might be a hit.
However, the realism of our games stays in question, given the memes around Asylum City have yet to receive much airplay.
The late Dr. Arthur Loeb was a champion in Boston / Cambridge area, overlapping with E.J. Applewhite, likewise deceased, in the area of crystallography. I learned from both of these guys, starting in my hitchhiking days. I interviewed Dr. Loeb at MIT and spent a lot of time with Ed.
I never met Hugh Kenner in person, even though I studied a lot of his writings in the Georgetown University library (I had a part time job there for awhile, refiling Arabic language texts).
Applewhite was part of the Georgetown intel community, not a scientist, but he loved science, as well as architecture. I have a tetrahedron of buckyball-looking things (C6XTY) marking my Oregon Curriculum Network headquarters. Through Saturday Academy, I’ve staged pilot programs at Reed College. However I no longer have such strong contacts in Egypt, compared to when my parents lived there.
Our board game is not the infamous Reaching Jerusalem, which encourages armed conflict.
Might Gaza itself become an Asylum City in time, a destination waystation for refugees from the broken nation-state system? That’s a subject of science fiction in these parts. Per the new Zionism, Planet Earth as a whole is our Promised Land, our Israel. It’s up to us, those chosen to crew this ship, to do the engineering. Project Eden in Cornwall, like Biosphere 2, is just the beginning.
The idea of an Asylum City derives from many sources, not the least of which are the designs for Old Man River (OMR), a city shaped like a gigantic stadium, with a dome over the top. Will humans ever see fit to experimentally build such impressively sized “dwelling machines”? We imagine we don’t have the resources, and yet waste much more on war. The electrical grids themselves, from power sources to loads, define our biggest machines so far.