On Sunday, July 12th, Steven Sieden, author and Fuller scholar, joined Ada’s for the third annual celebration of Buckminster Fuller’s birthday. Most well-known for his architectural design of the geodesic dome, Bucky was a Neo-Futurist architect, systems theorist, designer, inventor, and even a spiritual philosopher.
L. Steven Sieden
Steven began his presentation with a preview of a Bucky Fuller segment on the CBS Sunday Morning that highlighted the influence Bucky’s ideas have to this day. As the segment featured a couple living in a concrete duo-dome household, Steven shared with the audience, “Bucky would cringe at that! You want something light, not concrete.” Even though the concrete duo-dome is a step away from Bucky’s geodesic ideology, the couple’s intent and belief in geodesic domes as a practical housing method for the future still rings true with its origin.
Much as birthdays are meant to be a celebration of a person’s life, Steven began his talk by saying, “I’m here to do what Bucky used to do all the time, which is thinking out loud.” Steven spent the evening speaking of Bucky’s life, his experiences, and how we can weave wisdom gleaned from his lifetime into our own. For example, when asked in interviews, “What’s most important about you?” Bucky would answer, “What’s most important is that I’m a healthy, average human being.” Bucky focused primarily on living well by examining nature and emulating it to the best of his ability in the interest of advocating for a kind of inherent human template to which most any person can aspire.
Despite Bucky’s ultimate successes, Steven identified Bucky as having been a failure prior to 1927, before he experienced a spiritual transformation after the death of his 4-year old daughter. After losing his daughter, all of his money, and his friends, Bucky contemplated suicide. He was stopped by a voice in his head telling him that he is part of this universe and he has no right to kill himself. From that moment on Bucky began his 56-year experiment in which he documented everything he did in an attempt to determine what one person can do with their life. Bucky’s interest was not to inflate his ego but to see if one human could make a difference. Bucky’s experiment stands as the largest archive of any human being outside of the government.
As a avid student of Bucky, Steven is often asked what Bucky’s generalized principle is or if it can even be summed up into a digestible thought. Having a series of eclectic works, interests, and insights, answering such a question about Bucky is tough, but possible: “You look around wherever you are and you see what needs to be done and attended to. Then you do that. If it’s wanted and needed and is unattended to, that’s what you do.”
Throughout the talk, the point Steven continued to reiterate is that Bucky’s adult life is one through which we can see hope for our own future. When working on a project with Forbes and Phelps Dodge, Bucky noticed that every time we recycled resources, we’d inevitably add something to it. That something, is knowledge. Such a realization made clear to Bucky that we can do more with less and as a species we have within our abilities the skills to provide for everyone.
For being a scientific and pragmatic individual, Bucky’s belief in humanity is beautiful and an inspiring perspective from which most anyone can benefit.
–Post written by Veronica Lim