Thursday, January 15, 2009


The key to sustainable dwelling is noticing. Sound simple? It is. But most of the time we're too consumed with the movie playing in our heads to look at what is literally under our feet.

The photos above show a few manhole covers I noticed one day. I came across hundreds of them. Each one expressed a different pattern within a circular frame. If these designs hung on the walls of a temple, they might be called mandalas, diagrams of the totality of creation. Instead they covered holes in the street. Instead of being crafted by monks for spiritual purposes, they were drawn by anonymous artists at drafting tables. Instead of arcs depicting the cycles of being and becoming, the ridges of these designs help people avoid slipping and falling.

The practicality of these manhole designs doesn't reduce their ability to connect our individuality to the rest of life. In fact, noticing the connections between common, functional objects and cosmic designs is a way to live "the universe in a grain of sand." Noticing what is before our eyes and seeing connections between the parts broadens our vision beyond isolated fragments. From this wide-angle perspective we have a better chance of moving passed disconnected living into holistic dwelling. 

Spend five minutes today noticing what passes before your eyes. Discover connections between the patterns you see and the greater network of nature. Email me photos or sketches of what you find and describe your experiences.

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