Smither Park, And Dan Phillips’ View Of The World

Last month when we were in Houston, one of the places we visited was Smither Park, just down the street from the Orange Show (more about that later).  Work began on the park last year, which is expected to include an amphitheater, meditation garden, 400′ memory wall, serpentine tunnel and half tunnel, 12′ tower with coin maze, long-sweep swings near a grove of orange trees, and open spaces and walkways.

Smither Park, Houston TX

Work has begun on the long, long, long memory wall (you can contribute bits and pieces, like seashells and dishes…whatever has significance to you, to be included):
Smither Park, Houston TX

Smither Park, Houston TX

Yes, yes, yes, to angel:
Smither Park, Houston TX

Dan Phillips, who I’m a big fan of, is the designer of the park, and said, “A park that caters to all ages is always good. But a park that caters to the human spirit is simply magnificent.”  He’s probably best known for his founding of the Phoenix Commotion, which builds affordable (and beautiful! and interesting!) homes from cast-off, salvage materials. From the website:
The Phoenix Commotion is a local building initiative created to prove that constructing homes with recycled and salvaged materials has a viable place in the building industry. This process uses only apprentice labor and teaches marketable skills to anyone with a work ethic who is willing to swing a hammer. By keeping labor costs low and using donated or found materials, the homes created are truly affordable. No two are alike due to the myriad of materials used, so there is an artistic element that makes Phoenix Commotion homes unique. We target single parents, artists, and families with low incomes. We require the homeowner to be involved with the planning and construction of his or her own home. The result is a person who is empowered, not only by the useful knowledge of building skills, but by the opportunity to become part of a community as a vested participant.

Ooooh and when Dan talks about how ‘human beings have a need for maintaining consistency of the apperceptive mass’ — the expected pattern and unity of structural features — then goes on to talk about the psychology of pattern/repetition…I *love* that kind of thing (seriously).  Then he talks about Nietzsche and Apollonian and Dionysian views. And Plato and perfect forms, and Sartre and consciousness, and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It’s music to my ears, don’t ever stop talking!  In other words, this is one of my favorite Ted talks of all time:

Here’s the 2009 feature on Dan in the NYT; amazing slideshow here.

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