What I learned from Buckminster Fuller

What I learned from Buckminster Fuller

Buckminster’s Geodesic home can be found in Carbondale, Illinois. He taught there for sometime at Southern Illinois University. Enclosed is a photo of one of “Bucky’s” friends, a mutual friend of mine. Occasionally we hang out in Carbondale with Ornothologists,Geologists, Anthropologists, Archeologists, Botanists and Paleontologists.

Buckminster popularized the concepts of geodesic domes and their usefulness to society back in the 1960’s and 1970’s. As housing goes they failed to catch a robust housing market and have been used for many other very functional applications.

I learned a great deal from Buckminster Fullers interest in the geodesic dome. I was twenty four years old and my wife and I were struggling to maintain a business. Our weekend hobby was to try and build this curious geodesic structure. We had two thousand dollars to build this one half spherical dome. It was the simplest and most rudimentary shape that could still be call a geodesic dome, it was an icosahedron.

We labored with best friends to erect this curious structure and it went up with amazing speed. In just a few weekends we were shingling the roofline of the structure. It proved to be far more laborious than we had imagined. All of the triangular pieces had to be cut from rectangular pieces of plywood. The waste was significant. Our society has developed everything to fit in a rectilinear world. Everything had to be modified.

This was the late 1970’s and a fellow called Sun Myung Moon had started a new religious group. He seemed to be finding a few adherents in the midwest and it caused great concerns by many. Young impressionable youths were heading off to understand his religion.

I was serving my first or second term as elder in the Presbyterian Church at the time.

Rumors were started that some young hippie type people were building some sort of weird building south of my town. (this was our geodesic dome). The rumors advanced and spread like wildfire though this region and small town.

We had people stop by our store to question us about this structure and what our religious affiliations might be. Some of these people we had never met before this time. The fear of this Sun Myung Moon continued to build and so did the fervor toward us and our geodesic cabin south of town.

A man from North Western Iowa was known to be an expert on this religious leader call Sun Myung Moon. We did not know him but evidently he came into our store and without introducing himself casually questioned us about the geodesic dome.

A few months later at an early morning Kiwanis meeting (community building organization) this man from NorthWest Iowa was giving a presentation of Sung Yung Moon and what he was doing to the youth of midwestern society.

During the question and answer period after his presentation someone asked about this strange geodesic dome south of town. He addressed this wholesome group of community minded individuals and explained that he had “interviewed” the builders of the dome. He wasn’t able able to ascertain if they/we were “moonies”. He then said “because a real follower of Sung Yung Moon will just lie to your face”. The accusation was made that we weren’t to be trusted because he wasn’t able to confirm our allegiances. He couldn’t seem to be able to validate that we were chosen and sworn enemies.

We were very fortunate to have a friend in the audience that helped us build the dome. He stood up for us and helped discredit this man and his wild vindictive ambitions.

Alas, the damage continued, we were boycotted by quiet unspoken masses of people, at a time when we needed their support. In later years people told us stories of people tearing up our gift certificates to our store in defiance of Sun Yung Moon.

In an unguarded moment a youth group told us that they had considered taking their fathers pickup to our geodesic dome and with the help of logging chains they thought they would be able to pull it off of its foundation.

This sort of unbridled fear and suspicion went on for some time, it was a time of angst for us because we didn’t know how or what people might accuse us of in the future.

I walk by many of these people today, they are seemingly responsible citizens wanting the best for themselves and perhaps their communities.

They have no recollection of the havoc and fear they caused in their youth.

Today they would question why I might harbor some doubt in their self righteousness.

The good news is that we survived and were able to prove them wrong. We have had many relationships that ended in unflagging patronage.

We have always kept our gratitude higher than our expectations.

Buckminster Fuller taught many things too many people, he taught us a valuable lesson in human nature, psychology, sociology, anthropology and religion.

It has also taught me that we are perhaps nothing more than the third chimpanzee in a long line of hominids.

RoadNotes Oct 24 2019

2 Replies to “What I learned from Buckminster Fuller”

  1. Are you familiar with the Buckminster Fuller Dome home in Carbondale? It’s the only dome that BF ever lived in or owned. It is in the process of being restored. Google to learn more.

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