Thursday, February 19, 2009

In the News

OK, so late 1980s. Cutting and pasting from alt.education.

ARCHIVE COPY

From The Oregonian (local newspaper), Portland section. Don't have the exact date handy (1987 or so, given it says I'm 29). Came with a picture of me holding one of those Fuller Projection postcards up next to my head.

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Young Portlander entertains dream of lighting up world

By Peter Carlin
Correspondent, The Oregonian

Kirby Urner has a plan.

It involves geodesic domes, a new world map, an international power grid, world peace and the teachings of R. Buckminster Fuller.

And Portland might play a big part in all this, Urner contends.

One of Fuller's most distinct images is his Dymaxion Projection map, a super-accurate projection of the earth's land masses and oceans that the Medal of Freedom winner copyrighted in order to guarantee that it would never show national boundaries.

While living in Jersey City, N.J. during the early 1980s, Urner attempted to interest some corporate donors in constructing a huge, wall-sized projection of the Dymaxion map out of millions of tiny light bulbs, much like the scoreboard screens at football stadiums.

Urner said the map project met with some interest, but he found investors unwilling to gamble their funds on the future of a ravaged urban center such as Jersey City.

"Portland, on the other hand, has a much brighter future," Urner said. "If OMSI goes ahead with their plans to develop a new site on the Willamette, I expect many Fuller-related artifacts to become part of that project." He noted that there were Fuller displays at the Louvre in Paris, at Disney's Epcot center in Florida, and at Expo in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The map, Urner said, "would be a great way to educate people about the Earth, as well as providing businesses with a unique method of advertisement. Companies could get access to the map on a time-share basis to show off their assets. ...I suspect airlines would love to use it to show their routes around the globe."

Urner said corporations he had approached with the sponsorship plan generally were receptive, but nothing concrete had been arranged for display of the map.

Meanwhile, Urner, a 29-year-old computer consultant with the Center for Urban Education, is laying some of the groundwork for acceptance of Fuller's ideas. He teaches computer skills to the underprivileged and is making plans to expand the center's educational influence through the use of video
technology.

"I don't expect people to buy into all this immediately," Urner admitted. "But, as Buckminster Fuller showed, we have access to all the tools we need to transform the world into a more prosperous, peaceful place. We just need to pick them up."

Urner spent some of his childhood years in Portland, before his father's career as an urban planner carried his family to a series of far-flung places around the world.

Back in the United States, Urner studied at Princeton University and then spent some time teaching high school in New Jersey before moving back to Portland in 1983. He has been working with computers at the center since 1984.

Fuller, who died in 1982, was a modern philosopher, mathematician, architect, theorist and writer who could count President Reagan, Henry Ford II, former CIA chief Stansfield Turner and Soviet premier Leonid Brezhnev among his more influential admirers.

Fuller's revolutionary mathematics, explained in his books, "Synergetics Vols I and II," are the basis for his concepts of design and education. Products of these theories include architectural designs such as geodesic domes and Fuller's international energy grid, a proposal that would link the power supplies of nations around the globe.

Urner said he hoped that Fuller's approach to science and math would open up peoples' perceptions of the world's future.

"Frustration with science and math is the main roadblock between the world today and the world we want to live in," Urner maintains.

"True awareness of the globe and the solutions to problems like hunger and war -- which Fuller says are under our noses -- will present themselves much more clearly if we acquaint ourselves more with the basic principles of math and science.

"Media extravaganzas like scoreboard-sized maps and video programs are important, because they are dramatic methods of education, and education is the key to the future."

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Kirby Urner "ALL realities are 'virtual'" -- KU