So my history with Buckminster Fuller is a bit longer than most. I interviewed for a job fresh out of college with the “World Game Institute,” an endeavor born of Fuller’s desire to “Make the world work, for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation, without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone.”
While I didn’t take the job, I was forever changed by the encounter and, in addition to taking on a Temple Professor’s claim that Fuller was a one-trick pony in an Inquirer Opinion piece in the 90s, I used Fuller as one of “Genius of the Week” figures in a unit I developed based on Thomas Armstrong’s book, Awakening Genius in the Classroom and Apple Computer’s “Think Different” Campaign for the iMac.
Some time later, working with a design educator out of Chicago, Doris Wells-Papanek, I created a design challenge that looked at Fuller’s life and character as evidence of his growth and fixed mindsets. I ran this challenge once, in my first year in a 10th grade gifted English class. While mildly successful, I’ll never forget what one student said in his assessment of Fuller’s mindset: “He seems fixed on a growth mindset.”
Perhaps he was, but anyone who can argue for a world of “livingry over weaponry” is a man whose visions, while perhaps wild and futuristically utopian, were nevertheless worthy of our attention, if only because he let us know that we have the tools and the power to be better people–to eschew a world of nuclear escalation and embrace a world where we could: “Make the world work, for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation, without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone.”
For more on Fuller’s legacy and how to engage with his visions visit the Buckminster Fuller Institute.