Q&A about the Foundation

1. How does the Two Worlds 501(c)3 differ from its founding professional practice?

The Foundation addresses critical and holistic issues that exist well beyond both the present understanding, commitments, and possibilities of the for-profit world. In 1978, the founding of Vernon Swaback Associates was launched with a single sentence: “For every given site, program and budget, the greatest variable for success is the power and reach of educational design.” This assumes the presence of identifiable clients and specific pieces of property in the hands of owner/developers who are able to make it all happen. What's missing? If educational design is truly the greatest variable for the success of every given site, program, and budget, what about the greater needs of society for which there are no sites, no programs, no budgets, nor clients, and in many cases, little or no awareness of the connections between cause and effect? This miscellany of such confusing disconnects, describes the bulls-eye focus and programs that are being addressed by the Two Worlds Community Foundation.

2. What makes the Foundation’s view of design worthy of public support?

The magic of design is its ability to translate individual feelings into living, high performance systems, places and spaces, starting with special case examples and expanding throughout the grater community. Innovations of this kind depend on individuals who are not burdened with the compromising influences that come with high office, nor the limitations of those for whom the reporting of quarterly earnings are more real and important than anything to do with their long range purpose. Working with such localized special case opportunities requires rising above the insanity of our self-defeating ways that we don’t question because they all seem so normal.

Special case developments require some measure of freedom from influences that would otherwise prevent all but submission to the obvious. The critical importance of these individual pursuits is that they are the source for creating what eventually become new and needed realities for the benefit of all. Special case examples are analogous to the rudder on a great ship - small, unseen, and using a fraction of the energy required to propel the ship itself, all the-while determining the direction of that which is yet to be.

3. How does the Foundation's name relate to its mission?

"Two Worlds" signifies the multiple dualities, both personal and shared, that make up our daily and life-long experiences. For example, consider the many differences between the daily demands on our time; including work to be accomplished, schedules to be met, bills to be paid and tests to take, all of which co-exist with the timeless nature of what we dream, love, seek to accomplish, nurture, and serve. "Community" refers to our experiences as individuals coming together in concert with others by way of work, play, family, and friends, along with the often-overlooked stewardship and design of the environments in which these experiences take place.

4. What is the idea and need for two worlds thinking?

Humanity's greatest achievements, including everything from technology and production to laws and economics would ultimately self-destruct as a result of their own "successes” if not for the corresponding and sustainable relationships with the ecosystem services of nature that provide the basis for all else. What society understands, pursues, rewards, and celebrates most are the myriad pieces, things, and economic opportunities relating to what can be bought and sold. That's one world. The other world consists of the broadest generalities and integrations of nature. Which of these two worlds is more essential, difficult to grasp, and the source for every other pursuit?
Who better to answer this question than Albert Einstein, who called his pursuit of the Special Theory of Relativity, “child's play” compared to the additional 15 years it took him to develop the far more comprehensive theory of General Relativity. To engage in two worlds thinking is to acknowledge this fundamental duality. The problem with our dominant focus on the world of technology and all other aspects of life that can be bought and sold is that
it encourages a limited and fragmented system of accounting, one that is dangerously out of balance with the ways
and means of life itself.

5. Isn't everything a technology of one kind or another?

To understand the limits of "technology", think of it as the sum total of everything we invent, make, sell, discard and replace. Coexisting with such physical and financial clarities are the more important gains, losses, and complexities of human behavior. Once again we repeat Einstein’s dramatic summary concerning what makes them different; "I don't know what weapons will be used to fight WWIII, but WWIV will be fought with clubs and stones."

6. Asking the right questions

The late James Rouse, one of this nation's most profound and revered developers said, "We're not getting the right answers, because we are not asking the right questions." To this we would add that many of the most critical questions can only be asked and answered outside the constraints of today's marketplace. The goal in asking the right questions in the comprehensive world of the nonprofit is to raise the level of public understanding and commitment until a more sustainably beautiful reality allows for the consideration and creation of a far more inclusive "bottom line". The core question raised in the first Arizona Challenge asked how we might create a more coherently, sustainable, and inherently educational approach to urban form. That answer from the winning entry appears on pages 6 to 9. Arizona Challenge 2.0 addressed a similar question, but this time it was applied to envisioning more
sustainable patterns of infill around the existing type of low density dispersion that followed WWII (See pages 12-17). Continuing with this pursuit the Navajo Challenge (pages 32-39) addresses questions relating to the planning, design, and rebirth of an entire nation.

7. Waking up to the urgent need for beauty

We more readily associate "urgencies" with disaster relief, seeking cures for crippling diseases or matters that threaten financial collapse. But beauty? This only seems strange to the degree that we have trivialized the reach and power of what beauty is all about. When Dostoyevsky said, "Beauty will save the world," he wasn't talking about the latest luxuries, fashions, or anything else to be found in the marketplace. The kind of beauty with the power to
"save us," is what Frank Lloyd Wright had in mind when he said, "Instinctually and naturally if you beautify your own life, you beautify the life of everyone around you." Or what he meant by, "Invest wisely in beauty, it will serve you all the days of your life." Decades after Wright counseled designers of all kinds to "learn from the one great book of Nature", Frederick Turner, the distinguished scholar and author wrote, "Beauty is our surest indication of
whether what we do is in the most creative direction for nature as a whole." It has become common to promote books on smart, green, and sustainable design with testimonials like, "Beauty could save the planet" and, "Design has the power to create a world that can be economically, equitably, ecologically, and elegantly enjoyed". What kind of world would this be if what exists, can't be economically, equitably, ecologically and elegantly enjoyed? If this design-based need for beauty isn't urgent, what is?