Larry Dobson is an expert at putting the “fun” in fundamental forms.
The Clinton resident, known for his numerous appearances ascending a pair of stilts in parades and community events throughout the decades, is an inventor and architect specializing in fundamental geometry.
“As a society, we’ve been formed by the cube, the cubicle,” said Dobson. “We see things in the right angle. The right and wrong dualities are integrated into our perspective on everything. There is also a dual perspective that is related to us being upright on the earth.”
Dobson explained that the relationship between humans and right angles is something he has been exploring for some time. Fundamental forms encompass everything from crystals to atoms, none of which are cubic, he said.
Fundamental geometry is also at the heart of the “Attitude Adjuster,” one of a number of innovative technologies and designs Dobson has created since he began his work in the 1970s.
The Attitude Adjuster is a human-powered crystal-shaped structure from which hangs several swings to sling riders through the air. Friends and cohorts of Dobson’s contend that, true to its name, it always provokes a smile.
It’s a symbol of Dobson’s longstanding goal to make the world a more fundamentally enjoyable, cooperative space.
In his most recent endeavor, Dobson, along with a group of like-minded community members, are working to establish an intentional, affordable, ecologically conscious community within Dobson’s 10-acre plot of land.
“There are a lot of open minds here, people who would love to see change, people who came here to get away from that rat race mentality and scarcity, autonomy,” said Dobson.
Duran Laframboise, himself an artist and builder, currently lives in a brightly-painted 1970s Winnebago on Dobson’s property along with Katy Lambert.
Laframboise and Lambert are two of Dobson’s five cohorts who have spent the last few months busily researching and working to develop a plan to bring before Island County representatives for approval. He noted that he has spoken with Bridget Smith, a county code and compliance advisor, and is in the process of deciphering what is permissible and feasible.
Neither Smith nor Dave Wechner, director of Island County Community Planning, could be reached for comment prior to press time.
The ideal representation of their vision, Laframboise explained, would be to develop a community land trust similar to those established in nearby Lopez Island.
Lopez Island currently contains five such communities, in which the land has been preserved for affordable, ecologically sustainable housing. Two of the Lopez Island communities are “net zero” meaning that a renewable source of energy offsets all of the households’ annual energy consumption.
Loren Churchill, another resident of the property and longtime friend of Dodson’s, said the purpose of a land trust is to protect the land while taking it off of the speculative market.
Dobson first envisioned the concept of intentional communal living while serving in the Peace Corps in India. He said he was greatly impressed by the resourcefulness and harmony with which thousands of Indian villagers lived on small plots of land with little or no negative ecological impact.
After Dobson moved to Whidbey in the 1970s, he began working to create a similar community, complete with a school.
The community eventually dissipated, but has established a smaller-scale haven for artists and fellow gaia-enthusiasts on his property.
Dobson met Laframboise, Lambert and others while involved with Geoship SPC. It was upon this meeting that the concept of a community land trust began to emerge. Geoship’s website describes it as a Decentralized Autonomous Social Purpose Company based on Whidbey and in Reykjavik, Iceland. Laframboise explained that they are currently taking a hiatus from Geoship in order to pursue their own vision while the CEO seeks funding from venture capitalists in San Francisco.
Dobson’s hope is to encourage conversation and participation from neighbors and community members in order to create a diverse network of participants representative of different age groups, backgrounds and specializations in order to build a “beautiful, harmonious paradise.”
“All of our skills overlap and complement each other really, really well. It really illustrates how diversity equals unity,” Laframboise said.
Each of the participants’ philosophies and project ideas share the common thread of living in close connection with the earth.
Dobson hopes that, more than an ecologically sustainable community, it will also become a place of healing where people may hold workshops and events.
He is interested in helping others to realize their dreams, he said. He added that he considers his community vision to be a “living organism,” the project representative of a symbiotic relationship between individuals, the earth and one another.
“I think there are a lot of people who don’t know what compassion and unconditional love is,” said Heather Wilkins, participant and resident. “I think people need to be shown that in order to express it.”
“The idea is to empower the community,” said Wilkins, adding that she hopes to eventually develop a food co-op to source South End neighbors with produce harvested from the property.
In tandem with their work to establish an intentional community and land trust, the group has been heading a weekly work party to assist South End neighbors with various tasks, similar to the work of Hearts & Hammers.
Most recently, the group salvaged the materials from the last of the former Robinson’s Resort cabins. The wood will be used in making structures such as sheds and a tiny house.
“It’s all evolving rather serendipitously,” Laframboise said of their efforts.
More information on Dobson’s work with alternative energy and fundamental forms may be found at fundamentalform.com.
“The driving interest that I have is to be a part of solutions,” said Churchill.