Maggie Moore Alexander
A few years ago, Chris Alexander and I began to record the conversations presented here. Completion of The Nature of Order (in December of 2004), was a huge milestone in Chris’ career. Many have called it his magnum opus. But, in Chris’ experience, there is still much more work to be done before his career ends. For my part, I was looking for a way to help him identify aspects of his work that needed further elaboration. Through interviews that journalists did with him, Chris became aware that there were topics of great interest and importance to him that he had not addressed in public. So, we began these conversations to mine his intuition, and mine, to see what would happen. We recorded them because we thought they might produce new thought – learning that could be interesting for others as well as us. We have shared them with a few people who have encouraged us to make them widely available, which this website gives us an opportunity to do.
Perhaps the most important topic is that what Chris has written about needs to become extremely practical and implementable. There’s a leap of faith that needs to be made by people who want to act on the ideas put forward in The Nature of Order. While many are anxious to do so and capable of doing so, exactly what to do may elude them for a time. Hence the development of this website. Chris is reflecting on his long experience with designing and building living neighborhoods, and providing as much as he and his colleagues can in the way of “how to’s”. As we get feedback from people who are working with the website in their own projects, we will be able to provide more.
Many other topics are coming up, some quite surprising, that might be called philosophical. But to Chris, they are profoundly fundamental to the work he has done throughout his life. They have led his internal and external exploration. These conversations are a discovery process into the deeper issues of his work, and the sense he has had of the world since he was a child.
My selfish wish in sharing these conversations is that I would like the world to know who Chris really is. As a public and controversial figure for 40 years, countless attributions have been made to him that have little or no basis in fact – some too lofty by true believers, some too scathing by critics accusing Chris of arrogance but demonstrating their own, some just completely incorrect. I would like you to know the man that I know: a man whose vision has been more demanding of him than anyone; a man of science; a man who feels deeply a responsibility to say what he sees and teach what he has learned; a man who believes he has not yet done enough to help repair the damage we all have done to our world.
It is my hope that the thoughts recorded in these conversations, will provoke your own thoughts and discovery process, and connect with your own vision and inclinations of how you will make a difference in the world. Whether you agree or disagree, find them comforting or disconcerting, if they somehow help you consider things more deeply and arrive at a place that is more connected with what is around you, they will have served their purpose.