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    Author's note
    Charas : the improbable dome builder. -- New York, USA : Drake Publishers, 1973
    Book/pamphlet article – Essays
    Mottel, Syeus. "Arthur's Note." In Charas: the improbable dome builder. New York, USA: Drake Publishers, 1973.

In this “Author’s Note,” Syeus Mottel, a theater and film director, and a photographer, describes his experience after he was recruited to make a book adaptation of a unique project already in development by Buckminster Fuller and Michael Ben Eli, along with members of the community action group, called CHARAS. Mottel drew his story from the day-to-day process of observation and encounter, since his function was to be there to absorb the situation without conscious selection. He recorded and lived “the conviviality, depression, exhaustive effort, humor, rage and eventual success of the men and women of CHARAS,” so that he describes the whole experience as a lesson in interpersonal and group dynamics.


CHARAS (an acronym based on the founders’ first names: Chino García, Humberto Crespo, Angelo González, Roy Batiste, Anthony Figueroa, and Sal Becker) was an initiative that stemmed from the Real Great Society, a group of former gang members who organized community services on the Lower East Side (LES), in New York City, under the War on Poverty in the 1960s. During the 1970s, they worked with Buckminster Fuller’s crew to build experimental dymaxion dome structures on vacant lots on the LES sector. CHARAS also formed alliances working on a community garden on Ninth Street in which Liz Christy, founder of the Green Guerrillas, and artist Gordon Matta-Clark, were partners.

The book authored by Syeus starts by introducing Carlos Garcia (Chino) and Angelo Gonzalez as central figures of Puerto Rican descent who had known the squalor and degradation of being poor in a rich land, and how their anger and energy had pushed them into the gang-oriented world of the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Years passed and at the point they meet again, popular culture was circulating the concept of the “Great Society”; they wanted in, and thus began their move into their future lives.

Readers have stated that Syeus’s book opens up the eyes not only to an urban culture often misplaced and forgotten, but to the mathematics of geodesic domes for completely non-math-oriented individuals.


Libertad Guerra
Syeus Mottel, The Film Unit