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Allegra Fuller Snyder on socially responsible design

Allegra Fuller Snyder: The Challenge Award and her father Buckminster Fuller

Socially-Responsible Design’s Highest Award

Each year, The Buckminster Fuller Institute invites scientists, students, designers, architects, activists, entrepreneurs, artists and planners from all over the world to submit their innovative solutions to some of humanity’s most pressing problems. A $100,000 prize is awarded to support the development and implementation of one outstanding strategy.


Buckminster Fuller led a prolific life of research, invention, writing and teaching. He developed a comprehensive systems approach to understanding complex global problems. By rigorously adhering to his unique set of “design science” principles, Fuller’s work embodies a deeply attuned ecological aesthetic. Fuller conceived and prototyped new strategies intended to enable all of humanity to live lives characterized by freedom, comfort and dignity without negatively impacting the earth’s ecosystems or regenerative ability. He emphasized that the technology and know-how already exist to successfully surmount our global challenges and advocated “doing more with less” by increasing the overall performance of every resource invested in a system.

Fuller issued an urgent call for a creative revolution 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.” Answering this call is what the Fuller Challenge is all about.

Photographs: Dymaxion Car, Dymaxion World, NASA, Below: World Game THE FULLER CHALLENGE

Allegra Fuller Snyder: In the words of her father Buckminster FullerFor the Fuller Challenge Award event 11/24/2014

Rather than my own words I bring Bucky to be with you today. Bucky says, “Questions… must be answered only in terms of experience…Hear-says, beliefs, axioms, superstitions, guesses, opinions were and are all excluded as (my) answer resources.”

Bucky didn’t use the word “feeling” often but he quotes this wonderful E.E. Cummings thought at the beginning of his book Critical Path. I believe what Cummings’ meant by feel and feeling relates to Bucky’s experience and experiencing and I have linked them together here.

“Cummings- A lot of people think or believe or know they feel (experience) — but that’s thinking or believing or knowing; not feeling (experiencing). Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel(experience). Why? Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, you’re a lot of other people: but the moment you feel (experience), you’re nobody-but-yourself. To be nobody-but-yourself–in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else–means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.” That was the scenario of Bucky’s life — to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.

Intuition, imagination, relate to, and are a part of, experience. Let me turn again to Bucky’s own words. This time drawn from Synergetics Dictionary.

“Intuition is practically physical, the kind of super-sensitivity that a child has.” “Imagination. Image-ination involves rearranging the ‘furniture’ of remembered experience as retrieved from the brain bank.”

Speaking with an audience Bucky would say, “All that I can really give you I must always identify by experience.” One of his great gifts as a speaker was the fact that he made you experience, he carried you along with the connection between your experience and his experience. “Information is experience. Experience is information.”

He then goes on to really explore the essence of experience.

“Thinking in inherently exclusive. Experience, which comes before thinking, is inherently inclusive.”

“Experience is complex consciousness of being, of self, co-existing with all the non-self.”

“Experience is finite; it can be stored, studied, directed; it can be turned, with conscious effort to human advantage. (This means that) evolution pivots on the conscious, selective use of cumulative human experience.”


Allegra Fuller Snyder, Founder, and first President, now Board member emeritus of the Buckminster Fuller Institute, Allegra Fuller Snyder, is Bucky’s only living child. She is also Professor Emerita of Dance and Dance Ethnology, UCLA; 1992 American Dance Guild Honoree of the Year; former Chair of the Department of Dance; and founding Coordinator of the World Arts and Cultures Program. She has been on the Dance Faculty at Cal Arts as well as Professor of Performance Studies at New York University, and Honorary Visiting Professor at the University of Surrey, Guildford, England.

She began her career as a performer and choreographer and has been concerned with the relation of dance to film since the late 1940s. She has made several prize winning documentary films on dance. She has done dance research around the world, and was the recipient of several Fulbright Scholarships. Among many special projects Snyder was a Core Consultant on the PBS series DANCING for WNET/Channel 13. Recently returning to performance Jennifer Fisher of the LA times said of her in “Spirit Dances 6: Inspired by Isadora,” “She was a haiku and an epic.”


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