Happy Birthday Alden B. Dow:
Philosopher and Innovator
Alden B. Dow sought to create quality in all that he did. To obtain quality, he questioned, challenged and tested the world in a positive and constructive manner with Honesty, Humility and Enthusiasm. These three factors became the guiding principles in all areas of his life, personal and professional. Join us on Facebook LIVE as Craig McDonald, Director of the Alden B. Dow Home & Studio celebrates the life of Alden B. Dow, the influential philosopher and architect, on what would have been Mr. Dow’s 116th birthday. He will focus time on an article that Mr. Dow wrote entitled “The City.”
Get ready to join the conversation and ask Craig questions in the Facebook LIVE thread as we #MakeArtVirtual.
Some rare individuals have the ability to see a larger perspective and articulate it to encourage and inspire others to think and to dream. It is even more rare when a person has this ability or gift and can actually create and physically manifest those visions and ideas into reality. Alden B. Dow was one of those incredibly rare human beings who created new definitions in our world that continue to inspire and encourage each of us to create and to grow as humans. Most visibly, he created new forms of architecture and design. Through his writings and speeches he encourages us to identify, develop and share our individual talents with the world around us. He appreciated and celebrated that each of us has a talent or gift that is unequal to any other person. When we all share our unique individual talents with others, we can collectively create something that is honest, inspiring and truly individual.
In the article below, Alden B. Dow gives us a definition of what a city is or can be if we appreciate and value the talents of the people who make up that city. When we emerge from Covid-19, we will be asked to create new definitions for ourselves, our families, our cities and the world around us. As we create new definitions in business, art, science, education and all other endeavors, let’s create definitions that reflect who we are as unique, educated, thoughtful, intentional and proactive citizens of Midland, Michigan.
Director, The Alden B. Dow Home and Studio
What is a city? A city is a concentration of variety. Like a huge demographic atom it has “individualism” unique to itself. Cities may look alike, from afar, but up close they follow the pattern of the atom, the daisy, or the human being.
It takes people to make a city. They mold the city. Their “individualisms” produce a final composition – the city – with a distinctiveness unduplicated. In a magnificent inter-action, the individual human beings relate to the individualistic city and create a force that attracts and holds a city together.
This “city-force” is a mutual, interdependence between the physical city and its citizens. It supplies an endless variety of facilities and services with a true mutuality. It draws its power from a large population which, in turn, supplies the economic base for the variety impossible in a smaller concentration of people.
Every “city-force” has a distinctive, individual character and enthusiasm. This enthusiasm accomplishes a desirable end in many ways. There are countless kinds of enthusiasm; some like the harsh sounds of the brass section in a band; others like the muted tenderness of violins. The city sets its own tempo, selects its own repertoire, and modulates in its own individual fashion.
If it is to grow into a great city, its people must actively express its beliefs and principles. It must develop a faith in its own “city-force” and enthusiasm. It must project its potential in its own individualism. To truly progress, a city should never “copy” what’s being done in another city. If it cannot figure out a better way of doing its tasks, in its own individual way, it is best not to do it at all.
Every city must ask itself “What am I trying to do?” It should be searching for a “way of life” for its people. And, this “way of life” has to please the inanimate city and the animate population. It must balance the people with its facilities to be “right”.
In achieving this “rightness” a city becomes great. It also becomes truly individualistic, functional, and distinctive.
-Alden B. Dow