In 2020 I set out to plan my retirement. Covid-19 was raging, and Black Lives Matter was surging through the streets as I descended to the bottom of Dark Canyon in Utah (photo above), seeking clarity on what I might contribute…
Retirement doesn’t mean not working – it just means no longer doing what you don’t want to do. For me, it was clear that, after decades of designing for my clients’ needs, it was time to move beyond custom homes. I thought I’d take the creative leap of drawing two or three homes just the way I want to see them built: carbon-zero, highly functional, and extremely beautiful. One would be the Mountain Home, one would be the Canyon Home, and the third a carbon-zero and healthy Affordable Home.
As it turned out, a past client showed up last winter, asking me to design something very much like the Mountain Home I had contemplated: a carbon-zero house in the forest that, like the home I did for him in 2002, would be a “one-of-a-kind” artistic masterwork – an architect’s dream I could not refuse!
So much for the “retirement” plan…
Meanwhile, after two years of advocating for rooftop solar in Taos, I have stepped up efforts to help the community achieve carbon-zero goals. So far I’ve done a bit of writing, and have just recently begun energy transition consulting.
Other passions are on the back burner, such as writing How Nonviolence Works, a short book that will share insights that began when I marched with Martin Luther King as a teenager, deepened when I studied Gandhi in India as a young man, and took practical form when I founded and ran NonviolenceWorks in Taos from 2002-2012.
Here’s my concern: everywhere you look, the world is coming unraveled. Climate change in particular needs every one of us to take action now. Yet it’s impossible to fully take that on when we are blinded by our own greed and crippled by racial injustice, gender injustice and by inequality of access to healthcare, a living wage, and even adequate food and water. There is so much to be done…
What I can do is take fifty years of hard-earned expertise in Nonviolence and Sustainable Design, and put it to work in the two or three decades left to me. That’s my plan.
I am indeed fortunate. Underpinning anything I pursue are my marriage, my family, and my home and garden, for which I am incredibly grateful. My life is full (and fulfilling) – so let the cup runneth over!
I hope I can contribute, if not humbly, at least gracefully. My working website title is “Vishu Magee Creative.” At risk of appearing pretentious, the title reflects how I want to feel from here on out.
Vishu Magee / June, 2022