Michael E. Arth is an artist, home, landscape & urban designer, green builder, social activist and public policy analyst, advocate for the homeless, filmmaker, futurist, public speaker, and author. Additionally, he rebuilt 32 homes and businesses in a former slum in DeLand, FL, turning it into the Historic Garden District. In 1999 he founded New Pedestrianism, a more ecological and pedestrian-oriented branch of New Urbanism, with the purpose of designing new towns and neighborhoods. In June 2009 he announced he was a candidate for Governor of Florida.
of MICHAEL E. ARTH
I was born near Liverpool, England at a U.S. Air Force
Base in 1953. In 1955 we moved to New Mexico.
This was followed by a move to Midland, Texas where I was taught
at a parochial school by the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception,
all of whom were named Mary. (None of them were immaculately
conceived, as far as I know).
My five younger brothers and sisters were all born by the time I was seven, so I grew up fast. After we moved to Houston I built a fort for us all to play in. This would lead to grander construction projects as an adult.
Almost all of the things I have done as an adult were childhood hobbies and activities: art, architecture, philosophizing, photography, filmmaking, travel, designing towns and neighborhoods, building, reading, writing, swimming, and walking. In high school, I had a little off-campus newspaper, and I wrote a few things for area newspapers, including this op-ed piece for the Ft. Worth Star Telegram about the popular bumper sticker at the time: “America: Love It or Leave It.”
shows my burgeoning interest in social and political reform
which would not come into full flower for another 30 years.
After graduating from high school I worked briefly for the well-known illustrator Don Punchantz. This was followed by my own brief career as an illustrator before I had a 10-year career in fine art and photography. That was overlapped and followed by a 30-year career in home and urban design and construction, mostly in California.
I met my Bulgarian wife, Maya, in May 1998, the day after I moved to Santa Barbara from Los Angeles. Since 1994 I also worked on The Labors of Hercules: Modern Solutions to 12 Herculean Problems, a book that turned out to be much more Herculean that I had bargained for. Partly as a desire to create a living laboratory for the book, we moved to DeLand, Florida in 2001 so that I could rebuild a small slum neighborhood, which I renamed The Garden District.
Our daughter Sophie was born at home on December 15, 2001 (in a former crack house) in DeLand, Florida, which is where we still live now. I love being a dad, and in a way I have came full circle, because I built a playhouse for my own daughter. Seeing her playing in and on the playhouse with her friends reminds me of the best part of my own childhood.
with permission: Southern
Sophie, Michael, and Maya Arth in their living room.
(click for larger view)
(click for larger view)
After finishing the Garden District I went back to writing full time, and designing new towns based on my New Pedestrianism urban design philosophy. An award-winning documentary, The New Urban Cowboy: Toward a New Pedestrianism, came out in 2007/2008.
Out of frustration at seeing how the real problems are not being properly addressed I decided to run for Florida Governor in 2009.
One thing that especially frustrates me is how poorly we are being served by our corrupt and antiquated electoral system. Martin Luther King once said, “Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice.” Power serves itself under our system, unfortunately, and this self-serving power is what we should change.
In a nutshell, the goal in a representative democracy should be to bring the greatest good to the greatest number in the most efficient manner possible, in this and future generations. Please join us in striving to achieve this noble endeavor.
Michael and Maya with Sophie, and campaign volunteers
Skyler and Andrew on the 4th of July, 2009