Buckminster Fuller’s ‘world meetings’ still going strong 34 years after his death

 |Jul 12, 2017
Participants at the Buckyworld Confluence 2017 at Penang Hill’s Bellevue Hotel. – MO pic by Zalinah Noordin.

GEORGE TOWN: An architect, a dancer, a social activist, a psychologist and an economist, among others, may not have many things in common with each other yet when they sit down to discuss ideas, it transcends their career backgrounds.

For the past two days, they have come together for what is known as ‘The Buckyworld Confluence 2017’ to discuss and exchange ideas on various world affairs and current issues.

They have been doing so since 1976 after it was initiated by R. Buckminster Fuller who died in July 1983.

Fuller, or Bucky as he was more affectionately known as, was considered to be a maverick in the scientific world, variously viewed as a great innovator and futurist.

Among the topics discussed were ‘The Future of Civilization’, ‘Utopia or Oblivion’ and ‘The Impact of Globalization: the One Belt One Road Initiative’, concluding with a symposium on ‘After Buckminster Fuller: Inspirations for a Better World’.

“Fuller had visited Penang frequently for what is now known as the Campuan Meetings in the early 1980s after the ‘World’ meetings moved from Bali to the Bellevue here on Penang Hill,” said Fuller’s close friend, architect and urban planner Datuk Seri Lim Chong Keat who initiated the meetings after Fuller’s demise.

Fuller himself had convened what he called the ‘World’ meetings in the historic and scenic Campuan Lounge at the Bellevue Hotel on Penang Hill.

In conjunction with what would have been Bucky’s 88th birthday today (July 12), the group saw a participation of not less than 30 individuals around the region.

Participants at this year’s ‘World’ meeting in honour of Fuller’s legacy include social activist Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim, Ramli Ibrahim, Ibrahim Ahmad Bajunid, Yoshitomo Nakata, Fuller’s one time personal secretary Shirley Sharkey, as well as Thai architect and historian Sumet Jumsai, who was a close friend of Fuller.

Fuller’s connection to Malaysia can be found in the Dewan Tunku geodesic dome that sits beside the iconic Komtar Tower in Penang island designed by Lim.

“His visionary message that science and technology would save humankind around the world is perhaps even more relevant today as humanity’s push for progress has put ‘spaceship earth’ on the brink of catastrophe,” Lim said.

‘Spaceship earth’ was an idea put forth by Fuller who suggested that the earth is a spaceship, with the sun as its energy supplier.

The idea is that earth is a mechanical vehicle that requires maintenance, and if it is not kept in good order, it will cease to function.

These ideas were presented by Fuller in a short book titled ‘Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth’ which was first published in 1968.

“Bucky had tried to be apolitical but in later years his design of science concepts for the future of the world led him to identify deleterious trends which are not unrelated to global power politics and the misuse of money and resources.

“Bucky had always reminded us to reaffirm our belief in a common fulfillable destiny for humanity on earth ‘a world for you and me, not you or me’,” said Lim, of his long time friend. – MO