Ecotopia ~ Ernest Callenbach, A Relook at an Inspiring Book
Today promises a +60’F reward of sunshine, and since that is to be followed by 10 days of rain and 45’F I believe just about everyone has departed inside to soak up what is going on outside. I have seen kayaks on top of cars pass by and bikers, runners and walkers out doing their thing. The citizens on the west side of the mountains know how to celebrate a beautiful day. I think it offers mildew relief to our joints also!
In 1975, at the end of my first day on my first professional job, I went directly to the bookstore and purchased Ecotopia. It was required reading on this particular college campus. This futuristic novel was exciting the very souls of the faculty and students on campus. I wanted in on the action.
Ecotopia (Wikipedia article) is the story of a top journalist from New York being allowed to visit the country of Ecotopia – 20 years after this new country has seceded from the United States. Ecotopia encompasses Northern California, Oregon, and Washington to the Canadian Border; bounded on the east by the Rocky Mountains. The reporter is given 6 weeks to explore the country and send weekly reports back to his paper and dispatches to the current President of the good ol’ USA.
Callenbach uses the reporter’s questions and observations to journey us through a very progressive society, based on excellent communication models and technology, which respects the human spirit and reflects the environment and the awareness of connections. We would use the term Sustainability today to describe this connection.
Callenbach upped the awareness of the environment and promoted a society which was trust worthy.
Although he was the editor working in the publishing sector of University of California at Berkeley, Callenbach did public appearances on the mixing of environmental issues and technology. His degrees are in communication.
1981 Ecotopia Emerging was published and it explained how the new country came to secede.
2008 Ecotopia was republished to a new audience; it is available on KINDLE. It is 181 pages paperback and getting rave reviews the second time around.
My personal opinion is that Portland, Oregon has made the most strides in achieving a sustainable environment and taking Callenbach’s work to heart; such as evidenced by their commitment to light rail.
I have found Ecotopia referred on at least 5 architectural blogs that I read and on more green blogs . I chose this book for my book group this month. Although a number of members cannot attend, everyone is enjoying the book.
This book was written when electric typewriters were the big thing! No computers!
Germany and the UK are way ahead of the USA on Net- Zero Housing and Denmark does co-housing and study groups with a flourish.
Callenbach’s predictions of how citizens cannot sustain health nor can the USA sustain its practice of industrial designer foods is truly evident when reading this book 30 years later.
The citizens had to truly believe in what they were attempting, because it changed how schools functioned, salaries and incomes changed and how much health improved.
We can also be proud that a significant number of people around the world have kept the passion for sustainable, healthy, happy communities alive and have worked to promote the outcomes which will achieve those goals.
I am reminded that Korten in his book Agenda for a New Economy describes how such economically healthy communities could emerge from our current financial crisis.
Hope I have inspired you to take a look and discover this amazing gem of a story. It truly gets the creative juices flowing.
Do you like to read science fiction? Or futuristic novels? Have you ever been inspired to go back and read something again? How do you envision an Ecotopian society? Do you see any of these ideas emerging?
Congratulations to the winner of the The Kind Diet cookbook: Talon!