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Nowtopia: How Pirate Programmers, Outlaw Bicyclists, and Vacant-Lot Gardeners are Inventing the Future Today! Paperback – May 1, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: AK Press; First Edition edition (May 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1904859771
  • ISBN-13: 978-1904859772
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #547,450 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Chris Carlsson, executive director of the multimedia history project Shaping San Francisco, is a writer, publisher, editor, and community organizer. He has edited four collections of political and historical essays. His most recent book is After The Deluge, a utopian novel of post-economic San Francisco. He was long-time editor of Processed World magazine.

More About the Author

Chris Carlsson (www.chriscarlsson.com), co-director of the multimedia history project Shaping San Francisco (digital history archive at foundsf.org), is a writer, editor, and historian. He has written two books (After the Deluge, Nowtopia) edited six books, (Reclaiming San Francisco, The Political Edge, Bad Attitude, Critical Mass: Bicycling's Defiant Celebration, Ten Years That Shook the City: San Francisco, 1968-78 (gold medalist, California Book Awards 2011), and Shift Happens! Critical Mass at 20). He has produced weekly Public Talks since January 2006 and also conducts award-winning bicycle and walking history tours (shapingsf.org).

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By James Generic on June 6, 2008
Format: Paperback
"Nowtopia: How Pirate Programmers, Outlaw Bicyclists, and Vacant-Lot Gardeners Are Inventing the Future Today!" explores the subcultures of subtle and active resistance to the dominate US consumer culture. Author Chris Carlsson argues that today, the American working class is fragmented and not able to organize through traditional union politics, since people work in jobs where they are moved around a lot or are more individualized in smaller units, like retail jobs or smaller shops or service jobs, with many different locations, as opposed to the factory setting of the 20th century. He says that active resistance focuses on creating a "nowtopia" approach rather than a far off future utopia. He touches on a variety of people in the US engaged in building this new world today, instead of confronting the old existing capitalist world order. Examples he gives include the DIY ethic, urban gardeners, bicyclist, hackers and internet freaks, the Burning Man, left-wing scientists, and free fuel activists.
Urban gardeners reclaim otherwise decaying urban cities, where drugs and crime plague neighborhoods, and try to get food from the land. The gardens take back private property, long abandoned by slum lords, and turn it into public land or a commons for the neighbors and by the neighbors, growing and sharing food. More often than not, women lead in rebuilding a sense of community by everyone with an interest in the gardens putting caring for them. Green Philadelphia, a network promoting urban gardens in Philadelphia areas taken over by drugs, empowered residents to be in charge of their neighborhoods.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By wildflowerboy on April 16, 2008
Format: Paperback
"Nowtopia" is an inspiring glimpse of the exciting cooperative work being done by environmental and social justice activists to build a sustainable, life-affirming, liberatory society. From bicycle activism to community gardens, biodiesel to permaculture, Chris Carlsson chronicles the various ways ordinary people are challenging the free market economy and reclaiming the commons. As a social ecologist, I especially appreciate how Carlsson interconnects the ecological crisis we are in with class issues like environmental racism and corporate globalization. As such, I encourage you to read this delightful book and then go out into the world and plant some seeds!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By William G. Parsons on May 4, 2008
Format: Paperback
What is the nature of work and class in this postmodern age? That is the fundamental question Chris Carlsson asks in his latest book, Nowtopia: How Pirate Programmers, Outlaw Bicyclists, and Vacant-Lot Gardeners are Inventing the Future Today! Carlsson's analysis of the way ordinary men and women challenge selected aspects of the commercialism of life and the atomization of the "classical" working class is both insightful and will lead to further theoretical investigation of what a reconstituted working class will eventually look like.

Carlsson begins his book on a discussion of how we define work. Is it just the paid work we do? Or is it the ways in which people come together to make their goals happen? Carlsson understands that the ordinary worker (and if we draw a paycheck, we are, after all workers) cannot completely separate themselves from the logic of the capitalist economic system. We need to be able to pay the rent and provide for the other necessities/niceties of life. During the time we work, we are at the mercy of the system. It is how workers organize the free time that becomes meaningful in his analysis.

The late capitalist system in which we live has become quite adept at colonizing the free time of the workers in the system, especially those workers who identify themselves as the middle/professional class. The extra hours, the working vacations, the work done at home are all part of a system that expects more from people while giving them less of what workers have traditionally worked for- security, money, and free time.

Nowtopia focuses on how some segments of our society are trying to reclaim their "free time" and rebuild communities. The gardeners, bikers, and programmers that Carlsson features in the book have these two things in common.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on May 4, 2008
Format: Paperback
In the 1800s, Anatomists were shamed for their practices of dissecting the human body for a greater understanding of how it works - they were on the fringes of society but now, nearly two hundred years later, we hail the greatness of their work in the medical community. Great scientific advances on the fringes of society, as "Nowtopia: How Pirate Programmers, Outlaw Bicyclists, and Vacant Lot Gardeners are Inventing the Future Today" tells us how even in the modern day, those who we may shun as outcasts may in the future be the bringers of exciting new technology and concepts. "Nowtopia" outlines how many people no longer identify themselves by what they do for a living, by the labor they do willingly for hours on their non-work time and how that will change the future. "Nowtopia: How Pirate Programmers, Outlaw Bicyclists, and Vacant Lot Gardeners are Inventing the Future Today" is highly recommended to any social issues community library shelf and for anyone who wants to get a glimpse of the future in an unlikely place.
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