- Paperback: 181 pages
- Publisher: Bantam; Reissue edition (March 1, 1990)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0553348477
- ISBN-13: 978-0553348477
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 142 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #311,990 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Ecotopia: A Novel Paperback – March 1, 1990
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"A classic of earth consciousness." —Denis Hayes, original coordinator of Earth Day
"Essential reading for all who care about the earth's future."—Fritjof Capra, author of The Tao of Physics and The Turning Point
"None of the happy conditions in Ecotopia are beyond the technical or resource reach of our society."—Ralph Nader
From the Publisher
"Callenbach gives us a vivid, comprehensive, positive vision of an ecologically sustainable world. essential reading for all who care about the earth's future."--Fritjof Capra, author of the Tao Of Physics and the Tuming Point.
"A classic of earth consciousness."--Denis Hayes, Earth Day.
Ecotopia was founded when northern California, Oregon, and Washington seceded from the Union to create a "stable-state" ecosystem: the perfect balance between human beings and the environment. Now, twenty years later, the isolated, mysterious Ecotopia welcomes its first officially sanctioned American visitor: New York Times-Post reporter Will Weston. Like a modern Gulliver, the skeptical Weston is by turns impressed, horrified, and overwhelmed by Ecotopia's strange practices: employee ownership of farms and businesses, the twenty-hour work week, the fanatical elimination of pollution, "mini-cities" that defeat overcrowding, devotion to trees bordering on worship, a woman-dominated government, and bloody, ritual war games. Bombarded by innovative, unsettling ideas, set afire by a relationship with a sexually forthright Ecotopian woman, Weston's conflict of values intensifies-and leads to a startling climax.
"None of the happy conditions in Ecotopisa are beyond the technical or resource reach of our society."--Ralph Nader
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In 2012, Callenbach, aware of his upcoming death, left an epistle to us Ecotopians. It is included in the 40th anniversary edition and can also be found online. It is his “thoughts and attitudes that may prove useful in the dark times we are facing.” He discusses hope, mutual support, practical skills, organizing, learning to live with contradictions, and the Big Picture. In one paragraph he describes with amazing specificity (in 2012, mind you) our present president. He closes with an encouragement to appreciate the Japanese wisdom of the beauty of wabi-sabi. “Let us embrace decay, for it is the source of all new life and growth.”
The "plot" to this story is largely superfluous - it follows that standard device of having a stranger going into an Utopia and describing it for people back home. This has been used as far back as Thomas Moores Utopia and in one of my favorite utopian novels, Island by Aldous Huxley. The stranger is usually converted to the utopian life. The story of how Ecotopia was created seems unlikely, but if you look at all the countries that have devolved since the mid 70s like the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia and all the areas that would like to split away, like Scotland, Flanders, Catalonia and most certainly Kurdistan, then perhaps this is not so wild of an idea. A lot of people in Texas are always saying they want independence. At any rate, what is important here is how a green society would work - Callenbach could have placed it on another planet for all the difference it would make (you know, like Pandora in Avatar).
One of the things I like about Callenbachs proposed world is how it doesn't fit neatly into any currently existing political or cultural viewpoint. Or at least not any that will likely be allowed onto the pages of the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal. His ideas will resonate best amongst the outsiders and freethinkers across the social spectrum, whether they be left or right or neither. But before you laugh it off, remember; a lot of these things have happened or are happening now. Perhaps back in the early 70s, when this book was being written, they only seemed possible through secession, but now they are being implemented state by state. The next twenty years should be be interesting - you can get a heads up by reading this book.
The new "country" actually builds walls and borders to keep others out, but since they are on the West Coast, they continue to have trade relations with the far east. The have corporate giants Boeing, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Apple, Intel, Weyerhauser, and Nike! They create a completely eco friendly society where everything is used, reused, recycled, or re-purposed. Even the paper money bio-degrades if it is dropped on the ground where microbes in the soil begin the process of degradation.
The people are industrious, happy, healthy, and 100% committed to the eco friendly society.
Trees are worshipped…
And the President is a woman!
Very well written, very fantastic, and very beautiful.
A must read….
First, you must recognize the era the book was written in. Cold War mentality, strong ideas of nation and sovereignty, sexism rampant, to the point that the author's attitudes are actually more liberated.
Second, the author has a hard time making the character seem genuine and authentic. This is especially difficult to believe at the end of the book.
Third, that the author would concede that segregation would be a good policy seems tragically laughable. His naïveté on race relations is disgusting, from our perspective.
Nevertheless, one should read this book. If only for the exercise of allowing yourself to see that life here in America doesn't have to be this way.