Dream castles

Ernest Callenbach’s Afterword says Ecotopia taught him “it’s okay to dream… to imagine being happy…”

I’m sure he meant it’s okay to be happy, even as we dream. For many of us the present moment partakes too much of nightmare, but we remain as committed to our present happiness and our grandchildren’s as ever.

Surely Callenbach intended that we invoke the proactive, propulsive imagination, and not merely console ourselves with the distracted dreaminess that shuts its eyes and shuts down its hopes as voters and their designated Deciders stomp on our dreams of ecologically sustainable social structures and styles of living that draw their energy from renewable sources. Build your castles in the air, wrote Thoreau, that’s where they belong. “Now put the foundations under them.” But how, now?

Go to the demonstration, for one thing. You may get more than your share of abuse there, or not – probably not – but you will find solidarity and strength in growing numbers, and in the recognition that as more and more of us chase the dream of sustainable happiness we will create the change we need. “America as a society might be rapidly distancing itself from sustainability, but individual people could still try to live like Ecotopians. We could actually practice sustainability…”

Some of the dream’s cinematic details. (Why hasn’t someone made Ecotopia, the film yet?)


A pair of millennial-aged Ecotopians win a Nobel Prize for their work on botanical energy extraction. (Hope they’re more gracious in acceptance than the guy who said you don’t need a weatherman to tell you which way the wind blows).

Ecotopians aren’t big on the social sciences but they love anthropology, biology, history, and philosophy. They prefer small teaching-intensive schools, they’re not hung up on formal credentials or impressed by advanced degrees, they shun specialized expertise in favor of rich experience and rounded knowledge. Does the average person really want or need to know all about gamelan orchestras and feline endocrinology? But they do love their music, and apparently their cats. Dogs have always contributed more to my sustainable happiness.


Ecotopians are unimpressed by the refined arts, considering creative artistry a universal birthright. “We have no ‘art,’ we just do everything as well as we can.” They do death humanely and practically, “comforting themselves with their ecological religion: they too will now be recycled.”
Embrace decay.
6 am/6:28, 45/82, 4:36

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