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by Shelley Stallings

January 12, 2005

Joseph, your idea of forming Peaceland is interesting and I would definitely consider immigrating if it were to come about, but it is far from a new or original idea. Get a copy of the book "Ecotopia" by Ernest Callenbach written in 1975. Not a great novel, but it does explore some interesting ideas. "Ernest Callenbach describes a society based on the alternative principle that there is a very real limit to the carrying capacity of Planet Earth. Callenbach envisions a society dedicated to the fundamental ecological and political goal of creating "stable-state life systems" in which humans live sustainably within the constraints and renewable resources of their environments. This society, the nation of Ecotopia, is born in 1980 when the citizens of Washington, Oregon, and northern California respond to the developing, industrializing, polluting, exploiting, extracting, militarizing behavior of the United States by seceding from the union. Cutting off all communications with their former nation, the Ecotopians embark on a grand experiment in sustainable living. By the time of Ecotopia, the novel, twenty years of silence, punctuated by occasional wild rumor, are all that the remaining United States know of the left coast. On the eve of the 21st century William Weston, ace reporter from a major East Coast newspaper, journeys to Ecotopia on a six week assignment to "explore Ecotopian life from top to bottom." Weston?s dispatched columns and personal journal entries are the stranger-in-a-strange-land device through which Callenbach displays his ecological utopia. " Reviewed by Allyson Zipp.

The following is from a review of the book on Amazon. 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.

NPR did a radio drama based on the book also.

Shelley Stallings
Ketchikan, AK - USA


Related Column:

Peaceland by Joseph Branco



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