Tuesday, July 21, 2009


I first read Callenbach's book Ecotopia for my Basic Inquiry class at Lewis & Clark College my freshman year. At the time, I was 18 and fresh out of the suburbs. I was ideallistic, when it was convenient (which wasn't too often). Not much of the book stuck out to me, except that most of us (all freshman from predominantly suburban backgrounds) thought it was a cool idea, but wholly unworkable. I read it again in 2001, only to find myself seeing a little more "hey, that's cool" in it, but it didn't strike me as much.

Now, nearly 20 years after reading it for the first time, I just finished reading it for the third time. Having spent the last year really thinking sustainability, a lot more stood out to me.

The transporation system put forth by Callenbach in Ecotopia really stands out. In the book, the country has virually banned internal combustion engines and private car ownership. Intercity tranportation is facilitated by a widespread Mag-Lev rail network. Small city groupings spring up around major rail hubs, branching out like spokes on a wheel (or so I envision it). Tanporation within cities is predominantly foot, bike, and public tranport via electric minibuses.

I think the first two times I read the book, I was still in a car-centric frame of mind. When I read the chapter on trasportation, I realized that this is close to a reality I'd really love to see. I'm not in favor of outright banning cars. They are useful, and even necessary for some people. However, I'd like to see more options and infrastructure to make not taking a care a whole lot more convenient and accessible.

1 comment:

CarFree Stupidity said...

Sounds like you would like "World Made By Hand" James Howard Kunstler's imagining of the world after oil. Its a work of fiction, but still illustrative of a possible future. Very entertaining and not all depressing.