What is ecotopia?

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The title of a novel by Ernest Callenbach gave name to my web address space. So, at this page I give a brief outline of that novel and its influence to me and others. A bibliography of the author shows his continuing effort in turning his visions into real life.

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Ecotopia, a place where one would like to stay?!

As taken from the first pages of the book, ecotopia roots into Greek language and denotes a place, where you feel at home. Besides this, there's also the relation to ecology and economy. Thus, the books underlying sense covers network relations, between people due to social or economic bounds and between people and their environment in general.

from the Greek oikos (houshold or home)
from the Greek topos (place)

Ernest Callenbach, Ecotopia

Ecotopia, a fictional novel

Ecotopia is the title of a novel by the author Ernest Callenbach, released in mid seventies, when ecological topics started to come into our views. It describes the North America, about two decades further from the time he wrote the book, separated into two parts. These parts developed totally isolated from each other and after some decades a reporter was sent from the eastern part to the western part to see, what's up with these people after all that time of separation. His reports to the newspaper and the private notebooks make up Callenbach's book. They give you a picture of what is and how it came to the situation.

Many topics are covered, politics, personal and social live, economy, environmental situation. It is very detailed on these descriptions and thus a valuable source for discussions. It points out, how people could feel in a world, where many things are changed (and by comparing to the eastern part: how people often feel when nothing changes). So it's centerd on the persons and their relations, and the technical stuff makes up the scenery. It's not a "that's the best way"-book, but a base to make up your mind, "hm, what could be better than the current situation". Just relax and have a look, it's fun to read it. And that's what books are intended for :-).

Reviews and opinions on the story

You might follow up to reviews by External linkAllyson Zipp or External linkJames Nicoll. External linkGerhard Fischlein contributes with an extensive comment. You can find a External linkcomparison with an even older utopia, published in 1890 by William Morris.

There's also a short External linkexcerpt from the original book available.

If you want to read Ernest Callenbach in his own words check out this interview script by Manfred Pütz, published 1996 in External linkAmerican Studies, External linkAmst 41.3, at that time through External linkWilhelm Fink Verlag, Munich / Germany by External linkDGfA.

Data on books by Ernest Callenbach

  • Ecotopia - The Notebooks and Reports of William Weston, Banyan Tree Books, Berkeley, California 1975; there's a reprint available by Bantam Books, and in German speaking countries (A, CH, D) there's an (English) edition available by External linkReclam, Stuttgart 1996 (with selected German vocabulary, an additional timetable about the life and work of Ernest Callenbach, a post scriptum about Ecotopia and the tradition of utopias and a book list for further reading).

    German edition: Ökotopia, Notizen und Reportagen von William Weston aus dem Jahre 1999, Rotbuch Verlag, Berlin 1975 and 1990

  • Ecotopia Emerging, Banyan Tree Books, Berkeley, California 1981

    German edition: Ein Weg nach Ökotopia, Ökotopia Verlag, Berlin 1983

  • The Art of Friendship, Christine Leefeldt and Ernest Callenbach.
  • External linkA Citizen Legislature, Ernest Callenbach and Michael Phillips, Banyan Tree Books 1985, meanwhile also published online.
  • Humphrey the Wayward Whale, Ernest Callenbach and Christine Leefeldt, Heyday Books, Berkeley, California 1986 (External linkfew details).
  • Publisher's Lunch: A Dialogue Concerning the Secrets of How Publishers Think & What Authors Can Do About It, External linkTen Speed Press, Berkeley, California 1989,
  • External linkThe Green Triangle, IN CONTEXT 26, 1990
  • External linkLiving Cheaply With Style: Live Better and Spend Less, External linkRonin Publishing 1993

    German edition: Billig leben mit Stil, Rotbuch Verlag, Hamburg 1995

  • Ecomanagement: The Elmwood Guide To Ecological Auditing and Sustainable Business, Ernest Callenbach (editor), External linkFritjof Capra and Lenore Goldman, Pub Group West 1993 (External linkfew details, The Elmwood Institute, founded by Ernest Callenbach and Fritjof Capra is External linksince 1995 known as the External linkCenter for Ecoliteracy),
  • Chocco, one of twelve stories and three poems within the anthology Future Primitive, The New Ecotopias, edited by Kim Stanley Robinson, Tor, 1994 (External linkreview)
  • Bring Back the Buffalo! A Sustainable Future for America's Great Plains, Island Pr 1995 (External linkdescription),
  • Ecology, A Pocket Guide, University of California Press 1998 (External linkdetails),
  • External linkEdward Abbey 1927-1989: A Few Reflections, 1999 or earlier,
  • Ökologie von A-Z. Ein Wegweiser, External linkEuropäische Verlagsanstalt - Rotbuch Verlag, Hamburg 2000,

You can find bibliographic details at External linkisbn.nu.

Btw: if you should see the A Citizen Legislature book in some book store or flea market, I would like to get a copy :-). I lent my print out away and never saw it again :-(.

Further Reading

If you're interested in ecological issues, you might follow up to the link lists collected by External linkecotopia.org resp. External linkecotopia.com. Kenn Kassmann gives an outline of External linksocial ecology.

Ecotopia now?

Practical impacts can be seen in the External linkBreitenbush Hot Springs Retreat and Conference Center, External linkNew Civilization Network and External linkÖkostadt. External linkThomas Harvey gives an outline of the region described in Ecotopia: The Changing Face of the Pacific Northwest, published in External linkJournal of the West July 1998, Vol. 37. No. 3, reprinted in the book External linkPerspectives: Geography, editors External linkAlan A. Lew and External linkThomas W. Paradis, Coursewise Publishing, Inc., Boulder, CO. 1999.