PdxEcotopian, November 12, 2006
The novel?s setting: Northern California, Oregon, and Washington secede from the union, become Ecotopia, and close the border. Twenty years later, William Weston -- a reporter from a major newspaper -- journeys to there on a six-week assignment to explore and report on every aspect of Ecotopian life. Part of this book is written as a narrative, and part as a series of newspaper articles to be read by those ?left behind? in the U.S. This work makes you truly question ?normal? views, and opens ones eyes to a world of earth-friendly and person-friendly possibilities!
In Ecotopia, Weston is confronted with working ecological models: unprocessed food, total recycling (even clothing!), re-greening of cityscapes, and zero deforestation. Bicycles are the most common mode of transport, population growth is discouraged, and biodegradable materials are heavily used. ?Plastics [have] a short planned lifetime and?automatically self-destruct.? (p. 77) He discovers that Ecotopia is a society dedicated to the fundamental eco-agri-political goal of creating "stable-state life systems" in which humans live sustainably within the constraints and renewable resources of their environment(s).
Also, Weston is faced with many views that oppose his internalized ?American? morals: free-flowing cannabis use, polyamory (multi-partner family models), living socialism, twenty-hour work weeks, and true free speech. People live, school, and work together in small intimate communities, providing a tribal form of companionship missing from the narrator?s sterile world. He reflects, ?Ecotopians? marriages shade off more gradually into extended family connections, into friendships with both sexes?there are always good, solid alternatives to any relationship, however intense.? (p. 108)
What is most interesting to me is how Weston metamorphoses in this work. In the beginning, he is affronted, irritated, angered, and put off by both the eco-political and social aspects of Ecotopia. However ? like a flower blooming ? he grows more and more open to his environment, sensing its nurturing qualities to both himself and the earth. ?This new me is a stranger, an Ecotopian, and his advent fills me with terror, excitement, and strength?? (p. 166) He begins this journey as a wasteful automaton, and ends it as a communal polyamorist earth-loving idealist. This self-evolvement is awe-inspiring.