…Ecotopia Emerging…

by Ernest Callenbach

This piece was originally published in Home! A Bioregional Reader, edited by Van Andruss, Christopher Plant, Judith Plant, and Eleanor Wright, New Society Publishers, copyright 1990.

As the membership of the Survivalist Party increasingly abandoned hopes of rational government in Washington, Vera Allwen felt as if she were coming to live in the shadow country of Ecotopia, rather than in “the old country,” as her associates had now begun to call the United States. Nonetheless, she was startled when a visitor to the Green House announced that he was a representative of the Quebec government and wished to discuss establishing an official diplomatic mission.

But we aren’t a country. You can’t maintain diplomatic relations except with countries, surely?”

We are not particularly concerned with official labels,” said the emissary. “Our desire is simply to establish a close relationship. We feel a certain kinship with you, after all, since you are striving to defend yourself against the rest of your country, just as we have been against the rest of ours.”

“I can understand that. We might have ideas to share.”

We might be able to help each other.”

That seems unlikely—you’re three thousand miles away. “

The Quebeçois smiled. “But we are only a few hundred miles from New York. If another oil crisis comes, New York will be needing our hydro power to keep all those air conditioners running.”

A few days later, a small building across the street from the Green House was sandblasted down to its original brick. It had once been a corner cafe for warehouse workers, featuring chili dogs, beer and jukebox music. Now the flag of Quebec, bearing four crisp white fleurs-de-lys, flew over its front door…

Ernest Callenbach (1929-2012) was a writer and editor. He worked for the University of California Press from 1955 to 1991. His interest in environmentalism grew out of his work frequently editing their Natural History Guides. He is the author of several books on ecology and sustainability, most notably 1975’s Ecotopia, which presented the belief that technology could be successfully integrated with humanity and the environment and anticipated some later developments in the real world.

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