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robertogreco : ecotopia   15

Why does Hollywood like dystopian LAs and utopian SFs? - Boing Boing
"Jon sez, "When conjuring up the future, why do writers and filmmakers so often imagine Northern California as an edenic utopia, while Southern California gets turned into a dystopian hellscape? While Hollywood, counterculture, and Mike Davis have each helped to shape and propagate this idea, Kristin Miller traces its roots back to the 1949 George R. Stewart novel Earth Abides. Her essay follows the north/south divide in science fiction films and literature through the decades, and explores how it's continued to evolve. In the accompanying slideshow, Miller photographs stills from sci fi movies filmed in California, held up against their filming locations, from 1970's Forbin Project to 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It shows not just the geographic divide in SF, but also how our futures have evolved, and how movies have the ability to change how we see our surroundings in the present."
Northern California-as-utopia, on the other hand, is strongly linked to the countercultural movement of the sixties, with its guides for technologically advanced back-to-the-land living. One can read Ernest Callenbach’s influential novel Ecotopia (1975) as the possible future seeded by Whole Earth Catalog. Ecotopia is a fictional “field study” of a future Pacific Northwest society that has split from an apocalyptic United States and is governed according to ecological principles. While much technology has been abandoned, the Ecotopians have selectively retained public transit, electric cars, networked computers, and improved recycling (Callenbach was a longtime resident of Berkeley). Ecotopia‘s themes were later picked up and elaborated in the eco-feminist tales of Ursula K. Le Guin’s Always Coming Home (1985), a cultural anthropology of latter-day Napa Valley-ites who have returned to indigenous ways; Starhawk’s The Fifth Sacred Thing (1993) about a pagan, nonviolent San Francisco threatened by southern biological warfare; and Octavia Butler’s Parable books (1993, 1998) where refugees from the LA wasteland grow a new eco-religion, Earthseed, in the forests of Mendocino.

[See also: ]
hollywood  mikedavis  california  dystopia  utopia  sciencefiction  scifi  sanfrancisco  losangeles  2015  kristinmiller  ecotopia  ursulaleguin  cascasia  pacificnorthwest  wholeearthcatalog  counterculture  erneestcallenbach  starhawk  octaviabutler  earthseed  georgerstewart 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The True Literature of California is Science Fiction
[Also posted here: ]

"Kim Stanley Robinson is the author of many works of science fiction, including The Three Californias, a trilogy of novels about southern California; the Mars Trilogy; 2312, a novel about climate change; and his most recent novel, Shaman.

Robinson is one of California's best-known and well-loved, living science fiction writers. A prolific writer, author of two trilogies and several other novels, he is one of the few science fiction novelists who still dares envision utopia—not the static and socially constrained utopias of Thomas More or Edward Bellamy, but dynamic, complex, multicultural societies that always have to struggle for and reflect on their own futures.

Robinson earned a Ph.D. from UC San Diego, where he worked with the legendary postmodern literary scholar Fredric Jameson and wrote his dissertation on science fiction writer Philip K. Dick. He cares deeply about California and is actively involved with the Sierra Nevada Research Institute at UC Merced and the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination at UC San Diego.

Robinson is also a generous conversationalist. When not holed up at home in Davis, California, working on his next book, he can often be found out in the world these days talking about climate change and political change, and thinking out loud with scientists, activists, writers, and readers about the future.

We spent a leisurely afternoon conversing with him at his garden writing table in Davis. This interview was originally published on Boom: A Journal of California and was conducted by Boom's editors."

"So, Pacific Edge was my attempt, a first attempt, and I think it's still a nice vision of what Southern California could be. That coastal plain is so nice. From Santa Barbara to San Diego is the most gorgeous Mediterranean environment. And we've completely screwed it. To me now, it's kind of a nightmare. When I go down there it creeps me out. I hope to spend more of my life in San Diego, which is one of my favorite places. But I'll probably stick to west of the coast highway and stay on the beach as much as I can. I'll deal, but we can do so much better."

"Do you love where you were when you were growing up? Well, yes—especially if you had good parents, a happy childhood, a beach. But I've found you can actually outlive nostalgia itself. I didn't know you could do that, but I have."

"I like thinking California is one place. It's big. It's various. It's an entire country. It's an entire planet."

"California is a terraformed space."

"California could maybe handle sea level rise better than a lot of other places. Its coastline is not a drowned coastline like the East Coast, so although the Delta would be in big trouble, most of the California coastline is steep enough to take a lot of the projected sea level rise—although the beaches will be in trouble. Right here we're about fifty feet above sea level. So the maximum sea level rise projected for the next couple centuries would remain a ways over there to the south."

"I've run into young environmental philosophers who say, "Be realistic, Stan. We're headed for a five-degree rise in temperature; we have to adapt." But this I think is a pseudo-realism. Think about mass extinction: how do you adapt to that? It would drive us down; we might not go extinct too, but we would suffer so badly. No. We need mitigation. We need to fight the political fight. We need a carbon tax; we need everything except giving up. To say we've lost the battle already is just another science fiction story. It's saying that we will lose. But beyond 2013, nothing has happened yet. Path dependency is not the same as inevitability.

People are way too chicken when faced with the supposed massive entrenchment of capitalism. It's just a system of laws, and we change laws all the time."

"My story here is that from the very start science and capitalism were very tightly bound together, like conjoined twins, but were not at all the same, and indeed were even opposed systems of thinking and organization. They were born around the same time, yes; but if you regard them as identical, you're making a very bad mistake. Capitalism's effect on humanity is not at all what science's effect is on humanity. If you say science is nothing but instrumentality and capitalism's technical wing, then you're saying we're doomed. Those are the two most powerful social forces on the planet, and now it's come to a situation of science versus capitalism. It's a titanic battle. One is positive and the other negative.

We need to do everything we can to create democratic, environmental, utopian science, because meanwhile there is this economic power structure that benefits the few, not very different from feudalism, while wrecking the biosphere. This is just a folk tale, of course, like a play with sock puppets, like Punch and Judy. But I think it describes the situation fairly well."

"I think we're a working utopian project in progress, between the landscape and the fact that California has an international culture, with all our many languages. It's got the UC system and the Cal State system, the whole master plan, all the colleges together, and Silicon Valley, and Hollywood. It's some kind of miraculous conjunction. But conjunctions don't last for long. And history may pass us by eventually, but for now it's a miraculous conjunction of all of these forces.

So I love California. Often when I go abroad and I'm asked where I'm from, I say California rather than America. California is an integral space that I admire. And we're doing amazing things politically. I like the way the state is trending more left than the rest of America. And San Francisco is the great city of the world. I love San Francisco. I think of myself as living in its provinces—and provincials, of course, are often the ones who are proudest of the capital. And many of my San Francisco friends exhibit a civic pride that is intense, and I think justified.

So there's something going on here in California. I do think it's somewhat accidental; so to an extent, it's pride in an accident, or maybe you could say in a collective, in our particular history. So there's no one thing or one person or group that can say, ah, we did it! It just kind of happened to us, in that several generations kept bashing away, and here we are. But when you have that feeling and it goes on, and continues to win elections and create environmental regulations, the clean air, the clean water, saving the Sierra, saving the coast: it's all kind of beautiful. Maybe the state itself is doing it. Maybe this landscape itself is doing it."
kimstanleyrobinson  california  sandiego  scifi  sciencefiction  2014  interviews  literature  landscape  raybradbury  robertheinlein  ursulaleguin  philipkdick  frankherbert  jackvance  poulanderson  robinsonjeffers  ecotopia  ernestcallenbach  history  climatechange  capitalism  environment  globalwarming  politics  change  nostalgia  johnmuir  law  legal  policy  santabarbara  orangecounty  sanfrancisco  utopia  diversity  jonchristensen  jangoggans  ursulakheise 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Shareable: Can a City Build a Better Version of Itself?
"Renderings in master plan of gleaming towers, parks & gardens suggest harmony, community & sustainability. It embodies almost all of design ideas we promote on Indeed, my first reaction on seeing master plan was to be awed & excited—& I wasn’t alone: most local coverage of development has bordered on fawning. “If Treasure Island is reborn along the lines being touted, result will be a neighborhood like none the Bay Area has seen,” writes architecture critic John King in SF Chronicle. Meanwhile, green sites like Inhabitat have presented the project as architectural porn.
architecture  cities  ecotopia  redevelopment  us  utopia  urban  treasureisland  sanfrancisco 
august 2010 by robertogreco
sevensixfive: Invasive Species
"This project takes the detritus from the constant construction and destruction of Baltimore's built environment into the park to form new patterns and structures embedded in the ground like reverse archaeology"
art  architecture  installation  urban  geometry  decay  baltimore  landscape  ecotopia  environment  visualization  cities  urbanism  urbandecay  glvo  invasivespecies  fredscharmen 
september 2008 by robertogreco
Escape to Detroit | Laughing Squid [same article from another sure that I bookmarked a while ago, but now contains many links]
"The price of owning anything in San Francisco, Brooklyn, L.A. or any other “prime” location became prohibitive, even surreal long ago. Even with the recent downturn in the housing market, it is still impossible for most artists, writers or craftsmen to buy in these places. Meanwhile, the industrial engine of the “Rust Belt” continues to freeze up, providing green spaces in cities like Detroit. At the same time, more people are able to work from literally anywhere in various Internet and computer related jobs. Being able to break away from the overcrowding and frenetic pace of life on the coast(s) for long periods and kick back in a relaxed tree shaded waterfront home that we actually own outright is a luxury that, I for one, after thirty years in Frisco never thought I would know."
detroit  urban  travel  nature  art  future  green  ecotopia 
august 2008 by robertogreco
Tokyo Fantasy: Images of the apocalypse ::: Pink Tentacle
"These fantastic photoshopped images by Tokyo Genso (Tokyo Fantasy) show a post-apocalyptic Tokyo overtaken by nature."
japan  illustration  scifi  tokyo  fantasy  worldwithoutus  urbandecay  ecotopia  dystopia 
august 2008 by robertogreco
Sweet Juniper! - Deconstruction
"I know things aren't great right now, but with the media's perseveration on all this doom and gloom, I can't help but wonder if we aren't talking ourselves into an actual depression instead of just letting the United States slide slowly towards Europe where it belongs on the less relevant part of the world stage...And yet despite the barrage of bad news, I can't help but feel buoyed by what's going on in our neighborhood...everywhere I look around me all I see is this myopic vision of hope."
detroit  urban  urbanrenewal  cities  collapse  optimism  ecotopia  us  economics  greatdepression  ruin  scavaging  deconstruction  metalforaging 
august 2008 by robertogreco
In the Capital of the Car, Nature Stakes a Claim - New York Times
"After decades of blight, large swathes of Detroit are being reclaimed by nature. Roughly a third of this 139-square-mile city consists of weed-choked lots and dilapidated buildings. Satellite images show an urban core giving way to an urban prairie."
detroit  2003  urbanprairie  urbandecay  urban  nature  ecotopia  farming  agriculture 
august 2008 by robertogreco
on Flickr - Photo Sharing! [see also:]
"This last summer was our first in the city, and here at the end of the growing season I can't even begin to express how wonderful it is to live within walking distance of Detroit's Eastern Market. We don't need a big-box grocery store, when for less than $50 we can buy a whole week's worth of fresh fruit and vegetables directly from the farmers, as well as organic artisanal bread directly from the bakery. It is harder to get pre-packaged processed foods when you rely on the market, but that's probably for the best. Some of the vegetables we buy were even grown in Detroit."
detroit  food  local  urban  ecotopia  urbanprairie 
august 2008 by robertogreco
Surprise from the streets: Art! | | Detroit Free Press [via:]
Not sure why this one wasn't marked last year..."Art is one of the last things outsiders associate with Detroit. But drive the streets and you quickly realize the city possesses an energetic, grassroots creative class that not only spreads color, whimsy and provocation across the landscape, but also serves as an engine of redevelopment."
detroit  art  design  urban  urbanism  cities  gentrification  optimism  future  green  collapse  urbandecay  archaeology  planning  architecture  ecotopia  postindustrial  urbanreclamation 
august 2008 by robertogreco
Metropolis POV » A Walk in the Park(s) [via:]
"Two of the most exciting developments I saw in Detroit also embrace the city’s grit, but in much more intriguing ways. The Dequindre Cut is a one-mile remnant of a commuter rail line that ran from the suburbs into downtown until the early 1980s...Up the road is the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD). Located in an old automobile dealership, MOCAD sports a few requisite art gallery trappings—funky doors, sans serif signage, an organic cafe—but architect Andrew Zago eschewed any major renovations of the cavernous space."
detroit  urban  urbanism  cities  gentrification  optimism  future  green  collapse  urbandecay  archaeology  planning  architecture  design  ecotopia  postindustrial  urbanreclamation 
august 2008 by robertogreco
Detroit, the American Torino | Beyond the Beyond from
"Creatives living like mice in the unsustainable ruins of 20th century industrialism. But maybe mice is the wrong metaphor. There's so much *green* here that it's starting to look like giant strangler-figs rising and cracking the sidewalks. The natives of Detroit and Torino have already been through the grinding hell of decline that's awaiting your city, which is why I consider them natives of the future. Living in the rubble of Henry Ford the way Italians live in the rubble of the Roman Empire."
detroit  torino  turin  cities  gentrification  optimism  green  collapse  urbandecay  urban  urbanism  archaeology  planning  architecture  design  future  ecotopia  postindustrial  urbanreclamation  brucesterling 
august 2008 by robertogreco
Everywhere Magazine: Article: Why We Bought a Vacation Home in Detroit - "A vacation home? In Detroit? Are we nuts? No, we're just getting in on the ground floor of the planet’s next great urban ecotopia."
"Rabbits, opossums, raccoons & occasional deer ramble through this urban landscape as though they owned it. We’ve gone canoeing along Detroit’s storied Rouge River canal...climbed abandoned 37-story building to get up-close view of peregrine falcon ne
detroit  urbanism  gentrification  cities  future  optimism  green  sustainability  urban  urbanprairie  collapse  rebirth  exploration  nature  landscape  ecotopia  urbanreclamation 
june 2008 by robertogreco

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