New Internationalist

A taste of Utopia

Issue 441

It may be a leap of faith, but John Jordan and Isa Fremeaux are determined to try living the good life. In the first of an occasional column, John explains how, and why, they are taking the plunge.

Three years ago Isa and I went on a journey through 11 European utopian communities. Out of that experience came a book-film, Paths Through Utopias. Last month the tome finally hit French bookshops and we finished a mini-launch tour of squats, autonomous art spaces and self-managed community gardens in Paris, where we gave talks and showed the film. To our surprise, everywhere we went was packed out. It seemed that hundreds wanted to taste Utopias, or at least our representation of them.

Most of our work is about trying to transform the world through action, whether that’s working on climate camps, the clown army or creative direct actions with our collective, the Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination. We always knew that each word written for the book was also a step towards setting up our own post-capitalist utopia.

By the time the last pages were drafted we desperately wanted to leave our London rhythm, unglue ourselves from our computers, and reboot our lives. We wanted more coherence, an everyday life entirely entwined with our politics. We wanted to consume less but make and grow more, to be more autonomous from the system and develop resilience for the economic and ecological shocks on the horizon.

Although we had experienced so many communities doing this during our journey, it seemed impossible for us to make the leap. Where would we start, and how? Then, seemingly out of nowhere, we got an email from a friend who had just found seven acres of abandoned land in Brittany.

Over the coming months we will give you a glimpse into the building of our Utopia. There won’t be room in this column for maps of all our dreams, but we hope that you will be able to enjoy with us a sense of the adventure.

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