“Utopia lies at the horizon. When I draw nearer by two steps, it retreats two steps. If I proceed ten steps forward, it swiftly slips ten steps ahead. No matter how far I go, I can never reach it. What, then, is the purpose of utopia? It is to cause us to advance.”
– Eduardo Galeano
The Atlas of Utopias is a global gallery of inspiring community-led transformation in water, energy and housing.
The atlas features 32 communities from 19 countries who responded to the Transformative Cities initiative which seeks to learn from cities working on radical solutions to our world’s systemic economic, social and ecological crises.
The atlas is by no means a comprehensive mapping of transformative practices. Transformation in one area such as water management does not necessarily mean transformative practice elsewhere in the city. Nevertheless, the atlas showcases inspiring stories of communities challenging entrenched power and boldly developing alternatives. These range from small villages in Bolivia to international cities like Paris that have even defeated multinational corporations and hostile national governments in order to deliver democratic, people-powered solutions on water, energy and housing.
The cases show how public solutions based on principles of cooperation and solidarity rather than competition and private profit have been more successful in meeting people’s basic needs – and perhaps just as importantly in creating a spirit of confidence and empowerment that strengthen communities for many other challenges. These initiatives demonstrate in practice that another world is possible, and is already happening.
The Transformative Cities initiative is learning from and with the communities to explore what has been most transformative in terms of power relations and social and ecological justice and the lessons from their experience. Nine cases in particular will be explored in more depth and then in the first half of April the public will be invited to vote on their favorites. The learning will also be turned into publications and different media formats to inspire and assist other communities involved in similar struggles.