empty field…


2008 PBS film by Michal Goldman and Ellen Brodsky.

“This was all an experiment. The people that started the experiment thought, ‘We’ll end up with heaven on earth.’”—Paul “Pete” Rosenblum

Lesson / Koan : The “Utopia lobe” exists in everyones brain, some actually use it.

In the mid-1920s, thousands of immigrant Jewish garment workers catapulted themselves out of the urban slums and ghettos by pooling their resources and building cooperatively owned and run apartment complexes in the Bronx. Adjacent to the newly opened subway corridor and in the midst of empty fields, they constructed the United Workers Cooperative Colony, a.k.a. “the Coops,” where they practiced the utopian ideals of an equitable and just society.

AT HOME IN UTOPIA captures their epic struggle across two generations as the Coops residents experiment with breaking down barriers of race and ethnicity, and championing radical ideas that would someday transform the American workplace.

BTW,

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Edward Tufte has had a remarkable career and speaks as someone who appears to have found the courage to follow his bliss, leaving a tenured professorship at Yale to self-publish his famous books on visual information, go on speaking tours, and make large-scale landscape art in his Connecticut backyard.  According to Tufte,  utopian cultures may be unattainable, but you can pretty well approximate an ideal life through clarity of purpose, courage to act on that purpose, and, most importantly, doing what you love.

A poem Tufte opens lectures with is an excerpted from T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets, fitting for a self-reflection.

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. My words echo
Thus, in your mind.
But to what purpose
Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves
I do not know.
Other echoes
Inhabit the garden. Shall we follow?

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