The similarity to "ectopia" must be accidental, because it's too apt.

Ecotopia, with two 'o's, is the greconeologistic title of a didactic novel by Ernest Callenbach, first published in 1975 (when else?). By way of an excuse Callenbach tells us that eco- is from the Greek oikos, "home", and -topia is from the equally Greek topos, "place". He's thinking of St. Thomas More's coinage of "utopia", and probably hoping to get his own coinage into equally wide use.

The premise is that the Pacific Northwest (Washington state, Oregon, northern California) have seceded from the Union and set up a Small Is Beautiful-style crunchy granola utopia. Virtually everything is sustainable, recycled, and biodegradable; most things are communal as well. There are no private motor vehicles and few public ones.

It's presented as the journal of a journalist from the remaining United States, the first to visit after twenty years of isolation following secession.

Where it gets annoying is in the way everybody's so, like, real, man. Nobody's got any hang-ups, nobody's uptight, everybody just lets it all hang out. The Ecotopians all "do their own thing" all the time, but since they're not uptight or hung-up, they all freely choose to do exactly what the author thinks everybody should be doing anyway. AARRGGHH! There's an intolerably smug earnestness to it all.

Ecotopia is a period piece, and I enjoyed it immensely until the rising tide of malignant grooviness covered my nostrils and I had to flee.

Amusingly, some people are still talking about the Pacific Northwest seceding, but they no longer seem to have granola on their minds.

Ecotopia is sometimes used as a descriptor of a certain type of environmentalism. Ecotopians hold a more technology-based philosophy than many environmentalists. They believe, in short, that humans need to find a way to live in balance with the environment, and that advanced technology a good way to do that. While this is consistent with Ernest Callenbach's book Ecotopia, (described above), the original book did not harp so much on scientific progress, although it did include some progressive technological ideas.

Callenbach wrote about the directed cultural evolution, as humans consciously made drastic changes in their behavior to better live in the ecosystems that Earth provides. He believed that American consumerism and materialism was out of hand, but he did not believe that we had to give up modern products; we simply had to make better choices about what we use and how we use it. For example, while commuting is bad for the environment, Callenbach does not recommend going back to the land and farming all your own food -- instead he imagines a world of electric mass transit, videoconferencing, and shorter workweeks.

Callenbach also saw dramatic social change as an important part of the ecotopia ideal, wanting smaller governments, less/smaller corporations, and general libertarianism in our social life. Modern ecotopians are generally a little more positive about the possibilities of using the current system to achieve the necessary ends. On the other hand, they are all the more likely to focus on smart grids, mass transport, and tidal power.

Ecotopians are not a homogeneous group, and many people who might be called ecotopians don't even know the word. However, ecotopia has been taken in by the science fiction community as a specific sub-genre. 'Ecotopian fiction' refers to stories that include a strong element of ecological consideration; there are often strong negative themes of extinction and recent dystopias as the Earth went through through a ecological collapse. Ecotopians with a SF background are likely to include in their vision for the future advanced biotechnology, computer technology, and perhaps nanotechnology and space flight (because any vision of the future should involve spaceflight).

The geological area referred to ecotopia in the original book is somewhat related to the proposed country of Cascadia.

Ecotopia is also the name of an annual gathering held in the northern summer, at a different location in or near Europe. It is organised by European Youth For Action and takes the form of a temporary sustainable community.

Participants contribute in proportion to the strength of the currency of their homeland and are free to schedule presentations, workshops etc.

In addition to its ecotopian form and content, the gathering aims to exemplify a certain culture; communal tasks are fulfilled by volunteers and hand signals are used to cue speakers as a way of increasing participation without disrupting freedom of speech.

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