The variety of Iowa’s intentional communities on display throughout this series is stunning. From Icaria to Vedic City, each had their own philosophy and reasons to come to Iowa, but some definite themes emerge. The key similarity between most of these communities is simple: timing. Utopianism in Europe peaked during the 1830s and 1840s – the same time that settlement in Iowa was hitting its stride. These communities, secular or religious, sought out cheap land free from outside influence, and Iowa was the place to be.Read more
Heartland Utopias Part 5: Is This Heaven?
As the Amana Colonies demonstrate, religious intentional communities tend to outlast their secular counterparts, but not all are so successful. Over the decades, a number of religious groups have built communities in with varying degrees of longevity. Many dissolved or integrated into the general population but others survive in some form to this day.Read more
Heartland Utopias Part 3: Lost Utopias
The Icarians may have been the most successful secular utopians to settle in Iowa in the mid-1800s, but they were far from the only ones. Many groups saw the newly opened state as a prime chance to test their particular political theories on the frontier. For most, that test proved too much, and their utopias collapsed within a few years. Today, little remains of these communities but their stories.Read more
Heartland Utopias Part 1: Introduction
This post marks the start of a project I have been working on for almost a year. The project, Heartland Utopias: Intentional Communities in Iowa, is a deep dive into the range of utopian, communal, intentional, and otherwise unique communities in my home state. It also happens to be my honors project, as I prepare to graduate from Iowa State University.Read more
Hiatus: The 99% Invisible City by Roman Mars and Kurt Kohlstedt
When I started reading this book, I didn’t intend to review it. It was a birthday gift, and it didn’t seem like it fell in with the other books I’ve reviewed here, which were perhaps weightier or more profound. The 99% Invisible City isn’t that, and that’s precisely why I felt I needed to review it once I was done.Read more
Hiatus Podcast: Beyond Participation: Insurgent Planning and Justice
While this blog is still on hiatus for a few months as I work on a big project related to it, here’s a podcast I produced for my planning theory course. I discuss a big idea in planning theory: where does justice come from when formal participation doesn’t cut it?
By the way, this was a class project – don’t expect any recurring podcasts in this space, unless this becomes wildly popular. Thanks to Jay Diederich for their help voicing the experts.
It uses the following music:
BLADE INTRO c# by mikepro
Terminal by Kevin MacLeod
Beyond Arcosanti: Arcologies of All Sorts
Hiatus: The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs
Written in 1961, The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs is a seminal work in urban planning. The work is a condemnation of orthodox planning, especially that based in the work of Ebenezer Howard and Le Corbusier. These ideas, Jacobs argues, are paternalistic and controlling, and lack any understanding of real cities. She also defines a new paradigm for urban planning, based in people and the complex truth of cities, which she sees as a “problem of organized complexity.” Throughout the work, she argues that solving the problems of urban life requires a more in depth understanding of the interactions of people and the built environment on every scale. Read more
The Farms of Detroit: Urban Agriculture in the Motor City
Detroit has a long history of agriculture, from the French farmers who colonized the area and set up ribbon farms along the river to the Panic of 1893, which prompted Mayor Hazen S. Pingree to open empty lots for farming. With the growth of the auto industry, the city’s agriculture faded into the past. Now, as the city plans for shrinkage, a resurgence in agriculture is making its way through cracks in the urban fabric. Read more
Le Corbusier’s Ideas on Display
While most of Le Corbusier’s realized work during his life was on private villas such as Villa Savoye, he – along with the planners who followed him – had a few opportunities to test out his radical ideas in planning, to varying success. Here’s a handful of those creations.