“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.”
– Fernando Birri, quoted by Eduardo Galeano
The Atlas of Utopias showcases collective transformations that ensure access to basic rights: water, energy, housing and food.
The Atlas of Utopias gathers the finalists of the four editions of the Transformative Cities People Choice’s Award, which seeks to highlight cities and collectives working on solutions to ensure access to water, food, energy and housing.
The Atlas is by no means a comprehensive mapping of transformative practices, but a representative sample that is the result of a peer-review evaluation process by an interdisciplinary team of scholars, activist, policy makers and international NGO’s representatives.
Based on the conviction that there are plenty of ongoing attempts at transformation -in contrast to the neoliberal mantra of “there is no alternative” (TINA)- the objective of the Atlas is to showcase those that, according to the criteria of evaluation of the Transformative Cities Award, are considered particularly unique and inspiring to know more about. Just as a telescope focuses on certain constellations in the midst of the immense universe, the Atlas points to certain initiatives with the intention to help practitioners and scholars to navigate the impressive and encouraging tide of alternatives that are already available.
The cases show how public solutions, based on the 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 strengthens communities for many other challenges. They range from grassroots movements in Cochabamba and Palestine, to global cities like Paris or Barcelona, that have defeated transnational corporations and hostile national governments to deliver democratic, people-led solutions for access to basic needs, no matter the differences among cultures or the scales of the different locations. All human beings need water, food, energy, and housing to survive, and the Atlas shows extraordinary examples of people ensuring access to their human rights.
These initiatives demonstrate in practice that another world is not only possible, it is already happening!
The Transformative Cities and the Atlas of Utopias initiative aims to garner attention for the wide array of collectives and organizations that are exploring what is working in terms of transforming power relations to ensure social and ecological justice, and to foster widespread mutual learning and cooperation. Do you want to be part of this collective effort? Do you know of similar Utopian practices? Do you have feedback about the composition of this Atlas? Do contact us!