Nowtopia Group Book Review


Reading Nowtopia

by Ray, Day, Amber, and Scott

Chris Carlsson’s book Nowtopia has given us new and fresh insight about our current day society. We frequently disagree with the way he presents his message, which seems angry and may turn readers off (you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar). We do agree with a lot of his ideas about being more self-sufficient rather relying on others for goods and services that we can provide or do for  ourselves.

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“The Do It Yourself [DIY] ethic seeks to overthrow the idea that we will be provided for. We will provide for ourselves, through educating each other, through collective decision making. It fits into this larger concept of an ideal society.”

-Ben Gillock (Nowtopia 47)

The Power of We


This year’s theme for Blog Action Day was “The Power of We”. I didn’t make a post on the actual day, but I will now, since the spirit of this blog fits well with the theme. Here’s a bit of what I had written:

 As an art student, I felt conflicted about whether or not I should be making art at all – it seemed that my work was utterly impotent. Standing sentinel in a cold white gallery, my pieces couldn’t solve a social issue, or even earn a living for me.  I had spent so much time honing my art skills but lacked other basic abilities – cooking knowledge, for example. I was frustrated by my dependence on the urban amenities around me. I became obsessed with figuring out how to “survive”; I decided I could make my art more effective if I learned how to make all kinds of things – ice cream, bread, beer, jam, tables, circuits, clothes – not just aesthetic projects. The commoditization of basic things, like food and power, had left me feeling helpless and dependent, as though my money was all society needed of me. Learning to be a competent, self-sustaining maker empowers individuals and eventually enriches communities.

This is the reason I felt drawn to reading Nowtopia for my book club group project. In it, Chris Carlsson writes, “collective pride (and political agency) based on occupation was corroded by the gradual but nearly complete reconceptualization of workers as consumers. The mighty engine of marketing helped turn people’s attention away from what they did and toward what they owned as the basic mechanism of self-definition” (24).

In this blog, we hope to share a bit about who we are by showing what we know how to do. I embraced DIY so that I could feel competent as an individual. But, when individuals share their skills and products with others, networks form and communities benefit. Everyone knows how to make something, and teaching each other can affect our small classroom community, to society at large.