The Utopian Movement

Adrian J, Joseph R, Roberto F, Earl S, Ross M

Utopian Societies are intentional communities created as an attempt to form a perfect American Society. In the 19th century, more than 100,000 people formed their own Utopian Societies. Many failed, though some are still around today.

The Oneida Community

  • Founded by John Humphrey Noyes in 1848

  • Located in Upstate New York

  • It mainly practiced communism in place of America’s Capitalism

  • Practiced “Complex Marriage”

    • Every man was married to every women, and vice-versa

    • They said that the community was responsible for the children

    • Controlled Marriage was very disliked by surrounding communities so it was eventually abandoned.

The Shaker Community

  • Also known as the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing

  • It began in England in 1747 and was led by Ann Lee, also known as "Mother Ann." Lee moved with her followers to America in 1774, and the community quickly grew.

  • The numbers lowered down until there are basically none left.

  • Shaker dances and songs are a genuine folk art.

  • The simple, functionalism, and craftsmanship of their meetinghouses, barns, and artifacts have had a lasting influence on American design.

  • The greatest example of this is Shaker furniture.

The New Harmony Community

  • Robert Owen established a commune in New Harmony, Indiana based on the principles of Enlightenment. Called his movement, Owenism.

  • Believed that poverty could be ended by collected unemployed into self sustained contained and self supported villages

  • Though the society failed, many of their ideas were ahead of their time including:

    • 8 hour workday

    • equal learning opportunities for boys and girls

    • openly criticized organized religion

    • favored women's equal rights

    • Birth control

The Brooks Farm Community

  • Located in Massachusetts

  • founded by George Ripley in 1841.

  • It supported harmony with nature, communal living and hard work.

  • Major transcendentalists like Ralph Waldo Emerson supported the community, but did not choose to join it.

  • However, it ended in 1846 after a huge fire destroyed a large building that was uninsured.

  • Despite its short life, Brooks Farm was influential in fights for abolition, women’s rights, and labor rights.

The Mormon Community

  • Joseph Smith was said to have been granted a vision that detailed a new religion that he called “The Church of Christ Jesus of Latter-Day Saints” also known as Mormonism

  • Joseph founded a small community in Ohio

  • The locals were becoming more active against them because of their efficiency and success.

  • They decided to move to the southwest so that they could live in peace away from the disruptive locals

  • The community moved to the valley of the great salt lake in Utah

  • More than 60,000 Mormons travelled to the new land

Present Day Utopias

While the above Utopias are considered failures, there are still small scale Utopias around that could be considered semi-successful even though they aren’t on the scale of a perfect society.

  • The Farm, Summertown, Tennessee

    • Founded in 1971 and has a current population of 180 people living on a plot of 1750 acres.

    • The Farm says it wants to “demonstrate low-consumption, high-fulfillment lifestyles within a caring, socially active community.”

  • Arcosanti, Cordes Lake, Arizona

    • Launched by Paolo Soleri in 1970

    • Currently home to 45 residents but after completion it’s envisioned to house 5000

    • His ideas were centered around dense, energy efficient, pedestrian friendly living

    • Visited by thousands of tourists each year

  • Twin Oaks Community, Louisa, Virginia

    • The 100 members of the community share all income and resources.

    • Some work in the community making hammocks and tofu while others contribute farm labor and office work for the village.

    • Founded in 1967, Twin Oaks reflects a lifestyle of ecology and nonviolence

All of these Communities are still active.


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