Today John Philip Roath is joining me to answer a few questions about Utopian Frontiers, a book that he has edited and a project that he co-created with Mike Parsons. He wants to create a better society and this is how he’s doing it.
Welcome John. Shall we get started?
Please tell our readers about your novel, Utopian Frontiers.
JPR: First, allow me to share what inspired the project.
Back in the 70’s, I was working as an Employee Relations Supervisor for a mining company located up North near the Alaskan panhandle. It was a hard rock mine operation located in the Coastal Mountain Range system of mountains. The mine site was located up in the mountains, near a huge field of glaciers. A tunnel led from the mill and habitation area, going under 3 mountains and 2 glaciers just to get to the ore body.
How does 1000 inches of snow a year sound?
Newmont Asarco (an American based transnational mining conglomerate, although the mine was actually located in the province of British Columbia, Canada) had controlling interest of the property, and they had an architect draw up a conceptual design for a dome that would cover the mill and living quarters, making the community an enclosed environment, sort of a city out in the wilderness.
Yet even though the rising price of gold and copper residuals made the running of the mine profitable in the late 60’s and early 70’s, expense related to the dome made that investment a no go. We still drank water from glacial fed springs, breathed some of the cleanest air on the planet, witnessed the Northern Lights, and viewed mountains at night that seemed surreal, so clear and stark they were, as if supported by two by fours, a card board cut out of the original we were so blessed to stand in awe of.
When I moved back down South I immediately had eye problems related to air pollution but that’s another story.
I reconnected with my soon to be writing associate, Mike Parsons, and we picked up on mutual concerns, such as social/political/economic realities of the times. We discussed my experiences in a semi isolated corporate environment, lamented the condition of existing cities and related problems, and began to play “WHAT IF”.
Over time, Mike and I envisioned a research culture that promoted actualization through creative, constructive endeavors. The initial concept and entertainment vehicle (a screenplay at the time) was but a myth through which we would encourage and motivate, inspire/provoke others to consider options that would contribute to a better world. The futuristic research city we envisioned was conceived as a prototype for humane urban environments yet such lofty ideas need development…
With the passing of Mike, I inherited the task of advancing the cause, and in keeping with the myth (any and all who become involved are encouraged to be themselves and make a creative contribution).
I have worked a day job ever since and only now have the opportunity of stepping up to the plate and letting the show take life.
So, with the encouragement and suggestions of friends and associates, eventually I contracted with BurmanBooks to publish a book. Drew Tapley was brought on board, tasked to convert the screenplay Mike and I had written into an updated version of the story in book form, with myself as Editor of the book.
The book Utopian Frontiers will hopefully, in turn, garner interest in making the film that Mike and I thought would best represent a full, dramatic, public exposition of the project, bringing us full circle.
Now then, here’s what your readers need to know about Utopian Frontiers, the book:
Utopian Frontiers is a fictional story about a secret, prototypical city located on the fringes of national parkland somewhere in the Americas. The city itself is the headquarters of a clandestine transnational research corporation dedicated to developing beneficial technologies in service to humanity. This unique research environment is where alternative social/political/economic/technological options are explored in the interest of the future well-being of environmental and ultimately, human integrity.
Recent and emerging world events indicate a growing mass movement demanding solutions to increasingly disturbing trends that have spawned social unrest. People need and want real solutions to real problems that threaten the very systemic basis of the democracies that claim to support and protect the peace and (so called) freedom which generations before us fought to preserve. Yet the entertainment media, to a great extent, continues to deliver trivialized adventure sagas and doomsday scenarios, whereas the public is in need of messages that imply optimism and hope for the future of humanity, delivered in an edutainment format.
The relationship between humankind and technology, a main theme of Utopian Frontiers, explores the positive applications of technology as a tool in the service of social humanity. The inevitable conflict between vested interests and vying priorities, the dramatic tension that ensues as the impact of change upon people’s lives becomes manifest, and the message of hope for the future integration of technologies with the social imperative: these are the major underlying themes explored by Utopian Frontiers.
Join a vacationing family as they inadvertently stumble upon this futuristic city, and witness their struggles as they attempt to come to terms with the challenge of self-fulfillment and actualization, and ultimately the very survival of life as we know it.
This is a timely tale about a secret, evolving society that suggests change to the basic nature of our global culture may ultimately have to include the co-opting of if not a total break from the very institutions and values that spawned and currently nurture us.
Intended to provoke meaningful discussion regarding the current “human condition”,
Utopian Frontiers will make you step outside of the box, expand the envelope of possibilities, and consider the very nature of our ways and why we must nurture the long journey to a better, more meaningful, inclusive way of life for one and all.
Utopian Frontiers is about researching options that will help deliver humanity to a healthier state of being, but not all “investors” agree with priorities… Want to know more about the ultimate challenges that confront the community? Read the book, and enjoy, celebrate, embrace, protect life as we know it!
What are the aims and goals of the Utopian Frontiers Non-profit organization?
JPR: As a non-profit corporation, Utopian Frontiers Foundation is obliged to operate under the approved Letters of Patent, as registered with the Province of Ontario, Canada.
Initially, I just copied the Letters of Patent into this document, but upon reflection, we considered that too staid, dry…
So, this is the answer from my heart and soul, and with a pinch of creative flair:
In a nutshell, as a non-profit entity, our goals are to organize or participate in environmental projects designed to preserve and protect flora and fauna, restore rivers and improve the urban environment in general. Lofty goals, wouldn’t you say? Be still your thumping hearts… Obviously, we aren’t anywhere near there yet. But, that’s not all.
Further, we intend to educate and increase the public’s understanding of the environment and its importance, by offering courses, seminars, conferences and meetings and by collecting and disseminating information on that topic.
OK, the seminars, conferences and meetings are a pipe dream for now, but they are a future intention. We have to start somewhere…
Eventually, we intend to develop and provide programs promoting the protection and preservation of the environment through re-use, reduction, recycling and recovery of waste. We also plan to educate institutions, industries, businesses and individuals about efficient waste management systems.
With luck, good communications skills, a compassionate readership and help in the field, in time, we’ll receive and maintain a fund or funds and apply all or part of the principal and income to charitable organizations that are also registered charities.
We started out doing this as a balm for our tortured souls. It’s therapy, a living myth that serves to prove we care and that our belief in humanity is worthwhile investing our time and effort. That is, instead of the opposite idea that we could batten down the hatches, hide under the bed, or turn misanthropic, not caring, turning away and just poo-pooing all the crap we see around us. Some people buy cars and/or collect things. We care about the planet and our fellow humane beings. Yes, I did mean to say humane, not just human…
This is a better approach than just being out against the powers that be, don’t you think? Adversarial relations are so entrenched in our culture, eh? Adversarial games (win/lose), politics, laws… A win-win relationship is where it’s at as far as we’re concerned, otherwise there’s always going to be someone left out, and that person or people, with nothing to lose, are of concern, because if you have nothing to lose, we have problems.
Take the “R” off of the word revolution and you get evolution. We’re making our contribution to the peaceful evolution of human civilization, and we have academic credentials (I have an Honors BA in Human Resources Development with a major in Psychology, and our associates are literate, educated, concerned citizens). We feel very capable of bringing related research findings to your attention, at our expense, for the joy of doing so in the hope of reaching others who care for this planet as much as we do…
How does the book fit into the organization’s aims and goals?
JPR: The book is intended to publicly promote and launch the project, and serve as a fictional exploration of social/political/economic options open to humanity if we are to consider and accept our current systemic approach to civilization untenable in the long term.
Substantive change seems necessary if we are to escape the spiral of poverty and environmental destruction we are experiencing, but such change must be accomplished in peaceful ways. The last thing we need is anarchy, chaos and ruin. How are we to research and implement the necessary changes required if and when we transition from an elitist based to a more egalitarian form of society?
As already stated, the futuristic city, as presented in the book, serves as a prototypical research environment through which options are dramatically explored. Intentions are to convert the book into a feature length motion picture film and potentially a TV series through which an evolving community would serve to educate and entertain.
It is hoped that in due time, with the support of a growing community of like-minded individuals, the obligations as outlined in the Letters of Patent will be fulfilled. If there is a lack of interest and insufficient support, the corporation will be dissolved and accumulated funds, beyond costs, distributed among charitable organizations. It’s as simple as that.
So the book and related media works are intended to act as a catalyst for peaceful social change in the interest of the betterment of humankind.
Our website www.utopianfrontiers.com serves to promote the non-profit entity, the book, along with related music, and film/TV intentions, yet it also exists as a forum through which we will continue to post research findings that relate with the project and corporate theme: the relationship between humankind and technology as it pertains to environmental and human integrity.
As a final note, consider these thoughts: People like Paolo Solari and Jacque Fresco, both architects and visionaries, have envisioned and designed cities intended as models of future, more humane urban environments. We are but contributors and researchers out to bring about increased public awareness to options that may serve to deliver humanity to a healthier state of being. We are out to influence, perchance persuade others to consider options, to think outside the box. To that end, we trust the book and related current and future efforts help educate and enlighten.
Thanks for sharing with us your book and project, John. Readers who would like more information about Utopian Frontiers, the book, the organization or the music, visit http://www.utopianfrontiers.com. To learn more about the book and to get your copy, visit http://www.amazon.com/Utopian-Frontiers-Story-Drew-Tapley/dp/1927005124/.