“Humanity is facing an unprecedented crisis of which climate change, the destruction of species, and the intensification of social inequality are only the most acute manifestations. For many observers in many parts of the world… we are clearly facing a civilizational crisis. What is in crisis is the modern liberal model that has spread to the whole world in its quest to create a globalised model.

In this context, the question of the possible future for the Colombo-Ecuadorian Pacific acquires special characteristics. Arguably, the Pacific can be seen potentially as an outpost for a transition to ways of life in which human beings and the planet Earth can, finally, coexist in mutually enriching ways. If this is to be perceived as an option, however, it is necessary for leaders in the region, government experts, and academics to open up to the possibility of a real dialogue of worldviews/visions, as some activists, communities, and intellectuals in the region have been proposing for more than two decades. From such an exercise, a vision of the Pacific as a special territory for life could emerge, a territory with the capacity to imagine new ways of existence for the region, for the country, and for humanity in general.”

Arturo Escobar

This Place consists of images and texts by artists and writers. It is the final book in the Nuevatopias trilogy, an exploration of utopia to mark the 500th anniversary of Thomas More’s Utopia.

Arturo Escobar’s proposition, taken from ‘The Colombian Pacific Region: A Dialogue of Cosmo/visions’, is especially pertinent as we close this series. Do the activists, communities and intellectuals to whom Escobar refers, genuinely believe that humans and the planet Earth are ready to live together in mutually enriching ways, or is this utopian?

As we reflect on this today the world feels less ready to accept Escobar’s transition than it did five years ago, when participants in Nuevatopias began exploring the idea of reconnecting humanity and nature. In 2017 populism is on the rise in the West, partly in response to the modern liberal model that has enriched a minority and impoverished many. The United States is pulling out of international climate change agreements and fossil fuels continue to drive the world’s largest economies.

Most contributors to This Place were invited to the foundation’s Chocó Base in 2015 and 2016 to consider utopia from their own professional perspectives. The Base is built on a remote part of the Pacific Coast within one of the planet’s most bio-diverse rainforests. Alliances with the cultural sector, environmentalists and scientists will shape the foundation’s cultural programme over the coming years.

We thank all the artists and writers who have contributed to Nowhere, Better Than and This Place.

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