Driving through southwestern Iowa last fall, because someone has to, I stumbled on the former site of Icaria. I was astounded to learn that followers of the Frenchman Étienne Cabet, calling themselves Icarians, had moved there in 1855, intending to build a socialist utopia.
And it lasted for 46 years, the longest-running non-religious venture in communal living in American history.
That Icaria ultimately failed, brought down by infighting, is of no great consequence. What matters is that those plucky dreamers tried.
Still, if utopia is to be attempted, it probably makes more sense to tackle it piecemeal. That's the idea behind our new weekly SimpliCity feature, which you'll find here.
Helmed by Matthew Schniper, Indy reporter and veteran food editor, the weekly SimpliCity aims to enfold you in step-by-step utopianism, pointing the way toward a near future in which power is cleaner, food is better, and we leave more of value behind for those who follow, while having more ourselves.
You'll find some other changes in this week's paper, too. Most notably, we've redesigned our Table of Contents and recalibrated our film coverage, with more of the latter now appearing at online.
But mostly, this week is about introducing a space to explore big ideas and celebrate small victories. It's taking the idea behind our annual SimpliCity insert (which you'll also find in this week's paper) and moving it forward. As Cabet might have said, Vive la révolution.