Handy guides for on the road

Eco-tourism as anthropology

Back in the 80s, there was a book called Alternative London. Along with the Whole Earth Catalogue (whihc was actually just about America) it was one of the earliest and best of the alternative directories and listing magazines which spawned so many imitators.

Eurotopia is a guide to over 300 communities and eco-villages in 24 European countries. It is great to see the beginnings of a major European listings project, which could grow and grow, because Utopian eco-communities are going to mushroom over the next decade. This is an updated edition of a book first published 2001, and I suspect the next release will be in preparation by now.

Leafing from one project to another is armchair ethnography, and reading between the lines takes on a new dimension when you are trying to figure out how a community can be “Buddhist; Taoist; esoteric/New Age.”
One Russian community that believes “Our works of art, pictures, songs and fairy tales should also call forth only bright feelings.” And there’s the drawback to this guide some of the communities it lists are places I would drive a long way to avoid. But others, like Ecoforest near Malaga sound like they may be worth crossing the continent to visit.
Silke Hagmaier, Julia Kommerell, Martin Stengel, and Michael Wurgel. Eurotopia: Directory of Intentional Communities and Ecovillages in Europe. Poppau, Germany: Eurotopia, 2000. $16.00. (ordering information – https://www.eurotopia.de/englindex.html)

Closer to home, the Green Holiday Guide to Great Britain and Ireland was published 2002 by Green Books, and some of its entries are now closed or have changed hands. But enough are still exactly as described in the guide to make it a worthwhile reference if you are looking for an ecoB&B. (For purchasing information contact www.greenbooks.co.uk)

And if it is neither an eco-community nor a B&B that you want, try Stuart Kirby’s guide to Britain’s best 100 beaches. The guide is really aimed at Families looking for safety, parking, and some traditional English awful catering. The legends at the beginning of each listing tell you whether you can park, skateboard, go to the toilet and so forth. I longed to find one that had no facilities at all, but not in this book. (order from: www.studiocactus.co.uk)

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