Gaia: New Age Capital of Europe
The Ecotopia 2121 project details the futures of 100 super-ecofriendly cities across the globe as though they've overcome all social problems as well as the climate crisis. This week, we showcase the urban future of Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal.
Vila Nova de Gaia, or just Gaia as the locals call it, is a Portuguese city of 200,000. It’s not really a stand-out city by any means; its most notable feature being the many cellars where barrels of port-wine are allowed to age.
By the early 22nd century, though, it has become a core Green city of Europe, serving as a well-known haven for eco-spirituality. Gaia 2121 has cathedrals devoted to Nature worship and colleges run by religious eco warriors. There are also statues honoring pagan Gods and a dozen communes devoted to sustainable viniculture.
Although the environmentalists in Gaia describe themselves as Gaians, it’s unclear whether this refers to the city where they all live or if it refers to worship of Gaia, the Greek name for Mother Earth.
Over time, various extreme factions of Gaianism tend to develop. One eco-priestess named Super Nova roamed around in a hazy noisy dream-like state every night screaming for abiding loyalty to Mother Earth.
Another Gaian, an engineer who went by the name of Bucky Fizz, is drawing up plans to build geodesic domes on the planet Mars as though interplanetary conquest would be the natural way for Mother Earth to give birth.
Mostly the interactions between the various Gaians are cordial but a confrontation did erupt one evening when Super Nova drunk too much port wine and crashed into one of Buck’s domes, smashing all his gadgets as she yelled that Mother Earth was greater than human engineering.
Despite their differences, most Gaians seek to recognize the intrinsic rights of non-humans, feeling that the animals and plants that share the world with us, have as much right to exist and to be cared for as any member of the human species. The practical upshot for the city is that by 2121, the city’s factories and ports are bought out, or appropriated, or occupied, or burnt down, unless they are patently determined to be respectful to nature.
The rest of the country doesn’t really care that much because Gaia was always a pretty boring place and at least all this Green stuff adds a bit of color to it.