Avery Trufelman explores stories of people who tried to design a better world — and what happens when those designs don’t go according to plan. Season one, Utopian, is about the perpetual search for the perfect place. From Curbed and the Vox Media Podcast Network.
The Oneida Community was founded in upstate New York in 1848 by John Humphrey Noyes, a former theological student who believed that paradise could be found on Earth through nontraditional sexual and familial structures, including complex marriages and communal childraising. Hundreds of people followed him, and for many years their community succeeded. But the center could not hold, and the community pivoted — into a thriving business that became one of the world’s most prominent makers of flatware.
Suburban developments built in the 1950s were idyllic communities and gave many people their first opportunity at home ownership, but typically excluded African Americans. While William Levitt used explicit racial covenants and other tactics to keep his famed Levittown developments white, one builder used racial quotas to create an integrated community — and succeeded, for a while. Can the suburbs be a utopia for all?
Following the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru commissioned famed architect Le Corbusier to design the city of Chandigarh, to signal India’s rise on the world stage. But the city’s architecture and design has become known more for its Western modernist roots, and less as a symbol of Indian nationalism, and furniture that had been intended for the masses are now being auctioned off as high art pieces that wind up in Kourtney Kardashian’s dining room.
EDITOR'S NOTE: In the original version of this episode, Vikram Prakash was incorrectly identified. He is a Professor of Architecture at the University of Washington. The audio has been corrected.
Most people today know the story of Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in America, from the story of Pocahontas and John Smith, and especially from the 1995 Disney animated film. A gripping recounting of the true story of how the settlement failed and recovered, and the toll it took on the English and Native Americans, shows how failure can be a transformative experience, and also how the stories we tell ourselves about the failures inform the way we live today. EDITOR'S NOTE -- one instance of explicit language.
Explore the hidden stories behind how we design the world we live in, and what we can learn when those designs fail. Season one, Utopian, follows Avery Trufelman on her quest to understand the perpetual search for the perfect place, the ways that search can go spectacularly wrong, and what comes after. Thursdays starting May 30th.