Searching for utopia

Utopias Salon is a series of monthly events around Cardiff to create a better world through facts and fiction.

A version of Utopia from Robert McCall's 1983 Mural, The Prologue and the Promise
A version of Utopia from last century-Robert McCall 1983 Mural, The Prologue and the Promise

In Cardiff, the search for a better world starts at Utopias Salon which is a series of meetings organized through social media. With readings, debates and art, the group welcomes people from all backgrounds to share their idea of utopia and plot ways to reach it.

Founders Calum and Laura came up with the ambitious idea after meeting through Cardiff’s People Assembly.

“We realized people here needed a space to creatively explore ideas for better societies with others,” says Laura, who believes one of the group’s selling points is its focus on different areas.

“It’s a very collaborative and real process,” adds Calum. “It is a place for hopeful, imaginative and necessary discussion of our future. All areas get attention at Utopia Salons, from science, gender and politics, to food and fashion.”

According to event organizer Raychel Santo, the show-and-tell sessions are very popular. “Members of the salon present utopian views on topics that they are experts, or interested in. So far we have debated alternative forms of education, food systems, and even anti-capitalist fashion.”

The salon also hosts book readings which alternate between the analysis of utopian fiction and nonfiction pieces.

So far, the group has proved to be a success. Since its start in September 2015, Cardiff’s Utopias Salon has gathered close to one hundred members.

Raychel, who is also in charge of the group’s social media presence, believes people keep joining because the group offers a positive outlook about our world’s current problems.

“The issues with modern society can be overwhelming. Climate change, vast global socioeconomic inequalities, racial and ethnic disparities and endless violence are very distressing. It is refreshing to connect with others who want to find ways to alleviate and minimize such challenges,” says Raychel.

This February the 18th, the salon will take place on Cardiff’s Coldstream Terrace at 6 pm. It will be a reading session about the book Martians, where a group of people from Earth settle on Mars and attempt to form a better society.

Raychel hopes the events continue to gather more fans. “Whoever is interested in finding alternatives to the many unfair structures of our global system might enjoy joining us to read and talk with other like-minded idealists.”

Despite the optimistic ‘Utopia now’ motto, the organizers are not sure the views being discussed can ever be truly achieved.

“People across the world have very different values, cultures and perspectives which makes it a challenge to universalize anything, whether social norms or systems of governance,” says Raychel, “however, I do think that the process of trying to create a fairer world is essential.”

Anyone interested in joining the debate on how to ensure better living standards for all is welcome at the group’s February event.