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FLEFF Intern Voices

The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view

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Posted by Meagan McGinnes at 10:39AM   |  3 comments
Meagan McGinnes, Ithaca College 2014


In every academic paper I have written, I am always told to define my terms. But with a term as complex as microtopias, declaring a definition becomes daunting. The meaning of the complex concept of microtopias depends on personal perspective. But the same is true when defining utopias in general because perfection or the characteristics of a perfect society differs from person to person. So here are my terms. 

A utopia is an ideal, perfect society. We imagine this society without limits or constraints, reminding me of the inspirational quote, “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” For me, that means creating a sustainable community with a systems thinking mindset that utilizes nonviolent communication.

That being said, I define microtopias as a society that recognizes one cannot create a utopia for the entire world. Instead we strive to bring this concept to the little piece of world surrounding us. What makes up my entire world may not even be on someone else’s radar. It doesn’t make it any less important; it just makes it mine. Through this concept we localize, which is a vital characteristic to my utopian sustainable society that I defined above.

FLEFF itself can be defined as its own microtopian society. It’s here. It builds community. It sparks conversation about limitless solutions to local struggles.

How do you define microtopias? Is it possible to turn ideal into actuality? What would you do if you knew you could not fail? 


Meagan--I love this point you make that FLEFF is a microtopia because it builds community and sparks conversations (well, I have a bias to be sure....) I appreciate the point about LOCALIZING...working on a smaller sustainable scale rather than on a large unattainable one...What conversations have you had within FLEFF that have evoke the microtopian for you?

For me, speaking to people from Cinemopolis was extrememly interesting. I realized connections between movie-goers, college students, the larger ithaca community, and environmental advocates. The festival creates a diverse community conversing about change with people who otherwise may have nothing in common. It is that idea that makes me believe FLEFF is its own microtopia.

I like your emphasis on process, that is, microtopias as conversational, open-ended, never complete. One criticism of utopian thinking has been its tendency to idealize closed, static spaces. You also seem to provide a kind of individualistic alternative to the heavy-handed communalism that can sometimes infuse utopian thinking. Most of all, though, I appreciate your optimism and enthusiasm, about microtopias in general, and about FLEFF as a particular expression of the idea.

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