'David Bramwell is a true philosopher, great journalist and excellent writer. He has gone where others only imagine trading, and the book is packed with gags, wisdom and pathos. Plus it ends on a high note: paradise begins at home. It actually is a must-read.' – Tom Hodgkinson, The Idler
This book is the record of a quest.
A few years ago I came out of a relationship, heartbroken. I was dumped and replaced by someone my ex described as 'younger but more mature'. Realising I had a thing or two to learn about giving, I took a year off and journeyed through Europe and America seeking out extraordinary communities that could teach me about how to share.
I had a few questions I wanted to answer. Is modern life rubbish? Why do so many of us feel lonely and unfulfilled despite a high standard of living? Are there communities out there who hold the key to happiness? And if so, why do so many of their inhabitants insist on dressing in tie-dye?
On my travels I visited an anarchist community in the heart of Copenhagen, had some hair-raising experiences in several free love communities, had an epiphany in a spiritual caravan park in Scotland and thought I'd found paradise in a Californian community dreamed up by Aldous Huxley. Most impressive of all was Damanhur, a 1000-strong science fiction-style community in the Alps with an underground temple the size of St Paul’s Cathedral, a village of tree houses and a ‘fully-functioning time machine'!
Inspired by the people and places I visited, I returned home with a desire to change. Not just myself but also my neighbourhood and city. In an attempt to re-connect people in their community I helped set up a unique and hugely successful event in Brighton called 'Zocalo'. Involving no funding or permission, just posters, it gets people outside on the street talking to their neighbours. Some dragged out barbecues, some brought sofas and rugs. One heroic household on Islingword Street set up their entire living room on the pavement, complete with the obligatory stag’s head. This year we’re planning to run it across the whole of Brighton.
With this book, I hope to inspire more people to do the same and revolutionise their cities.
Here's a new passage, taken from my account of the extraordinary community of Damanhur in northern Italy.
When told that you're going to meet a community's best musician, you don't expect them the wheel out a rubber plant. One of the Damanhur's many fantastical claims was to have connected with the intelligence of plants. In the late 70s they released a seven inch single in Italy, performed by a rubber plant called Hellie. While it didn’t fare too well in the charts Hellie did go on to do a small tour of Europe and pick up a cult following. One afternoon a lady called Beaver Pepper introduced our nucleo to Hellie and her 'friend', both of whom were wired up to various machines.
'You want to hear Hellie singing?’ asked Beaver, 'she is the best musician plant in Damanhur. She really likes to play. Here in Damanhur we have developed an electronic instrument that can translate the plant’s energy in electrical impulses, allowing us to create music generated by these impulses.’
It's been 9 months now since the No9 Bus to Utopia was published and much has happened. The book has sold well, been selected by various book clubs, featured in magazines plus I was invited spoken at several festivals, book launches and on the radio around the UK. I'm also proud to say that having sold 50 books in 20 minutes at No6 Festival in Portmierion last September, I was…
Dear utopianists, just to let you know i've got a few events coming up that may be of interest. I'll be giving readings, slide show talks, signings and solving any existentialist crises you may have.
Tuesday 16th Sept 7.30pm £6
Bom Banes George St, Brighton
Full one hour slide show talk with Q&A and some lovely nosh, courtesy of Jane Bom Bane. For tickets email me at david@cheekyguides…
An hour’s drive east from Inverness in Scotland lies the windy bay of Findhorn, a sleepy fishing village whose peace is shattered every twenty minutes or so by the jets from the local RAF base. A few miles south from here lies the town of Forres, home to the faded glory of a Gothic Victorian hotel, Cluny Hill, now the centre for the UK’s largest spiritual community. Mike Scott from the Waterboys…
Here is the beginning of the book. Well, probably. I might post up an alternative tomorrow ans see what people think.
THE VERY IMPORTANT PROJECT
There is a poverty of spirit in modern life.'
CARL GUSTAV JUNG
Stepping out of my house on a cold, gritty November morning, I found myself face-to-face with my neighbour Tom, a rare occurrence.
'Morning,' he said, shyly.
'Hello, how are you?' I asked…
These people are helping to fund The No. 9 Bus To Utopia.