There's nothing I love better than interviews with Kim Stanley Robinson.
TB: I understand that you live in a utopian community [called Village Homes, pictured above and below; images by Michael Corbett]. How does that work? Is it pre- or post-modern?
KSR: A little of both, I guess. The model is an English village really; about eighty acres, a lot of it owned in common, so there is a “commons” and no fences, except around little courtyards. There are a lot of vegetable gardens, and the landscaping is edible, meaning lots of fruits, grapes and nuts.
It’s really just a tweaking of suburban design, but a really good one. Energy mattered to the designers and we burn about 40 percent the energy of an ordinary suburban neighborhood of the same size. That’s still a lot, but it’s an improvement. Village Homes was built in 1980 or so; if every suburb since then had followed its lead, we would have much less craziness in America, because the standard suburb is bad for sanity. But that didn’t happen, so for the 1,000 people who live here it’s a kind of pocket utopia. Not the solution, but a nice place to live right now, and it could suggest aspects of a long-term solution. It’s been a real blessing to live here.