Ecotopian Library

Ecotopia is a blend of eco- and utopia.

Eco is short for ecology. Ecology is the study of how living things relate to one another and their physical environment. It comes from the Greek words oikos, meaning home, and logía, meaning “study of.” We like to think of ecology, therefore, as the study of home.

Utopia means an ideal place — a place born in the imagination that can help us to envision a better future and to move towards it. Some people think of utopia as a useless concept, a topic merely for dreamers. We disagree. As the filmmaker Fernando Birri pointed out, utopia is good for walking. It is always on the horizon, setting a point for us to walk towards, never reaching it, but always striving.

The Ecotopian Collection, therefore, is all about examining the place where you live and envisioning how it could be even better. The collection provides tools for the imagination in addressing such questions as: How can we make where we live more inclusive? How can we consider not only other people, but animals and plants as “kin,” part of our family? How can we make our food system healthy and sustainable? How can we improve our homes and spaces, our shelters, to better harmonize with the environment? How can we respect, learn and listen to science, while also seeing the world as full of magic, wonder and mystery? How can we improve where and how we live through this exploration?

We have collected books, artworks, objects, stories and more that we hope will inspire thought and action to make a home that is ideal for you and others, for many years to come. To view the items in this collection in the library catalog, click here.

Designed and curated by Mary Mattingly, Jill Allyn Petterson, Toolshed and the Hudson Area Library

This collection was originally conceived by Mary Mattingly as part of her larger Ecotopian Library project, which has shown in museums and universities around the world. At the invitation of Toolshed and Basilica Hudson as part of Basilica Hudson’s Hudson as Muse residency program, Mary worked with Susannah Sayler, Edward Morris and the staff at the Hudson Area Library to create this space for the Hudson Area Library. Additional design and ideas provided by Jill Allyn Petterson. Toolshed is located in Hudson and gathers and shares tools that empower individuals and communities to live ecologically. Special thanks to the Stockbridge Munsee Community and The Thomas Cole National Historical Site for their contributions to the Ecotopian Library here in Hudson.