“Lots of things he did were stupid, but in my view, he was a sage or a seer and didn’t even understand what came to him.” So says wealthy Mormon David Hall about Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church. Bloomberg has a fascinating deep dive into Hall's plans to build a high-tech and environmentally sound utopia in Vermont, all based on a vision Smith had in 1833. Hall believes he can use Smith's Plat of the City of Zion to revert Vermont to two-thirds wilderness and one-third occupied farmland while increasing the state's population to 20 million. Vermont is currently home to only 626,000 people.
Hall's foundation, NewVistas, aims to create “global environmental balance by building a network of environmentally and socially sustainable villages, communities, and megalopolises.” To that end, he's spent nearly $5 million purchasing 1,200 acres of Vermont farmland, where he one day hopes to house 20,000 people through high-tech space-saving solutions like transportation pods and furniture-rearranging robots. He says he has 150 engineers working on the project and plans for 1,000 NewVistas communities around the world. But after his plan was discovered by a part-time librarian, Hall's new neighbors in Vermont have started to organize against him. “We’re really not that interested in what religious figures 200 years ago thought about urban development,” a local professor says. Read the full story here. (Read more Utopias stories.)