We started the library as way to gather, look at, and catalog a groundswell of optimistic and visionary activities in the late 1960s and early 1970s. We had discussions about the similarities between a handful of books we knew of, and the culture of Mess Hall, an experimental cultural center in Chicago that we were active in for many years. These books are written from the counterculture. Their authors were interested in communicating their direct experience as it related to their experiments for living in harmony with the natural landscape, building sustainable communities, and so on. We were excited to read about practical applications of optimistic ideas for radical change, and to continue putting our own ideas into this tradition.
There are parallels between the cultural and political climate of the 1970s and current global conditions. However, we feel that an important difference is in the absence of a massive counter-cultural movement for change. We face many of the same problems: large-scale ideological wars, energy crises, environmental devastation, destructive global capitalism and more. The hopeful quality of these books encourages us in developing a movement of our own, in the form of how-to manuals with the explicit intent of building a new society of optimistic resistance.