Released March 21, 2022

Social Alchemy Symposium

NEW HARMONY, Ind. – Emily St. John Mandel, author of the 2015 utopian/dystopian novel “Station Eleven” that was adapted into an HBO series in 2021, will be among the more than 20 writers, artists, designers and philosophers from around the world to converge in New Harmony, Ind., for the four-day Social Alchemy Symposium, April 10-13.

The symposium, which will look at the role of utopian thinking yesterday, today and tomorrow and include conversations about the roles of art, design and place in society, is free. Discounted lodging is available at the New Harmony Inn. Attendees are welcome to join any parts in person, online, or both.

More information is available at

“The Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites is proud to partner with Big Car Collaborative to bring the Social Alchemy Symposium to New Harmony,” said Jess McPherson, site coordinator for the New Harmony State Historic State. “Having long awaited its arrival, we’re excited to see the symposium come to fruition and thrilled to support and host part of the event.”

The lineup of speakers includes:

-Maurice Broaddus, author of fiction centered on utopian and dystopian ideas through the genres of science fiction, urban fantasy and horror.

-Darran Anderson, author of Imaginary Cities (2015), an Irish writer focused on the intersections of urbanism, culture, technology and politics. (This is a virtual talk.)

-David Rubin, founding principal of Land Collective based in Philadelphia and Indianapolis and recipient of the Rome Prize in Landscape Architecture. His “empathy-driven design” approach addresses issues of social justice in cities with excellence in the design of many notable public spaces worldwide.

-Indiana writers Susan Neville, Adrian Matejka (former state poet laureate) and Matthew Graham (current poet laureate), as well as Indiana artists and arts leaders from New Harmony, Columbus, Bloomington and Indianapolis, leading architects, planners and designers and utopian/communal studies scholars.

“New Harmony, which was twice the site of utopian experiments, is a perfect location for respite and reconnecting with others,” said Shauta Marsh, co-founder and director of programs for Indianapolis-based Big Car Collaborative, which is coordinating the event.

Marsh said those who attend the symposium will leave with a deeper understanding — via history, literature, philosophy and design — of the relationship between the built environment and social good. They will connect with others interested in imagining and striving for better communities and experience the extraordinary atmosphere, public art, and architecture of New Harmony.

The symposium is organized by Big Car Collaborative, University of Southern Indiana, Historic New Harmony and New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art and made possible by Indiana Humanities, the Efroymson Family Fund and New America. Partners include the Indiana State Museum and PATTERN magazine.