By Dana Sanchez
Willow Village is a community planned for a 59-acre site in California’s Silicon Valley, between Menlo Park and East Palo Alto.
It will have housing, offices, a grocery store, a pharmacy, and its developers say, maybe even its own cultural center.
There’s one notable thing about Willow Village that makes it different from other new communities in America: It is being developed by Facebook.
Willow Village evokes “company towns” of the past, once built by corporations to both house and keep tabs on employees. And projects like Willow Village also follow the legacy of utopian communities in the United States.
American history is filled with towns, conceived and built to realize specific theological worldviews, at times linked with faith in capitalism and the power of technology. Like these utopian communities, Willow Village speaks of its founders’ desire to correct imagined social problems by reinventing social life.
But those earlier utopian communities and company towns foundered, either from labor strife or lack of leadership. Will the same thing happen to Facebook’s experiment in designing and building a community?