Arriving in 2021: 'The Usonian'

a newsletter about storytelling & design from the edge

In 1903, an American writer by the name of James Duff Law introduced a new word into the English lexicon: Usonia.

His rationale for creating the term “Usonia” and its related demonym, “Usonian,” was to create an alternative to calling the US and its citizens “Americans.” This was because the term “American” shortchanged all the citizens of other nations part of the two American continents.

Law’s Usonia was actually an acronym, representing the “United States of Northern Independent America.” Mr. Law initially cooked up the word “Usona,” but thought it didn’t sound so great, so he threw “Independent” into the acronym to allow the word roll off the tongue.

“Usonia” had some interesting adopters. Frank Lloyd Wright used it as a tagline to promote the “United States as it ought to be” and his brand of “more” affordable single-family homes (because, in his view, America ought to have been refashioned in his architectural style).

L.L. Zamenhof, the founder of the constructed language Esperanto, used the word “Usono” to refer to the United States within the Esperanto lexicon. Since then, Usonia has had some niche and esoteric usage, brought up every once in a while, and not just in Esperanto conventions.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s sketches for Broadacre City, a component and offshoot of his ideal ‘Usonian’ city. Kjell Olsen, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

So why am I bringing this up now? Why resurrect an antiquated utopian concept?

Welcome to The Usonian, a new bimonthly newsletter about storytelling and design.

My name is Harrison Blackman, and I’m a writer, and I have a website, and though I write across several mediums, the central observation I’ve noticed in my work is that any particular situation is always more complicated than initially expected. So what drives me as a writer is that I try to explore complexities in the world and express them to readers in a digestible and entertaining way.

So, The Usonian is a newsletter about trying to understand the world we live in and how it got that way. Comprehending the issues and different angles of storytelling (film, literature, and history) and design (architecture, policy, and urban planning).

And I’ll have updates about my articles and publications here, too, where I further explore the subjects related to what The Usonian explores.

The Usonian will come out bimonthly starting in early 2021. And I mean bimonthly in the most ambiguous sense.

In the meantime, tell your friends! Tell your folks! And let’s get to learning more about the strange world we live in.