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Plat of the City of Zion - And So Fill Up the World


Believers of all affiliations are on the move. Their fluidity to channel into areas where disbelievers are the majority stems from having at their back generations of believers and accrued wealth and power that drives the machinery responsible for their boundless missionary work.

Areas of this country with the least religious Americans are clustered here in the northeast. In a February 2016 Pew Research Center study its writers and social scientists found that in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts only one-third of the populations are religious. Pew measured the extent of religious observance by “worship attendance, prayer frequency, belief in God, and the self-described importance of religion in one’s life.” Meanwhile, Pew also found that an overall growing share of Americans also self-identify as atheists.

Joseph Smith was born in Sharon, Vermont in 1805. At the age of twelve his family moved to western New York just as the Second Great Awakening of evangelicalism and revitalization was gaining momentum. The enthusiastic and highly publicized revivals crisscrossing the region caught the imagination of young Joseph where he experienced his own visions and had the good sense to write them down and publish them. Mormonism founded by Smith, despite its evangelical excesses claiming to be the only “true form” of the Christian religion, went through various contortions as rival leaders, factions, new sects, local prejudices, political tensions and violent conflicts with established religions fought against the “new” faith, ultimately reformed and reshaped what became The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The history of the Mormon Corridor in the western United States that extends from northern Wyoming to the border of Mexico grew from an idealized all inclusive “plat” created by Smith in 1833. He envisioned and described a planned city as an organized grid system of blocks and streets around a social philosophy that values a rural agrarian way of life. Smith wanted only small cities with a limit of 20,000 people. He wrote, “When this square is thus laid off and supplied, lay off another in the same way, and so fill up the world in these last days, and let every man live in the city, for this is the city of Zion.” The plat community Smith envisaged served as a blueprint for future Mormon settlements in the western Mormon Corridor.

The latest and perhaps most ambitious incarnation of Smith’s square plats is taking shape in the second-least-populous state of the union. Throughout the White River Valley near Sharon and South Royalton, Vermont, lie thousands of acres of farmland where a Utah-based foundation had quietly bought over 900 acres in the fall of 2015. The purchases were discovered by Nicole Antal, a librarian in Sharon and freelance writer for DailyUV.com, who was working on a town report in January 2016. Thinking that that many acres purchased over a three month period was odd she soon discovered the buyer.

NewVistas Foundation (www.newvistasfoundation.org) was founded by a member of the Mormon Church. David Hall, a 69 year old engineer and millionaire, wants to build “sustainable, high-tech, high-density communities all across the globe.” Hall wants to start building these Mormon plats in Provo, Utah where he is also currently buying up several thousands of acres and then move on to building plats in Vermont. It is no coincidence that Hall is buying properties neighboring the landmark monument commemorating the birthplace of Joseph Smith in South Royalton.

As of mid-year, Hall has purchased roughly 1500 acres in Tunbridge, South Royalton, Strafford and Sharon (see chart: http://www.stopnewvistas.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/NV20160610.png ), and spent over 4 million dollars. In the long run, Hall envisions a “megalopolis of 1 million people in the Upper Valley that would be divided into 50 units of 20,000 people occupying 2.88 square miles.”

All of the media attention caught the eye of the lobbyist organization (PR firm) of Ellis & Mills. “It was clear that this guy was gonna need help,” said Bryan Mills, a partner in the firm. On the “What we do” page of their website, what Ellis & Mills will do for NewVistas is to help them to “navigate the approval process, obtain buy-in from the community and manage media coverage. The stakes are too high to trust a project to local elected officials worried about reelection, an appointed regulator with an axe to grind or a local planning staffer not experienced enough to manage a complex project. Commercial, industrial, office and residential projects - along with the growing number of multi-use and transit-oriented developments - demand campaign-style strategies and comprehensive communication tactics. From a small neighborhood store, to a multi-family residential project, to a four-season resort, success requires the entire package of government affairs, community organization, message development, and management of a complex chessboard of actors.” (Wow, now that’s doing and then some!)

David Hall’s Mormon controlled, regimented utopia is nothing less than social engineering. This new Vermont plat city would be privately owned by a for-profit corporation that would control all aspects of the community, and its land and living and working facilities. Under private ownership NewVistas communities would have no voting rights.

Community pushback began as soon as word got out. Local residents and boards cannot think of a more un-Vermont venture. Nevertheless, fifteen properties have already been sold to NewVistas, so there are some Vermonters who are not concerned what their properties will be used for. Concerned locals, however, have formed www.stopnewvistas.org in opposition to the proposed NewVistas development. Many citizens in the Upper Valley are alarmed at how the will of a single corporation could affect how land-use impacts priority ecosystems, natural communities, habitats and species.

Predictably, Joseph Smith and the Mormon religion he founded, like many other religions, claims to be the true religion, and, they don’t want just you. They want the world. Now, thanks to David Hall’s Mormon inspired NewVistas and the lobby-savvy of Ellis & Mills, they are coming to “fill up” Vermont.

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Comments | 10

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Gleam in his eye

My sister lives less than a half hour from the gleam in this guy's eye. It's amazing what one religious billionaire zealot can do to a state.

 
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The stage is being set

Yep, and Hall makes it sound like it's something off into the future, so as to make Vermonters think not to worry about it. But the land purchases are in realtime. The stage is being set for a wealthy religion to encroach upon a state that doesn't have the means to stop them.

 
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Scary

Will they be promoting polygamy?

How about that Mormon Underwear?

 
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Only if the deal applies to men and women

Polygamy is only good if the deal applies to men and women. Patriarchal polygamy is a bias in favor of men and therefore, useless as a cultural norm.

Who's the hot couple in the underwear? :~)

 
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hot couple

Based on the skin color, it looks like the heads were added later.
I think the guy is Romney.
I don't recognize the woman.

 
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Actually...

I was only kidding. I know it's the "Mormon" Romney and his wife, I think. And, no I don't think they are hot.
Sorry about that.

 
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But seriously...

Any billionaire religious zealot can buy a state. The Mormons, and this particular Mormon, David Hall, have to do so, only because it's the only way in hell they're going to get a foothold in Vermont.

The thought of this man building Joseph Smith - inspired "plats" of 20,000 Mormons (or residents under Mormon control) each in Vermont gives me the creeps.

 
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Shudder, shudder

Likewise

 
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Here is a good read on it

This came down the pike a couple days ago. It is a very interesting analysis of the situation, and how it relates to the wider Vermont historical context.

Has a bit of local history as well, references to Brattleboro and Guilford

https://www.inverse.com/article/19500-david-hall-newvistas-mormon-utopia...

 
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“So these locals are mobilizing against the project.”

Thanks barry. I like the broaden context of the Inverse article.

What these “locals” are up against is a surprising strength of property purchases. If you look at this graphic http://www.stopnewvistas.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/NV20160610.png there is definitely a willingness to “sell.” These purchases were done in less than a year.

How long will it take before locals mobilizing against the project hit a brick wall of property owners eager to “sellout?”

 

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