99% Invisible is a tiny radio show about design, architecture & the 99% invisible activity that shapes our world. Each episode is a sound-rich deep dive into a single topic. The podcast gets more than 3 million downloads per month, routinely ranked in the top 10 arts podcasts and top 20 podcasts overall in iTunes.
It’s hosted by Roman Mars.
Our podcast pick of the week this week is the show’s latest episode about Rajneeshpuram.
Indian philosopher and mystic Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh had a vision: he would build a Utopian city from the ground up, starting with 64,000 acres of muddy ranchland in rural Oregon.
Purchased in 1981, this expanse was to become both a fully-functional urban center and a spiritual mecca for his followers from around the world.
For this plan to work Rajneesh and his red-clad devotees (known as “sannyasins”) needed autonomous authority with which to construct their paradise.
Circumventing local land use restrictions was not a problem so long as their city of Rajneeshpuram was incorporated, which would allow them to issue their own building permits. Fortunately for them, the main requirement for incorporation at the time was a population of 150 people, which they met easily by importing more followers.
Funding flowed in to support construction from a global network of lucrative communes, as well as sannyasins who sold their earthly possessions and donated the proceeds toward the effort. These devotees were also taught that labor was a form of meditation, and willingly worked long hours to make Rajneeshpuram a reality.
99% Invisible is really well-produced and presents itself as a super interesting deep dive into random topics which are seemingly obscure.