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Fountaingrove’s Altruria community was a utopian dream in 1890s

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Altruria was once a fictional place that briefly became real in the 1890s, northeast of Santa Rosa. The name came from a popular book, “A Traveler from Altruria,” by William Dean Howell.

The imaginary Altruria was founded on altruistic ideals supported by a political system called “ethical socialism.” The idea had grown from the work of French philosopher Auguste Comte, who coined the term from the Latin “alter,: meaning “other.” The central concept of Comte’s “altruism” is “living for the sake of others.”

Many found Dean’s Altruria a compelling place. The story’s appearance, initially in Cosmopolitan magazine, inspired the establishment of Altrurian Clubs in California and elsewhere.

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