The Nova Espero project

Introduction to the Nova Espero manifesto, 1950.

The project envisioned by Stan and Colin Smith, and Charles Violet, extended way beyond simply building a small boat and sailing her across the Atlantic – as ambitious as that was in its own right.

Aside from their obvious skill in boatbuilding and design, the Smith family had a long history of individualism, unorthodoxy, a willingness to confront and face down authority when it is seen to be unfair, and a belief in the rights of the free man, the artisan, the craftsman, the son of the soil, to guide his own destiny.

The horrors of the Second World War, and the shattered societies it left in its wake, obviously had a huge influence on the ideals of many in the post-war period and the emerging Cold War. It’s not hard to understand the urgent desire for peace, tempered by a bleak outlook for the future if war were to break out again – and this was roughly where Stan Smith’s thoughts lay. His deepest, and darkest, thoughts on the matter were laid out in an epic poem, “La Nova Espero” which, while it is not easy reading, gives a clear insight into his motivation, the faint hope that there might be some chance of salvation.

Central to the plan was a series of peace colonies, also called “Nova Espero“, where people of all nations could co-exist in harmony, speaking the universal language, Esperanto, each contributing whatever skills he or she had, to the good of the community. The community was to be strictly governed in accordance with the Sankey Declaration of the Rights of Man – a predecessor of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – and eventually a world government would be formed. In order to demonstrate both their commitment to the plan, and their skills as craftsmen, Stan and Colin embarked on their mission to build Nova Espero – the boat – and sail her across the Atlantic.

Once that journey was over, the brothers prepared and launched their detailed manifesto, and called for supporters to join them. They, and Charles Violet, returned to Canada in 1950, to garner more support, and find a location to create the first colony. However, the way ahead was not easy.

The full story is told in my book, Nova – The History of the Nova Espero.