MonoTown is a city built of LEGO bricks, like many other cities in the LEGO universe. Originally built to take advantage of its natural deep-water harbor, MonoTown was a gateway transportation hub for many other LEGO cities within the broader loose-knit federation of LEGO city-states. MonoTown grew quickly from its initial founding, but wasn’t always known by its somewhat-strange moniker. Originally founded as BrickPort, it features a sprawling collection of unique neighborhoods and communities.
A Metropolitan Fabric Woven from Diversity
Year after year, the fledgling city grew, and this growth exploded once port facilities were constructed that linked with the broader rail network connecting it to LEGO cities further inland. Migrants arrived from every part of the universe seeking fame, fortune, and the opportunity to build something for themselves. The rich mix of LEGO themes, cultures, eras, and backgrounds meant you couldn’t walk more than a few steps without hearing or seeing someone from a realm or place that was far away. Construction techniques widely differed as well, and as the city leaders tried to plan for upcoming growth, they almost always underestimated the influx of new inhabitants. Already overstretched city services broke down year after year. Lack of regulation and oversight contributed to some of the sprawling city’s unusual architecture and building styles, and a fair number of epic disasters as well.
Still, the city drew deeply from the ingenuity of its varied inhabitants and new arrivals. The economy continued to diversify, cargo continued to arrive from afar, and the railroads thundered to and from the city. While the inhabitants mixed continuously with each other, distinct neighborhoods were born. Mysterious Ninjago warriors built their Asian inspired temples, homes, and densely populated cities in contrast to the suburban sprawl of minifigs who hailed from Legoland. Castles and treehouses soared, built by knights and bandits. A quaint fishing community plagued by mysterious happenings grew up on the banks of the ocean. The city even received regular visits from a colony of space dwellers, whose arrivals and departures were marked by the thunderous sounds of their rockets taking off and breaking the sound barrier. From time to time dragons would appear, dinosaurs would be sighted, and strange creatures large and small would keep the police, fire, and emergency services busy. Like any city, a thriving underground scene became established and underworld bosses vied for control of various vices. Cat and mouse games played between the police and villains with their criminal gangs necessitated the arrival of a league of superheroes to lend the good guys a hand.
From Pollution to Environmental Paradise
As time went on, the streets, which had always been over-crowded, became progressively more choked from thousands of autos, heavy trucks, and other vehicular transport. The smog, soot, and dust generated from the never-ceasing traffic caused health problems for the children and elderly, and for dozens and dozens of days each year the pollution levels made it unsafe to be outside. City elders and the citizenry, observing their increasingly untenable trajectory, began to research how they could solve these environmental problems while still embracing economic growth. After countless hearings, studies, and pilot projects, the solution was unveiled – an ultra-modern monorail network that would connect the sprawling city together at high speeds. Carbon neutral with zero emissions of any pollutants, the network would replace most forms of vehicle transport, increase quality of life, provide countless jobs, and tightly integrate other transport networks. Considered to be a marvel of modern LEGO engineering, the monorail network was built in record time, streets were increasingly pedestrianized, and ridership increased tenfold, then tenfold again, and continued to exponentially increase with every station and line added. In concert with the rising percentage of constituent minifigs relying on the monorails as their sole transport system, pollution began to fall dramatically across the city. Blue skies returned, birds flocked once more, and residents could enjoy the out of doors year round. Gone were the days of consulting pollution levels to see if it was safe to venture outside. The city’s dramatic investment into a basket of clean and renewable energy generation drove prices down to the extent that most factories, homes, and buildings converter to the cheaper, cleaner energy as well.
A City, Now Reborn, Gets Renamed
The monorail network was so influential to the transformation of the city that over time, BrickPort became known colloquially as “MonoTown”. On the 10th anniversary of the first monorail carrying its first minifigs, the city officially changed its name to MonoTown.
The Third Estate of MonoTown
Amidst all the hustle and bustle, the swoosh of monorails flying by overhead, the constant commerce, the never ending smorgasbord of arts and entertainment, thrilling high speed chases, dramatic fire rescues, fights with elemental beings and showdowns with ancient creatures, MonoTownTV has been there to document, inform, challenge, and provide accountability. The award winning television and media network has grown its reach far beyond MonoTown and is a major source of soft power for the city. Programming includes numerous shows ranging from reality to drama to live comedy, a public access network geared for kids and education, and several internet properties dedicated to user contributed videos. Its live network has drawn particular acclaim and includes 24/7 coverage of politics, sports, and breaking LEGO news. Self styled as a “The Guardian of Greatness” MonoTownTV is joined by several competitors to form a vibrant third estate. Leveraging the city’s foundational freedoms of free speech and the press, these networks compete heavily for viewership across a range of demographics, languages, and interests.
Despite the environmental example set by MonoTown for the rest of the LEGO universe, trouble was brewing. Other cities did not find the courage or discipline to solve their transport and pollution challenges, and as populations boomed, the problems of pollution began to threaten broader ecosystems. MonoTown’s own air quality began to suffer once more as foul fogs from cities far away were driven by the winds across the ocean. It’s unclear what the driving factors of inaction were – perhaps other cities lacked the diversity of opinion, the free speech platforms, financial resources, or simply lacked the scientific voice or attention to these issues. Regardless of the reasons, the encroaching problem of environmental degradation was not priority.
Time Squandered and Warnings Ignored
Years of warnings, both explicit and implicit, were ignored. Quality of life decreased. Respiratory based illness rose. Ecological disasters once unheard of became the norm and billions of damage done to property from extreme weather events became routine. In the face of increasingly serious warnings from the scientific community, opposition began to appear. The science and scientists were targeted, their research questioned, and entire political movements were formed to drive an agenda that focused on promoting business interests first and ignoring or downplaying environmental concerns. Precious decades began to slip away, culminating in a number of demagogues winning closely contested elections in other city-states, effectively settling the issue of whether anything would be done.
Untold sums of dark money had entered these campaigns and left their mark on democracy, and it was rumored that a coordinated campaign to silence environmental realities had been conducted at the behest of the industrial super-rich. The birth of so-called “Fake News” outlets became wildly popular and found particular success online while arguing they were simply providing a counterpoint to group-think.
Other shadowy groups began to appear. One of them, the Emissaries of the Underground (EUG), was founded by an anonymous group of leakers, hackers, activists, and contrarian thinkers. Some said they were heroes, rooting out corruption and investigating injustices that mainstream outlets ignored. Others blamed them for fomenting panic, dissent, and untruths and labeled them as just another Fake News outlet.
The truth was, increasingly, hard to discern.
There is Always a Choice
It began slowly at first – reports of unusually warm summers. Hotly debated pictures of retreating polar ice caps. Reports of floods and crop failures due to drought. Increasingly alarmed by computer models which predicted climate change that could result in a dramatic rise in sea levels, the elders of MonoTown met once again to understand the situation and decide their fate. This time, the problem wasn’t of their own making, but MonoTown’s potentially precarious position on the edge of a vast ocean meant it would be affected more than most.
The citizens had a choice – they could either abandon their city to the elements and leave their legacy behind, or they could fight back and face off with nature on a scale that had never before been seen. As the deliberations were broadcast in real-time, the entire world watched – some scoffing that a city was so concerned about the implications of a hoax, others hopeful they wouldn’t have to leave their homes and lives behind. The LEGO world watched, and waited.
The cost would be almost incalculable. Could sufficient bricks even be sourced to fuel the myriad proposals set forth as potential solutions? But the minifig cost would be even greater – lives would be shattered, communities torn apart, and there were no guarantees that they would be welcomed in other cities as conditions worsened globally.
A Fateful, Unanimous Decision
Appealing to an ancient MonoTown tradition that focused on unity in the face of major decisions, no matter what the actual vote count was by the City Elders, the final decision would be unanimous. All leaders would put their disagreements behind them and commit to implementing the decision to the best of their abilities.
And so, on that fateful morning, after dozens of rounds of voting and debate that lasted through the night as the Elders voted and revoted, their decision was finally announced while millions tuned in around the world.
MonoTown would fight back.
In a daring decision that would forever change the city, MonoTown would stand against all of the rage and destruction that Mother Nature could muster. The city would construct a massive sea wall of unparalleled size and strength to provide protection against the rising tides. Working under secret instructions from city leaders, an elite group of commodities traders was deployed to use a vast network of shell corporations to place multiple coordinated orders for bricks and supplies. These traders managed to secure, at reasonable, cost more than half the world’s available bricks before markets had a chance to react. Caught flat footed, this lightning execution was later used by some to insist that there never was a real choice on the issue – it had all been a sham – MonoTown was always going to decide to remain.
Nevertheless, not all of the city would be saved. There just wasn’t enough time or materials to protect the entire sprawl of what the city had become. Instead, the seawall would encircle the historic Central Business District that stood adjacent to ChinaTown and JapanTown. Critics accused planners of only attempting to save the wealthy West End, a typical and disturbing pander to the wealthy elite, but planners countered that the CBD still served as the central hub for the city’s monorail network, intra-city and inter-city train networks, the street level tram system, and it was already one of the city’s most densely populated districts. Saving the CBD would provide the most impact for the lowest cost, and critics succumbed to this enduring economic argument. Rail networks would be maintained by constructing tunnels for existing above ground rail lines, soon to be submerged. A new port would be built and in the face of shrinking land mass, the city in the future would grow in the only two directions available: up, or down.
Construction began almost immediately, and as “MonoTown’s Folly” began to slowly take shape and rise, the city’s financiers endured attacks on the city’s credit rating, bond market, and currency. Forced to implement quantitative easing to combat other transport centers who disagreed with MonoTown’s read of the environment situation, and did nothing, downward price pressure arrived at exactly the same moment MonoTown’s public spending reached historic highs. Economic hardship was inevitable, and inevitably unpopular. Frequent rumors of a “brain drain” were coupled with news of construction delays and cost overruns. Amidst this difficult backdrop, competing forces sowed confusion, anger, fear, and division.
The Slow Decline
Years passed. The weather worsened, but still the predicted doom did not arrive. Citizens could from any vantage point within the city view the now massive sea walls which increasingly felt like prison walls. Squatters and shanty towns were well established in the Abandoned Zones outside the city sea wall, and the original property owners were furious that they’d moved for no reason, accepting a low government payout and abandoning their perfectly good residences and businesses.
At a macro level, MonoTown was slowly and surely losing its prominence as a transportation hub. Its port was more expensive now, and its rail networks, which ran in currently-above-ground tunnels far inland were expensive to maintain, and made further price cuts untenable. Lack of gates within the sea wall (because why would you build gates?) meant cargo had to be hoisted up and over the wall, requiring increased time and cost.
To any casual observer, the city-state had simply called it wrong. They had built some kind of weird reverse Noah’s ark, and the floods would never come. They’d walled themselves off from sanity, and they’d committed economic suicide based on science that the majority of the world now discounted. The arrogance of MonoTowners thinking they knew something the rest did not was chalked up to a culture of superior thinking that had developed as a result of their early initial success with the monorails. Discrimination ensued as MonoTowners were viewed with suspicion and contempt, and why wouldn’t they be?
Throughout these trying times, however, the City Elders and leadership held fast. They continued to rely on and invest in science and closely examine the output of the thousands of models that were run each day on one of the many research super computers located within the newer, smaller, city limits. An entire generation of leaders were born, came to power, retired, and passed on never knowing if their decision had indeed been a Great Folly. And if so, it would go down in history as The Greatest Folly.
The Great Reckoning
One day, it began to rain. No stranger to rain storms carried by the now common massive typhoons that battered the globe, residents donned raincoats, umbrellas, and wellies and continued about their day. One day turned into one month which turned into one quarter. The rain continued unabated, and it wasn’t just in MonoTown – the entire planet was experiencing heavy sustained rainfall. Temperatures and humidity remained high, and one by one research and monitoring stations in polar environments began to mysteriously go offline. At the start of the fifth month of rain, MonoTown’s ancient and original seawall was breached, something that had never happened before. Huge areas of the Abandoned Zones began to experience flooding. Shallow waters began to lap against the mighty MonoTown Sea Wall.
Slowly, unevenly, realization set in around the world. It was happening. Satellites were diverted to observe glaciers and the poles and what they reported was terrifying – a dramatic, sustained, massive loss of ice that was driving surging waterfalls of newly unfrozen ice into the oceans.
The world was sinking.
It happened faster than modeled, but still within previously modeled sensitivities. The science was proven sound. Sea levels rose more than 70 feet in a matter of days and dozens of major cities and thousands of smaller towns and communities were submerged. The new coastline was in many cases hundreds of miles beyond its original boundaries, and millions and millions of minifigs perished or were displaced.
MonoTowners watched it all with a mixture of pride, gratitude, and horror. They had survived unscathed and their massive sea wall had held firm against billions of liters of water. MonoTowners began to adjust to the strange sights of ships floating far above them. Almost immediately, the city began receiving most shipping traffic bound for the continent as they were the only operating port left.
Overnight, the economy of MonoTown boomed unlike anything ever before recorded, and as the money poured in, MonoTowners worked together to help. Billions in aid was dispatched, millions of refugees welcomed, and minifigs worked around the clock to make sure aid, medical supplies, and food transport was prioritized and uninterrupted. Spearheading a massive search and rescue effort that required coordination from a fleet of military, hospital, transport, and ocean survey vessels, MonoTown became the world’s most important city.
A New Golden Age
In the years since the Great Reckoning, as it’s now known, MonoTown grew in wealth, importance, and influence. Blessed with its heritage of diversity, economic strength, scientific investment, and willingness to make tough long-term, seemingly crazy decisions, it is now enjoying a new Golden Age. Ships arrive, helicopters buzz overhead, the trains race towards the mainland, and the monorail silently whisks passengers to their destinations. Not all is perfect, however, as evil forces continue to move against the forces of truth and justice.
For now, the city lives in balance. Still, it remains ever watchful for new threats to its way of life.
Welcome to MonoTown.