7 The Massive Potential

When Mark Zuckerburg created Facebook, I highly doubt that he thought his social networking service would reach over a billion users in only 9 years. I think even you would have doubted it back in 2004. However, the world is coming to the realization that the Internet makes possible the seemingly impossible. Everything is becoming digitized. Software is eating up the world. What if society itself was falling into this realm as well? Here’s something to think about; if Facebook was a country, it would be the 3rd largest in the world. What if we took an alternative approach to social networking? What if we looked at Facebook as a virtual nation, a borderless society? It has a government (its board), constitution (terms of service), citizens (users), businesses (advertisers), taxes (fees), and it has once had its own currency (Facebook Credits). Let’s imagine each Facebook member produced a good or service and Facebook Credits were based on the mutual credit model. With over a billion members, it would have a wide range of goods and services available for exchange — making it a parallel, global economy.

Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT)

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Walt Disney’s Original Plan for EPCOT

To view this video…

qrcode (12)

scan this QR code with your smartphone

or

visit Producism.org/vid13

Let me take you back 50 years to show you how one of the most well known men in the entertainment industry was ahead of his time, and had an opportunity to do what I mentioned above regarding Facebook, but more in a brick and mortar sense. In the early 1960s, Walt Disney was very successful in the entertainment industry, as well as having a family with many grandchildren. Observing his grandchildren growing up, Walt began to worry about the world of the future they would live in. He noticed that modern cities were unfit to raise children in. They were very different from Disney’s clean and controlled Disneyland Park in California.

Walt realized that he and his team had accumulated a lot of knowledge in planning communities. This made him question if they could develop entire cities as well. This inspired Walt to learn all about city planning and everything else that was needed to pull off something of that magnitude. This eventually led to the idea about creating a prototype community called EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow). The original idea is far from the EPCOT that exists today. Disney had much bigger plans before his death. It was a “community of the future” that was designed to challenge U.S. corporations to come up with new ideas for urban living. He had a very ambitious vision. He is quoted as saying:

“EPCOT will take its cue from the new ideas and new technologies that are emerging from the forefront of American industry. It will be a community of tomorrow that will never be completed. It will always be showcasing and testing and demonstrating new materials and new systems.”

“It will be a planned, controlled community, a showcase for American industry and research, schools, cultural and educational opportunities. In EPCOT, there will be no slum areas because we won’t let them develop. There will be no landowners and therefore no voting control. People will rent houses instead of buying them, and at modest rentals. There will be no retirees; everyone must be employed.”

Walt Disney decided that Florida was the ideal place to set up his new venture. However, he didn’t want to build another Disneyland, yet wanted to create something entirely different: a community where people not just played in, but lived in as well. This was the beginning of EPCOT. By using various dummy corporations, Walt Disney purchased 27,800 acres of Florida swampland (which is twice the size of Manhattan) located between the cities of Orlando and Kissimmee. This land would eventually become the Walt Disney World Resort. Disney believed it was enough land to hold all the ideas and plans they could possibly imagine.

In a way to bypass governmental red tape, Disney also petitioned with the State of Florida Legislature to give Walt Disney Productions municipal jurisdiction over the land they had acquired. This was to make sure that he could have full control over every part of the property, even how the buildings were constructed. Walt was planning new ideas in urban living and did not want the government to interfere.

Fast forward to today, even though Walt’s original plans didn’t come to fruition, The Walt Disney Company still has an immense, city-like presence. They have their own land with resorts, shops and homes within the resorts, rules for engagement on the properties, a lot of customers, and its own currency called Disney Dollars. Each Disney Dollar represents one dollar, and can be spent at any Disney-affiliated property. All of this seems very similar to a new phenomenon on the horizon, charter cities.

Source

Charter Cities

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Paul Romer’s TED Talk on Charter Cities

To view this video…

vid17

scan this QR code with your smartphone

or

visit Producism.org/vid17

You’ve probably heard of charter schools before, but have you heard of charter cities? Well, it’s a similar concept but it applies to cities instead. A charter city is a tract of land in which the rules are defined by the city’s own charter document rather than by state, provincial, regional, or national laws. According to Wikipedia, these cities may be run predominantly by citizens or through a third-party management structure, because a charter gives a city the flexibility to choose novel types of government structure. An example of having different rules is a charter city not having an income tax, but only taxing the use of land. A thought leader on charter cities, Paul Romer, suggests creating many new charter cities in developing countries. He also states that the three things that make successful charter cities are good rules, uninhabited land, and collaboration between nations. The point of the charter cities idea is to give citizens a choice about where they want to live and to provide the basic rules and amenities required for economic growth.

Of California’s 478 cities, 112 are charter cities. Some include Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, and Irvine. In the 1950’s, Hong Kong also started out as a special administration region in China. Similar to charter cities, it helped people in the countryside participate in a modernized economy. Instead of forcing everyone to adapt to a modernized economy, the government gave people a choice to move to these special zones and “play a new game.” It helped to increase skills and income for the people and led to rapid economic growth in those areas. After the success of Hong Kong, 14 new cities were created to replicate the model and more cities in the country followed suit.

Transition Towns

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Rob Hopkin’s TED Talk (The Creator of Transition Towns)

To view this video…

qrcode(1)

scan this QR code with your smartphone

or

visit Producism.org/vid18

Charter cities provide a lot of hope in creating positive change, but they need government involvement in order to be realized. However, there’s an immediate way for people to self-organize sustainable communities with climate change and peak oil on the rise. Just start or join an existing Transition Town. Transition Towns are a grassroots network of communities that are working to build resilience in response to environmental and economic instability that was pioneered by Robert Hopkins. The term transition town was created by Louise Rooney and Catherine Dunne. They started in Ireland and spread to England during 2005 and 2006.  The goal of the concept is to prepare communities for the challenges of environmental unsustainability and initiate localized economic opportunity.

Some activities of Transition Town groups include building community gardens, creating business waste exchange (which connects one industry’s waste with another industry that uses that waste material), and creating local currencies. There are over 1,000 transition town initiatives existing around the world.

Friendly Societies

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Great Essay on Friendly Societies

To view this essay…

qrcode(2)

scan this QR code with your smartphone

or

visit Producism.org/source19

Before government programs existed to help its citizens, people helped each other in the form of friendly societies (also known as fraternal organizations and mutual societies). A friendly society is a mutual association that consists of a group of people who join together for a common financial or social purpose. Before modern insurance, and the welfare state, friendly societies provided financial and social services to individuals, often according to their religious, political, or trade affiliations. Credit unions can be seen as modern mutual associations. AARP is an example of a friendly society operating today.

Currently, people depend more on institutions rather than each other. However, we are beginning to realize that long term solutions to the crises societies face today aren’t coming from governments and big box corporations. New forms of local-based mutual associations will have to emerge in order to fill in the gaps that exist in our communities.

 Virtual Nations

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Rare Article on V-Nations

To view this article…

vnationqrcode

scan this QR code with your smartphone

or

visit Producism.org/vnation

If Facebook wanted to become a virtual nation, it will be simple to do considering they already have the structure in place. But what is a virtual nation? A virtual nation is a digital entity formed by a group of people in various areas throughout the world for a specific purpose. These individuals are bound by a common, passionate cause or set of beliefs.  Transcending time and space, the web provides the framework for members across the globe to develop their plans for their communities’ future and merge the online world with the physical world. Using the transparency and connectivity of online networks, v-nations will transcend basic online communities. They are far more ambitious and intentional about bringing a specific idea to life.

According to this article, “The Approaching Age of Virtual Nations,” Lifecast, a small entrepreneurial company in Dallas, brought together an enormous online community of wealthy and powerful individuals in 1999. During its 14-month existence, and with less than $10 million in seed money, Lifecast’s online membership grew to a staggering 1.4 million affluent participants. Their combined annual incomes totaled more than $240 billion, and their documented personal net worth exceeded $1.28 trillion.

Here’s more from that article:

Lifecast members included some of the world’s most powerful politicians, educators, and athletes, as well as leaders in businesses, governments, and militaries around the world. More than 40,000 doctors and 80,000 attorneys signed up. As a group, members flew more than 32 billion miles annually. Economically, Lifecast would have ranked twenty-third among the world’s nations.

Had this group wanted to, it could easily have created its own stock trading exchange, research centers, universities, and security force for protection. It could have bought its own airline, insurance company, health-care centers, and financial institutions. It could have driven the politics of many countries, influenced laws, and even started its own barter currencies. In other words, it could have become the equivalent of a nation, with an ability to provide the three basic functions of a nation: to defend and protect its people, provide opportunities for the health and well-being of its members, and implement a monetary system.

Lifecast no longer functions as a corporation, and it was never the intent of Lifecast to become a virtual nation in the first place. However, that small company demonstrated the ease with which an online group could form very quickly and amass potentially tremendous power. Members of the Lifecast community had ample communications access through the Internet and the technical infrastructure that supported the group. However, the group never sought to effect change; rather, members were content to use their community for social bonding and information gathering. With no cause to promote, there was no need for a leader to step forward. This conceivable v-nation was likely unaware of its potential power and certainly uninterested in using the community for a nation-building purpose.”

An economy is the foundation of any society. It brings people together to build tangible and intangible things and offer services that communities need and want. Hopefully by now, we are aware that our current economic system is unsustainable and doesn’t benefit the majority of people. Solutions aren’t coming from government and big corporations. But with the Internet, we have an opportunity to self-organize the type of locally-based, globally-connected economic system that is designed to provide a level playing field and get our economy and planet back on track to sustainability. We can do this by combining the features of Walt Disney’s EPCOT, Transition Towns, Charter Cities, Friendly Societies and Virtual Nations with the Producism model. The tools already exist to make it happen. All it takes is education, consent, and action.

The virtual nation I have in mind would be open source. Yup, open source everything! Open source economics, ecology, governance, etc. For all of my techies out there, it’s about updating society’s operating system from a Windows-like structure to something like Linux. The Internet is enabling this evolution. But one thing to remember is, this movement is not totally digital. We are just utilizing technology to foster real world interactions that benefit us economically, socially, politically, and environmentally. In the old game, the more you accumulate, the richer you are. In the new game, the more you give, the richer you are; completely flipping economics on its head. It’s a new way forward.

 The Evolution of Government

A lot of today’s political thought stems from Aristotle’s “Politics.” I don’t agree with all of his views, but one of his philosophies about governments that I do side with is a city’s aim should be to enable the greatest good of its citizens. I have a few ideas on how governments can reach this ideal.

1. Utilize a portion of tax dollars to go into a fund to capitalize social entrepreneurs

Governments around the world are making massive cutbacks in public services in order to reach financial sustainability. Additionally, there’s a strong need to create more economic opportunity for local communities. Social entrepreneurs can solve both of these problems by utilizing enterprise as a medium to create social, environmental, and economic change. If governments created funds to help capitalize these types of ventures, this will help lower their burden on the services they have to provide and put a lot of people to work. The UK government has created similar initiatives, but I’m unaware of their effectiveness.

2. Have local residents participate in the budgetary process

I feel people would care more about their neighborhoods if they played a bigger role where their tax dollars went. Many people have good ideas for their locality, region, and nation. If citizens were able to vote on where their tax dollars went, they would be more engaged with their government.

3. Open source governments

Some of the main problems with governments are the lack of transparency presiding over important decisions and the barriers to access important public data. There is technology available to solve these problems and make government more open to the public. This can enable organizations to utilize this data to provide better products and services to communities.

4. Accept popular alternative currencies for taxes and public debts

Currently, in America and many other developed nations, governments only accept one currency, that is created and monopolized by central banks, for taxes and public debts. This stipulation is what gives central banks their power over the economy. I feel once alternative currencies become popular locally, regionally, and nationally, governments should let people and businesses pay taxes with them. The governments can then pay a portion of government employees’ salaries with them and reduce their fiat currency debts. I’ve explained how this worked in Worgl back during the Great Depression in Money 4.0 chapter. Currently, local government in Brixton is following this approach by accepting the Brixton Pound for taxes.