The Plan: A Decentralized Global Network of Sustainable Autonomous Zones
We believe the biggest lesson learned from the Occupy movement was the sense of genuine community that people felt inside the camps. People felt truly empowered; for once in their life they had a voice that could be heard and mattered. They were part of a community that cared for each other and debated real issues, instead of feeling alone and divided by the mainstream media's endless charade of propaganda posing as news and information. For this vital lesson, we were reminded of the commonsense fact that you need to have human-to-human interaction on the ground to create real change.
With the collapse of traditional community organizations and the commodification of social gathering spaces, online social networks have begun to fill the void, but real change cannot happen until we have true community formation happening on the ground. As Occupy camps all over the world proved, we need places where socially conscious people can come together. There's already a critical mass of aware and capable people prepared to create change, but they remain too isolated and scattered around without a real place to call home, without a community of support around them. We need to create a decentralized network of physical locations where people can go to collaborate, to build and model new ways of living that make our present ways of living obsolete.
We've thought long and hard about how to create a space that nurtures and maximizes all the energy around us. My co-conspirator Steven Starr and I analyzed emerging trends, from collaborative workspaces to coffee houses, from social venues to entertainment and media-making environments, from education to arts, from energy, food and health systems to effective community services. The elements within our plan are independently thriving all over the place. After consulting with many experienced people, we now have a way to bring all of these elements, which together form a thriving community, under one roof, and a strategy to have these community formations proliferate widely into a decentralized global network of Sustainable Autonomous Zones.
After modeling the financials, we've concluded that it will take $5.7 million to build the prototype here in Los Angeles, a self-sustaining, thriving prototype that models ways to create the change we urgently need, then allows it to flourish all over the country and globally. The first live evidence of our plan is already online: an independent, ad-free social network called EvolveSociety.org. We're currently in beta, and our longer-term plan is for the online network to work seamlessly with the network of Sustainable Autonomous Zones on the ground.
We are calling the financial structure a "for-community-profit" initiative, which will generate profit that is used to fund solution-based, socially conscious projects in a fully transparent way. Strictly going the non-profit route is riddled with losing propositions. Taking on the world's most powerful corporations with a non-profit is like taking on Mike Tyson in his prime, with one hand tied behind your back. There are situations where being a non-profit is useful, and we will certainly go that route when strategically wise. There will be non-profit elements, such as educational and community services. There will also be a grant process to fund the costs for low-income individuals and non-profit initiatives. However, we feel that it is vital that these be "profit-making" entities to establish a self-sustaining model that develops the resources needed to significantly benefit the surrounding community.
While it would of course be ideal to have local funders actually donate the money, at this point, as already mentioned, it doesn't seem possible to raise the necessary funds without there being reward for the upfront risk they are taking. Once local investors double their money, they are paid out and then the community takes full control of the venture. We are exploring various effective ways to put a community governance structure in place; it will be up to the local community to decide which governance model works best in their local environment.
We think crowdfunding, especially in a community-building project such as this, is the key. However, you need serious resources and momentum to get a critical mass of crowd-funders in play. Our next step is to raise $250k to get the team and resources in place to ignite the momentum online and offline to fund the costs of the initial prototype.
There are obviously many more details to unveil and discuss; we will be posting information on a consistent basis moving forward. We fully intend to do this in a groundbreaking and sustainable way; we want this to exemplify the change we all urgently need to see in the world.
We are going to involve as many people as possible in the process, without it turning into a clusterfuck and/or field day for saboteurs. So here's your invitation: if you're interested in being involved, please register here and let us know your thoughts