The view from Venus
Jacque Fresco designed a society without politics, poverty and war. Will it ever leave the drawing board?
Published: October 13, 2011
With that, the Venus Project was brought into the fold of what was not only a successful film franchise, but an activist movement. By March 2009, the “Zeitgeist Movement” was an official organization which claimed a quarter million members. This appeared to be exactly what Fresco’s vision truly needed: an army of willing supporters to not just talk about change, but fight for it. But it didn’t last – the partnership ended in April of this year in an apparent power struggle, after which Joseph wrote his supporters a note: “Without [The Zeitgeist Movement], [The Venus Project] doesn’t exist – it has nothing but ideas and has no viable method to bring it to light. It takes community to do that. For 30 years they did little to progress. I still ask … what the hell have they been doing for 30 years?!”
Meadows says that she and Fresco were partly occupied with their survival. Before the release of the documentaries, the Venus Project was not well-known, and hence, Fresco’s ideas translated into fewer dollars. Meadows designed multi-million dollar luxury homes for powerful real estate developers – how she would “prostitute” herself, she says – and Fresco consulted on aspiring inventors’ designs. In the meantime, she says, they were constructing the domes themselves; Fresco was also building models and writing books, such as 2002’s The Best That Money Can’t Buy: Beyond Politics, Poverty & War. It was around the onset of the recession and between the release of the two documentaries when the couple dedicated themselves completely to marketing the vision of the Venus Project. “We don’t take any vacations. We work around the clock,” Meadows says. “We work from when we get up, to when we can’t stay up anymore.”
Though Fresco, at 95, is nearing the end of his life – the world tour’s last four scheduled lectures were cancelled because he was suffering from breathing difficulties – this unremitting labor revolves completely around him. When Fresco is not giving his Venus Tours, Meadows and another volunteer make an effort to film him for at least one hour every other day; currently, they are raising funds for a “major motion picture” in which the protagonist would be modeled after Jacque Fresco. (“If we can get this movie out there, in 90 days people will realize what it will take to build the first model city,” Fresco told a reporter from Gulfshore Life magazine in 1990.) To the Project’s activists outside of Venus, Fresco is an ever-present focus as well. The design team’s primary purpose, for example, is to come up with detailed technical specifications for Fresco’s designs, not to draw new ones. And because it is of “prime importance” to understand the “direction” of the project, according to Meadows, the activists attending online “study groups” of Fresco’s material are asked to read his writings aloud.
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