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The view from Venus

Jacque Fresco designed a society without politics, poverty and war. Will it ever leave the drawing board?

Photo: Patricia Lois Nuss, License: N/A, Created: 2011:09:28 14:15:30

Patricia Lois Nuss

Venus Project creator Jacque Fresco says he's designed a model society that could exist without money, politics, poverty or war

Photo: Patricia Lois Nuss, License: N/A, Created: 2011:09:28 13:33:40

Patricia Lois Nuss

An interior shot of one of the Venus Project houses

Photo: Patricia Lois Nuss, License: N/A, Created: 2011:09:28 13:29:21

Patricia Lois Nuss

Models and images of Jacque Fresco's vision for the Venus Project

Photo: Patricia Lois Nuss, License: N/A, Created: 2011:09:28 13:25:13

Patricia Lois Nuss

One of Jacque Fresco's Venus Project models

Photo: Patricia Lois Nuss, License: N/A, Created: 2011:09:28 13:56:25

Patricia Lois Nuss

Jacque Fresco and Roxanne Meadows have dedicated their lives to the Venus Project

Photo: Patricia Lois Nuss, License: N/A

Patricia Lois Nuss

Jacque Fresco and Roxanne Meadows in front of their home on the Venus campus

Photo: Patricia Lois Nuss, License: N/A

Patricia Lois Nuss

The Venus Project’s top-heavy approach to organizing points to a larger weakness: Fresco, despite his somewhat socialistic ideology, is not very good at being social. This became evident to Nathanael Dinwiddie, a 21-year-old film student at the University of Kansas, during his meetings with Fresco and Meadows throughout the course of this year. Since February, Dinwiddie has dedicated hundreds of hours to unearthing primary sources that would validate the stories of Fresco’s early life – since the release of Addendum, stories from Fresco’s earlier years have been labeled as fabrications by a persistent blogger named “anticultist.” As a result, Fresco’s Wikipedia article, thanks to Dinwiddie, is lengthy, detailed and laden with footnotes. (Some of these primary sources, like the original brochure for the Trend Home, are included in the online version of this story.) Dinwiddie is working on a documentary on Fresco, and eventually, wants to see a bio- graphy written about him – certainly, the bulk of the book would concern Fresco’s activities before 1980. “After they purchased the Venus Project land, he really kind of closed off from the world,” Dinwiddie says. “He interacts with people there, at the Venus Project, and it’s only concerning the Venus Project.”

Indeed, this reporter cannot recall an instance in the nearly eight hours spent at the Venus Project in which he was asked a question by Fresco other than a variant of “Do you understand?” It’s this lack of professional engagement, William Gazecki says, that has hurt Fresco the most. “The real missing link in Jacque’s world is having put Jacque to work,” Gazecki says. “[It’s] exemplified when people say: ‘Well, show me some buildings he’s built. And I don’t mean the domes out in Venus. I mean, let’s see an office building, let’s see a manufacturing plant, let’s see a circular city.’ And that’s where he should have been 30 years ago. He should have been applying his work, in the real world … [but] he’s not a collaborator, and I think that’s why he’s never had great public achievements.”

At one point during the production of Future by Design, Gazecki implored Fresco to travel with him to General Electric’s Global Research Center in Niskayuna, N.Y., to observe some of the cutting-edge scientific experiments being conducted there. Gazecki says that Fresco refused, citing the possibility that scientists there would “steal” his ideas. (Fresco invented many medical devices, such as hip and knee prostheses, but says that he was swindled out of hundreds of patents by the doctor who commissioned the designs. “I’m a lousy businessman, I admit that,” Fresco says.) “He’s got that old-fashioned inventor mindset, where he wants to protect his greatest work from being absconded,” Gazecki says. “And I think that’s been a big limitation for him.”

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