Jacque Fresco – American futurist and self-described social engineer – was an important inspiration to many of us involved in the Toronto Tool Library (he once visited us at our first communal living house in Toronto just prior to launching the tool library). On May 18th 2017, Jacque passed away at the age of 101.
Jacque was well known for his work with the Venus Project in Florida, his home and research centre for the exploration of how one might go about designing and engineering a world that no longer relies on money as a medium of exchange. According to this train of thought, many of the social ills of our time – poverty, hunger, war, environmental destruction, greed, selfishness, etc – are actually built right into the nature of our current economic model. Inequality, injustice and the unfair distribution of resources are symptoms of the current operating system on our planet and so long as we continue to treat the symptoms, the disease that causes them will remain.
A system which pits human against human to fight over what are supposedly scarce resources brings out the worst in human nature.
What if we could design a world that brought out the best in human nature? What if we finally acknowledged that resources are not scarce – there really is enough to go around – and began building a world that reflected this reality? What if we began making things to last rather than to break down just so a corporation can turn the highest profit? What would the world look like if we were raised to collaborate with one another, rather than competing for grades, houses and top spots at the board room table?
What if equality and human rights were built into the very fabric of existence?
Jacque’s book The Best That Money Can’t Buy, as well as his ideas about shifting the world towards a Resource-Based Economic model, were important inspirations for us when we decided to launch the first tool lending library in Toronto (the non-profit behind the Toronto Tool Library is called an Institute For A Resource-Based Economy). We were introduced to Jacque’s work via the Zeitgeist Film Series – most notably Zeitgeist Moving Forward – and wanted to find a concrete and useful way to communicate some of these ideas with people without hitting them over the head with them.
What better way to help people understand the notion that things we need can (and perhaps a better word is should) be detached from money than through a resource sharing library? We are already so familiar with the concept of sharing books, why not extend it to tools and other useful items that really we don’t need to own? Four Tool Library and two Sharing Depot locations later, it turns out these physical spaces are welcomed and celebrated – not only here in Toronto, but around the world.
We have a lot of work to do before we realize the vision Jacque put forward. Innovations in the realm of technological automation, green energy and the war cry for a Universal Basic Income are glimmers on the horizon that the work of Jacque and others like him is starting to take root. As we remember Jacque and feel thankful for what he has brought to our collective lives, we feel the weight of a torch passed on.
It is now up to us – all of us – to keep these ideas alive and continue pushing for the better world we know is possible.
This is a guest blog by @itsahashtaglife, who has been perfecting the art of online storytelling as a method to amplify the important messages of non-profits and charities in Toronto for the last three years. She takes the tools and techniques of traditional digital media marketing and applies them to organizations working hard to shift our world into a new story – one that is more sustainable and supportive of people and the planet.