Conflict Resolution

 

We have not generated this page to create conflict, but to draw attention to the conflict that has been created. As contributors to human fulfillment, ecological sustainability, and integrated city design, we are here to work diligently toward the creation of a unified socio-economic network of integrated city systems that function for our fulfillment and ecological stability (we call this system, Community). We do not particularly like drawing attention to conflict, but it is necessary if we are to learn from conflict, and reduce its occurrence in the future. Hence, it is important to shed light on points of conflict so that we can learn from them and move forward together in some sort of closer and more fulfilling alignment. If we ignore conflict, then the conflict is likely to spread (or even, just continue).

This page exists as both a record of conflict, and platform for learning, so that we may minimize conflict in the future and maintain more open channels of communication. The design specifications published on http://auravana.com/specs shed light on the harm that conflict brings to our fulfillment and the expression of our highest potential selves. They also discuss the topic of "negativity", because it easy to view this webpage (a page on conflict resolution) from the perspective of "negativity", and forget that from a space of dissonance can come resonance and positive change. Please do a search within the specifications for the term "negativity" if you would like a complete definition of the term, and a discussion of why and how the term is used therein.

The idea that any project or organization owns the idea of a network of socio-economically integrated circular city systems structured to facilitate human fulfillment and ecological sustainability (the evolution of the idea of community), or should have complete control over these ideas, is both dangerous and nonsensical.

 

Conflict initiation (10 August 2016):

On 10 August 2016, The Venus Project Inc. filed a DMCA takedown request with Youtube to have our video entitled "Circular cities in Community" removed from the website (there were 86 views when it was taken down). It was the images in the video that The Venus Project Inc. claimed were in violation of its copyright. This video was entirely our work and it was not the direct work of The Venus Project. The city took us 8 months to create, and it was screenshotted from within a game engine. There were also two non-real-time rendered images in the video. Of note, we had no significant 3d modeling or simulation design experience prior to this project. You can still hear the audio and view the transcript for the video. We feel this content is an evolution of the idea of community, and one of the best direct explanations for why cities are so constructed in community. In fact, if you look at the development of the specifications for community, we started with the Social System, worked our way forward to the Decision System, then the Lifestyle System, and only after we had all this as a foundation did we arrive at the material layout of cities in community (i.e., a network of socio-economically integrated, primarily circular, city systems). And only then, did we post this video describing cities in community at great length. Technically, our work could in fact fall under fair use (fair dealing) because we created it for education, research, and private study.

Of note, we are a project of contributors, so there is always the possibility we may accidentally post something of someone else's. We would not do so intentionally, however. Of course, we would immediately remove any such content if the owner just let us know. A simple email or message linking or explaining the issue would suffice. It is unfortunate that instead of engaging us in constructive communication, they used the State to immediately silence the work we produced.

Conflict Resolved (2016):

The video has been taken down through direct DMCA action. As a sign of good faith we deleted the video from YouTube. Several of the images associated with the work of contributors to the video have also been censored from the Internet. We compromised our values: The Auravana Project deleted many more images from the Internet as a show of good faith to The Venus Project Inc. The Auravana Project will not re-upload the video; instead, at some time in the future we will create a new city and upload that instead.

What have we learned:

< please read through this entire section, as we make clear at the end that we shall continue to support The Venus Project >

We have learned that The Venus Project Corporation’s management will take action to censor work from the internet that it believes violates its enforceable copyrights. The Venus Project’s management, and the volunteers that management has surrounded itself with, are adamantly against open sourcing any of its claimed works. Of note, the direct and indirect work of The Venus Project is all over the internet with all sorts of different copyright associations; and we don’t know whether or not it was our lack of promoting The Venus Project that brought on this issue, or that our objects in the city have some claimed resemblance to objects that their project has produced, or both. The fact is that when we produced this video we were in a catch-22: we considered promoting The Venus Project, but thought that if we did so while also promoting our project that they might dislike that, and seek to take down the video. The Venus Project has told us in the past that our two projects are entirely separate, and they don’t want the public to have any confusion over that. Our website once had a “Collaborative Organizations” webpage, and The Venus Project asked us to either change the name of the webpage, or remove the link on that page to their website. Also, on or around 2014-10-06, Roxanne Meadows as the director of The Venus Project stated the following about our public domain community project: “I stated that if people want to get together and do a project within this system to support themselves, that might be good. It [The Auravana Project] has nothing to do with The Venus Project, that project.” – Roxanne Meadows

Essentially, The Venus Project is a closed source project and promotes the work/vision of one man, Jacque Fresco, as a better way of living for everyone. Of course, many of his claimed ideas and designs do actually represent a better way of living than the way we live now.

"The society I am talking about is global cooperation." -Jacque Fresco

Unfortunately, when the right words and visuals are owned, and you can't use that language, then global cooperation is not possible. Of course, we can only presume that what Fresco is saying in the above quote is that we should all be releasing our work as open source, for open source is unequivocally “global cooperation” (in every sense of the term).

It is not logical to try and create an open source society through a fully closed source effort. The effort of many people working together to develop a better society for everyone does not fit in the category of closed source (the opposite of open source).

Here, it is important to note that Jacque Fresco was born in 1916 and is over 100 years old. He created The Venus Project Inc. (and previously Socio-cyberengineering Inc.) when the idea of open source didn't even exist in the public's mind. It didn't become a "thing", really, in the public's mind until the 2000s. By that time Jacque would likely have been entirely fixed in his ways. If he was young now, and in his prime, we think the organization would be open source. But, as people age, change becomes hard and if they don’t remain substantially open, then they tend to become more and more rigid, which can be damaging to themselves and those around them. Further, it is our opinion that the nasty split The Venus Project initiated against The Zeitgeist Movement did more to harm this direction than anyone else has or could ever do. Further, what is continuing to harm this direction is the dead-zone of innovation being created by organizations that claim to support global cooperation, but are not open sourcing their work, not allowing others to remix and modify, and censoring the work of others.

A contributor to The Auravana Project has posted a video on the topic of open source and the productivity that could be gained by integrating our visions and following our claimed values, Cooperation and sharing among organizations with the appearance of a similar aim (youtube).

It is, one must admit, strange to be busy all one’s life working on solutions to human problems, and then, restrict the sharing of those solutions. As contributors to this direction ourselves, we know that when our egos become too involved in our work, which can easily happen when working on a project for a long-duration of time, then it becomes hard for us to hear feedback and modify existing methods. Our ego can get its feelings hurt and feel scorn or scolded, and could start to reject other people and/or useful ideas/data. The involvement of our ego represents the blurring of boundaries between individual personalities and useful contribution [toward a system that is designed to facilitate the fulfillment of all]. The involvement of our ego could easily sabotage our work and relationships.

As contributors to The Auravana Project and other similarly open source and free shared projects, we cannot go another 10 or 20 years not knowing where we are going. We can't live as followers and disciples. We can’t wait forevermore to be told where we are going. We are creative and constructive human beings, and we want to participate in the evolution and development of a new way of living.  We have to know, and understand why, this socio-economic structure is so constructed, and how a better life for all could be constructed. Those who live as followers have ideas about the world that those who think for themselves know to not necessarily be true. The question is, “Do you want to experience and construct community (i.e., are you really interested in community)? Or, do you just like listening to others talk about community, like watching videos about community, and like having city configurations of community as your desktop wallpaper and screensaver?” We should be questioning the powers that be that restrict sharing among humanity. Just capturing the eyes of followers to feed a following is a disastrous situation. It is terribly dangerous because it encourages groupthink. And, groupthink leads to hurtful decisions because the group tends to ignore possible problems with the group's decisions, while discounting logic and facts.

Fundamentally, those who say, "Get in line with the leaders who are directing the message or be quiet", are doing a disservice to humanity. Those who claim that we (as contributors to the evolution of community) are diluting a message or doctrine by seeking to evolve the idea of community are simply wrong. We can come to know someone and their values by examining their behavior. What type of values does an organization hold when it has no open standards and uses silencing tactics against those who are attempting to contribute to and evolve the idea of community?

When people suppress or oppress or repress those forces of creative design and evolution (in themselves or their organization), then they are just going to bubble up in other places. They are going to bubble up with other organizations, and they are going to bubble up for yourself in how you feel about, and behave in, the world. Thereafter, when you see another organization expressing a proposal for community, you see it as perverse, something negative, something to be taken down and hidden, something dark, shady or shadowy.  In actual fact, it is something being made conscious. And between two or more conscientious characters who have a love for the Earth and understand the potential of humankind, who trust one another, this can be very constructively played out and a lot of beneficial content can be derived for all from the relationship. What sort of dynamic do you want to play out here [on earth at the present], one of aggression and destruction, or one of constructive fulfillment, which by its very nature necessitates that we share and work together (i.e., collaborate)?

The problem, of course, with many market-based organizations is that people with a particular value-standard (for instance, those who value open source) get marginalized and then eventually leave the organization, so you get an accumulation of people with non-constructive value orientations at the top of the organization, which turns into something of a self-congratulatory echo chamber.

We have also learned something about copyright.

Did you know that prior to 1990 (globally, in general) “architectural works” were not copyrightable? In the UK, architectural schematics, only, were previously copyrightable. In 1990, the United States Government made every expression of an “architectural work” copyrightable, and then developed international accords and laws to ensure that they became copyrightable globally. Note that the population of the planet is over 7 billion, and all 7 billion people are, now, supposed to fall in line with this coercive order. In other words, architectural works, such as buildings and structures, were not protected under U.S. copyright law until 1990, when Congress passed the Architectural Works Copyright Protection Act (AWCPA). Ironically, as humankinds’ technological ability to share became greater, the market forces against sharing decided to lobby the State to further restrict the public’s ability to share. Here, it is important to remember that copyright laws are mostly about money, and ensuring continued financial gain. Copyright monopoly was, and always will be, intended to prevent freedom of expression, and is an interference with fundamental human rights.

Hence, the copyright of all forms of architectural expression did not become a tool for silencing the 7 other billion humans on the planet until 1990.

From 1 December 1990 onward the following buildings can be considered eligible for copyright (United States Architectural Works Copyright Protection Act):

  • Designs created on or after December 1, 1990.
  • Designs that were created in unpublished plans or drawings but not constructed as of December 1, 1990, but were constructed before January 1, 2003

The following building designs cannot be registered:

  • Designs that were constructed, or whose plans or drawings were published, before December 1, 1990.
  • Designs that were unconstructed and created in unpublished plans or drawings on December 1, 1990, and were not constructed on or before December 31, 2002.
  • Structures other than buildings, such as bridges, cloverleafs, dams, walkways, tents, recreational vehicles, mobile homes, and boats.
  • Standard configurations of spaces and individual standard features, such as windows, doors, and other staple building components, as well as functional elements whose design or placement is dictated by utilitarian concerns. [Our comment: it could be said that most architecture within an optimized economic network of functionally integrated cities is dictated by utilitarian concerns]

Additionally, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which The Venus Project Inc. used to take down our video is a vast, complex, and interpretable 1998 copyright law that expands the reach of government and corporations to further restrict sharing and freedom beyond the 1990 AWCPA.

Copyright law has been expanding over the centuries. A very condensed version of copyright history could look like this: texts (1800), works (1900), tools (2000). This is an encroachment of capitalism on the free expression of humankind, equivalent to the encroachment of capitalism on the land rights of peasants in the 16th (and other) centuries. Fundamentally, we don’t think it is possible to build “global cooperation” based on these rules. These rules are a true nightmare for those of us working on the direction of human fulfillment, ecological sustainability, and integrated city design.

Of note, we discuss the topic of copyright, and intellectual property in general, in the Decision System specification. In the table of contents, you will find a section on copyright (or do a keyword search for the word).

How exactly do we label the very qualities of life that copyright restricts according to our shared experience? Things are like other things, which are themselves like other things, unless they are more like those other things, which are themselves like other things. Where is the line between inspiration and copying? And, should we use force and coercion to determine that line? The boundaries which divide two or more persons' effort to reflect natural aesthetic symmetry and function are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the effort of one ends and where another begins? When structure is reflective of nature, is it moral to restrict the sharing of that structure? Is it ethical to copyright a structure (that in the world of today so saturated with form) has so many similes, and has been thought up, or could have been thought up, by so many others? If you wanted to create a system to make people poor [in fulfillment], and keep then poor, this the system you would create.

This is the kind of unconditional fear that you live in while working on this direction. Today, the world is saturated with architectural designs. And, the copyright of architecture is one of the reasons there is very little architectural aesthetic cohesion to cities today (and starchitects, of course).

There is a pejorative expression in the English language that says, “You are living in the past”. However, one can’t even say that those who release architectural works under restrictive copyrights are living in the past, because in the past architectural works and tools couldn’t be copyrighted.

The encroachment of copyright carries with it the idea that humanity should be in debt to someone who worked on an idea or design. Yet, as contributors to this direction, we thought we were trying to overcome, both physically and cognitively, the idea of debt.

The odd irony of this precise situation is that we are more in line with free market capitalists, than we are with The Venus Project, because free market capitalists don't agree with or believe in copyright and intellectual property.

Fundamentally, our inspiration and creative ability is limited by the context and physical world we find ourselves in. It is hard to create things when the world is already so full of stuff, and that which is created, is so similar to so many other things out there. And, it is so sad that those who once inspired you turn on you aggressively when you express yourself creatively. Often, they think they are protecting something, yet in truth they don’t realize the harm they bring to themselves and others by their destructive (literally) acts.

All of us today, in some respect, are a victim of trauma. And you wouldn’t say to someone who is a victim of trauma, I don’t want to hear or see you, I don’t want you to share, just go off and heal yourself in silence. And yet, those who are inspired in their healing by images and concepts that uplift, when they use such inspiration to create something which may be similar to that which was inspiring, then protectionist organizations shut them down and interrupt the healing (not only for themselves, but for all of humanity). Sometimes protectionist organizations even go so far as to say, “You should not be sharing in that way. We are here to create the better world for you.”

We could compare the copyrighting of words, works, and tools with the “drug war”. For instance, if you share consciousness altering substances that you have cultivated on your own, for the good of humanity, then force will be applied to stop you (in most jurisdictions throughout the world). If you share architectural works (drawn arbitrarily after 1990) that you have created on your own for the good of humanity, then force will be applied to stop you (in most jurisdictions throughout the world). The war on drugs is a war on humanity, just as the war on self-expression is a war on humanity, and neither have led to positive resolutions, only more profit, suffering and harm. The fact is that the methods involved in protectionism preclude any other method, and are thus, a fundamental restriction on the freedom of human expression.

The Venus Project was started in the 1970s, but the idea of an integrated and automated circular city has been around for much longer than that, and is now widely spoken about by many organizations. Here, we would very much like to know which of the works of The Venus Project are older than 1990, so that we can use those? This would be a responsible thing to share with humanity. Which of Jacque Fresco’s works were done prior to 1990? We have heard (through a variety of sources) that although Jacque is still drawing, many of his designs and city configurations are ~30-50 years old (we do not know whether this is true, and The Venus Project has volunteers sign non-disclosure agreements in order to volunteer with them). Unfortunately, it seems that for one reason or another Jacque Fresco and Roxanne Meadows burned some of their architectural works on or around 2009.

“We burned a lot of blueprints about a year ago, because we were going to move to another country. I had blueprints on skyscrapers, machines to do the work of people, many blueprints, but we, I can do them over again.”

(Source: https://archive.org/details/JacqueFrescoBurnedHisBlueprints | 2010 | Note: This video is no longer available from its original source; it has been taken down by The Venus Project Corporation and replaced with another video. We were concerned that it might be taken down, and so we saved this public domain video in our archive. Please contact us if you would like a copy of the video.)

We look forward to a better time, when we are all sharing in our fulfillment, and working together on a better way of living for all.

In summation, although we have fundamental disagreements in approach (open source vs. closed source) we think you should continue to support The Venus Project financially, as we have done in the past and will continue to do so well into the future. The irony, however, is that we would give The Venus Project even more money, and we think that The Venus Project would become even more popular, if it were open source and the project wasn't restricted to just the vision of one man.

 

Below are several letters of resignation form former Venus Project "points of contact" who felt their energies were best spent elsewhere:

 

Thank you to all who participated in this conflict, and may we all move forward with more compassion and understanding.