Archive for the ‘ Analysis ’ Category

What happened to the old TZM Members? Please let us know

I realised I put the cart before the horse with the Constellation Model proposal. This is partly because the proposal morphed from being an email reply to being a full on proposal. But also because I skipped a few steps and talking with others has helped me realise that.

The TLDR is that I’ve created an online form for old TZM members who have left the movement or aren’t active anymore. We want to know why.

TZM Form

I pointed out how the movement is very small compared to what it used to be.
I then figured that one of the primary reasons is a lack of funding and then proposed a new structural change that can help facilitate that solution.

Actually I think that there’s a variety of reasons that the movement isn’t as large as it was before and there will need to be a variety of solutions.

Google Trends – Searches for Zeitgeist Movement and Venus Project have dropped over the years

I know there’s some people saying a lack of content is the problem. Some saying it’s a lack of educational materials, others suggesting we need to be doing more on the ground activism.

But first. What ball park numbers are we looking at?

Just looking at the TZM Official YouTube channel we know the Zeitgeist Addendum and Moving Forward movies have been watched by at least 20 Million people. Moving forward has 25 Million views and Addendum has 7.4 Million videos, with most other important presentations getting around 100k views and the more recent videos getting at least 6k views.

There is about 2.3k members on Discord, about 5k who are a part of most FB groups (National and International groups), there was 5k but that’s been going down to 3.5k unique visitors to the main website and 289k people who like the global FB page. About half of those who like the page are being reached with really engaging content and a quarter getting most of the content.

It feels like there’s only a hundred or so active movement members who are actively working on furthering the movement or working on projects related to bringing about a Post Scarcity. Certainly the core group doing most of the work on the movement is under 10 people. That’s expected to some extent. Previous grass roots orgs I’ve worked with have a similar structure. I think of it as concentric circles. In the center are the core members, rarely more than 10 people. There’s sometimes some other project based groups as well. In the next level are the engaged but not fully active members. The 100 people who are doing things. Then it looks like we’ve got about 2.5k to 5k people who are interested in doing more than just liking the main FB page and sharing the occasional content.

TZM Official YouTube Channel
Discord Server Member stats – 2,387 on the 19th July 2021
TZM Global Page Engagement stats – 19th July 2021 Showing 50 to 118k people being reached ( out of 289k who like the page )

Whilst there’s been tens of millions of people who’ve watched the movies and of the stats above I missed the hundreds of thousands of DVDs burnt, people who’ve read the books, listened to the podcasts, attended or ran ZDAY and other events and there was chapters doing local activism all around the world.

So where is everyone and why has the Zeitgeist Movement dwindled to nearly nothing whilst TVP and the like are having big increases?

Thankfully there’s a lot of other related groups. People making magazines or working on related but not TZM named projects. But that doesn’t cover all of the previously active people.

My theory is that we need people who can work on the movement full time, for that they need to get paid the survival tokens we call money. Be it content creation, volunteer coordination, social media curation, there’s lots of tasks that could be done in a good, engaged way instead of as a side hobby.

I also think that a refinement of the existing movement structure can help with this. Hence my Constellation Model proposal.

That said, I’m interested in why previous members are no longer active. Not just why we aren’t increasing our numbers on Facebook. I suspect it’s because:

1. The movement’s focus was on awareness raising. Once you’ve told everyone you know and run multiple events and spent some years promoting the ideas of the movement you feel that you’ve reached the people you can. You then want to do more than just advocating, you want to start building something.

2. There has been a perceived lack of progress or at least no indication of progress. Without knowing any useful metrics people resorted to using their own experiences of the world instead of being able to see both short and long term progress. When you see things like Trump get into power and simply watch the news for any decent length of time you can feel despair. It feels that the actually Zeitgeist is moving in the wrong direction. All that work seems to be doing nothing. But with some good quality input metrics we could show how many people are spending out much time, effort, money and resources helping define what the Spirit of the Future will be. We can also track output metrics, everything from number of members, number of unique views through to doing yearly surveys of the global Zeitgeist. This is where the informatics team would be really useful. Although the movement isn’t focused on this nor large enough to support it right now.

3. Lack of understanding about the transition. I’ve put together the Price of Zero transition model which is more like a meta framework that can be used to create a plan. Groups like Koto Coop have been inspired by that, although reality obviously alters the plan they’ve recently purchased their first property in Finland! There’s a few other proposals around the place, like the Project Aurora that Ziad has been working on. But for most movement members in guessing they don’t know of a solid transition plan nor much about practical steps being done to enact it, nor what can be done by them to help.

4. A lack of communication. I’ve helped create multiple newsletters over the years which PJ has sent off and Mark E also created one. Mark has also ensured there’s good regular International meetings. I’ve seen that TZM UK and Germany are having regular National meetings. There’s plenty of discussion on Discord, Facebook and some starting on the forum. But there’s a lot of other communication we are likely missing. Or we aren’t getting the information to people who want it where they are instead of having to come and get it. I do think The Venus Project are a lot more organised in this regards.

5. They found other related movements or groups that better resonates with them. Examples include TVPGame B, Communalism and more. This can also be because the other groups provide a better community or more cohesive thesis about what a Post-Scarcity Society will involve and how to get there.

6. They considered it something “that’ll never happen”, or not something that they can make happen so moved on with their lives.

7. The cost of being in the movement was too great. The emotional cost of seeing such potential in the world being squandered. The friction often caused by family and friends who don’t and willingly don’t want to understand. The financial cost of spending hundreds or even thousands of hours working on the movement and still having to pay up to get things happening.

I think part of the emotional burn out comes from hitting a brick wall of trying to talk to family and friends about it. But also a lack of metrics indicating how we are going. There’s no feedback loop. No progress indicators. I’ve already talked about the financial burnout, although Teemu also did and created a great document in 2017 about it if people want to read more.

Part of the lack of progress includes not knowing where we are going, hence the transition plan matters. People moving on to other groups is likely because those groups are providing something people want that we don’t.

However all of these ideas are based on my experiences with members over the years.

We want to be based on statistics. We need to know from the actual members who aren’t active anymore. So, if you can, please fill out the TZM Old Members Feedback survey and then get old, inactive members to also fill it out:

InterReflections Review

This is a repost from with permission from the author.

Peter Joseph’s first foray into feature-length fiction is a refreshingly sober, jarring, horror fantasy/sci-fi ride, taking risks that pay off in defining the contours of a new genre: the social purpose film.

For those who are familiar with Peter Joseph’s body of work, a cerebral, feature-length sci-fi sounds about as intriguing as it does peculiar; what does a social activist known for verbosity know about making movies? The answer most likely lies in the near-decade it took to produce this movie. First announced nearly 10 years ago, what Joseph lacks in budget, he more than makes up for in conviction and execution. InterReflections may very well be the first fully metamodern film. Basing the film on his heavily sourced 2017 non-fiction book, The New Human Rights Movement, Joseph elevates the medium with informed pragmatism. What emerges when all these elements are set in motion is a film worthy of multiple viewings.

Warning: light spoilers ahead

We follow ’23’ in the era of the Great Debate - so named for her number in the HR queue at the company she’s just been let go from - through an Alice in Nightmareland fever-dream sequence as she begins to see the ugly face of our society and how the underserved are treated by it. Parallel to this plot (30 years in the future around the time of the Great Transition) is a subterfuge mission by an Edward Snowden-esque former alaphabet soup defector named ‘John Taylor’ and the whistleblower group known as Concordia. The Central Authority that protects financial interests at the expense of planetary wellbeing has captured John Taylor and is willing to negotiate a reduced sentence with him for help - they need his expertise catching anarcho-primitivist hackers known as ‘Orion’. The film begins with an idyllic scene of a family picnicking in a vibrant meadow, but this is obliterated almost inexplicably abruptly, destroyed by nuclear weaponry. Later we’ll draw the lines between weaponry and livingry, but in this moment we have to trust that the creative team has a plan. This dream-like sequence ends with a fade to a young girl painting a representation of earth on a nuclear warhead. This will make sense to us by the end, when it’s revealed this nuke is a weapon that Concordia, a group identified as terrorists by the state apparatus in the film, intends to use for their liberation.

Films like Tomorrowland and Midnight Special aim to similarly inspire, but fall short of substantial guidance. Similarly, Mr. Robot in it’s premiere and first seasons addressed similar underlying socioeconomic distress, but collapsed on this plot by seeking to resolve the economic concerns with an interior journey. InterReflections goes further than these and deeper than other metafilms/series like The OA or Adaptation in its honesty and abstractions. The film confronts us with the questions it knows we will ask, with answers ready: Is the film’s premise too grand? Too utopian? It seems to be backed by scientific consensus, so why is this even a debate?

The director sits with us as filmmaker and co-conspirator, acknowledging that the film exists in the reality that produced it, and that we all have the capacity to contribute to a better future should we so choose. This is heavily supported by the film’s concurrent timelines and multi-dimensional approach to the narrative, which manages to surprise and delight in a post-Inception landscape. Yes, apparently we can still go deeper without amping tired tropes to some ridiculously conceived next level of arbitrary complexity, giving plenty to theorize over. More immediately in the plot’s pacing, we are afforded the opportunity to learn a great deal from our cynic antagonist, ‘Simon,’ Taylor’s old boss, about the sinister UX-83 program, aka the Malthusian Mandate.

What Simon doesn’t realize is that John has a plan of his own. Apparently driven to cynicism by the weariness of enforcing a paradigm with destructive consequences, Simon is a self-aware antagonist who playfully quotes UBS boss Arthur Jensen of Network. Simon, like Agent Smith before him, affords our protagonist the opportunity challenge his dominion while they let loose riffing off one another in a continuation of the Great Debate unfolding between their staked positions. Where Simon is incentivized to accept a misguided ‘human nature’ argument, John recognizes that we are all participants in the game we play and that we can choose a better suited paradigm as long as we understand the parameters. The key difference in these two figures seems to be the proximity each has to the fear of scarcity and the actions other humans might take in what each puts forth as likely projected scenarios. Joseph flexes here, using his credentials as an author to demolish socially darwinistic arguments and confidently construct counter-arguments through Taylor.

Interspersed among these parallel plots throughout the film is an interview documentary that takes place 100 years from our own 2020, delivering exposition and supporting arguments for the actions and malaise experienced by our protagonists in their respective times.

So far we have the Great Debate time (our present), the Great Transition (30 years in the future), and the Future/Present (100 years from our present, where a documentary is being filmed that views the prior timelines as past).

The imagery in InterReflections dispenses with “cope talk” and instead subverts euphemisms like “pink slip” with a more literal economic execution. Writers like Steven Pinker emphasize that the world is getting better while minimizing the systemic inefficiencies and structural harm produced by our economic system; however, Joseph makes a conscious choice to illustrate how subtle, normalized economic mechanisms can exacerbate into epidemics, like an opioid crisis plaguing the United States fueled by economic disenfranchisement. The film takes its time with each element, introducing them deliberately and with the evidence necessary to pull off a film laden with theory. After marinating us in nightmare fuel, Joseph breaks out with a musical number and counters the recent bleakness of Black Mirror with optimism as Chomsky defines it: “Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so.” Hot off the heels of hit blockbuster ‘Joker’, InterReflections is a much needed antidote to the cathartic despair of Arthur Fleck.

It’s through this integration of sci-fi, horror, fantasy, and documentary-style film techniques that Joseph transcends the medium beyond merely breaking the 4th wall, it seems he aims to break the black mirror, the very looking glass that we - the audience - use to comfortably distance ourselves from the subject matter. Without spoiling what breaking the black mirror refers to, it’s something that you’ll recognize when you see it and it all comes together. Only a social activist with a sincere, uncompromised, and vulnerable adaptive vision can move the stale medium of film beyond superficial capes and crusaders, damning, by its very existence, the emptiness found by appealing to only empty calorie denominators. This facet of the film is where Joseph breaks new ground, placing the onus on us to understand what we can do with the information presented. Empowering us to do so.

Optimism and nihilism are transformed into a metamodern utilitarian pragmatism, and our blooming existential turbulence is given data-driven medicine far more powerful than the milquetoast manufactured hope of Pinker. By acknowledging the POSIWID (The Purpose of A System Is What It Does) of perspectives, InterReflections understands that while it proposes apparently lofty goals, we are merely limited by our own abilities and structural incentives. By involving the audience in the Great Debate through 23, the cast and director dare us as an audience to ignore the pragmatic design proposals of the film’s future. It preempts ‘utopian’ critique, with a nod to Massive Change author Bruce Mau, and a blunt quip that we should only bother calling effective design ‘utopian’ if we want to sound stupid.

Finally, the film ends with wisdom and a warning. The director asks one of our documentary subjects that if they could reach someone in their distant past, aimless and disenfranchised prior to the Great Transition, for all the lost people out there listening for direction, what would they say? To which she replies: Recognize that you are all one, or find out the hard way.

We’ll see if Dennis Villenueva’s adaptation of Dune reaches what is now the bar for ambitious, purposeful sci-fi as Frank Herbert, an ecology activist, might have dreamed for Dune, but for now InterReflections, a low-budget indie production, holds that title.

Heading into the Soaring 20’s, the timing for InterReflections couldn’t be better. It may set an idealized tone, but it does so with a self-deprecating sense of humor and meticulous awareness of the subject’s gravity. Don’t miss this film, it may be the most important one you see.

What Chapters Need to Balance

Zeitgeist Movement chapters need to balance activity in at least 3 main areas, which include Activism, Learning and Relations. These activities can take the form of various types of projects and meetings, and ways in which to allocate time and resources.

Activism – Zeitgeist Movement chapters generally have two forms of activism, helping with the mindset change and physical activism/labour. The mindset activism is usually in the form of handing out DVDs, running film screenings, and town hall meetings. It is also one of the more important processes for gathering new members and affecting the culture and community around the chapter(s). The main mindset change happens when people understand the different values, definition of success and change in the defaults that we want to achieve. Many of the newer ZM members get annoyed at the lack of physical activism. As a movement we are only just starting to reach the point at which creating tangible change is an option. Some great examples would be converting existing people’s lawn area into gardens, creating eco-village style setups which run on renewable energy and are progressively automated to the point they are creating an abundance of produce. An important requirement for the price of zero transition.

Learning – Furthering our understanding of the ZM but also the world around us. From the latest in science, to the history of economics, to current news. It also covers research and analysis, particularly with regard to how to do things more efficiently and effectively or in other ways.  Learning is divided into two main sections: personal learning and chapter learning. Personal learning is particularly focused on reaching an understanding of how the world works, the issues with the current system, and the solutions (the RBE). This is usually done through watching movies, being a part of a mailing list, reading articles, creating newsletters, and attending or giving presentations.

Relations – This is about internal chapter relationships and relations with other organisations. A very important motivator for continuous membership is the social aspect of being surrounded by other people who care about and understand them. This sense of community is fostered by holding social meetups, like BBQs, or casually meeting up at a bar. The relations between chapters and with other organisations are also very important. The potential for the Zeitgeist Movement to foster a transition to a Resource Based Economy is facilitated by creating strong ties with other RBE advocating groups and organisations such as Beyond Zero Emissions (in Australia).

A basic outline of the sub-points is below

Activism -> Mindset -> Physical
Learning  -> Individual -> Chapter -> Global
Relations -> Chapter members
            |-> Other RBE advocating groups
               |-> Groups advocating similar ends


As an example, the table below lists of some projects being undertaken or planned in Australian ZM chapters. Some projects are listed twice as they have pronounced secondary effects, which are coloured in grey.

Activism Learning Relations
  1. Giving out ZM DVDs
  2. Projector Project
  3. Beyond Zero Emissions promotion
  4. ZDay
  5. Zeitgeist Media Festival
  6. Greening Parties (turning lawns into gardens)
  1. Newsletter
  2. Zeitgeist-Info website
  3. Introduction meetings
  4. Zeitgeist Movies
  5. YouTube videos
  6. TED talks
  1. State Conference (with other orgs)
  2. National Conference (for chapter organisers)
  3. Chapter Mailing lists
  4. Facebook pages
  5. Atrium (chapters)
  6. Transition Towns
  7. Permaculture
  8. Zeitgeist Media Festival
  9. Beyond Zero Emissions promotion
Review and Admin

On top of the three different buckets that need to be balanced is the almost constant review and admin work.

The regular review process could for example involve reading your posts, emails, and behaviour for the last week and allow you to both fix up mistakes and give you feedback regarding how to do thing better next time. A group review process should also be on the agenda of the next ZM meetup after an event (e.g Zday, ZMedia Festival).

The admin work involves general organisation work and maintenance. From maintaining mailing lists and websites to doing checks and balances, etc…

Energy Knowledge

I thought I knew a decent amount about energy and renewables, but still learnt a lot from this.

Energy Knowledge

It’s only 19mins long and well worth watching.