This past week I watched Future By Design, a superb documentary that explores the vision of futurist Jacque Fresco. The film itself is beautiful and compelling, but it is the mind of the man it features that has me ranking it as the most important documentaries I’ve seen.
Fresco has invented countless features of a future he hopes we will choose to build, an efficient, elegant and finely crafted world in which we consciously and intelligently construct cities and societies that best facilitate the quality of life that can foster the best humanity can become. His attention to details in aesthetic, functional and cultural realms is uncanny, so much so that his models of future cities are striking in their comprehensiveness, viability and beauty. The cities he promises are inviting and grant hope that we can shape a future that fulfills our potential.
One of the insights that makes Fresco’s work so important is the recognition that we should soon be able to move beyond a world of scarcity into abundance. With more resources than we need to ensure high quality of life for everyone on the planet, our major stumbling blocks lie among our personal and cultural shortcomings that inhibit actualizing staggering good.
There may well be some shortcomings in Fresco’s designs and our own reactions to them, but at the very least he has a competency and coherency that most of the people behind the plans and visions for our cities and infrastructure lack. Piecemeal and foggy visions plague so much civic planning throughout the world and create needless problems that skillful design can remedy. In my own city there are obvious follies from the past and looming on the horizon that are discouraging, and I’m sure that is the case in most places. I see visionaries like Fresco as vital to shaping the landscape that healthy societies will thrive in for decades to come.