London & Cardiff Z-Day 2012 Review
I went to London looking forward to seeing how strong an event the London Z-Day would be in comparison to last year (because last year's was the main global event and so obviously was likely to have a strong showing). I wasn't disappointed.
Z-Day is an annual awareness-raising day the Zeitgeist Movement has to get people together through talks/lectures and discussions about the goal of a resource-based economy and the way forward to a healthy society.
Last year (see Facebook Note), I remember thinking, "Whoa, this is kind of like an Amway conference, but made good!" This year there were events in over 45 countries across the world, which is just incredible.
I met people early in the day with the intention of going to Radio 1 to see if we could let them know about the event or the movement. There was a good showing of people but, to be honest, I didn't have the best thought-out idea because there was no way of getting past the security guard. But I left some flyers sticking out of things attached to the wall outside for someone to find, and someone bumped into Craig Charles from Red Dwarf and gave him a copy of Moving Forward, so it was worth it.
At the event, after a good intro montage-medley video of images and samples of 'life as we know it' today and a strangely-downbeat reading out of the day's running order, we watched a documentary called The Economics Of Happiness as an example of other people reaching the similar ideas that we are through a different approach. Its message was that localisation is a good thing to strive for over globalisation. It was a bit ineffective in trying to sell people a kind of return-to-farming-community kind of vibe as an image for the future but was still good for being practical-minded.
There were a few talks; Shivani Verma gave a good talk about communicating with people effectively, and Adam Maloney laboured the opinion that essentially we're not entitled to our own opinions because it's unscientific, which I don't agree with at all, but I agree with the point behind it - it's dangerous to have opinions that aren't credibly backed up. There was then a Q&A session between the audience and some principal people who have been involved in the UK. This was the point where I couldn't really believe what I was hearing as one of the panel complained he was pissed off with the progress because we should have things like material showing people how to build their own solar panels, etc., etc.- instead of saying, "Here's the material I've worked on showing you how to build solar panels." Anyone who doesn't get that you've got to be the change and lead by example really isn't getting it. Anyway, someone who's been putting out very high-quality videos and lectures, Ben McLeish, was on the panel and I felt he fielded all those issues pretty clinically. The questions from the audience were generally high-quality ones.
Things got back on the right track with a talk by Myles Dyer, a YouTube celebrity who sporadically gets asked on mainstream news and TV for his commentary on digital media. He injected the real creative, can-do spirit of activism into the air and talked about his charity Stickaid and his Universal Solutions Project, which is a call to create together an information database of solutions to problems - what it says on the tin. The Zeitgeist technology team then came onstage to talk about their success with Zeitnews and their plans for a new website called Zeitworld. Zeitnews is a site that promotes new and useful technological developments for social progress, and it's become respected; it gets 5,000-7,000 hits every day. One of the team said that after people had been saying to them, though, that the "news" in their title didn't cover non-technology news it gave them the idea to start a new website for news. The idea, as I understood it, is to have news stories on there but only ones that are scientifically verified as accurate, and for every article have a scientific solution to the problems covered at the bottom of the page. If this can work well, to my mind it would create THE go-to site for whatever kind of news it covers; I think it's an outstanding idea. I can't wait to see what happens with it. I can't say how much respect I have for everyone involved with it and how good it is that it debunks the idea that what TZM is doing is just a load of talk.
Then Ben McLeish finished off with a talk about the consequences of the prison system that he'd been studying for the previous year, and by this point I realised he blows me away. I can't even recount it well enough because by that point I was dizzy; when good people get together for a good cause I get high off of it, but I've been loving Ben's videos recently; his combination of intelligence and confidence is huge, and he gets things across in an understandable way. The whole day ascended to send me out of the venue bursting with a strong, reinforced feeling of drive and positivity.
Not counting the last event because it was the main event globally, this event was 25 percent more well-attended than the previous time; I think it was over 500 people. It was nothing but a success, and I'm so proud of everyone involved for showing how strong and necessary this movement is, and how well it can be represented by anyone anywhere. It truly is leaderless and holographic - the ideas can't be taken out by silencing anyone; there's too many people involved who understand the train of thought now. Shout out to Jai Newton and my new people Thomas-Shaw Weston and Ayami Andrews, all of whom are so cool.
The next day we had our event in Cardiff at The Full Moon. Justin Lilley from Positive Money came down to talk about the idea of making money work in a healthier way through a 'full reserve' banking model (as opposed to the fractional reserve banking system we have now). He was rigorously questioned by the room as to whether it's a patchwork kind of idea that doesn't go far enough, but he was firm in his focus on Positive Money being a good transitional path to an resource-based economy because he is flexible enough to want that and seems to be refreshingly open to ideas outside his own. So check out their website and see what you think.
After him we had Adam Buick from the World Socialist Movement come and explain how, from their socialist perspective, what we want is essentially communism in its purest form, just repackaged in a slicker and more social framework, rather than political. The path from world socialism to TZM is enabled by it being a social movement rather than a political one, doing away with all the image problems that come with that. Great anyway, I don't care what we call what we're doing as long as it's the right direction and it works. What was great by this point in the event was how Adam was referring back to Justin and trying to find common ground with him while disagreeing on other points. The flow of how everyone was interacting with each other was honest but still really respectful and satisfying. This kind of emotional intelligence is what I love this for; I've never seen people coming together to problem solve and treating each other this way before until this point in life. It's progress; a lot of what we need to do to get to where we want is just treat each other right in how we deal with each other.
Then to finish, Vivak Shori gave a very detailed lecture called 'Deflation: What Is It And How Will It Affect You?' He chose to pull no punches and explained, partly informed by the work of Nicole Foss and others, that if we continue in this paradigm he thinks a deflationary spiral (contraction of the money supply) is going to slide us down into a financial depression worse than that of the 1930s. And as such, we should be focusing on having or developing practical skills, making sure we're useful to people in order to have any kind of secure place in the future. He said we need to be prepared to find it much harder to get by as we operate more as a gift economy, in light of money and employment being hard to come by. It was hardcore because apart from saying we can always have capacity for joy with each other he didn't choose to end it on a very encouraging note. Although he supports the Zeitgeist Movement he questions whether a steady state economy (an economy of relatively stable size that features stable population and stable consumption that remain at or below carrying capacity) is even possible based upon the sort of information promoted by The Automatic Earth and The Oil Drum websites. He did it consciously because he said he wants people to be "psychologically inoculated" to be ready for the changes, so they don't become headless chickens if society does collapse.
In summary from me, we can still only do the best we can, and the best we can achieve through global co-operation is the best we can hope for. I'm loving how lately I've been hearing people outside my usual circles being familiar with and talking about a resource-based economy. I don't want to overuse the phrase, but that's what it's all about. It really seems like it's out there in peoples' minds now.
For anyone reading who finds this all a bit weird and alien, with me mentioning all these people you've never heard of, that's the point - I like making celebrities out of people who think and talk well, regardless of their status in the world. If we agree on using the scientific method to govern society, then the people who deserve the most attention, in regard to social matters, are the ones who follow the scientific method the best.
I think activism's the most important thing in the world right now, seeing as it's growing to unprecedented numbers through Zeitgeist, Occupy and all the other groups out there with similar intentions, and I'm caught up in how strange and interesting this whole uprising is. I know reading that might scare people who think that the word "activism" is a bit too much like a word that means you change your life into something that's too different from what you know and like. No, it just means you actively try and make the world better, instead of doing nothing and expecting someone else to handle it. You can be active without ever setting foot in a protest, meeting or conference. Just talking to people makes a big difference; conversation is such a big part of this while we're still in the phase of trying to make as many people as possible in the world aware of the idea that we can unite as a human race. We can co-operate and allocate resources scientifically and rationally to try and solve the debt, resource, energy and employment crisis that's become insane and is causing death and suicide. Outside of any doomsday scenarios and my humanitarian concern I love paying attention to this because I love being where the cutting edge is, but at the end of the day all that's left is that it's up to everybody to decide for themselves - what matters?