Sunday, February 12, 1995; p. 26


by Mike Thomas
Sentinel Staff

Jacque Fresco does not like the here and now.

I call this period we are in the primordial slime of the new computer era to come, he says.

So Jacque is living in a time machine called The Venus Project. The Venus Project, says Jacque, is the most ambitious undertaking ever done. So pay close attention because he talks fast and tends to go off on tangents.

Jacque is 78, brilliant by his own account, eccentric by mine. He is short and wears a white brim hat that makes him look like a character out of a 1950s movie. The Venus Project began 11 years ago when Jacque decided to stop thinking about the future, his obsession, and begin building it. So he bought a 25-acre tomato farm to start a prototype.

He bought the farm in Venus.

There is such a place in Florida, although it is little more than a sign on U.S. Highway 27. Venus is 35 miles south of a city called Sebring. It is in an area dominated by cattle and orange groves, where the only future people care about is the next days weather report.

Once in Venus, you will find The Venus Project a mile down a dirt road, where a white fence forms the barrier between today and tomorrow. The Venus Project abounds with lush vegetation in contrast to the open fields surrounding it. There are citrus trees and banana trees. There are small lakes that Jacque had dug with a bulldozer. There are creeks with small footbridges crossing them.

Jacque likes nature; it will be featured prominently in the future. Nestled in this landscape are tomorrows homes. They are white domes that resemble concrete igloos. No termites, says Jacque. No fires. They are cheap, tough and inexpensive. Jacque lives in one of them with his assistant, Roxanne Meadows. They are the entire population of the Venus Project.

The domes are not Superdomes. They are small and do not have carpeting, overstuffed chairs or very many other amenities. There is no wood because Jacque likes trees.

No need for carpenters in the 21st century. Nor politicians because there will be no laws in the future. Nothing to sue and fight for. No lawyers too. Not even John Lennon imagined that. Ownership and love of money is the basis for all evil today, says Jacque.

We will lie down like the lambs and lions in the Garden of Eden because science will provide for all our wants plenty of food, shelter and entertainment. We will make whatever you want available to you, Jacque says. It will be a government without people. There will be no nations, no patriotism. And no trapeze artists.

People will not have to do that kind of thing to obtain recognition, says Jacque. This socially offensive entertainment will disappear. Technology will close down the Big Top. It will soothe the savage beast in all of us.

If we disagree on what crop to plant in the community greenhouse, a computer will analyze the soil and moisture and nutrients and give us the answer and we will all agree with it. If you run off with my wife and kids, a counselor will peacefully resolve the situation and get us all to agree on how to handle the situation.

Jacque is convinced of this.

I am skeptical. I ask Jacque who will allocate resources, and who will resolve disputes. He starts off on a discourse about a computer government, and before I know it, hes talking about refrigerators. There will be round refrigerators with shelves that spin, so you don't have to reach for what you want. Just as I consider that possibility, he tosses out another: Edible plates. No dishwashers in the future. The Taco Salad is ahead of its time.

Jacque has every detail planned, down to the design of the toothbrush. It is a curved toothbrush. Jacque has never designed anything with a 90-degree angle. Jacque thinks in spheres and domes. He shows me sleek bullet-designs for cars and boats. He shows me airplanes he designed in the 1950s that look very much like the stealth jets of today. His model work is beautiful.

Jacque also has designs for toilets, air bags (horseshoe shaped to protect against side impacts), buildings, underwater cities, and even entire societies. He says President Lyndon Johnson got the idea for the Great Society from a paper that Jacque gave to Hubert Humphrey.

Jacque has faith in us. He believes we can be taught to want for the common good. We just have to be shown the way.

Stay tuned because he is making a movie to explain it all to us, called Welcome to the Future. If he can find a producer. It will not be anything like Star Wars.

The future movies today are cowboys and Indians in space with lasers, blasting holes in each other, he says. This movie will be full of problem-solving and excitement. He says it'll make millions, which he will use to build a city of the future somewhere between Venus and Orlando. The people of the world will come to the city, and they will want to live in such a city. And the city will be duplicated hundreds, thousands of times across the world.

And I can say I was there at the beginning.

At The Venus Project in Venus, Fl.