Alan Hutner and Seth Roffman
THRIVE was released in November 2011. Over 3 million people around the world had seen the film as of May 2012, according to the filmmakers. It is an unconventional, controversial documentary produced by Foster and Kimberly Gamble after nearly a decade of following the money upstream. THRIVE uncovers the global consolidation of power in nearly every aspect of our lives, and provides a perspective on what is keeping humanity from “thriving” and what can be done about it. The film weaves together breakthroughs in science, consciousness and activism. THRIVE and its website (Thrivemovement.com) propose potential solutions and a framework for individuals and communities to develop their own strategies for positively impacting the future.
Despite considerable criticism of some of the film’s conclusions, including from a number of the notable people interviewed in the film, many “self-creating solution groups” inspired by THRIVE have been forming. About 4,000 screenings at different locations were held during the first five months of this year. The film is available free at the website, and DVDs in many languages can be purchased there as well.
One critic, who attended a screening and appearance by the Gambles in Santa Cruz, CA in April, subsequently had an article published in the Santa Fe Reporter (“The New Age of Paranoia”) just prior to a screening and public appearance by the Gambles in Santa Fe. The article, basically a reprint of a story he wrote for a Santa Cruz publication, alleged that the film has a hidden right-libertarian agenda, and attacked the Gambles for “playing the conspiracy card…where they should go political.” The writer also said that the Gambles have a home in Santa Fe (untrue), that Foster Gamble’s grandfather was a founding partner of Procter & Gamble (It was his great-great-grandfather), that the film says that the conspiracy was a Jewish agenda (it specifically says it wasn’t), and that the conspiracy is New Age paranoia.
“Everybody’s entitled to their opinion,” says Foster Gamble. “But with what’s going on in the world these days, if someone is going to stop their critical thinking…I hope they have the humility to get out of the way of people who are actually taking a stand, telling the truth and doing something to turn around this very dangerous global situation. A lot of people on the left naturally assumed we were making a political film. And if we didn’t seem to be on their side, then they assumed we were on the other side; whereas, we were actually making a film about facts and principles. We didn’t care what political affiliation, if any, the people we interviewed had. We were interested in what they knew about a particular area.” A statement is made in the film that the people interviewed do not necessarily share the film’s conclusions, nor do the filmmakers agree with everything the interviewees stand for.
THRIVE lays out a kind of business plan for a societal transition. The core principle is “non-violation” by mandatory taxes, coercion or violence of any sort. It then seeks to inspire people’s creativity to figure out how to get there. “In the first stage,” says Gamble, “we need to acknowledge that the body of humanity is deeply wounded, and there are so many people who have been so disadvantaged by the current system that they need to be taken care of; the same way, if you were healing your body and had a wound in your knee, for the rest of the body it would be smart to help heal that knee. So in Stage 1 it’s really about bringing integrity, as much as possible, to our current system, but doing this caretaking, not with new taxes, but through cutting the military budget in half, stopping foreign wars of aggression, and then getting rid of the Federal Reserve. That would free up, literally, a couple of trillion dollars a year that would more than take care of the transition in terms of health, hunger, environmental restoration, and so forth, worldwide.” The Gambles worked with a number of economists to come to that conclusion.
“Stage 1 is more commonly associated with the progressive agenda,” says Gamble. “Taking care of people in a very compassionate way with tax money. The progressives who have disassociated from the film don’t seem to understand that we’re suggesting that we optimize their skills in this stage, but not stop with a vast state in place that ultimately always leads to tyranny. They are really more like tracks. Stage 2 starts right away. It is the shrinking of government down to the protection of human rights and the stewarding of the commons. Stage Two really accesses a lot of the core skills of the traditional conservative movement: sound money, no foreign wars of aggression… It’s all leading toward what I think will be an obvious Stage 3, which is an actual society of voluntary association where there is no state that can come with a gun and take your money and then go off and use it to take other people’s oil and kill millions of innocent people, and on and on. In Stage 3 we will have already seen the vast prosperity that has been restored by the integrity; by making free energy devices available, by having an honest money system, so that people will be able to take care of one another with the prosperity that they have, rather than depending on an incompetent and coercive government to do it.”
THRIVE’s co-creator, Foster’s wife, Kimberly, a former Newsweek International journalist, has been a lifelong activist for social justice. “One of the things we found in making THRIVE,” she said, “is that people are actually more expert at naming the problem than they are at fully articulating the vision of what could be. We spent a whole lot of time in THRIVE helping create and articulate the vision that’s out there of what’s possible because we have to know where we want to go if we’re going to get there.” For Kimberly Gamble that means, among other things, understanding the value of campaign finance reform, undoing corporate personhood, and getting ballots that actually count votes. “Those three things become essential in Stage 1,” she says. “If you’re going to get rid of the Federal Reserve and reduce the Pentagon budget, then you’re going to have to have people who are actually accountable. That requires campaign reform.
“Generally our compassion is measured by our willingness to pay taxes,” Gamble said. “Support the schools, support people in need. That’s how I always related to them. And so, one of our challenges is in being wealthy Gambles and talking about the limits of coercive taxation, getting an honest economic system, and stopping all these wars of aggression so that people actually have the prosperity to take care of themselves and each other, and there’s a chance for everybody to actually participate and thrive.”
One of THRIVE’s major assertions is that “Free Energy” is viable, and that it has been repeatedly suppressed over the past 100 years by the powers that be. The THRIVE organization is bringing together scientists, inventors, business people and funders to help researchers and inventors complete work in this area, have a legal defense fund to fight off frivolous lawsuits, and then come up with multiple strategies to bring these technologies out all over the world in a way that’s not so easy to suppress. “It’s a paradigm shift when you realize that we actually have abundant infinite energy everywhere that could completely transform the geo-political dynamic on the planet right off the bat,” says Kimberly Gamble. “That’s not just access to technology; it’s access to a whole new paradigm that stops scarcity. And so, one of the things when you get into voluntary associations and the ways people will choose to do things— they’ll be doing it from a state of abundance instead of ‘not enough.’ And that’s a big part of the role of the vision that we offer.”
Foster Gamble added, “Part of our dependence on big government is based on the assumption that human beings won’t take care of one another. That’s not my experience of people. If they’ve had the opportunity to thrive, they will naturally turn around, most of them, and give you the shirt off their back. You see these things in Katrina and all these various disasters. I think one of the most dangerous assumptions also is that there is not enough to go around; so a few people end up deciding what’s fair, and go take from this person and give to that person, and once again you’re back in the world of coercion. In my research, there is plenty of food, plenty of energy, plenty of clean water (if we take care of it), to go around, and population naturally levels off based on prosperity and on education. “
The Gambles advocate a “truly” free market system. “Capitalism has been insulted in this country and around the world because it’s state intervention, it’s crony capitalism, it’s subsidies and bailouts and all that kind of thing,” says Foster. “It’s not true voluntary association. If it were voluntary association with rules and regulations based on integrity and the protection of individual rights; that’s, for me, the portal to a really thriving world.”
THRIVING IN THE SOUTHWEST
In May the Gambles spent several days visiting northern New Mexico. “Its possible to access the indigenous wisdom of the area that goes back for thousands of years of sustainability,” Foster Gamble says. “We spent some time with Michael Reynolds at the Earthship sites in Taos. It’s tremendously inspiring to see the knowledge and wisdom that has been built into those self-sufficient houses, where they maintain temperature, use very little water and so forth, without depending on the grid at all. It’s a good example of how people have looked to the resources and the climate in this area, and learned from the indigenous peoples, the Pueblo architecture and so forth. One of the impressions I will leave from this trip with is remarkable self-sufficiency; people are really oriented toward figuring out how that works, and in these times that’s really wise—and at the same time, really collaborative localization.
“What we’re doing with the Thrive solutions is teaching that model to communities that are self-creating these solutions groups all over the world. Then they meet as a community with an intention to have their community optimally thrive. They break up into sector groups where each person identifies which sector each person is most skilled in or passionate about; things like media, education, environment, governance, health, spirituality, arts, etc. And then you ask yourself which is the level of engagement for your own activism that most draws you. Is it immediate needs? Feeding the hungry or caring for the sick? Or is it systemic change? Working on the political system, the money system, the media system and so forth? Or is it the consciousness shift? Or are you someone who is drawn to working with the philosophy, the worldview, which is at the root of the nature of the systems? Once you know your niche you can relax into being effective in that specific area, while in communication with all of the other sectors and the critical issues that they identify. It’s a democratic communication process that helps resolve conflict and keep all of the issues on the table until they’re resolved.”
“That inquiry becomes the portal for effective activism because this model is set up where you actually do what you love,” Kimberly Gamble adds. “Everything needed to solve the problems with people just doing what they want based on who they are and their unique contribution—it’s all there. My experience is that when you get aligned, when you know your purpose and you get aligned with it, things flow.”
The Gambles see the current economic system as a world war that is being played out economically. “When you look at the pyramid of control and you see the people at the bottom,” Kimberly says, “one of the insights from that, ultimately, is that it’s the people who have the power. Because with non-violence, non-participation, which Gandhi and Martin Luther King used, we have the power to de-fund, un-fund the problem. We can stop participating. The way these corporations get to do their projects is that they get great loans from the banks. The way the banks have the money to give the corporations those loans is through their customers’ deposits. People have to understand that we have the power to stop funding the problem. We have the power to vote with our actions in ways that are a lot more significant than we may think. As Amy Goodman says in the movie, the one thing more powerful than organized money is organized people. One of our hopes is that the role for ThriveMovement.com is to be this hub where people can share best practices so that the little thing you’re doing in your community turns out to provide the template for what communities all over the world can do.
“People are waking up to their power, and that’s part of why everyone’s supposed to believe that they’re not capable and it’s really kind of hopeless and all of that, because if you think that way then you’re less inclined to do your little part. But in fact, when you realize that people are absolutely waking up all over this planet, you see that your part actually fits into something that is huge.”
THRIVE’s website is Thrivemovement.com. Foster and Kimberly Gamble will discuss THRIVE at the 2012 ExtraOrdinary Technology Conference at the Albuquerque Pyramid North on July 26. Conference info: 520.463.1994, http://teslatech.info/ttevents/prgframe.htm
Alan Hutner, founder of Transitions Radio Magazine (TRM), co-hosts and co-produces the show with Elizabeth Rose. TRM airs at 98.1 FM, Radio Free Santa Fe (KBAC FM), Sunday mornings 8-11 am, and streams live on the web, with all programs archived at www.transradio.com. The complete audio interview-conversation series with Foster and Kimberly Gamble is archived on-line and starts with TRM show number 1471, May 6, 2012.