Reasonable Covenants

covenantsLet’s make a deal! That’s what we do when we live together in a community. We make deals with each other because we have to live with each other.

(From “How the Mind Works,” Steven Pinker, 1997) For ninety nine percent of human existence, people have lived as foragers in small nomadic bands. Our brains are adapted to that long-vanished way of life not to the brand-new agricultural and industrial civilizations. (Selection/evolution operates over thousands of generations.) We are not wired to cope with many of aspects of our own society/civilization (anonymous crows, schooling, written language, government, police, courts, armies, high technology and other newcomers to human experience. The modern mind is adapted to deal with the stone age, not the computer age.

However, from the start, we were “group animals.” We’re gregarious. Living together has advatages. Secutiry from pretitors. Foraging efficiency — collecting more food together. Cooperative hunting large animals. Defending resources. Information could be shared and passed down. Group living could have set the stage for the evolution of human-like intelligence.

Of course, group living itself poses new cognitive challenges. Since there are also disadvantages to group living… neighbors compete over food, water, mates and nest sites. And there is risk of exploitation. Social animals risk theft, cannibalism, cuckoldry, infanticide, extortion and other treachery.

Every social creature is poised between milking the benefits and suffering the costs of group living…

We are social animals. One of the main reasons we “live together” is that it is easier for humans to survive “together.” From the start of human existence up to now and well into our future, it is easier to meet our individual biological, security and higher needs when we live and work together. Today 50 percent of humans live in cities. It is estimated that 75 percent will live in cities by 2050. Forget the childlike logic of the libertarians, we now live in an interconnected global civilization from which no one can escape. The myth of the rugged individual living off the land has damaged the planet and our culture almost beyond repair. There are precious few places to go start new settlements. There is very little wilderness remaining in which to roam. No more “Jerimiah Johnson’s.” No more settling the great American west or Australian Outback or even the jungles of Brazil.

We’re one global civilization now, and if it fails we all fail.
Now, there are obvious problems when humans get together. And we create systems of economics and government to deal with them. We’ve come a long way since the first villages. We’ve lived through systems that allowed slavery, serfdom and a “throw-away” capitalist worker class. There have been bright and shining moments: the Magna Carte, the U.S. Constitution, the Declaration of the Rights of Man, were all breakthroughs for citizens. Now, every country in the world boasts a constitution. It’s now time for the next phase.

FDR’s Second Bill of Rights was a great attempt at extending human rights beyond the Constitution’s original Bill of Rights.. Roosevelt’s proposed an “economic bill of rights” which would guarantee eight specific rights:

  • Employment, with a living wage
  • Food, clothing and leisure
  • Farmers’ rights to a fair income
  • Freedom from unfair competition and monopolies
  • Housing
  • Medical care
  • Social security
  • Education

Unbelievably, this proposal was stopped in its tracks by the GOP and the current plutocracy. Between now and 2064, the citizens will have this next phase in place plus more. Perhaps the next steps in the evolution of human rights will be organized around human needs.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a theory proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation.” Maslow developed and extended the theory to include his observations of human curiosity. His theories parallel many other theories of human developmental psychology, some of which focus on describing the stages of growth in humans. Maslow used the terms “physiological” (which we are relabeling “biological”), “safety”, and the “higher needs” of “belongingness,” “love”, “esteem”, “self-actualization” and “self-transcendence” to describe the pattern that human motivations generally move through.

Maslowspyramid if a majority of citizens woke up and realized that there are no “free markets,” except for nature (and even it has its own rules)? What if citizens realized that societies and governments and market economies NEED rules? They can’t exist without RULES. And what if citizens demanded that they have a say in making the rules?

What if these new covenants were written by the people and for the people — not by the corporations or the plutocracy?

What if we demand that our communities/cities be set up with systems that guaranteed us the right to work together to have our biological, security and higher needs met?

Isn’t that really the city’s reason?

What if citizens created a new and sustainable society that was a truly “Fair Game Democracy?”

What if citizens made it clear that we understand the power we have “together?” And what if we made it clear that if we don’t have the people’s needs met, the reason for us to peacefully congregate and cooperate will be gone?

What if a group of heroes became the catalysts for these new covenants? What if they worked to change the current game (our current economic and political systems) – for the good of the game – using the rules of the game -(and maybe a little more) to create the next phases of human opportunity and freedom?

That’s the story Gateway-TCR is going to tell.

povoramgeHow do we train the focus of the lens of our cameras on the future? Obviously, budget will force us to show sparingly pieces of the visual future we imagine. Also, we believe our cameras we will be shooting mostly at human scale in anthropometric dimensions.  Our characters will be mostly in walkable urban villages or neighborhoods. Our -50 | 0 | +50 careful futurism predicts that much will look the same in 2064 as it does in today. Just as much of St. Louis – at human scale – looks the same today as it did in 1964. That will leave a lot of city locations for us to use. This careful futurism strategy will keep our creative conceits in check and be an interesting challenge for producers, writers directors and actors.

Yes, we also have a social point of view. That is that systemic change in our economic and political systems are necessary if we are to survive the clear and present dangers of our times — global warming and biosphere destruction; the new gilded age, and the massive inequality of wealth and opportunity it imposes; corporate capitalism and the plutocracy it has created; and the destruction of our delicate representative democracy.

whynotorangeAll the world’s a “sustainable” stage. In developing the series concept, we asked: What would it be like to live in a future more like Roddenberry’s Star Trek than Huxley’s Brave New World? What would life be like in a sustainable city? What would it be like to live in a place that practiced good old fashioned conservation of resources and at the same time developed advanced technology to do the same? A place that practiced “New World Business.”

Stories, film and television can help people bridge the gap between what is now and what is possible. Gateway: the City’s Reason envisions a future with mostly positive outcomes – where good old American optimism touches everyone. That’s the stage on which Gateway stories take place. And we think it’s a stage that citizens should see more of today.

Your ideas?


A series Bible is a reference document used by writers, directors, producers and actors for information about characters, settings and other elements of the show. In many ways, we are only beginning our research into what a sustainable city will be like in 50 years. Even so, we’ve decided to publish portions of the Gateway-TCR bible in order to share the foundations of Gateway: the City’s Reason with you. We want to describe “the stage” upon which our stories will be told and we welcome your ideas.



How it could be and how we get there.