By Terry Sterrenberg

When we started announcing the topic of our next documentary, OUR New Economy, someone asked us “What are you doing? Are you moving away from advocating for Single Payer healthcare?”  The answer is a resounding NO.

We learned a lot making two films about healthcare. We learned about how the motive to make profits has superseded the notion of taking care of people; about  how profiteering has become the vision and goal of the American way of life; about how  making money has become more important than telling the truth and manifesting common good. About how the idea of getting ahead has taken over the American dream and left many of us struggling.  

Cartoon courtesy David Baldinger

In making those documentaries I learned that the United States of America that I was taught about and envisioned and loved as a child growing up has disappeared – if it ever really existed –  and today in some circles that dream is even being demonized.  People working together or getting welfare is a bad thing (often called ‘socialism’).  

As a child I was taught to believe that society was in a positive growing curve that was based on what seemed to be common knowledge- that people are basically good; That individuals working together produced a common good for all; that racism and prejudice was an aberration that society was correcting and that the government and those in power were working to create a culture that benefited all persons.  In fact, the middle class in this country was the biggest it has ever been in history at the time when I was  growing up.  All seemed to be good. “ Utopia” was well on its way to being a reality.

Making these movies made It clear to us that the beliefs underlying the injustices of the healthcare system in the U.S. just illustrated a much deeper disparity within the economic system itself. Economics is about having access to goods and services.  Most of us have a job in order to make money to gain that access. However in making these movies we became acutely aware that most money went from the many to the few.  When we paid our apartment rent, our car payments, our health insurance, and even when we bought our groceries, our money was going to a few big corporations, i.e. real estate conglomerates, banks, car dealerships, and health insurance companies that kept changing their rules, and could raise prices at any time.  We learned that working hard gave a lot of access (money) to owners and bosses but not necessarily to employees.

We discovered that the ultimate healthcare crisis goes beyond providing healthcare to all.  It has to do with how issues get sidelined rather than talked about, and how communities treat each other in regard to these problems. The general narrative is that access, i.e. money, is available to anyone if that person works hard enough.  Honest investigation and conversation reveals that this basic premise is not true, but instead of using this information to inform us about the problem we tend to blame and attribute personality issues to those who cannot attain access.  Certain groups of people just cannot be trusted.  Certain groups of people are just lazy.  Certain groups of people just cannot and perhaps should not make it in life.  Our national dis-ease is lack of trust and integrity and in many cases lack of compassion. It manifests as an inability to solve problems and hoarding of money.  It is a tragic profound mental health issue no one is identifying or discussing and it may be a life and death issue for our nation.  The way we deal with issues reminds me of a circular firing squad.  

To believe most of today’s TV shows and movies about the future is to believe in a future of oppression, revolution, violence, and confrontation.  Is a dystopian future the only possibility?  

We knew there were other visionary projects leading to more positive futures and we set out to find them.   We did our research and found that there are other economic models that provide access to the good things in life. 

In our next documentary film, OUR New Economy (working title) we take a look at how some communities are solving the ultimate health problems of society itself by moving from the notion of economic growth and development to shared prosperity,   Achieving this economic transformation is the next step we are aiming for, after, of course, gaining universal healthcare in the U.S.  Click here to support OUR New Economy.


by Terry Sterrenberg

The documentary film NOW IS THE TIME: Healthcare for Everybody honors the healthcare activists who have been taking actions for a long time without seeing immediate effects, and gives us hope that indicates that there is a way through once we reach a certain tipping point. The Princeton study clearly showing that over the past twenty years or more, Congress has not acted on our behalf, we sometimes wonder whether our actions will have an impact.

A few brave souls have been plugging away year after year trying to create change, while most other citizens have been resigned or too busy making ends meet to get involved.

The Princeton study results pictured below show that there is a thirty percent likelihood that Congress will pass a law regardless of how many people support the idea.  

This situation points us towards corrective action, i.e. to elect and re-elect public servants who support Single Payer, who do what they say they will do, who represent their constituents, and who are not influenced by accepting money.  But it is still not enough.

The new movement is one of intentional education of citizens and establishing coalitions of groups and organizations that all march to the same heartbeat, a Medicare-for-all, Single Payer system, where we take collective action to look out for one another.

Research shows that having 3.5% of the population actively involved in promoting a particular solution (in this case, Medicare-for-All, single payer healthcare) is the tipping point required for a grassroots movement to be successful. It is not about opinions, and it is not about Congress.

Polls show that 58% of people in the U.S. favor a medicare-for-all system.  That is just a reflection of opinions, not actions.

We are in a new era since the November 2016 election.  People are waking up and putting themselves into action.  This was not happening before.

The Womens’ March in January, 2017 showed a huge groundswell of grassroots involvement, with about 4 million people putting themselves into the movement.  To reach the critical 3.5% of the U.S. population, and create change (whether in a democracy or dictatorship) will require about 11 million people being in action.

Our job is to light a fire under our citizens, and get them activated en masse.  There are more of us than there are of “them”- if we act together.

Money Game

by Terry Sterrenberg

Our Indiegogo campaign to get us started with OUR New Economy documentary went live last week.  We sent out the notice to our mailing list.  You can read the campaign, sign on as a backer and give us a donation here.  Thank you for your generous gifts, and know that truly any level of giving is very helpful and greatly appreciated.

I truly hate asking for money.  Most of my friends are on limited budgets and need to use a lot of discretion in their giving.  That is definitely true for me.  I hate that it is true, but it is. I wish I had unlimited money to give to all the causes on my list of great causes.

I find asking for money ironic while the movie we are creating illustrates how abundance for everyone, i.e. shared prosperity, is possible.

Our present economic system is based on scarcity and – regardless of the promises we hear on TV – it depends on inequality and the illusion that any individual can become a millionaire if he/she works hard enough.

This country allows politicians to legally be paid large sums of money for political favors. Last night Laurie and I went to a Directors Screening of a movie with the working title “Dark Money”.  We all know that “Dark Money” is a thing.  It is money given to an organization such as a 501c4 (charity) which can legally give away 49% of its funding, usually to benefit a political cause, strategy or candidate, without revealing the source of the funds. As a result there is no way of tracking where this money for political favors comes from. It is a way that wealthy people can legally make a huge difference with their money by giving large sums for political purposes such as electing a candidate anonymously.

The name “Dark Money” in my mind is perfect for this mechanism of underhanded and back room dealing.  Everything about it is dark including the hearts of the people who participate in it.

As I was growing up I never thought of money as any color aside from Green. As a child I was taught the necessity of making money was the way to get things I wanted in life.  This was balanced out with a liberal religious education and church life that instilled in me the value that the most profound experiences in life come not from making money but from human relationships and caring for others.  These two elements seemed mutually exclusive and separate.  Perhaps in some way all money seemed “dark”.  Consequently I never learned the “money game” very well.  As an adult I now can see that this “game” has different rules for different groups of people.  People achieve wealth in many ways and likewise people are poor for many reasons and in both cases it has very little to do with them as persons and more to do with their social circumstance, their heritage, and perhaps “damn luck”.

I suppose these days it is only appropriate that my relationship with money makes it difficult to have much.  Ironically,  in spite of owning little I continue to have more access to things than ever before in my life.  So if asking for money for a movie project about abundance is ironic, not asking seems like hiding a very important secret under a bushel. The secret is out.  Money is not on the chart of essential elements for life.

New Movie Now In Production

by Terry Sterrenberg

The idea of The Villaging Project has led us on a deeply personal search for a new economy that can sustainably produce abundance for everybody.

As we have moved forward to develop the idea for a relevant documentary film about what we call here “villaging”, we have come to realize more about how the motive to make profits has superseded the notion of taking care of people. It  has taken over the American dream and left many of us struggling to make a living.

The working title of this upcoming documentary is “OUR New Economy.   It is a deeply personal film about our own disillusionment with the economic system into which we were born.   For several years, we have been researching ways of thinking about money and jobs and access and scarcity,  and we  have taken our camera along on the journey.  

OUR New Economy presents the story of our search for a positive vision of the future that we think is possible. It examines the lifestyle trends that have been leading us further and further away from our life’s source, and how we can alter the course of our future economy.  What happens when we change our idea of “development” from suburbia & shopping malls to communities of people who take care of one another?