Startup Cities and the Human Services Provider Proposal

The quest to find new and better approaches to social cohabitation, in which individuals are free to pursue their dreams and live to their full potential, gave rise to the Startup Cities movement. One strong advocate, Ryan Nohea Garcia, has come up with a new proposal for achieving such innovative jurisdictions (embedded at the base of this article).

Before one can address and explain his proposal, though, a touch of context is necessary.

These special jurisdictions (LEAP zones, in the case of Honduras) are regions with a greater degree of autonomy and room for competitive governance. According to the Startup Cities Institute, they “can be used to create inclusive economic growth, combat corruption and test public policy innovations in transparency, public services and environmental stewardship.”

Garcia contends that Startup Cities, formerly known as Free Cities, will allow individuals “to exit states and live and produce voluntarily in new societies.” Similarly, Roberto Blum, believes that nation states are “too big and rigid to allow effective political participation and/or institutional innovation” — as he explains below.

In the Future of Free Cities Conference, held in Honduras in 2011, Gonzalo Melian, director of urbanism at Instituto Juan de Mariana, discussed different approaches to creating a Startup City. In categories that are not mutually exclusive, the approaches included:

  • a company/corporate city;
  • a gated community city;
  • an ungated community city;
  • a city created by a call for bidders.

In response to these, Garcia offers a variation of the company/corporate city proposal — what he calls a Human Services Provider (HSP). HSPs are “private entities whose purpose is establishing StartUp Cities” through the aggregation of social and business networks. Each HSP would have specific philosophies and purposes that would reflect and be responsive to “the potential to live and produce under [those] terms and conditions.”

Through an offering, the HSP would promote and market a certain societal structure, according to the founder’s ideals. In order to become a part of it, interested parties would have to accept the offering’s terms and conditions.

If these terms are successful in mobilizing interest from like-minded individuals worldwide, the networking and implementation process would begin. With the influence or leverage of the network’s participants, combining their strength in numbers, they would seek to achieve a favorable bargaining position relative to a state when negotiating for territory — a place to invest in a new jurisdiction.

Since the HSPs are not bound by a commitment to any one nation or location — rather to an ideal or form of governance — Garcia firmly believes that they are the answer to building successful Starup Cities. “HSPs are unconstrained by the terms, limitations and political realities potential host countries place upon Startup City efforts seeking to obtain territory (on promise of networks to come). HSPs are free to craft offerings with only human needs and corresponding solutions in mind.”

Hear Garcia’s interview with the PanAm Post here (seven minutes).

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