We used to have faith in the frontier. We would become pioneers and colonize distant worlds. Today, we live in the dusk of these ambitions. Technology, in which we placed our hopes, has bewitched us with fractured mirrors of desire broadcast on a billion screens. Instead of progress and purpose, we find simulated achievement and simulated community. Despite economic prosperity, we are confronted with alienation, loss of institutional trust, and withdrawal from public life. There is a void at the heart of our culture, a nihilism that has robbed us of our dreams.
We need a new direction. The experience of the pandemic ruptured our sense of normalcy and led us to reconsider our way of life. The reconfiguration of our relationships over the Internet hinted that new modes of social organization were possible. With this opportunity in hand, we must ask ourselves: how do we want to live our lives?
Praxis offers an answer. We want to live in communities that give us a sense of ownership and belonging, with people who share our values and dreams. We will find purpose in a quest to build a new culture founded on an old insight: that in the final analysis, all moral systems, social systems, and political systems are judged by the vitality they produce in a people. John Locke quotes Cicero: salus populi suprema lex. The health of the people is the supreme law. We aspire to live vital lives. As individuals, through beauty, strength, and virtue. As a society, by expanding the horizons of art, commerce, and technology.
With this moral primitive as our compass, we set out on the frontier to build a new city.
Building a city used to be nearly impossible. The core issue was a cold start problem, stemming from a standoff between three critical elements: the people, the businesses, and the financing. Cities had to be built around a source of economic opportunity in order to attract businesses, which would create jobs and entice people to move. The source of economic activity could be a geographic feature such as a natural harbor, or a set of government offices constituting a new capital. Even if initially successful, these paths were arduous and slow. Because of the timescale and uncertainty around population growth, it was hard to raise financing and attract ambitious residents, especially ones who valued the talent density that major cities offer. Investors and future residents had trouble committing to new cities with little visibility into future growth or their future neighbors.
But the world has changed. The pandemic gave us an unexpected wedge to solve the cold start problem. Remote work enables people to move to a new city and take their jobs with them. We can now choose cities for their people, beauty, and culture – rather than for jobs. An initial kernel of residents untethered from offices can move to a new city for non-economic reasons, catalyzing the creation of a local labor market around small businesses, startups, and multinationals. Significant and legible demand, initially independent of local labor market dynamics, unlocks financing for the construction of new cities.
The problem of simultaneously coordinating people, businesses, and financing can be simplified into a linear sequence. Start by attracting a community of talented people; use the demand to raise the financing required to build the city; build the infrastructure and buildings; and then, once the first phase of the city is built, the founding cohort will move in. With the cold start problem solved, the city can then grow organically thereafter. Surprisingly, a concept as innocuous as “remote work” has become an Archimedean lever to change the world.
This community-focused approach, which we call demand-first economic development, is the basis of our master plan.
Step 1: Demand - Build a community of future residents
The first step is to secure demand. To do this, we’ve created a community of thousands brought together by the shared vision of jointly founding a new city. Members organize together in places such as New York, San Francisco, and London for events and projects, to meet their future neighbors and help build the city.
To make this demand legible to capital and developer partners, we have created a contract called a commitment-to-move (CTM). These financial commitments by future residents represent a concrete dollar value of demand for real estate and taxes: ten thousand members with an average lifetime value of $2+ million collectively represent $20+ billion in city value.
Step 2: Financing - Raise money for development
With legible real estate demand established via signed CTMs, we will attract capital partners to help finance the development of the city. Initial demand will attract the capital required to buy and entitle the land for our site. As we generate more demand over time, we will be able to raise additional capital to finance the development of infrastructure. Residences will be financed by residents and a credit facility.
Early committers will be rewarded with mechanisms to earn additional ownership, providing incentives to join and further expanding our base of commitments.
Step 3: Government - Partner with a government and select location
With demand and the capital raised to purchase and entitle the land, we will partner with a host government to create a special jurisdiction and accelerate the economic growth of their country. We are engaged at various levels with a number of governments.
The location for the city will be selected based on proximity to financial and logistics centers, stable local governments, and will be situated in an attractive coastal location.
Step 4: Development - Coordinate capital commitments and build Phase I of the city
Once we secure the special jurisdiction, we will use it, the CTMs, financing, and the entitled land to partner with world-class developers. We will partner with developers for infrastructure, residential development, civil engineering, planning and architecture. We’ve selected many of these partners already.
Domain advisory panels composed of community members and experts will oversee program design in the realms of energy, trade, environment, education, transportation, and governance.
The overall city plan, infrastructure, and key architecture will be designed by the best architects and engineers in the world, in a style organic to our ethos, focused entirely around the physical and spiritual vitality of our residents. Construction will be phased to match demand, beginning with a central district built for the first residents, with planned expansions as the population grows.
Step 5: Move-in - Move the community into its new home
Phase I of the city will be home to 10,000 residents. With our first cohort of residents in their new homes, we will foster long-term growth by inviting new residents into the city. Praxis will earn revenue through the monetization of real estate and services. Since recurring services revenue grows with income, we are incentivized to maximize long-term growth.
Phase I marks the end of the beginning, and the start of a longer quest to build the greatest city of our era.
History and Beyond
We admire the founders of America for their courage and vision. They left their homes and made a dangerous voyage across the ocean. In the New World they found an uncertain frontier, but also freedom. How did they see themselves? John Winthrop, the founder of Boston, once preached: “For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us.” Even from the beginning, they sensed the magnitude of their purpose. How do we live up to this example? How will our descendants see us? Only great projects, continued in their same spirit, can answer. We do not aim for small ends, but to move the world.
Help us build the city. Make history. Join Praxis.