Friday, April 30, 1999

The First Millennial Foundation becomes The Living Universe Foundation

The First Millennial Foundation has reached a nodal point in its development. After several years of various efforts, we have been granted access to "tax-exempt status" (or "501-c-3 status") by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

There are two appropriate questions one might ask about this. Why has it been so difficult? And what is the exact nature of the change--what does it really mean for
our members and for progress toward our dream, the "Millennial Project"?

It has been difficult principally because the FMF is not a simple organization with simple goals. As one tax lawyer said, "It's not just one more country church." The FMF has complex goals. Some of these are fairly nearterm (like mobilizing OTEC and mariculture technologies to provide for nonpolluting, sustainable use of Earth's resources). Some are more longterm (like developing floating ocean colonies and habitable space colonies). And some are very longterm and visionary (like colonizing the Solar System and sending continent-size space ships to transport humankind and all Earth-born life across the Galaxy). Furthermore, the means we envision for achieving these goals are mixed--entrepreneurial and philanthropic, private and governmental, technological and political, even philosophically driven or "spiritual." After all, we want to build not just a "mechanically" better world that is technologically and ecologically sane, but a world of democratic and humanistic values, free of violence, rich in intercommunication, holding forth a dream of colonizing space--for our children and for the generations that follow them.
Our first two petitions to the IRS were complicated. They attempted to give a broad, full picture of the FMF and our future hopes and plans. They were extensively "negotiated" (or debated) but ultimately rejected. Undaunted, we made a third, simplified application with the humanitarian and educational goals presented in "stripped-down" form. And, at last, we were successful--we were granted tax-exempt status by the IRS.

Which brings us to the second question: What is the exact nature of the change and what does it really mean for our members and for progress toward our dream, the "Millennial Project"? Technically, legally, on January 1, 1999, we will change our corporate clothes. The "First Millennial Foundation" will transfer its assets, liabilities, and activities to a new corporation called the "Living Universe Foundation," the organization that has been granted tax-exempt status by the IRS. In reality, very little will change. The Board of Directors will remain the same. The bylaws and rules we have developed for self-governance will remain the same. And all the projects of the FMF will continue without pause--the evolving Web-based community, SEE, the IUAS, our OTEC and mariculture negotiations, "Distant Star," our linking to "green" organizations, etc. All members of the FMF will automatically become members of the LUF; all new memberships and renewals will be taken as memberships in the LUF.

Frankly, the membership and the outer world will notice little change. But, most significantly, we will now be able to seek grants and donations, because benefactors will be able to make donations without having to pay taxes on them.

William Gale
Secretary, FMF
Secretary, LUF