Prototyping Many Tomorrows
It's been another interesting, stimulating, and ultimately reinforcing month on the road. I've just touched down at home office following two weeks in Spain running the first full Innovation and Futures Thinking professional course at IED Barcelona, followed by a quick stop in Brighton to join ongoing work on speculative future health care, and a final stop in Helsinki for Flow Festival and time spent with great people hatching great new plans.
It was a rough few weeks in the larger world, however. A plane downed, viruses spreading, horrible conflict on multiple fronts, and political paralysis at many critical points. In short, systems breaking down all over. Superdensity.
And yet I've come home once again fueled with a certain kind of optimism, which may sound funny for someone known for sporting what one colleague called "a hardened, irreverent shell". At each stop, I have had the privilege of working with people who are finding tools to create many often small but ingenious prototypes of positive futures. This is what nine fantastic students from places like Brazil, Mexico, Spain, Romania, Dubai, Russia and the US learned about and took home as new tools in our course at IED. This was the foundation of discussions around returning control of personal health and relationships in our Brighton workshop of workshops. This was the social and professional fabric of a weekend on the Baltic talking about how to enable freedom from natural resource dependency and ensure access to critical human infrastructure. In the middle, this was the thread linking many small conversations over meals, coffees, beers and excursions to look at the odd megaproject. Dozens of people, not shouting about saving the world from a conference stage, but quietly going about doing what they believe in, alone, in groups and increasingly connected networks.
So, I'm still not one for blind enthusiasm or ideological belief that history is on an inevitable arc toward abundance, and we just ride along. The work is much harder than that. Nor is it a single—or singular—destination. What happens next is what we discover, build, test and engage with, often using the scraps of what's broken now. It's what we prototype—many small, positive futures. Testing and reframing all the time. I'm glad to meet so many people doing the same, in many different ways.