"I pick up my kids from school and we stroll home down streets where many of the houses are painted with eye-catching murals and mosaics. There are lots of kids playing in the street, a phenomenon that occurred naturally once the number of cars on the road diminished, which in turn encouraged residents to periodically close their streets entirely to motorized traffic, so children can play outside; all the neighbors look out for the kids, something made possible when adults began spending more time at home, rather than trapped in long commutes to distant workplaces.
After supper, I head out to a Neighborhood Assembly meeting. A few years ago, a group of residents, not aligned to any political party, were voted in to run our city government. They altered the city’s governance model to enable and support the initiatives emerging at the neighborhood scale, and to remove obstacles. They even created a Civic Imagination Office to better inspire and support the imaginations of local communities, and to enable their ideas to become reality. About 70 people are at this particular meeting, and we discuss our vision for the future of energy in our neighborhood, and some other pressing local issues. Policymaking has improved hugely. Thanks to the community-owned energy company set up in 2021, the majority of the city’s energy is now locally generated, and most citizens have some kind of financial investment in it; it generates a far better return than the banks do....... "
Read the rest of "The Sustainable Future Town of Your Imagination" over at Yes Magazine, excerpted from Rob Hopkins’s new book From What Is to What If: Unleashing the Power of Imagination to Create the Future We Want (Chelsea Green Publishing, October 2019)
I found this book after listening to Rob Hopkins on The Sustainability Agenda Podcast. I found myself so excited while listening to Rob talk about how he believes our lack of action and hopelessness over our future is not due to lack of solutions, but a lack of imagination. Radical imagination. Which dovetails in so nicely with the point of this website: for us imagineers to illustrate our future!
From the publisher's website:
“Big ideas that just might save the world”—The Guardian
The founder of the international Transition Towns movement asks why true creative, positive thinking is in decline, asserts that it’s more important now than ever, and suggests ways our communities can revive and reclaim it.
In these times of deep division and deeper despair, if there is a consensus about anything in the world, it is that the future is going to be awful. There is an epidemic of loneliness, an epidemic of anxiety, a mental health crisis of vast proportions, especially among young people. There’s a rise in extremist movements and governments. Catastrophic climate change. Biodiversity loss. Food insecurity. The fracturing of ecosystems and communities beyond, it seems, repair. The future—to say nothing of the present—looks grim.
But as Transition movement cofounder Rob Hopkins tells us, there is plenty of evidence that things can change, and cultures can change, rapidly, dramatically, and unexpectedly—for the better. He has seen it happen around the world and in his own town of Totnes, England, where the community is becoming its own housing developer, energy company, enterprise incubator, and local food network—with cascading benefits to the community that extend far beyond the projects themselves.
We do have the capability to effect dramatic change, Hopkins argues, but we’re failing because we’ve largely allowed our most critical tool to languish: human imagination. As defined by social reformer John Dewey, imagination is the ability to look at things as if they could be otherwise. The ability, that is, to ask What if? And if there was ever a time when we needed that ability, it is now.
Imagination is central to empathy, to creating better lives, to envisioning and then enacting a positive future. Yet imagination is also demonstrably in decline at precisely the moment when we need it most. In this passionate exploration, Hopkins asks why imagination is in decline, and what we must do to revive and reclaim it. Once we do, there is no end to what we might accomplish.
From What Is to What If is a call to action to reclaim and unleash our collective imagination, told through the stories of individuals and communities around the world who are doing it now, as we speak, and witnessing often rapid and dramatic change for the better.
A collection of other inspiring visions from a wide range of artists.