How did we get here?

Imagine Futures participants thinking about causes and solutions of problems affecting rivers

This is a suggested creative activity to help young people imagine futures in an Earth crisis.

Invite participants to journey into the future to a specific time and place.

  • It could be the exact place you are in at the time, or a site that is threatened or that offers an opportunity for development. For the pilot workshop, we chose a ‘blue space’ (river) and a ‘green space’ (woodland).
  • The future time you agree on should be far enough ahead to imagine very different scenarios from the present day, but not so far ahead that it is impossible to connect with it.

Tell them that it’s a good future, or good-enough, despite the planet’s troubles.

Ask participants to get into groups as if they are households, work teams or friendship groups. Let them decide what kind of group they are, and who each of them are in this group, and how they are connected to each other.

Then, ask them to note down or draw some ways that their life, their place or their work situation is good, or good-enough. 

Now tell them that their household, work team or group has played an important role in this world being good-enough. Ask ‘How did we get here?’ Ask them to think of all the things they did (leading up to this good future) to help.

Break it down into these three steps, giving them 5 minutes to brainstorm ideas for each:

  • What did we do as consumers? (Choices of what to buy, not to buy, and how to live)
  • What did we do as citizens? (Actions as a local inhabitant, worker, carer or voter) 
  • What did we do to change the whole system? (Mission as activists, entrepreneurs, or visionary heroes) 

Ask them to choose the most significant actions from each of the above three steps. Present to the whole group, and support discussion about which actions are both possible and effective.