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Practicing Futures

A Civic Imagination Action Handbook


Gabriel Peters-Lazaro and Sangita Shresthova

The real world is full of challenges and the sheer weight of problems facing us can stifle the genius of our collective human creativity at exactly the time when we desperately need imaginative and innovative solutions. Responding to this, Practicing Futures: A Civic Imagination Action Handbook harnesses our connections to popular culture and taps the boundless potential of human imagination to break free of assumptions that might otherwise trap us in repetitive cycles of alienation. Utopias and dystopias have long been used to pose questions, provoke discussions, and inspire next steps and are helpful because they encourage long view perspectives. Building on the work of the Civic Imagination Project at the University of Southern California, the Handbook is a practical guide for community leaders, educators, creative professionals, and change-makers who want to encourage creative, participatory, and playful approaches to thinking about the future. This book shares examples and models from the authors’ work in diverse communities. It also provides a step-by-step guide to their workshops with the objective of making their approach accessible to all interested practitioners. The tools are adaptable to a variety of local contexts and can serve multiple purposes from community and network building to idea generation and media campaign design by harnessing the expansive capacity for imagination within all of us.

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Chapter Eight Pakistan, from the Heart: Civic Imagination in Context of Violent Extremism


Pakistan, from the Heart: Civic Imagination in Context of Violent Extremism

Our partnership with HIVE, a community focused non-profit1, allowed us to apply civic imagination to “Counter Violent Extremism” efforts in Pakistan. Between 2016 and 2017, HIVE worked with us to explore how Pakistanis imagine futures as they conducted interviews, ran Infinite Hope workshops, and launched aspirational grassroots community projects across the country.

“Pakistan’s culture is so rich, deep and diverse that even in 2060, Pakistan has not forgotten its culture. Pakistan has not progressed like the Western countries. Pakistan has not been inspired by the Western lifestyle or Western culture that you’re talking about because its deep rooted culture has always been affected by people still respecting their families, people are still caring for each other. Due to this mighty power of caring for each other, we’ve developed at very rapid scale. Today’s community of 2060 is better compared to the past because we are not concerned about judging others or judging other people’s beliefs or religious inclination. Violence has been ruled out.” (Dil Say Pakistan interview respondent)

This aspirational vision of Pakistan in 2060 emerged through interviews conducted by HIVE, an organization dedicated to “training, research, resource development, and social innovation to counter extremism and work towards an inclusive, peaceful society.” HIVE’s interviews were part of Dil Say Pakistan (Pakistan, from the Heart), a national campaign that sought to shift perceptions of Pakistan and Pakistanis within the country. Along with the interviews,...

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