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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 Eleven General Notes About Facilitation


General Notes About Facilitation

We recognize that each facilitator develops their own style and respect these individual choices. With that in mind, we suggest that the following general notes can be integrated into various facilitator approaches to support workshop flow:

• Be curious about your participants. Try to learn as much as you can about your participants as this will help you better understand where they are coming from. If you are working with a community host/coordinator, ask many questions in the workshop planning phase. During the session, be attentive to what participants share with you, regardless of whether it is related to the workshop or not.

• Establish ground rules for participation and invite everyone to participate. It is important that participants understand that their participation matters and that you will be offering multiple ways to participate. The goal is to create a friendly, relaxed environment rooted in mutual respect so that creativity can flow.

• Create context. Make sure participants have a strong sense of the intentions and goals of the workshop as well as a general sense of the overall structure and flow. Knowing the general road map will help them relax and build trust.

• Use accessible, easy to follow language. Break down complicated terms and concepts so they are easier to grasp. Don’t hide behind complex expressions.

• Define key terms. Be sure to provide definitions for all key terms you are using so that all participants can...

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