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Practicing Futures

A Civic Imagination Action Handbook

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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 Fifteen Monuments from the Future—Bringing Imaginative Dimensions to Our Real World Spaces and Places

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Monuments from the Future—Bringing Imaginative Dimensions to Our Real World Spaces and Places

We encourage an interplay between cultural geography, urban space, and the civic imagination.

This workshop is about making imagination tangible, shareable, and place-based. Many real world challenges that individuals and communities are struggling with can be situated within the logics of space and place. For example, issues like health, environment, education and so on can all be mapped onto local geographies as they connect with specific contexts and realities. Monuments from the Future is a simple, playful intervention that invites participants to construct fanciful place-based artifacts of the civic imagination from low cost materials, without a need for prior experience or skills in model making or fabrication.

The workshop begins with a simple place-based observation. Participants then work in groups to come up with some kind of intervention; maybe helping to unlock some underutilized potential of the space they observed or to bring something to the place that is currently lacking. Using materials available to them, they build artifacts that help re-imagine the space.



Fig. 15.1 Monuments from the future. Image Credit: Greg Whicker

Goal: This workshop helps people think creatively about the space around them. Starting with a location, we encourage participants to layer imagination over their surroundings to expand the possibilities of these real world spaces and places.

Participants: This workshop is best suited for people who are able to...

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