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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 Sixteen Remixing Stories—Forging Solidarity with Others with Different Experiences Than Our Own


Remixing Stories—Forging Solidarity with Others with Different Experiences Than Our Own

We propose that stories and imagining are crucial to networked connections made by disparate groups during struggles over social change and civic action.

Too often, our focus on contemporary problems makes it impossible to see beyond immediate constraints that confine our ability to bridge differences to build connections with people whose world views may be different from our own. Responding to this, the Remixing Stories workshop taps icons and narratives borrowed from popular culture to express civic identities and bridge divisions and differences that are making it hard for traditional political institutions to move forward with solving persistent problems. Participants begin by gathering and sharing stories that inspire them. Then, exploring each other’s stories, they start to mix and recombine elements between stories, seeing how the combinations of unexpected elements lead to whole new creative narratives. As story remixing leads to real-life sharing, reflection, debate and collaboration, participants imagine how their combined stories might be enlarged and used to spark social movements and campaigns.

Fig. 16.1. Remixing stories. Image Credit: Greg Whicker

Goal: This workshop uses remix and storytelling to support cross-cultural dialogue and exchange.

Participants: This workshop can appeal to many communities, but is best suited for diverse contexts where participants come from a range of cultural, social and political backgrounds. We recommend that the workshop is run with between 20 and 30 participants.

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