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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 Seventeen Creating an Action Plan—Imagining the Process of Change


Creating an Action Plan—Imagining the Process of Change

We support groups, communities and organizations as they imagine action that will help them accomplish their civic goals.

We understand that social impact strategies emerge from people’s ability to imagine the process of transformation. In this workshop, we explore ways to harness the civic imagination while developing an action plan for social impact. The emphasis here is on being creative and getting inspired, developing strategies for action, and imagining success.

Fig. 17.1. Creating an action plan. Image Credit: Greg Whicker

The workshop balances its focus on concrete steps for action with the creative sensibilities and fun of the civic imagination approach. Participants will have the opportunity to map out tentative actions that they think could lead to real world change, while also maintaining a big picture vision of success and possibility. Participants start by identifying issues of concern. Next, they map out strategies and goals that would help them take action around this issue. They then create a profile for an ideal participant/user, as well as a celebrity spokesperson. Finally, they tap their imagination to create a short video that imagines a future scenario where their efforts led to hugely successful outcomes beyond their wildest dreams.

Goal: This workshop asks participants to envision an action plan for change. They will define issues they care about and come up with specific strategies and goals to set in motion a vision...

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