Monthly Archives: January 2011

Is it really easier to think about the end of the world than social change?

The NY Times article: The End of Nature is not just something to think about, but also something to talk about:

“For us, it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than serious social change. Witness the numerous blockbusters about global catastrophe and the conspicuous absence of films about alternate societies.”

Scary! Unfortunately, I also think that it is easier for people to imagine the end of the world rather than change because of my own experiences. I often give my workshop participants the task of imagining a more sustainable world. I ask them to visualize and then draw their idea of a sustainable world, considering how & where they would live, where they would get their food from, what sort of transport they would use, among other things.

Vision Sambito  Vision Casa Grande Vision Duran

I am always amazed at how participants are so surprised and perplexed by the task. I have come to realize that many people have never been asked to visualize a future situation. Sometimes the drawings are superficial and other times they are innovative, the outcome really isn’t important in the exercise. It is more about getting people to start thinking about what they want in a sustainable future and what it might look like, as well as, see the diversity of ideas among the group.

So i guess the question is: are we happy to keep imagining ‘dooms day’ situations, or are we willing to challenge ourselves to consider what social change actually looks like in practice?

Acknowledgment: Thanks to Wendy Goldstein and Daniella Tilbury who challenged me to visualize my sustainable future in 2005.