Convergence ahead

Yesterday we completed the second in the series of Easthampton Futures, working in and with the space created two weeks ago, and perfected on Friday. We spent most of Friday getting the space ready, checking off the multiple tasks, made the necessary purchases and got to know our fellow crew members for this event.

If the first session was about discovery and sensemaking, this one was about possibilities and prototyping, initiating the shift from divergence to convergence: we worked down from a 60000 foot view of a preferred future to about 5000 ft, making the contours of possible paths down to the valley more visible.

I was a little disappointed in the turnout. I had hoped that the buzz created by the first event would propel more people towards Eastworks – the converted mill building where all sessions take place. It was, just like last time, a glorious Saturday after a week of rain. Given the dismal spring we have had so far, I cannot blame people to want to be outdoors rather than indoors thinking about the future. It is the one time that we think of a sunny weekend day as a problem.

Still, it was an inspired and energy-filled day during which I daresay, everyone learned at least one new thing. I learned from than one. Sita introduced all of us to a framework (the Futures Cone) that is a huge improvement on the way I have most often seen ‘futures’ envisioned (essentially a linear extrapolation from the present, or what sometimes goes for a prediction). By the way, the only people I know of who have ever successfully predicted the future were Da Vinci, Gordon Moore (Moore’s Law) and Kurzweil. The rest of us earthlings have done so rather poorly.

The Futures Cone is a tool to help think about possible futures, plausible futures, probably futures and preferred futures. I led a small group, using this tool, to think about these various futures as it related to the intersection of arts & culture on the one hand, and space, environment, resources (natural, energy, human, etc) and sustainability on the other. We spent 45 minutes building on each other’s ideas and easily finding a convergence towards a series of paths forward. It was such a productive conversation that I cannot imagine how we’d gotten to a similar place in any other way.

Session #2 – Agenda

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