Futures Festival Blog

Future’s past memoirs

This story was originally published on Medium.

07/03/73 PC

Majestic, aren’t they!” said a calm, tender voice next to me. I nodded and glanced into the distance ahead of us. My original plan of dozing off for a few minutes before reaching the final destination of my weekend trip was seemingly thwarted by a chatty old lady sitting next to me. “Where are you headed, young man?” asked she, as she looked up at me with her wrinkly eyes. “Tijuana…, I am coming home for the weekend to…ehm, well it’s a family lunch,” have I replied sluggishly as I was still trying to focus my eyes on the Giza plateau ahead of us. Even now, many years after the archeologists fully mapped out and understood what used to be considered one of the biggest mysteries of the world, kept the pyramids their air of mystery and magnificent allure. “How sweet of you! Do you come home often?” asked me the lady in a hope to get the conversation going. “At least once a month! Although my mom is an avid traveler and she just loves Kabul, even though…,” have I continued when a loud laughter and a nudge in my ribs interrupted me. A voice on the other side of the aisle exclaimed suddenly, “So?! Did you miss me bro? You better, it’s been a while!” I twitched my body in a response to the nudge but quickly grew ecstatic and overjoyed! My brother has just returned from his third exploratory mission of the Mayall’s Object in the constellation of Ursa Major. “So you did get my message!?” I shouted euphorically. The operator said thxere was a lot of ionizing radiation in your quadrant due to the massive coronal mass ejection from a nearby star. “Phfff, that was nothing we couldn’t handle!” shunned Jorge my concerns. “We came back earlier, so I quickly located you and used QUAT[1] to get over here,” I can’t wait for us to be together again!

My brother Jorge joined the Space Exploratory Agency only a few years ago, just before the heyday of the intergalactic space missions began in earnest. Whenever he managed to come back home to Earth he would crash at my place in Kabul and we would always have a great time as me and my friends all listened to his stories from the galaxies far, far away.

So how is Kabul?” asked Jorge. “It’s been great! The final phase of the Global Restorative Program (GRP), just kicked in. The place has been really revived over the last couple of years!

As many other places around the world that have been decimated by war and violent behavior manifested by the various nation states of what is now referred to as ‘pre-civilized’ world, Kabul has been completely rebuilt and its environment restored. In the post-transition period, the GRP program included some stunningly innovative technologies, such as Nano-Scale Material Disintegration and Recycling System or, the so called, PRoM [2], Predictive Rendering of Minerals. These two technologies proved to be indispensable in the years that followed the program kick-off and saw most of the habitat being revitalized while pre-fabricated residential hubs were 3D printed into existence. What used to be mostly a radioactive, barren wasteland has been transformed in only about 10 years into a lush burgeoning garden. Kabul has then become a new up and coming metropolitan area with an intercontinental transport hub and intra-galactic launch pad.

Coming to Tijuana always invoked a lot of childhood memories. Sure, just like every other place, Tijuana also had its history and former reputation drawn from the primitive social organization and territorial dissection of the planet. The preceding state of global affairs was indeed a very dark place in which an outdated and stupefyingly dumb socio-economic system nearly destroyed the planet’s capacity to support complex life forms. Personally, I am not old enough to remember but my grandparents’ journals are full of stories we now find hard to comprehend.

As my brother and I kept busy catching up on the last year and half of our lives, the train operating systems announced the next stop, “Dear Passengers, shortly will we arrive to Tijuana, thank you for traveling with Spherio!” “Yupieee, I am so excited to back home again!” shouted Jorge as he grabbed his bag and rushed out.

Spherio, a global Evacuated Tube Transport Technology [3], was fully deployed at the end of the Great Transition — the time during which we segued from monetary-market economics to the current paradigm. As such, the system infrastructure is modeled based on the planetary geographic coordinate system of latitude and longitude lines with a number of auxiliary lines completing the main grid. At the onset, ET3 faced quite some headwinds as it represented a completely unparalleled way of transportation. Even now, decades after its introduction one can sometimes catch a glimpse of trepidation in the eyes of the older passengers as the pods begin to accelerate. At the maximum travel speed of 6,500 km/h, Kabul — Tijuana takes a little less than two hours.

Coming back home was always very rewarding largely because of the massive improvements experienced by the region. In fact, the entire Mesoamerica has seen a lot of changes in the previous years. Right after the global society stabilized the global climate, we tackled the next challenge that plague the so called Ring of Fire for a very long time. A system of measures commonly referred to as ‘Tectonic Stability System’ was introduced to pinpoint and safely release any imminent seismic threats that could put lives in jeopardy. If you went to Tijuana only a generation ago, the place still looked pretty barren compared to its contemporary image. Furthermore, the region hugely benefited from the deployment of Cybernated Farm Systems (CFS) [4], a fully automated Smart Aquaponic Greenhouse system, which eliminated the gap between global food production and distribution of clean, healthy foods to the people of the world. CFS systems played a major role in phasing out the 17th century styled agriculture, which wasted water, ruined soils and climate and suffered from capricious weather.

As we approached our parents’ house, my brother and I greeted familiar faces from our past. Tijuana has for a long time now been one of the world’s most important centers of artistic expression. The main reason was the role arts played in communicating global socio-economic changes prior to the beginning of the Great Transition. To a large extent, arts became one of the main international languages and a powerful vehicle for global change.

Zigzagging around my home-town led me to reminisce about my childhood in Tijuana. By now, I’ve known the way home backwards. First, Cerro Colorado, a place where the famous ‘common heritage’ speech heralding a new era in Earth’s history was delivered, followed by my Alma mater — The Academy of Curiosity & Experimentation, and, finally, a large mural embellished with a quote that become an ethos of the pre-transition times, ‘You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.’ We were home!

[1] QUAT is a technology based on quantum entanglement that revolutionized intra- and intergalactic transportation in the late 21st century by means of quantum teleportation.

[2] Predictive Rendering of Materials was developed specifically for the purpose of tackling mineral and inorganic substance shortages around the world without the need for mining which was phased out as a primitive and destructive method of mineral acquisition.

[3] Evacuated Tube Transport Technologies (ET3) is a technology based on the application of the High Temperature Superconductive Maglev in vacuum. At the height of its maximum speed the equatorial ET3 line takes about 6 hours and 10 minutes to circle the earth. More info available here.

[4] https://www.cyberfarmsystems.com/

2019 Futures Festival

A story about ten futurists, Futures Festival '19, and radical transformations

The 2019 Futures Festival is an opportunity for people across the globe to share projects, insights, experiences, and ideas. To gear up for the FF’19, our Chair, Prateeksha Singh, sent out a call for volunteers in May. A group of ten futurists came together to produce Futures Festival ’19. We are a diverse group – we work at different places, have different backgrounds, and are based in Canada, Germany, India, Portugal, the UK, and the US. Nonetheless, through dialogue and informal signals-gathering, we quickly landed on this year’s theme, Radical Transformations.

2019 Futures Festival is for projects that consider, provoke, and support radical transformations

The concept of radical transformations is about reframing, redesigning, reengineering, and rethinking. Informed by innovative approaches such as Adam Kahane’s transformative scenario planning, radical transformations push beyond the actions of anticipation and adaptation connected to possible futures and encourage us to create and influence our preferred futures.

Concepts such as the new, next, and circular economies — and more — continue to evolve. They are driving global economic restructuring. Systems designed to be restorative and regenerative are challenging norms of continuous growth. Furthermore, radical futures are harnessing disruptive ideas. Radical futures restructure political and civic engagement, show us new ways to build community, reframe social and environmental problems, and challenge extremist and populist agendas.

How it works

People from around the world sign up to join and be a part of the conversation. In addition to the live sessions, the FF’19 video recordings will be publicly accessible and promoted through social media, and available for download. FF’19 sessions can be anywhere between 30 minutes to 60 minutes and must include time for discussion.

This virtual conference is free for everyone and accessible via the internet (we use Zoom.us). Last year the program consisted of 20 sessions delivered by 24 speakers from 13 countries. We started at 0700 UTC-4 in South Africa and finished the day at 1900 UTC-4 in Hawai’i. All of the Diverse Futures sessions were recorded and are available on Vimeo.

When you register for Radical Transformations, you will receive web links to the video conference on November 9th, 2019. Your registration also means that you can subscribe for updates and will receive notifications as the session video recordings are released. We release session recordings in batches based on the conference sub themes.


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Cheryl May

Futures Festival Organizer

Cheryl May

Cheryl May is a specialist in strategic foresight, governance and process design. She is a four-time executive director, entrepreneur, writer, and designer. Cheryl was the practice lead for social innovation at MaRS and has also worked with Tides Canada, Artscape, and Community Innovation Lab. She is currently working with the Centre for Social Innovation on the Impact Dashboard.

Cheryl led the development of 211, the Pan-Canadian human services information system, which currently serves 26 million Canadians. Consequently, she received the Ontario Federal Council Leadership through Collaboration Award, Showcase Ontario Diamond Award, and Head of the Public Service Award. In 2018 she was appointed to the board of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, a Crown corporation. Her foresight work includes Futures of Canadian Identities with Canadian Heritage.

In 2017, she completed a Master of Design in Strategic Foresight and Innovation. Currently, she is initiating PhD research on for-benefit corporations.

Contact Cheryl May

Email: maysie@cherylmayconsulting.com

Consulting website: https://www.cherylmayconsulting.com/

Project website: https://www.cherylmayproject.space/

Twitter: @MayRichings

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cherylmay/

Thesis: A New Model – The role of the for-benefit corporation in Canada

Other APF: Diverse Futures (2018) Organizer

Association of Professional Futurists

Presenting Online

A first-hand account of what it's like to present online at the Futures Festival

Here are some thoughts about presenting online at the Futures Festival. As an online festival, it lets futurists from around the world engage and explore relevant ideas. The volunteer team organizes the operations and the logistics of the event while the presenters are given a virtual floor on which to develop a topic in less than an hour. That floor is yours, but you aren’t alone. You’ll get a technical support person and a facilitator for your session so that you can concentrate on what you want to share with the festival goers.

It is important to state from the start that this is not a conference directed to insiders and experts. It is a festival for futures conversations to happen at. It is a chance to get to know the people around the globe who are working to build a futures mindset with their work. Some of the topics veer towards an academic understanding of concepts, and theory. Some are neatly practical. All are futures-oriented and open for discussion. It does not lend itself well to long-winded lectures, or tongue-twisting technical terminology. The challenge is to find the right amount of context needed to spur an interesting discussion in a short time.

Presenting online requires an extra effort to engage with participants

When I presented “Making the Futures Present” in 2018 I was concerned that the online format and virtual platform would be constricting. Virtual audiences tend to be much more quiet than people in a room together and you don’t get the luxury of eye contact with each participant. It’s hard to judge if you are connecting with your audience. When I present online, I’m painfully aware of myself as a talking head, laughing at my own jokes, terrified of awkward silence.

I opted to interview my business partner Maggie Greyson and present her four minute video on working with experiential personal futures. We designed together which questions would be most engaging, put together a slideshow, and even rehearsed our interview beforehand. Having someone to practice with made it much easier to cut down the number of ideas and questions we thought necessary when presenting online.

Watching our session video, I see that we are not 100% natural in our delivery but our pace is good and our framing was visually compelling. It really helped to have a quiet room on a bright day. I also see myself staring at the screen and not the camera during the presentation. It’s hard to avoid that but it is just a little less engaging as a result. But most of all I think we we chose the right amount of content to present, with as many real-life examples as we could fit.

During our presentation we asked for questions to be typed into Zoom’s chatbox rather than unmuting the participant to ask outloud. This way, I could read out the questions for Maggie to answer. This approach felt a little bit formal and didn’t allow for very personal dialogue. But it did allow us to get to a few more questions than we might have otherwise. Yet, it was rushed.

My strongest advice for future presenters is to give more than the last ten minutes for engaging with the participants. Best, is to find ways to engage with the audience throughout the presentation. Worst, is to have to cut someone off mid-response because you are out of time. Time online goes very fast as a presenter and if you can end early you can receive the questions from the audience which may be as illuminating for you as it is for them.

Oh, and be accepting if the whole festival goes a little behind schedule. It happens.

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David Buwalda

Making the Futures Present

David Buwalda
Foresight, Facilitation, and Learning Service Provider

David Buwalda: Making the Futures Present

David Buwalda is a group process facilitator and learning designer working in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He’s had the privilege of working around the world leading grassroots social change projects. Recent clients include pastoral communities in East Africa, the Toronto Public Library and UBS bank. David’s background in urban planning and community engagement come together in his current project to bring strategic foresight practices to diverse people in diverse places.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-buwalda-a0627613/