Humanity’s fate now depends on our ability to imagine success; to design the future we seek.
That sounds like an airy claim, but I believe it’s literally true. We can’t build what we can’t imagine. The planetary crisis we face demands that we raise billions of people out of poverty, build the booming cities they’ll live in and plan the vast arrays of infrastructure those cities will need to prosper—all while redesigning everything towards zero-impact ecological footprints. And this convulsive change needs to happen within the careers of those already now working. We must, in short, build a new world at a speed never before seen.
That’s what we have to build, but that’s not the future we’re imagining. No, our culture today is full of dire predictions, disaster scenarios, travels to the stars and post-apocalyptic survival tales. The futures being imagined today are largely ones of failure or escapism. Pessimism is understandable, but that doesn’t make it useful.
Our challenges are epic. But if building a better world seems out of our reach, then we need to become people who can reach farther. We extend our conceptual reach by embracing bigger visions. To become people capable of doing heroic things together, we have to imagine what heroic futures might be like. That’s something we can learn how to do.
For the last five years, I’ve been passionately committed to exploring planetary futurism—working to understand both the kind of world we need to build and what kinds of creativity can help us imagine that world. Now I’m ready to share what I’ve discovered, and it all starts with a three-part “live documentary,” The Heroic Future.
Each 90-minute show is centered around a talk, incorporating stage presentation, film and photography, visual design and motion graphics, sound, music and lighting to tell a powerful story of where we are, where we need to go, and the kind of stories that might guide us through the planetary crisis we face.
We’ll learn about how humanity has come to understand its place on the planet, and the history of our efforts to imagine what it might be like to live here, sustainably. We’ll explore future visions crafted to help anticipate the solutions we’ll need while facing what might feel now like extreme limits and pressures. Finally, we’ll see how compelling stories of real success against long odds can help inspire the world to optimism needed for action. Along the way, we’ll meet visionary creative people, explore astonishing new visions for how we might build, live and work, and gain insight into the work of futurecraft itself.
We’re running a Kickstarter campaign to fund this documentary series:
The series will run three nights, September 20th, 21st and 22nd. Each of these performances will be presented in an intimate venue to a live audience in the Bay Area, and filmed and recorded for those who can’t be there in person. But whether you’re in the room, watching the videos or listening to the recordings, you’ll be part of creating something special and powerful: a new way of looking at the future.
Your support is critical. I hope you’ll join us.
Alex Steffen is an award-winning writer, speaker and foresight consultant.