28 February 2021
What if we lived in a time when human imagination flourishes and anything feels possible? This is the question asked and answered in the book From What Is to What If: Unleashing the Power of Imagination to Create the Future We Want by Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition Movement.
We learn from our media channels that we are experiencing an epidemic of anxiety, a rise in extremist movements, catastrophic climate change and biodiversity loss, poverty and food insecurity, ecosystem collapse, global pandemics, widening inequalities and so much more. We’d be forgiven for believing that our future looked very grim indeed.
But it needn’t be this way. Humans created the social, political and economic systems which got us into this mess. None of these systems are real. They’re simply stories we tell ourselves about how we should live with each other and with the planet, stories which have unfortunately resulted in the benefit of the few at the expense of the many, and of a habitable planet. We have become victims of our histories.
Thankfully, this book gives us a huge ray of hope for our future. Quoting examples of communities which have been able to transform themselves for the better, Hopkins appeals to us to unleash the power of our imaginations and envisage alternative futures. From What Is to What If.
Hopkins says that imagination is central to empathy, to creating better lives and to envisioning and enacting a positive future. However, he also says that imagination is demonstrably in decline at precisely the moment when we need it most. His manifesto is a call to action to reclaim and unleash our collective imagination, told through the stories of individuals and communities around the world who are doing it now and witnessing often rapid and dramatic change for the better.
I joined the Transition Scotland movement and took part in What if…? visualisation workshops to envisage a future for Scotland in general and my community in particular. I see us growing our own food, producing our own energy, having a strong and proud community spirit, with proper democracy and self-governance, experiencing joy and abundance over hardship and scarcity, and so much more.
Inspired by the work of Hopkins, I also decided to run my own What if…? visualisation workshop, as part of an online conference organised by the Climate Coaching Alliance on Thursday 4 March 2021. The name of my session was What if we become good ancestors? Imagining and enabling more sustainable futures and we used What if…? visualisation exercises to consider the actions we can take today which could plant the seeds and develop the roots of the futures we want.
What steps can you take now?
- Read Rob Hopkins’ book and/or listen to his accompanying podcasts.
- Find out if there is a Transition Network in your area and join. If not, start one!