Here is the foreword I wrote for the just published, and utterly brilliant. ‘Artscapers: being and becoming creative’. It is the work of Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination, who you may have read about in ‘From What Is to What If’. The book is amazing, I highly recommend it. Here’s what I wrote…
In ‘From What Is to What If’, I suggest that we are living in a time in which our collective imagination, our ability to, as John Dewey put it, “see things as if they could be otherwise”, is in decline. I also raised the idea, first suggested by Henry Giroux, that we are living in a time of a ‘Disimagination Machine’ that systematically undermines and erodes the capacity of a population to lead lives with active and healthy imaginations. The events of recent months have confirmed for me how dangerous a situation this has created. Those chickens of imagination have come home to roost.
In this podcast, we’re talking about Universal Basic Income with Alexis Frasz, researcher and cultural strategist with Helicon Collaborative, and Phil Teer, author of ‘The Coming Age of Imagination’. What would it be like to live in a world in which UBI was now an integral part of everyday life? How would life, and the world around us feel different? How might we re-frame UBI as a vital strategy for rebuilding our collective imagination? All too often, UBI is discussed as being an economic issue, but might imagination provide a fresh and essential lens through which to explore the idea?
A few months before the lockdown, I was honoured to be a guest at the ‘Imagination Week’, part of the ESSEC Business School Programme dedicated to imagination and creativity. ESSEC is a business school on the outskirts of Paris. The presentation was to a packed room (remember those?) with many hundreds of business students. The discussions I had afterwards with students was amazing, how touched and positive they were about it all. I hope you enjoy it.
Je suis très heureux d’annoncer que «Et Si», mon nouveau livre sur l’imagination, vient de paraître aux éditions Actes Sud. Ils ont créé une belle édition, ça a l’air super! Vous pouvez commander votre exemplaire ici. Puisse-t-elle conduire à beaucoup de grandes choses dans le monde francophone.
To celebrate the launch of the French edition of ‘From What Is to What If’ (‘Et Si’), I will be holding a ‘From What Is to What If’ Book Club. If you’ve read the book and loved it, for an hour I will be responding to your questions about the book. What did you like? What moved you? What did you disagree with? How did it move you or change your thinking? You can send in questions in advance, or join me live and be part of the conversation. See you there!
Yesterday I took part in teaching a session for AimHi, a “global online school for students to learn, interact and be inspired by charismatic role models and exceptional teachers, for free”. They have many wonderful sessions by different wonderful teachers. I taught a session called ‘Can we imagine a better future?’, aimed at an audience between the ages of 8 and 20. It was a lot of fun.
In this first episode, we meet singer, curator, event creator and lover of birdsong Sam Lee, speaking to us direct from a birdsong-filled forest, and Mya-Rose Craig, also known as ‘Birdgirl’, who is doing amazing work promoting birdwatching among young people and promoting BME engagement with the natural world.
Last year I was asked to write a preface for a collection of short stories published in Belgium under the title of ‘Les Bâtisseurs’ (‘The Builders’). The book is a collection of short stories, aimed at teenagers, by different authors, based on a common theme of change, of what the world could be like, and how we could each be the catalysts of that world. As the back cover states “things can’t continue like this”. I was asked to write something that told the story of how I got into all of this, and what Rob today would say to 12 year old Rob if he had the chance.
These days of the coronavirus lockdown have been, to paraphrase Charles Dickens, the best of times, and the worst of times. My intention in this piece isn’t to share my thoughts on what should come next, on how society might be rebuilt following all of this. Rather I want to give you a snapshot of what these days look like and feel like where I am. To record for posterity how these extraordinary days were lived and experienced through my own eyes. A couple of pages torn, if you like, from a diary to give a flavour of one person’s experience of living through these momentous times.