‘From What is to What If’: Unleashing the power of imagination to create the future we want’.
The book that has emerged from this exploration of the imagination will be published in Autumn of 2019 by Chelsea Green Publishing. Here is a description of what’s coming…:
In these times of deep division and deeper despair, if there is a consensus about anything in the world, it is that the future is going to be awful.
There is an epidemic of loneliness, an epidemic of anxiety, a mental health crisis of vast proportions among young people. The rise of extremist movements and governments. Catastrophic climate change. Biodiversity loss. Food insecurity. And the fracturing of ecosystems and communities beyond, it seems, repair. The future—to say nothing of the present—looks grim.
But as Transition movement cofounder Rob Hopkins tells us, there is plenty of evidence that things can change, and cultures can change, rapidly, dramatically, and unexpectedly—for the better. He has seen it happen around the world, and in his own community where the community is becoming its own housing developer, energy company, enterprise incubator and local food network. In From What Is to What If, Hopkins tells us how it’s done—with a critical caveat.
We do have the capability to effect dramatic change, Hopkins argues, but we’re failing because we’ve largely allowed our most critical tool to languish: human imagination.
As defined by social reformer John Dewey, imagination is the ability to look at things as if they could be otherwise. And if there was ever a time when we needed that ability, it is now. Imagination is central to empathy, to creating better lives, to envisioning and then enacting a positive future. Yet imagination is also demonstrably in decline, at precisely the moment when we need it most. In this passionate exploration, Hopkins asks why imagination is in decline, and what we must to do revive and reclaim it. Once we do, there is no end to what we might accomplish.
What if, Hopkins asks, we begin to see ourselves as capable of rising to the occasion of such monumental challenges? What if we decide to fight back for our fractured attention, fractured ecosystems, and fractured communities? What if we start asking different questions, and telling different stories, and helping our kids tell themselves different stories about their lives and their future?
What if, Hopkins asks, we could find a way over the course of the next 20 years to be bold, brilliant and decisive, to act in proportion to the challenges we are facing, to aim for a future we are excited about, and to deliver on a legacy we are proud to leave the next generations?
From What is To What If 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, as we speak, and witnessing often rapid and dramatic change for the better in their lives and communities.