Untitled’s Agenda for Transformation is a co-developed, evolving project. Some interesting broader themes and patterns emerged from the conversations across the 40 sessions at Untitled festival to inform the agenda. Here, we have curated four of those shared themes that illustrate the how, why, and what of the transformations that the Untitled community wants to bring about.
To explore all the session comments and links between different themes uncovered at Untitled Festival 2021, have a look at the Agenda Landscape.
1. Move away from a human-centric worldview
A question that we asked ourselves was: what is the worldview or ideology that we are trying to walk away from? A human-centric worldview was cited by many to be a contributor to the challenges that humankind faces, such as climate change. Mikko-Pekka Hanski stepped away from this worldview in his future relationships talk show, which featured non-human guests, including an AI and mushrooms. Indy Johar from Dark Matter Labs imagined a worldview where everything is a citizen, and our biological world and climate systems have intrinsic rights as well.
“If we want to create a new system, we have to do it from a new way of thinking and a new way of imagining, otherwise we’ll just recreate the same old structures. Here on this Agenda, we include ways of knowing that go beyond the rational, and reach for a deeper sense of being. Something to take away from this process is to continue enabling ‘imagination interfaces’, so that cross-disciplinary actors, artists, policy-makers, and people working within the current system can collaborate, share and learn.”
– Phoebe Tickell, Moral Imaginations
2. Incorporate more imagination, humanity and overlooked knowledge in debate and decision-making
Another strong theme was the necessity for deliberative and decision-making innovations, to make transformations inclusive, empowering, and effective in bringing about more fair, sustainable and joyful societies. Alliance members Demos Helsinki and RadicalxChange introduced their humble governance experiment in Colorado. Humble governance is a governance approach that emphasises devolving the solution finding for political goals to people with expertise, knowledge and first-hand experience, as well as trying to listen to those most often overlooked in political processes. RadicalxChange also showcased their online platform RxC Voice, which aims to overhaul online discussions to gravitate towards consensus, rather than conflict.
In moving away from the powerlessness of people to make change, with the Alternative UK participants got to explore a Parallel Polis; community networks that increase agency in coming up with solutions to the issues of today, by promoting local-level cooperation between entrepreneurs, civil society organisations, and other community members.
Gabriella Gómez-Mont claimed that the long political crisis we are living through can hardly be solved by adding more top-down-participation or by only trying to renew electoral systems, unless the very infrastructures of democracy and imagination are rebuilt. One answer might lie in moulding public spaces into civic spaces that help create a sense of agency, empower people, explore how to release civic capital. They should also add a spirit of experimentation and play into the urban experience.
3. Transform structures and institutions as we know them
An important aspect of introducing societal change is understanding how this change is brought about, and what its implications are for existing structures and ways of thinking. DRIFT, in their X curve of societal transformations, explained how new ideas do not simply add something to society, but they must simultaneously break down the old to make space for the new.
Halogen & Future Fit Leadership focused on the actors that will be bringing about these new changes, and explored how we can reinvent organisations to imagine the future, rather than innovate within the existing system. This is crucial to enabling structural, cultural and ontological transformation, as businesses and other organisations play a key role in shaping the world of tomorrow.
“Historically, we’ve always been operating with experiments in the implied order, the “real world” of embedded structures. Here, at Untitled Festival, we appreciate the shifting social landscapes and have grasped the freedom to imagine and develop new ideas through this reciprocal alliance. These ideas are compiled in the Agenda, which is a coevolution between our internal conceptions of ourselves, our relationships, and the world around us. ”
– Indy Johar, Dark Matter Labs
4. Cultivate our caring and interconnectedness with people, community and all things around us
The necessity to move away from a self-oriented mindset became another key theme of the festival. This paradigm shift enables us to shape social transformations by increasing our sense of interconnectedness, belonging, and wellbeing. Akunna Onwen allowed us to explore how increasing Community Care can improve our sense of belonging, and even function as a healing tool in societies. Pehmee, in their Helping You to Hear Me session encouraged us to actively listen to the stories others were telling, by recounting them as literally as we could. The seven artists at the Live Artists’ Think Tank discussed the idea of freedom not as something that individuals own but as relational; something that is gained through realising and respecting our interdependence with others, the living and non-living. You can listen to the Think Tank’s introductory talk on freedom.
These highlighted sessions contain but a few of the excellent ideas explored at Untitled festival. Over the coming months, our agenda and theory of transformation will be built upon the foundations built at the festival. Alliance members have also formed agenda groups, which will continue exploring some of The themes, and the tensions, obstacles and pathways of societal transformation.
Photo of Sophia Wekesa leading reflection and release at the closing session of Untitled Festival 2021 by Janette Mirjamo.