Autonomy, an Untitled member, is co-running the world’s biggest four-day work week experiment to date. In June 2022 more than 3,300 workers at 70 UK companies began a trial of a four-day week with no loss of pay, including businesses ranging from a local fish and chip shop, to large financial firms, telecomms companies and a brewery. Running for 6 months, Autonomy will be co-ordinating the trial, along with 4 Day Week Global, the 4 Day Week campaign, and researchers researchers at Cambridge University, Oxford University and Boston College.
The trial is based on the 100:80:100 model – 100% of pay for 80% of the time, in exchange for a commitment to maintain 100% productivity. Researchers will be analysing how employees respond to having an extra day off, in terms of stress and burnout, job and life satisfaction, health, sleep, energy use, travel and many other aspects of life.
Photo: Kai Bossom
Untitled Agenda Groups reimagine new narratives of different realms of society, which is crucial to give direction to transformative initiatives. They connect and form alliances between people who work around the same topics in different sectors or contexts. The agenda groups provide a space for mutual learning and peer-advice, where thinkers and practitioners can develop unfinished ideas, share learnings and failures, and seek insights and advice from others.
In March 2022, we formed a group of nine members around Democracy and Imagination. The initiative came from Paola Pierri, Director of Research and Design at Democratic Society, in collaboration with design expert Jo Harrington. “We had such a great discussion around our idea of democracy as a generative force at Untitled Festival 2021”, says Paola. “We wanted to keep going to create a space where practitioners can develop their thinking and “next practices” instead of already established best practices. To be able to share unfinished thoughts, learnings and failures so that we all can do stronger work in renewing democracy.”
In autumn, we will publish a paper based on the ideas of the Democracy group. Another group – Housing as an Asset – will start on the initiative of Y-Foundation.
Do you wish to create a group of forward-looking actors around a topic that needs to be reimagined? Contact us.
Untitled and Pittsburgh-based DISCOVER network, coordinated by Sustainable Pittsburgh, share similar aims of creating shared narratives of just, equitable & sustainable transformation and building coalitions. Untitled and DISCOVER partnered in spring 2022 to increase alignment and potential for strategic collaboration between select Pittsburgh nonprofits and community-based organisations. Leaders from 11 different organisations joined the programme.
In the monthly sessions the group explored the interconnectedness of regional goals for 2030, as well as imagined different pathways and joint experiments to achieve them. Untitled Team and the programme manager Katie Grimm from Sustainable Pittsburgh led the sessions.
Systems level conversations are valuable but rare
The core value of the programme proved to be the shared space to reflect the change and one’s own work at the systems level with other leaders. This is almost a luxury amid the pressures of daily work.
”These workshops expanded and refined my mental map of systems change. Having the time and space to explore these concepts with such a great group of leaders was a gift”, says Scott Wolovich, Executive Director of New Sun Rising, of the programme. Lydia Morin, Executive Director of CONNECT, shares the experience: ”I’m thrilled to have built deeper relationships with leaders working in and around the areas I work in. We definitely need to keep building on this and our relationships!”
The program manager Katie Grimm is happy with the outcomes: ”We pushed our leaders to have a systems-level conversation they have been flirting with and which seems to be rare elsewhere. In the short time we had, we were able to create a culture and trust for it. Untitled brought a very different, galvanising lens and language to the work: Its view of one transformation and interrelated crises. The message that we are transitioning into the next era.”
The programme was supported by The Heinz Endowments. The participants were:
- Jason Berry, Director of Applied Research of UrbanKind Institute
- LuAnn Brink, Chief Epidemiologist at Allegheny County Health Department
- Karina Chavez, Executive Director of Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education
- Lora Dziemiela McKnight, COO of Vibrant Pittsburgh
- Hannah Karolak, Director of Executive in Residence Programs at The Forbes Funds
- Markese Long, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Community Engagement of Partner4Work
- Lydia Morin, Executive Director of CONNECT
- Joylette Portlock, Executive Director of Sustainable Pittsburgh
- Angela Reynolds, CEO of YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh
- Sarah Rosso, Executive Director of Hugh Lane Wellness Foundation and
- Scott Wolovich, Executive Director of New Sun Rising.
Some teams have product ideas, and some aim to transform society as we know it. Experiment Attractor by Emergence Room (an initiative of MarsDD and Dark Matter Labs) & Untitled supports teams through movement building, experimentation and development of their narrative.
The second edition of Experiment Attractor in spring 2022 welcomed six teams building Community Wealth: Autonomy: Cab Shelters 2.0, Community Opportunities Lab: Food Sovereignty and Finance, Genda Villages, Team Whoa!: We House One Another, The Time Repair Corporation: Timelab 2022 and Dark Matter Labs: Radical Civics.
For example, Autonomy, an independent research organisation focused on the future of work, is experimenting with cab shelters 2.0: For 150 years, cab shelters have provided a place of rest for London’s cab drivers. The streets are seeing new roaming workers like delivery drivers. Cab shelters 2.0 aim to bring comfort and services to these new users.
In 2020 we at Untitled did something no one knew was possible: we organised a festival online. We also did it in 2021, improving the concept based on the first year’s lessons.
In 2022 an online festival is not really the thing to do. This spring, we have been bringing people together to discuss and work in smaller groups over longer periods. We’ll continue doing that in autumn.Untitled Festival, as we’ve known it, takes a break this year.
We are also eager to find more opportunities for in-person gatherings. After two years of on-screen friendship, the Untitled team has had the pleasure of some of our members, such as Gabriella Gómez Mont from Experimentalista and Anthony Zacharzewski from Democratic Society, visiting Helsinki. From March till June in Pittsburgh, we brought together a cohort of nonprofits to work face-to-face, equipped with big papers, pens and even some good old post-it notes. The power of in-person encounters has been more than invigorating. We wish to have more of them while keep on meeting also online for frequent conversations across the globe.
In autumn, it is time to take stock after 2,5 years of experimenting on what we call Untitled and steer together its next phase. If you want to be part of this conversation, let us know.
The Climate Democracy Model developed by us at Democratic Society (Demsoc) is an innovation for climate action at a local level. The Model is our holistic response to gaps we see in pan-European efforts to ensure climate action is taken in ways that reinforce democracy.
This model takes a systems approach to pathways towards climate resilience, making explicit the relationship between design, power and social justice, and where inequity and citizen disempowerment weaken governance and climate resilience.
Our Model aims to foster higher quality democracies and more participatory approaches by sparking conversations with public sector leaders, civil society and communities on more just, inclusive, community-led approaches. It seeks to shift ‘climate innovation’ away from a tech focus, influence governance and policy, and help cities think about what ‘scaling up’ for more durable, longer term change takes.
It is positively framed around four categories of ‘conditions’ we see for climate resilience:
- diversity of actors
- participatory culture
- subject-matter expertise
The Model is developed through our partnership in EIT Climate-KIC for achieving carbon neutrality, which runs across more than 10 EU cities.
By including different community members (experts across sectors, civil society organisations), we aim to shift the conversation to longer term debates and discussions beyond a project cycle approach. In this way, our model can incorporate a shift to more democratic processes and decision-making on climate action.
Democratic Society is European international democracy organisation, supporting our cities and residents to ensure that radical climate transformation is a democratic not just a technocratic process. Through democratic design, organisational development and practical participation exercises, they are building long-term resident participation in all the decisions, plans and projects that affect them.
When the economy is not working for everyone, more and more people are starting to build alternatives for organizing and managing local community resources. Spanning from democratically governed cooperatives to locally embedded economic communities, community wealth* is gaining increasing attention.
We are seeking groundbreaking community wealth ideas, projects, and communities to take part in a 4-month Experiment Attractor programme. During the programme, we will support up to six project teams to grow their imagination, further develop their ideas and create a movement of supporters for their project. The Experiment Attractor is run by Emergence Room – a joint initiative of MarsDD, McConnell Foundation and Dark Matter Labs – and supported by the Untitled Alliance.
The Community Wealth Experiment Attractor will run virtually as a series of gatherings every three weeks between March and June, 2022. Through group and individual coaching, peer input, methods practice and stakeholder interaction, you will
- be able to build an actionable provocation for communicating the potential of your transformative project better
- take steps in attracting the appropriate community and partners to make the project a reality
- connect with and learn from others working on the mission of increasing community wealth
For more details, keep on reading.
This free of charge program is most suitable for early stage projects, regardless of their sector and institutional setting.
If you are interested in participating in the Community Wealth Experiment Attractor with your project team, please fill out this quick participant application. Deadline for application is March 2nd, 2022.
Do you have questions? Sue Talusan, firstname.lastname@example.org, will be happy to answer.
The Experiment Attractor aims to attract movements around imaginative, transformative and experimental ideas. It is suitable for early stage projects and ventures regardless of their sector and institutional setting.
To be accessible for teams around the world, The Community Wealth Experiment Attractor will run virtually. We will gather every three weeks from March 2022 to June 2022: March 17, April 7, April 28, May 19, June 2, June 23, between 9–11am EST / 3–5pm CET. Also be prepared to use 12 hours of preparation and learning in between sessions.
The gatherings consist of group and individual coaching, peer input, and methods practice. You will:
- Build a new narrative of the future your project is creating
- Design and build a provocation about your project
- Test your provocation with people
- Identify and leverage imagination insights for your project
- Share your learnings and grow the movement around with interested people
*) What is community wealth? Community wealth is about creating new models of democratic ownership in local economies, and community development that centers the voices of its most vulnerable populations. It casts new roles for anchor institutions to drive towards more equitable and sustainable local economies, and for people to drive impact in their own communities through equitable investment mechanisms.
Highly functional community wealth ecosystems work at multiple scales, and operate across multiple sectors. They for example enable ecological development to build stronger local food systems, creating green jobs, and reclaiming the commons. They use innovation and transformative policy change at multiple levels of government, enabling projects like transit-oriented development, and wealth preservation and asset building in low income communities. They encourage innovative business development through the creation of social enterprises. Read more on this inspiring Community wealth website.
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.