Rather than seek answers to “what is right” externally to ourselves, Moral Imaginations invites a discovery of purpose and morality by directly cultivating imaginative explorations of our moral sense, deepening empathy and igniting prosocial creativity. The potential to build civic movements, local solidarity and networks of action from this place is exciting and under exploration.

Agenda track: 1 Nature – human, 3 Civic imagination, 5 New models of economy & governance
Session type: New experimental models
Interaction level: Some
Movement level: None
Screen need: Possible to use audio only

This discovery is conducted through radical perception shifts and development of connection to humans and non-humans across the past, present and future. Important to our work is building on existing bodies of work such as narrative therapy and associated narrative methodologies, theatre and the arts, deep ecology practices, contemplative practices, futures thinking, and embodied complexity methodologies. Such practices lead participants to experience an expanded sense of meaning and deeper connection to their core values and purpose.

This session will run in two parts. In the first part, we will introduce people to a growing body of work and approach to use powerful imagination exercises with groups to shift perception towards more than human and deep time perspectives. Moral Imaginations is a collective, community and toolkit of approaches that was born out of the pandemic when people were craving an experiential connection to the possibility of better systems and a better society.

During this first part, participants will be able to experience an immersive collective imagination exercise where they connect to future generations. You will need a good internet connection, but video is not necessary, although preferred.

The second part of the session will be hosted as a collective imagining session around the potential for imagination to inform legislation and policy. We hope to attract those with policy-making experience and those who seek to innovate policy. 

Together, we will brainstorm and develop ideas on how the power of imagination could be harnessed to shift policy on the local, national and international level. This will be a participatory exercise and will be co-hosted with partners who are developing such thinking in their own work and projects.

We invite political and social entrepreneurs, civil society leaders, policy-makers community leaders, movement builders, artists, activists, and local change-makers to come join us at this session. Jointly, we can use our imagination to open up new avenues for change.

After the festival, the next step will be to work out how to bridge the potential of imagination with legislation and the development of new and promising policy.

Moral Imaginations is a project that develops, designs and delivers rigorous imagining for moral futures. They develop and work with imagination exercises to develop empathy, meaning, agency, belonging and a connection to what’s important. They label themselves as a “feel thank” – A think tank, but for feelings. Moral Imaginations works to combine rational, strategic approaches to change with approaches that draw on intuition, imagination and the cognitive sciences to work at the level of feeling to affect inner change in people across local communities, organisations and policy.

@moral_imagining, @solarpunk_girl, @liamckavanagh, @lai 

moralimaginations.com, phoebetickell.com 

 

Our liberal democracies have traditionally based their legitimacy on a stance of near-omniscience and self-righteousness. Unfortunately, in a world of high uncertainty and continuous crisis, such a position leads to political stalemate. This impedes our society’s ability to change at a time of great transformational need.

Agenda track: 5 New models of economy & governance
Session type: New experimental models
Interaction level: Most of the time
Movement level: None
Screen need: Needed all the time

Many of our governmental processes work against solving long-term solutions to the global and complex challenges we face. They are remnants of a bygone era of linear predictability. Humble Governance is a new stance adapted to the 21st century. which could fully unleash the still hindered energy of governments, politicians and civil servants to actively solve these issues.

Humble Governance is a new but tested approach that fosters political and societal trust despite political disagreement, and enables ambitious reforms under current conditions of uncertainty.

Using a current real-life case from the US State of Colorado, we invite you to jointly explore what innovative solutions, benefits for citizens, and challenges can come from humility.

Together, we hope to be able to develop first-hand understanding of this new governance paradigm and ideas on how to share, implement and adapt it globally.

The session is hosted by Demos Helsinki, and based on work co-developed with RadicalxChange.

Vincent Lassalle has been a practitioner, a consultant and a writer on organisational innovation and societal change for over a decade. He is the author of Bridge Builders: Learning from those ushering the future of society, a personal essay following a year-long international study on post-industrial transition.

João Sigora is works on Governance Innovation at Demos Helsinki. The core of his everyday work involves experimenting with new approaches to governance and building public servants’ capacity for reimagining and co-creating desired futures.

Demos Helsinki is a globally operating, independent think tank. We conduct research, offer consultancy services, and reimagine and experiment futures with a global alliance, Untitled.

RadicalxChange (RxC) is a global movement for next-generation political economies, founded by Glen Weyl in 2018. We’re committed to advancing plurality, equality, community, and decentralization through upgrading democracy, markets, the data economy, the commons, and identity. The RadicalxChange Foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to advancing the RxC movement, to building community, and to education about democratic innovation. RxC connects people from all walks of life – ranging from social scientists and technologists to artists and activists. 

@DemosHelsinki, @RadxChange

demoshelsinki.fi, radicalxchange.org

A fierce debate rages over the most effective ways to tackle the problems that our use of technology is causing for democracy, equality, and society as a whole. Built into the terms of these debates are a series of unhelpful assumptions that constrict imagination and undermine the perceived viability of truly radical approaches. 

Agenda track: New models of economy & governance
Session type: New narratives 
Interaction level: Some
Movement level: None
Screen need: Good to have
Day: Thursday 23 September

In this session we will interrogate concepts including data privacy, tech for good and the narratives deployed by big tech companies, to explore the individualising and extractive narratives that underlie the way that technology is thought about and discussed today.

Through group discussion we will work together to unpack the common foundations of these approaches, and explore more constructive alternatives, as the basis for practical steps that can help us reimagine our relationship with technology.

This session should be of interest to people working in technology as a founder, funder or policy maker, or anyone looking to improve the impact of technology in the world today.

Milly Shotter is Brand & Communications Manager at Bethnal Green Ventures, Europe’s leading early-stage tech-for-good VC firm. Milly has a background in creative production and communications. 

Daniel Stanley is Founder & CEO of the Future Narratives Lab, a nonprofit initiative that works to analyse societal narratives, design new alternatives, and create strategies to spread them. He has a background in community organising and social psychology, and is Creative Director at strategic communications consultancy Cohere Partners. 

@dajastan @narrativeslab @millyshotter @bg_ventures

 

bethnalgreenventures.com & futurenarrativeslab.org

We invite anyone interested in bringing concrete utopias to their communities, whether it is your workplace, housing cooperative, city council, home town, or football team. Session participants will get to experiment with new forms of transformative learning developed in the research project Pedagogy of Concrete Utopias. The research project develops pedagogy that supports learners to design new and even radical solutions and ideas for ecologically sustainable ways of organizing life and activity.

Agenda track: 1 Nature – human, 3 Civic imagination
Session type: New experimental models
Interaction level: Most of the time
Movement level: Some
Screen need: Needed all the time
Day: Thursday 23 September

First, we will briefly introduce the ideas of concrete utopia and life-centric view. A concrete utopia exists between the present moment and a utopian vision. It serves as a stepping stone or bridge towards a more sustainable future, or as a laboratory of the future we want to build.  Life-centric views orient us to widen our circle of care and thought beyond humans.  

The introduction is followed by hands-on work in break-out rooms, where participants will experiment with the tools developed in the research project to envision and build their own concrete utopias. 

We will be closing with a collective discussion of the ideas generated in the breakout rooms, as well as critical reflections on the suitability of the ideas and tools introduced in the sessions for use in different settings. 

Our research project focuses on the public sector, and specifically on educational institutions as platforms for sustainability transformation. However, the session is for anyone interested in bringing concrete utopias to their own communities.

We believe that education can no longer emphasise enculturation into existing cultures that have shown to be unsustainable. There is a need for new ways of living, thinking and consuming. Concrete utopia is an exciting concept that opens up new avenues for radical imagination and experimenting with new ideas in practice. 

We’d hope that the participants will gain insights from the session about how to envision and build possible and impossible futures in different contexts in their work and personal lives. We also hope to get feedback about the applicability of our ideas and tools in different types of settings.

The session is hosted by the research group Pedagogy of Concrete Utopias. The facilitators are:
Antti Rajala, Academy of Finland postdoctoral researcher, University of Oulu
Pihla Soinnunmaa, Doctoral researcher, University of Helsinki
Aki Saariaho, Teacher, Otaniemi Upper Secondary School

@ConcreteUtopias

In this conversation we will be delving into how embracing the social nature of imagination might transform the democratic contract.

Agenda track: 2 Ontological politics, 3 Civic imagination
Session type: New narratives
Interaction level: Some
Movement level: None
Screen need: Needed all the time
Day: Thursday 23 September

Moving beyond the dominant narrative

Today, the dominant narrative in society is that our imagination is failing us. We find ourselves in the state we are in because there is a deficit of imagination, leading us to experience what Roberto Unger termed the ‘dictatorship of no alternatives’. The democratic contract of the 20th century was to hand over our imaginative power to a system of public and private institutions who in turn would provide new solutions, systems, and futures. The promise was bigger, better, forever. The promise was for a single equitable and sustainable future. This promise has not been fulfilled, and instead we face a global failure that appears to be deepening inequality and unsustainability. 

But what if the story of a deficit imagination was not the whole story, indeed, what if there was a different story?

  • What if we recognised that our imagination is in abundance, rather than in deficit? 
  • What if our imagination, rather than failing to provide new futures, is in power and producing and maintaining the existing?
  • What if we revealed the collective & social nature of imaginative power, rather than seeing the subject who owns the imaginative power as the individual? 
  • What if by acknowledging this imaginative power, we also acknowledged that the capacity to apply it to imagining new futures is unequally distributed? 

Viewing our democratic contract through the prism of social imagination 

These questions arise when we hold the perspective that our imagination is social. During our session we will be crystallising this perspective and demonstrating how it provides us with a powerful set of prisms to view our current world through; opening up new possibilities; new ways of seeing, new ways of doing and new ways of being.  

During our session, we want to explore together what these prisms might reveal is possible, and what might already be emerging, as a set of shifts towards a different democratic contract; the asks and the offers within the exchange of power and representation between citizens and the state. 

Towards a Generative Democracy?

Core to this will be exploring a proposal for a shift towards a more generative form of democracy that mobilises the power of our social imagination to renovate our democratic processes, whilst fostering our collective capacity to imagine and realise new futures. We are currently working with a range of partners across Europe – from foundations, networks to local governments – to further explore and develop this proposal for a more generative democracy.

The dominant deficit narrative of imagination can be corrosive and inhibitive to the energy, creativity and will that are necessary for organisations, systems and societies to realise radical change. By revealing the power of our social imagination and acknowledging the imaginative power we already hold, helps to shift this deficit narrative, to one of abundance, possibility and hope. Join our session if you recognise the need to shift this narrative and want to explore the possibilities for our democratic contract when we gaze through the prisms of social imagination.

Following the festival, we would like to host an ongoing group of people who would like to explore this proposal together. Our aim is to build a community of people who can collectively explore and develop this proposal, shaping the agenda and pioneering the change through a practice grounded in people and the places they live. 

Paola Pierri is Head of Design and Research at Democratic Society where she is exploring ways to strengthen and re-imagine democracy. She has worked as a practitioner and in academia across Europe, teaching and researching democratic innovation and participatory design. She is now based in Berlin. She has a Doctorate in Design Anthropology, on the topic of creative democracy and the role of imagination and social imaginaries. Paola believes that ​​imagining a different future is the first step towards mobilising people to make that future possible in the present. 

Jo Harrington has been working to support social innovation programmes in governments across the world for the past 15 years. He was a programme lead and lecturer in Design at Goldsmiths College London, a partner at the Innovation Unit in the UK, and currently lives in Sweden, working across Europe. During Jo’s experience, he has witnessed both the inhibitive nature of a colonial imagination and the possibilities when this imagination is revealed and mobilised for more pluraliversal futures. 

@demsoc @paolapierri 

www.generativedemocracy.orgwww.demsoc.org

 

 

 

Transitions are fundamental changes in culture, structure, and practices in societal systems. They involve a ‘creation vs destruction’ duality that is inherent and crucial to the process of generating new alternative practices and structures. Simultaneously, we need to be questioning, destabilizing, and breaking down existing unsustainable practices and structures to make place for the new. We will apply our approach collectively to the food transition, which is aiming for a food system that is nature-positive. There are some major questions we seek to answer: are we already see transition patterns, what needs to grow or be transformed and what needs to stop in order for this process to work?

Agenda track: 5 New models of economy & governance
Session type: New Perspectives
Interaction level: Some
Movement level: None
Screen need: Needed all the time

The X-curve is a visual tool that underlines transition dynamics. It is based on scientific insights into the ways in which complex systems fundamentally change in nature. It provides a starting point to explore the transition dynamics present in each domain. Working with the X-curve is an intuitive and flexible way to create shared transition narratives and understanding of complex societal challenges in heterogeneous groups and empower people to change

In this session, we will introduce the transition perspective and jointly be exploring this tool to understand how it can be utilised to support transitions in society.

We invite anyone to join us who is interested in systemic change, and understanding how we can break down the old and build in a sustainable and systematic manner.

The goal of this session is to provide participants a tool that they can use themselves to hopefully accelerate transformative changes in their own context, as well as that it will help DRIFT to improve the tool. By collectively discussing the food transition as an example, we hope to establish new connections as well as more engagement with this theme.

Derk Loorbach is director of DRIFT and Professor of Socio-economic Transitions at the Faculty of Social Science, both at Erasmus University RotterdamFemke Coops is a master student in Industrial Design at Eindhoven University of Technology and a graduate intern at DRIFT. Mayte Beekman is working as a quartermaster at the Design Impact Transition (DIT) Platform, an Erasmus University initiative aimed at enhancing the transformative societal impact of the university by using a design approach. Derk, Femke and Mayte work together on bringing together design and transitions and transforming the role of research for societal transitions.

Twitter: @drk75
Website: drift.eur.nl

In order to take on the challenges of our time, we need to get better at making decisions as groups. At RadicalxChange, we are developing tools for group decision-making that can help identify stakeholders or impacted persons, facilitate liquid networks of trust, surface shared values or ideas, and steer groups toward consensus rather than disagreement. We have brought some of those tools together in an end-to-end decision-making platform we call RxC Voice.

Agenda track: 5 New models of economy & governance
Session type: New experimental models
Interaction level: Some
Movement level: None
Screen need: Needed all the time

We believe that inclusive, productive deliberation is paramount to a healthy democracy. In order to make this possible for large groups (e.g. cities) and digital communities (e.g. blockchain communities), we need to design digital platforms on which group members can engage in conversations that move toward consensus rather than divisive argument.

In this session, we will discuss the components that make a successful decision-making process. We will also be running interactive demos with innovative democratic tools and share findings and anecdotes from experiments with governments, social movements, blockchain communities, and more. Finally, we will be discussing next steps for the RxC Voice project and democratic innovation and imagining radical futures of deliberative democracy and community self-governance.

This session is for anyone interested in exploring tools for more successful deliberation at scale, digital democracy, or decentralized decision-making. If you think we need to update the platforms on which groups discuss important decisions and issues for healthier democracy, then you will enjoy discussing this project with us.

We hope that our session will inspire you to experiment with new democratic tools such as RxC Voice, Pol.is, and Quadratic Voting. These tools have already impacted the way that many groups deliberate and make decisions, including governments, DAOs, corporate boards, social movements, and more. We hope you will contact us if you would like to pilot RxC Voice with your group, collaborate with us on the project, or fund our efforts.

When our deliberative tools fail to surface the shared values of a group, democracy suffers and lapses into authoritarianism or plutocracy. We hope you will join us in rethinking the ways that constituencies express their wants and needs to each other and to their leadership.

RadicalxChange (RxC) is a global movement for next-generation political economies. It advances plurality, equality, community, and decentralization through upgrades of democracy, markets, the data economy, the commons, and identity.

Alex Randaccio is a Project Developer at RadicalxChange, leading development of RxC’s suite of experimental governance tools. Jennifer Lyn Morone is RadicalxChange Foundation’s CEO and a multidisciplinary visual artist, activist, and filmmaker. Her work focuses on the human experience with technology, economics, politics, and identity, and the moral and ethical issues that arise from such systems. Her interests lie in exploring ways of creating social justice and equal distribution of the future.

Twitter: @RadxChange
Website: radicalxchange.org

At the theatre by Jussi Helsten Helsinki Marketing

Casino Égalité is a dream of strengthening solidarity and sharing within the cultural scene. By celebrating chance and the luck of the draw, the idea is to give art and artists space(s) in which to be unexpected and uncontrolled. Sortition could be a way of governing such spaces to strengthen the feeling of equality, where responsibility and possibility go hand-in-hand. This session contains deliberation, gambling and redistributing.

Agenda track: 4 Heterodox institutions
Session type: New experimental models
Interaction level: Some
Movement level: None
Screen need: Good to have
Day: Friday 24 September

The initiative, which goes under the working title Casino Égalité, aims to create a new cultural oasis for the independent theatre scene in Helsinki and to work as an experiment of an alternative way of governing, tackling the challenges of meritocracy, hierarchy and lobbyism. 

This venture has two exceptional features it wants to experiment on: governance by rotation of responsibility and sharing of resources between institutional and independent players. The goal of both is to allow for greater diversity of approaches in performance arts.

The field of performing arts is often not really lacking infrastructure nor material resources required for production. The problem is rather that the resource distribution is asymmetrical, leaving out the ever growing pool of theatre freelancers. There is a substantial workforce of artists hungering for the opportunity to create and present their art, but they have very limited possibilities to do so. Access to resources is regulated by a set of opaque requirements difficult to decode and held aback by rigid structures. Getting the chance to produce one’s work is often not a question of skills or passion, nor even the luck of the draw.

The whole venture of Casino Égalité is based on exactly that – the luck of the draw, namely; governing by sortition. From selecting the productions of the upcoming season to the curation of additional programmes; to appointing administrative and technical staff; all is based on the rotation of responsibility, selected through sortition. This means that the topics and aesthetics of the productions and additional programming are liberated from conformism to trends and cronyism. It also means that the artists and ensembles creating these have no pressure to have impressive résumés or charming personalities.

Instead, the pool of professionals engaged in the (serious) play of Casino Égalité all have equal responsibility for managing the venture, and equal possibility to produce and realise their artistic work, regardless of status, merit or charisma.

By practicing sortition as the principal modus operandi, which is not a new invention as a democratic practice (see previous examples here or here), this cultural oasis would on a broader spectrum function also as a laboratory for an alternative way of governance that tackles the challenges of meritocracy, hierarchy, bias and lobbyism. These phenomena undermine both diversity in the arts, as well as from a broader societal point of view threaten belief in change through elections and representative democracy.

This session is for everyone who enjoys culture and arts, indeterminacy and gambling, art practitioners, institutions and funders. The aim is to gather unexpected perspectives and connections to further develop the initiative. Also, the session hopefully awakes the pleasures of sharing and gambling and gives a glimpse of the possibility of sustainability without austerity to the participants.

Rasmus Slätis is a Finnish theatre maker engaged in acting, teaching theatre and trying to make spaces of freedom for artists and art. Having been based in Berlin the past decade he has recently returned to his hometown, Helsinki.

Twitter:  @rabbeson
Website: www.rasmusslatis.com

Some links on sortition as a democratic practice:
Voting undermines the will of the people. It’s time to replace it with sortition.
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/oct/14/voting-undermines-the-will-of-the-people-its-time-to-replace-it-with-sortition

The Irish citizens assembly chooses representatives by lottery not election.
https://www.buildinganewreality.com/the-irish-citizens-assembly-chooses-representatives-by-lottery-not-election 

What if We Selected our Leaders by Lottery? Democracy by Sortition, Liberal Elections and Communist Revolutionaries
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/dech.12651 

Brett Henning: What if we replaced politicians with randomly selected people?
https://www.ted.com/talks/brett_hennig_what_if_we_replaced_politicians_with_randomly_selected_people?language=en

Photo by Jussi Helsten, Helsinki Marketing

Fighting climate change with technology and changing consumption behaviour won’t be enough. The pivotal answer may be to finally pursue a world where cultivating better ways of being, for current and future humans, is the goal of social and economic policy. 

Agenda track: 2 Ontological politics, 3 Civic imagination
Session type: New narratives
Interaction level: Most of the time

Movement level: None
Screen need: All the time
Day: Friday 24 September

Any social or political envisioning or policy is constrained by an invisible frame: by the implicit values and views on which it is created, such as its views on the nature of human beings and the good life. Life Itself will be hosting two sessions to work on changing the narrative of what we are capable of as humans and the narrative of wellbeing, and what it means to bring this shift into policy-making.

This second session on Friday is a workshop organised together with Moral Imaginations. In the workshop, participants – using collective imagining methods – will dive into the implications on policy and current possibilities to progress this shift in policy-making.

You can participate in one or both sessions. Attending the conversation on Thursday is not a requirement for participating in the second part on Friday. The first Thursday session is organised together with Prosocial World and the conversation is fuelled by professor David S. Wilson‘s key insights from his wide work on group or multilevel selection in evolution, and applying evolutionary theory to different aspects of humanity, such as studying cultural evolution or group health.

Life Itself is a community of pragmatic utopians, committed to practical action for a radically wiser, healthier world. Life Itself creates co-living hubs, starts businesses, does research and engages in activism to pioneer a wiser culture.

lifeitself.us @forlifeitself 

Moral Imaginations is building a movement of moral imagination: collective imagining to increase radical kinship with the human and more-than-human worlds, present, past and future. They facilitate and develop collective imagining to empower people to create shared imaginings of the future. Phoebe Tickell is co-founder of Moral Imaginations, who believes that we need new stories of what it means to be human.

moralimaginations.com
@moral_imagining @solarpunk_girl

RegenerativeGovernance-ImageByJessicaPerlstein

In this session we will be organising a simulation experience of a DAO (decentralized autonomous organization). This done by playing a game to learn peer-to-peer governance. This game is based on 13 years of real world R&D, finding and experimenting with replicable solutions in over 200 cities around the world. The session relies strongly on audience participation and interaction.

Agenda track: 4 Heterodox institutions, 5 New models of economy & governance
Session type: New experimental models
Interaction level: Most of the time
Movement level: Some
Screen need: All of the time
Day: Thursday 23 September

Prior to the DAO simulation in the session, Kiwi child-friendly city expert and curator Hannah Mitchell will be hosting a meditation session.

After the festival, Bloom will be hosting the first Bloom Womb cohort. This program seeks to bring to real-life the experiences gained in the DAO simulation.

Bloom Womb is a two-month in-depth introduction to regenerative cultures. It utilises a short syllabus, and a weekly meeting to engage and encourage deep connections and support among peers. At the end of the two-month period, there is a real-life weekend where participants near each other physically carry out a part of their goals or interests together. This program tangibly supports Untitled participants in following through on gems from their Untitled experience. It also builds deeper connectivity between our communities, and would support Bloom Network in starting a small revenue stream to continue bootstrapping our collaborative efforts.

Bloom is a grassroots international community of people and projects working toward regenerative cultures, founded in 2008. Local Bloom hubs around the world grow participation in practices such as food security, local economies, celebrations of diversity, and art as cultural transformation. There are tens of thousands of solutions for climate restoration and social equity all over the world. However, they are invisible to the general public and disconnected from one another. Bloom aims to connect people and existing initiatives, locally and globally, to build capacity together and inspire a billion acts of regeneration.

@ourbloomnetwork
bloomnetwork.org

Illustration by Jessica Perlstein / Bloom

Photo by Bloom