Welcome to Dream the Future!

 

Where to start?

If you'd like to spend a few minutes seeing what the website has to offer, I'd suggest that you start with the 'Why?' section, where you'll see the wide range of people who are exploring the importance of imagining positive futures. Or perhaps you'd prefer to start with my introduction to the site, called 'Let Me Explain', which you'll find further down this section. 'Writers' Visions' will give you both reviews and extracts from 'utopian' writing. Then do browse the ever-expanding collection of writing (in 'Your Visions') contributed by people who have 'dared to dream'. I hope by this time you'll want to add something yourself...

 

 

How you can contribute to 'Dream The Future'

'Your Visions': Look at the prompts and ideas section, share your Transition group's experience of visioning or the Quest game. Or...

'Why?': Send any writing you find or compose on the topic of why it's worth imagining positive futures. Also send any examples of things happening now which could be part of a positive future, and anything else which might inspire others.

'Writers' Visions': Recommend books, both fiction and non-fiction. Write reviews, or simply explain which features of the invented society appealed to you.

'Forum': Join the forum, and either start or join a discussion. You can also make suggestions, for example of good websites we can link with.

You can also upload illustrations to any of these sections, using the 'upload files' part of the contribute forms provided.

 

In 'Let Me Explain', I've tried to fill in some of the background to the setting up of this website. (Jump to 'Let Me Explain')

 

However this section continues with a rough guide to the site in the form of one of those magazine questionnaires that you (a) sneer at and avoid; (b) fill in obsessively; (c) fill in secretly...

Which of the following comes near enough to your attitude to the future? It could well be more than one.

  • "I have a dream" (the Martin Luther King sort)
    ...Do share it! Go to > Your Visions > Contribute!

  • "All I can think of are nightmare scenarios."
    ...No-one actually knows what the future will be like, so why not fill your mind with some positive possibilities. What have you got to lose? Go to > Inspirations, or go to > Writers' Visions, or go to > Your Visions

  • "I'd love to read a really good story set in a positive future."
    ...No problem! Head straight for > Writers' Visions

  • "I can't see the point of imagining the future."
    ...Why not just try it? Give writers a chance to convince you by going to > Why? > Inspirations / Why Dream?

  • "I'd really be interested in discussing..."
    Then go to the > Forum section and start a thread.

  • "I prefer to read about things that people are actually doing."
    ...I wondered if people would want that. Go to > Why? > Inspirations.

  • "I'd like to see .... , but can't find it"
    Do let us know, either in the forum, or email me.

  • "Do you know of / I know of another great website?"
    Go to > Links and/or Go to > Contact and send the website address plus a sentence about it.

 

 

 

Let Me Explain...

1) So where did it all start?

(to skip the personal history go to Section 2)

Was it with the sense of despair I felt at 15 years old as I came to the end of George Orwell's 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' and its terrifying line: "If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever"? This was immediately followed by the sense of relief I felt when I started reading William Morris's 'News from Nowhere' and realised that there could be other stories, other futures. Thanks to Morris my personal visions of a positive future always seem to involve settlements around a river remarkably like the Thames.

Or perhaps it was when I discovered the writing of Ursula Le Guin and was gripped by the vision presented in her great novel 'The Dispossessed'.

Then there was the great flowering of science fiction/fantasy by women in the 1980s, much of it published by The Women's Press and Virago. As I reread Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time I realise how many ideas of hers I've integrated into my own personal vision, not always the most "important" ones but ones like community libraries from which one can borrow beautiful objects and fancy clothes, and their way of saying goodbye to someone who dies.

One important landmark in the 1990s was experiencing the life-changing work of Joanna Macy, now known as The Work That Reconnects. (www.joannamacy.net) It was from the Deep Time exercises that I learnt the power of travelling into the future and finding myself writing an impassioned letter of encouragement to the present me. Thanks to the facilitators it arrived at my home by post a couple of months later. The impact it had on me was unforgettable.

And just as I was concluding that the 'Golden Age' was over, and that there was no point in expecting another novel set in the sort of future which I might actually want to live in, along in 1993 came the equivalent of three buses at once, the inspiring, fascinating, challenging novel, The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk. I remembered her description of streets full of fruit trees and a meeting where the tactic of non-violence was brilliantly debated. A film is in the planning stages; do look at the website

Into the twenty-first century, and there soon was more inspiration from the ever-expanding Transition Network (see 'Why?' > Inspirations + 'Your Visions'), particularly the community visioning exercises and 'Quest' the future community challenge game (see Links). I also loved the newspaper articles from the future – and perhaps that was what finally moved me to make a start.

 

2) Why I set up this website

It must be three years ago that the idea of a website presenting positive visions of the future started knocking quietly but insistently on the door [1] of my attention. On many occasions I've had to ask it to come back later, but undeterred it does, and starts its gentle tapping again.

When I did the Transition training a few years ago the issue of positive visions of the future or the lack of them was raised, and it struck me that of course stories, whether novels or films, need conflict which a simple account of life in a more sustainable delightful future would not provide.

Some writers of course have thought of ingenious ways of providing the conflict; both Marge Piercy and Starhawk (in The Fifth Sacred Thing) have set their positive communities alongside ones antithetical to them and the conflict has arisen from that. Sometimes as in Ernest Callenbach's 'Ecotopia' and Marge Piercy's novel an outsider is won over to becoming a supporter of the new community.

However I could see that there was space for imaginative writing which was shorter but no less intense; writing which explored perhaps a single aspect of the society or brought it to life for us in the form of a diary entry, letter, news article etc. The English teacher in me started putting together ideas which turned into what looked remarkably like a worksheet, and I began to collect material -- "Like setting homework for the world," someone pointed out.

I was quite surprised at how many people told me they were just completely unable to imagine a positive future. Most of them had not had the experience of reading the novels to which I have referred or anything similar and so, glad to have been alive at the best time to be exposed to a wide variety of 'utopian fiction' and ideas, I felt even more motivated to compile this site, offering people an ever-increasing collection of ingredients from which to start imaginatively creating their own future communities/worlds.

For I'm ever more certain that it's not an irrelevant indulgence. By doing it we start to set something moving, as writers have explained brilliantly in the 'Why' section. I can't resist quoting Stephen Coleman:

"The imagined future is a subversive force: the more who imagine a different kind of future, and imagine constructively, materially and determinedly, the more dangerous utopian dreams become... History can explode. And when it does it is ignited by those who have dared to dream, who have the courage to take on seemingly unbeatable odds, who are brave enough to demand the impossible."

My heartfelt thanks to Jack Kindred Boothby, my extremely talented and hard-working web designer, who has shown infinite patience as we've watched deadlines whooshing past. So, as with the future, I have put aside the drive to create perfection, instead aiming to contribute my best ideas and ask for others.

Why am I not providing a space for apocalyptic/nightmarish/negative visions and predictions? Simply because I'm trying to make a small contribution to redressing the balance, which at present is firmly tipped towards the negative. (Read Jetse de Vries in the 'Why?' section for more on this). I don't for one moment deny the need to face the worst as well as the best possible futures.

There is some wonderful material on the site already but I hope you use it as a springboard for your own imaginings which you will then share with the rest of us. This website is a gift from me to the future. I have paid all the expenses myself and have no intention of making it a commercial venture. The diagnosis of Parkinson's disease I had a couple of years ago has concentrated my mind wonderfully. Even if my future is not quite as I would have wanted, my belief in the importance of both imagining and acting for a sustainable, just, harmonious life-enhancing future is undiminished. Wander around, be inspired, share your visions and act upon them.

Vision without action is merely a dream; action without vision just passes the time; vision with action can change the world.
Joel Barker

 

Footnotes:

  • 1. When asked in an interview why he had been involved in so many different campaigns, Harry Belafonte said, “I just answered the knocking on my door.” I've tried to do the same.