Do a little thought experiment with me. Imagine we’re sitting over a drink in your favorite place, but it’s 20 years from now. Instead of the dystopia mass media tell us to expect, look around: it’s the future we wanted to inhabit!
“Think about how it would have been back then,” you say, “if we’d only known we had the power to accomplish all this.” “Yes,” I reply, rolling my eyes. Then we click our glasses and burst into ecstatic laughter.
Take another breath in 2035, then come back here for a minute, because there’s something we want to tell you: we do have the power.
Do you want to live the future now? Just a couple of clicks and you’ll be signed up as an Emissary From The Future in #DareToImagine, the next National Action of the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture (where I have the honor of serving as Chief Policy Wonk), taking place all across the country from 10-18 October 2015.
Why #DareToImagine? Imagination is our birthright, but too often, we’re persuaded to believe our voices don’t count or that the future is determined by a powerful few. Social imagination is a radical act, restoring personal and collective agency, shifting dominant narratives, and affirming that all of us make the future. When we have the audacity to dream in public, when we begin to unleash imagination and turn it into action, we can move the world.
#DareToImagine is already striking a chord. Signups have only been open for a few days and Citizen Artists from Honolulu to New York City, Wyoming to Wisconsin are signing up as Emissaries from the Future to spark imagination in high schools, universities, theaters, public parks, vacant lots, galleries, and radio stations, focusing on themes from immigration to incarceration to education and far beyond.
Imagination stations can be: movable (think ice cream truck), tiny (think lemonade stand), ad hoc (think of a circle of soapboxes in a vacant lot), or elaborately planned (think art installation in a gallery space). You’ll find plans and plenty of inspiration the free Toolkit you can download once you sign up.
Imagination stations can be up for one day, the entire nine-day stretch of #DareToImagine, or anything in between. Some folks are sponsoring a Station at their conference, market, performance or other event during the 10-18 October period. Others are building Stations on wheels that can pop up in multiple locations during the National Action. You can recruit other Emissaries to take shifts, or just have your Station open when it’s convenient for you.
Your Imagination Station can use the arts-based exercises in the Toolkit or others you know to be powerful to help people envision the world they wish to inhabit and—looking back from the future—celebrate the work we did to bring it into being. You can add your own programming (such as talks, workshops, and performances), shining a spotlight on the people, projects, and solutions moving us from imagination to action for a more just and sustainable world.
The resulting texts, images, videos, and more will all be uploaded to an online platform, yielding a crowd-sourced vision of the future, inspiring art, policy, and community action. You’ll join an online community of fellow Emissaries using this material to gather even more daring imaginations.
Remember how good it felt when we were having that drink in 2035? Performing the role of Emissary is like being yourself on a good-news day. Design your own character or come in everyday dress! Create an art-filled environment or a simple tactical station that can move as often as you like!
Take this Action and make it your own! The future belongs to those who #DareToImagine. Sign up today!
Here’s a soundtrack to accompany your daring: Mr. Paul Butterfield, “In My Own Dream.”