Imagining our futures with scenarios

A prospect of the city of Derby c.1725; Image courtesy of the Derwent Valley Mills Partnership

Just before Christmas, another strand of the Stories of Change project, called “Future works,” held a launch event at the Derby Silk Museum (read here the short introduction by executive director Tony Butler). It was a really interesting and varied day with a range of talks, performances (by Lucy Ward, project partner – have a listen of her stuff here) and short animation films (by Bexie Bush, also a project partner – short trailer here). One of my highlights was the Future Works 2050 scenarios. The audience was divided into small groups and each assigned a map of the Derwent Valley that had a different theme, along with an object that came from the Museum’s archive. We were also provided with stickers and coloured pens and we were tasked with imagining what the region would look like in 2050, based on the theme of the map. We then had to represent this on the map and imagine how the object from the archive may be used in this 2050 future.

What will power us in 2050?


It’s a bit hard to translate into words, but hopefully it makes some sense. I was part of the group working on the map representing power. So for example, we tried to imagine which sources of power and energy would still be there in 2050, which wouldn’t, which may have been revived and where would people choose to live in relation to the sources of power. Our object was a model engine, and that led us to talk about how we might move and power our modes of transport. There was a lot more to it but the upshot for me was imagining what a mid-term future would be like, something that I don’t often get to do!

Presenting a map on public transport


It also reminded me of a play I went to see in Birmingham last September and which was called Food Futures. The premise was that a small creative team of performers were commissioned to translate the scientific findings of the Birmingham 2050 Scenarios Project (a project of the group the New Optimists) into a creative performance (see a video of the rehearsals here and you can find an update on the project and a link to the whole performance on this page). It was an experimental piece of theatre that switched from scenes in the very near future to more or less optimistic views of a more distant future. Like the Future Works Scenarios, it was great to be challenged to think forward more and in creative ways.

To find out more about the concept of scenario, how it’s evolved and why it could be useful, take a look at this piece on the Future Works blog and please share with us any experiences of scenarios that you may have, we’d love to hear more!


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