Reflections and feedback on Visualizing the Invisible scenario workshop

From the listening circle

Final Reflections on July 11, 2014

  • Alex: I liked the continuity, and to think differently.
  • Megan: One of my three words for my expectations was “craft.” Wow, we made so much in these two days! Also, I’m a visual learner, so seeing what we did in front of me was great.
  • Angel: We created worlds with seemingly impossible technology, but I thought, “What if it is possible?” It’s crazy to think imagining that the worlds exist because of technology. I am now a bit afraid of technology!
  • Stacey: I am overwhelmed at how much you got for your final projects. And there was an unexpected thing – team building: an amazing byproduct. I also had the opportunity to talk to more of you individually, saw more people, excited.
  • Maja: I thought a few days ago that we must postpone the workshop due to space issues and our exhaustion. But I am so happy we have gone through with it, because I feel much better - more tired, but in a good way. Thank you all for your energy.
  • Karla: My three words at the start were, “learn,” “process,” and “growth.” I did grow and learn from the process! I also enjoyed learning about the invisible parts of different people who I don’t normally interact with. It was a positive experience.
  • Devin: I had no idea what to expect, but it helped me to see that there are many different steps in the visualizing process. I see now how I can apply visualizing to everything else. My sociology major is more clear to me now, too. I tend to forget that “visualizing the invisible” is our reason for being here; now I can do more than look at pretty things here.
  • Nate: The opportunity to think realistically about possible futures, and our own lives, to see “the world” as something other than just what happens to you, by making it.
  • Hillery: I really enjoyed it. We created absurd situations, but I never had to suspend my disbelief, because I was there the whole time. It felt like potential futures that I didn’t expect.
  • Alyssa: I was pleasantly surprised because the reading we did was “interesting,” but the workshop really opened it up. It also terrified me: the idea of collective consciousness and the loss of the individual is frightening and thought-provoking.
  • Rachel: It affected the way we think about the world, finding what we think is most important, especially change drivers. We got all the steps toward visualizing the future– how we get there –-even if we don’t want them.
  • Adam: I’m excited about the projects and our program, excited to have you experience this and to do it with you. I’m energized! I’m also intellectually interested in how divergent worlds have so many connections, and similar drivers, but also how so many of the same drivers have divergent potentials.
  • Tiffany: This is my first time for thinking of the future. How to have a fresh start is exciting, but crazy. I’m an emotional person, and I appreciate co-creation. I have trouble presenting my ideas, perhaps because of language, perhaps because of shyness, but here I had your help. I want to say thank you.
  • Rara: I enjoyed sharing and listening to each other, to hear others’ ideas. We were focused on different aspects, but they all came together. Also our learning process on openness is interesting.
  • Hannah: I was fascinated to see the connections between the worlds we created and our world now; to see how they could lead to such extremes, and also how scary that is. It makes me want to think more about how I use technology now – especially because my world, Franco – that is freaky! Now I want to talk more about how I interact with technology.
  • Nik: It was interesting to see where the worlds end up from the blank page to what we have here. It feels like we only scratched the surface, but there are many more surfaces, always more to pick out from it. I was pleasantly surprised how differently the groups worked, but with the same materials. There are many different approaches here; it’s a great way to strengthen individual practice.
  • Cindy: I thought it was interesting how different the worlds were, but also who chose which world to be in. I liked my world, but I couldn’t figure out how to live there! It taught me that maybe you should stay in your world and bridge the problems. It’s good to know you don’t have to bail.
  • Saloni: It was intellectually stimulating to me. I don’t think too abstractly, and it was hard to think of things beneath the surface, but we did a lot of that. It was interesting to see how even in the same world our ideas were totally different: same world, but different worldview.
  • Kate: Walking through step-by-step felt like a totally natural progression. The ideas got crazier and crazier, but I felt like it could be real. I appreciated how much everyone wants to work together. We all got into it and it was positive. I’m happy to be here with you guys.
  • Katie: I was pleasantly surprised how looking at the future in terms of only five years, and following the specific guidelines helped me to see my own vision of my future, which was really hard before – the entire time I’ve been in college. It seemed natural, not forced, it just came out. New possibilities. Even though you take seemingly disparate things – like “radically open” and “radically homogenous” – when you put them together, you realize that there are different ways of being homogenous. It gave me new perspective, one I wouldn’t normally think was possible, but should be illuminated.
  • Lars: I am a big fan of the future and I like these discussions. My three words were sonerd, “learn,” and “imagine.” I certainly learned how you imagine, got closer. Cool. I often wonder about how the world is going to turn out. When we put together seemingly disparate things, they don’t seem too far-fetched. I really enjoyed the process; I never thought of the future in this “diagram” way.
  • Jon: When I heard you had a degree in forecasting, I thought it was interesting. It gets me asking, “What if?” Your “What if?” questions are intriguing, and now I have drivers to think about, “What if?” I’ve never been able to ask that before. I also discovered that I’m overly optimistic about the future.
painton

Design magazine created by Ivy (9 years old), as her reflection on visualizing the invisible in four scenarios

Follow-up discussion

Discussion on July 15, 2014.

Aim of the discussion: move from the particular experience of creating scenarios to reflect on how that could be generalized and then applied in other contexts.

Meditate on how our scenarios were not “mere” fiction, but rather, were speculative, or, How to keep the future REAL:

  1. five years is a realistic time frame
  2. built on our own values, what matters to us (we chose our change drivers)
  3. based on real pasts, real traumas, real disasters, real memories, real wars – all echoes of the past (carried into the future)
  4. takes up the present problem of “fitting in” or “belonging,” the relation of the individual to the collective
  5. echoed our current issues and concerns (do we recognize our present in this future?)
  6. continuity: not big changes, but exaggerations, intensifications, vectors, or directions from the present to future; smoothness
  7. the lenses through which we think are the same: political, social, economic, historical, cultural
  8. many of our assumptions, hierarchies, and freedoms stayed the same in the future
  9. the need to feel, experience, enact, role-play, walk up to the future (ladder) from here
  10. utilized many of the same basic stories, mythologies
  11. our relationship to other people still defined who we are
  12. maintaining an ethical connection to that future was important for speculating

What tools and strategies did we gain for visualizing?

  1. using steps
  2. keeping it small; make larger things into smaller pieces
  3. examine our concepts (make them smaller too); figure out what they mean to us (e.g., sustainable, bio-diverse)
  4. collaboration, multiple perspectives
  5. improvisation, enactment, feeling
  6. recognize our presumptions (we can do this by reflecting on the first emotional reaction: it will reveal what we value)
  7. constraints help (e.g., time, conceptual, climate, structure, resources). Too much freedom isn’t helpful.
  8. multiple sessions (revisiting differently each time)
  9. organized reflection time

What would I add to these? What is my personal take-away?

  1. I can consider what in the process can be loose, but where things need to be really clear (change drivers!)
  2. Collectively, we made somewhat arbitrary choices for change drivers; individually, they will be more clear and defined.
  3. In order to connect myself to the future, I will write more.
  4. Feel how it feels (role-playing).

How do you see yourself using these in your project, this course, or more broadly?

  1. The interview process: when I hear myself echoed back through another person (the interviewer), I am changed by their story. This effect of our combined thoughts is productive.
  2. In urban planning, we are always trying to figure out what it is we didn’t know we knew. These strategies will help us find these.
  3. I now have the means to visualize a real present that I am not a part of.
  4. In my final project on graffiti, I can use the notion of change drivers to think through the relation of government funding of art and graffiti as a “disrespected” art.
  5. I can visualize the future impact of a given design, and loop that back into its production.
  6. In civil engineering, we are always looking to the future, to find the problems you didn’t even know you had; these strategies for visualizing definitely help with that!
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When all is said and done…