Worldbuilding: A Workshop on Shared Futuring

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DwD presents a series of session this Autumn based on methods taught in Strategic Foresight and Innovation and now further explored in student research in narrative visioning practices. Maheen Zaidi presents a workshop for September on exploring futures through and worldbuilding. She explores three main questions:

  • Can the resurgence of science fiction narratives help us create a better society and social systems?
  • How can worldbuilding help us in designing practices for community and large system transition?
  • Can we combine worldbuilding and foresight practices such as backcasting to better inform system design?

Over the past few years, an ongoing battle for the future of science fiction has plagued the literary community, and the crux of the problem was this: the genre was undergoing social change to better reflect the world’s diverse values and voices, and not everyone agreed that it should. Not only was this conflict a missed signal for the resurgence of social populism (and the Trump presidency), it raised concerns about who and what is informing society’s visions of the future, and what the implications of those visions are.

Though we can find science fiction at the root of most (if not all) of our technological accomplishments, it does not inspire society to adopt the moral and ethical lessons it imparts. As a result, we’re captivated by Orwell’s telescreens and Crichton’s Jurassic Park, but fail to act upon their warnings about mass surveillance or unchecked entrepreneurship. So where is the disconnect? Why is science fiction not leading the charge on informing transition and systemic design?

This Design with Dialogue workshop will introduce a model that tests if science fiction narratives and practices can help build better systems. The workshop will include an exercise that examines the fictional worlds in stories such as 1984 and Brave New World. We’ll also use the model to imagine a new society with more sustainable systems that are designed with a civilizational timescale in mind.

From this workshop, you can expect to:

  • Gain a better understanding of the relationship between science fiction, systems, and foresight
  • Use a new model that has implications for systemic design
  • Learn about transition design as it relates to systems

Register on Eventbrite for this session.

About the Host

Maheen Zaidi

Maheen is co-founder of The Innovation Shop, a design consultancy in Toronto. She specializes in strategic foresight, transition design, and narrative design. She is completing a Masters of Design in Strategic Foresight and Innovation from OCAD University, and has an Honours Bachelor of Business Administration from York University. Her thesis explores the intersection of civilizational foresight, transition design, and science fiction.

A staunch believer that language is a critical medium of design and that foresight should be ambient, Maheen is a science fiction writer. In her previous life, she was a marketing executive who worked with multi-nationals, startups, and scale-ups to build brand equity.

 

 

The Alpha Expression Workshop

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DwD often hosts more open-ended, playful learning workshops in the summer months. For August we hosted Dexter Ico, well known as a video coach, with his Alpha Expression workshop. The experience we explored together:
Can we be self-expressed on demand? 

The promise: Discover your capacity to be yourself with others, on stage, on camera, on demand.

Dexter Ico has been coaching people from all walks of life to hold presence in unnerving situatins – the stage and video camera in particular – working with stand-up comedy, theatre, improve, and vlogging to gain presence and assurance. Earlier developments of his workshop were known as “Practice makes Practice.” Join Dexter and Design with Dialogue in this August session to safely explore the range and experience of you ability to hold presence with grace and focus, pushing the ranges of vocal and physical expression to learn from touching these boundaries in a safe environment. Dexter calls this form of over-acting the “alpha expression.”

Exercises were descriptively named following the impulse being explored. The following photos of community members show “Exaggerated Alpha” and some from “Expert Voice.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many of us stage-shy, hyper-rational, modestly-composed speakers learned how to swing out and push the edges of self-expression and speech performance in the workshop. Of course, as only a 2.5 hour workshop there was only so much direct coaching available for the over 20 participants in the OCADU Auditorium. This was a first experience for many of this opportunity and even at that initial stage, was experienced as a personal breakthrough by many.

 

ABOUT THE GUEST HOST
My name is Dexter Ico. I have a knack for coaching people. I’ve helped kids to CEO’s, actors land TV shows, and held one-off talk shows. As a video producer, I interview and direct people all the time, encouraging the expression of that intuitive alpha in everyone.

 

“The Alpha is being yourself to an extreme, in your essence, wanting to engage with others, like children do.  It’s about empowering who you already are through playful exercises and interactive dialogue. The key component? A sense of play.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deliberating on Values in Digital Democracy

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The July DwD hosted a mixed group of designers, curious citizens and community activists to engage in the inquiry and workshop Exploring Values in Digital Democracy. The primary purpose of the workshop was to explore questions of values and positions openly to inform the design of the Nova Agora prototype and contribute to new model of digital citizenship.  The focal questions for the session were:

  • How might we better address policy disputes through citizen-led democratic practices?
  • How can we deliberate in democratic processes through sharing values?
  • How can we better employ “digital citizenship” to understand values commitments we may share in common?

Rationale. Today, adherents of mainstream political parties are unable to even speak with one another about issues of critical importance to their collective futures. Policy controversies, such as debates on globalization, abortion, or immigration, have polarized to become intractable disputes.  A lack of diversity or mobility, filter bubbles, social media echo chambers, and targeted advertising amplify this polarization. Digital feedback reinforces entrenched positions. Then, the more positions polarize, the more a simple policy controversy moves towards policy conflict and ruptured public discourse.

Approach. Jenny Whyte and Natalija Fischer facilitated July’s DwD with a workshop, a process and prototype. They presented Nova Agora, a citizen’s digital service and research platform, designed as a peacebuilding tool to deconstruct policy disputes by reframing how issues are expressed and interpreted, from positions to values, thereby facilitating connection, catharsis, and understanding.

The workshop was open for any citizens interested in fostering respectful discourse, self-awareness, and moral based reasoning. Participants engaged in several activities designed to draw out and deliberate on the values important in political decision making (specifically the set advocated by Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind from moral foundations theory). Values and political positions were explored through dialogue, embodied acting, and small group work.

 

Patricia Kambitsch sketched the summaries and process as seen in the final story map.   (Click to enlarge)

 

People were asked to visit the Nova Agora site in advance of the session and take the survey on positions or the survey on values.  Both of these resources remain open and available for others to review and the design team would welxome further feedback and insights on the process.

Nova Agora Team

Natalija Fisher  – natalija@nasagora.org, MSc Water Resources Management, UNESCO-IHE

Natalija has worked on freshwater protection across government, non-profits, and start-up systems.  Internationally, she facilitates youth inclusion at global events like the Budapest Water Summit and the World Water Forum.

Most recently, Natalija has launched two peace-building initiatives.

 

 

 

Jenny Whyte – jenny.c.whyte@gmail.com, Strategic Foresight and Innovation, MDes

Using the design tools learned in the SFI program she aims to tackle wicked with a human-centered approach.

She is currently winding up to defend her thesis exploring how better understanding ‘the self’ might encourage social change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honouring the Water Keepers

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A Citizen’s Design Brief for Canadian Foreign Policy

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Design with Dialogue has been continuing with a series of dialogues and design sessions to construct a shared ethical vision and narrative characterizing the emerging commitments and proposals for a new Canadian foreign policy. Across the perspectives of a wide variety of citizens and residents, ages and sectors, ethnicities and spiritual traditions, a growing group of DwD members have started to define a foundation for agreement on principles and proposals that might guide a new Canadian values orientation to policies affecting our relationships with other nations and cultures in this single shared planet.

The consensus of the group meeting across successive sessions was the topic was urgent and necessary to develop with further inquiry. To instigate dialogue we have embraced a series of motivating questions including:

  • What do we (as Canadian citizens) believe to be a socially and culturally responsible foreign policy?
  • How should Canada conduct herself in the complex future of international relations? What are our  proposed decision criteria for state responses?
  • What ought to be the most critical objectives for Canada’s social license to advise and act in global affairs?

The workshops have yield a challenge map expressing a wide variety of perspectives, which are being structured by influence and relationship to their moral weight on other issues in the problematique (the relations of the challenge map).

We continue our Canadian peacefinding series with a dialogue to co-create foreign policy principles and proposals. Today the spheres of national security and foreign policy are held closely by government and decisions are made based on undisclosed interests and unknown expected outcomes. In a democratic society, we can state our claims on policy input, even if government secrecy holds sway in decision making.

As citizens we might exercise our option to participate in defining people’s interests in foreign affairs, which ought to be as much a domain for grassroots citizen participation as indigenous affairs, labour relations, healthcare, or education. Perhaps even more, since misguided foreign relations disrupt the futures of our families and children and relationships with other cultures. The outcomes of bad policy choices, as seen in similar societies to ours (US, UK), leads to institutionalized racism and participation in war making and profiteering. In this session we will continue and complete discussions leading toward an outline or draft of a citizen’s policy brief. Possible outcomes could include:

  • Proposing a mandate for an idealized and transparent diplomacy model.
  • Identifying clear guidelines for proposals to endorse intervention, peacekeeping or coalition support.
  • Articulating a mandate for decolonization of Canadian government interests, ensuring corporate and special interests are not  marginalizing rights, opportunities and freedoms anywhere in the world.
  • Providing for a clear path of state representation that fully includes Indigenous people, as rights holders to treaty lands of Canada, in diplomatic and foreign affairs decision making.
  • Positive relationships based on Canada’s support of indigenous peoples and cultures everywhere.

 

Foreign policy is as much a domain for grassroots citizen participation as indigenous affairs, labour relations, healthcare, or education. Perhaps even more, since bad foreign relations decisions disrupt the futures of our families and children and relationships with other cultures. In this session we will construct (an outline or draft) a citizen’s policy brief following dialogic design principles. Possible outcomes could include:

  • We will close by defining actions and possible outcomes consistent with participant proposals. These may include editorial writing and citizen participation in hearings, forming alliances with other grassroots groups concerned with decolonizing foreign policy, and sponsoring a continuing dialogue series on the issues.