Once whole worlds can be simulated for the senses, the only way to assure the integrity of the public imagination will be to get the power to create those worlds out of the hands of an elite and into general circulation. As William Gibson put it: “The future has arrived — it’s just not evenly distributed yet.”
It is most surely true that everything that is required to make life prosperous for all living forms on Earth is available to us now. As a keystone species, it falls upon us little humans, to steward things so that the regeneration of all ecosystems, cities, health and happiness take place starting now. If the future is in fact here, in what we chose to do today, and not in a hazy technological future, is it not then, in our hands now, and what do we need to do? Where do we begin?
I argue that if citizens and a few companies got together, and multiple cities participated at once, and we were able to work safely in a pre-commercial innovation zone spanning a whole city/region, we could actually arrive at a shared desired future for all. And if we could see this future, we could more easily take backward steps, following the metaphoric rear-view mirror, to realize what we must start doing. In this sense, the future is here, not because some marvels have already been invented and some wealthier people have control and access to them, which is what Gibson was alluding to, but because a shared-agreement between people makes possible the co-creation and reciprocal projects to attain that vision.
And if we trusted everyone else to do their part, and trust ourselves to do our own respective parts, ones that fit our sense of purpose and self-realization, and fit with a compass of ‘deep wealth’, we would actually eliminate most of the uncertainty and obstacles that we see when we look forward from the lenses of our own individual perspectives.
There is an African saying ” when you walk alone you can walk fast, when we walk together we can walk far”. What if we can actually take this perspective, position ourselves in that desired condition, which from here seems very distant, and prototype it now the best we can? Could we then support and build an economy of 2050?
I have thought about this a lot, and from countless prototypes in large scale regeneration and sustainability projects, I have learned that no matter how hard you try, the current solutions, however unsustainable, are the ones capable of attracting funding. It is simply baked into the system that companies and projects that have a track record are suitable for lending or issuing shares, and that with few exceptions, complex new realities are simply starved of capital.
I am talking about situations when multiple projects need to occur for a collective good to be generated. For example, we know that for decades the Baltic Sea has been studied from every angle and remains among the top five most polluted seas in the world. And despite knowing the economic value of its regeneration, the current financial frameworks make it probably impossible. How do you structure investment and finance when the benefits happen in different pockets, all over the place, and at different scales? How do you finance one bit, which is quite modest and value-less, unless many other things happen at the same time?
The VC (venture capital) market offers an alternative when value an be highly concentrated. Normal incubation typically works around this idea. Explore many, discard many, grow a few. But to have a systemic impact, like achieving a higher living condition, one cannot simply pick winners. This is not how nature works. This requires a new approach to “commoning”, to regenrate nature, but also civic spaces, cities and their capacity to act as melting pots for innovation and co-creation.
But we normally live with a mentality of ‘scarcity’ (of resources, of power, of access, of status and of ownership.) And this has to do with the over-extraction of private benefit. The ‘commons’, as David Bollier writes in “Who may use the King’s forest? The Meaning of the Magna Carta, Commons and the Law in our Time“, have been shrunk to extinction, leaving a few public areas for open enjoyment and almost no desirable activity to be performed for its intrinsic value. We can’t see the point of planting Oaks, or building real works of art any more, for their utility far into the future is value-less when the logic of Portfolio Theory and growth are applied.
This sense of scarcity, lack of opportunity, obstacles, the rat race, with the anxiety, fear and other actual health ailments feed our insecurities. Gregory Landau, in Designing the Pathway to Regeneration, and Why We can’t Do That, says:
“If you are already hand to mouth existence and you have to reduce yields to do something, it will never work.”
When moving towards regeneration you need to grow awareness over time. It’s essential. It doesn’t happen overnight. We can’t design the entire pathway to regeneration. Instead all members need to be engaged to invoke regeneration as the direction they are moving towards. This is a holistic context that only a common vision and desired future can bring about.
And that is why we are turning to build the 2050 future now. Asking to see the track record of the future in order to invest in it, is entirely possible, but we must come backwards from that future.
There is no other way but to imagine together the world we want, and from there unspin and unply the yarn, to form a red thread to help us get to our future selves. This is the essence of co-creating the world we all want live in.
When we can interrupt our routine, this future utility is co-created, we are able to collectively assign a value and use a new type of instrument that reflects the shared agreement, the actions to get to it, and the outcomes that resulted.
The S2S Reactor we are launching today Nov 5, 2017 will be Building 2050 now on responsible cryptocurrencies. The S2S Reactor is the co-creation space, tools and processes for the next economy,
based on the design principles of living systems: recursiveness, robustness, redundancy and resilience,
building the city of 2050 that we all want to live in.
This is part one of S2S Reactor’s six part series — Toward Building the City of 2050 that we all want to Live in that will be available on Medium within the next two weeks. If you’d like to get them early, sent to your inbox, sign up for Beginnings.