the view from inside: visions of the future

Our ability to create a different vision of the future opens up the paths to create those futures. Our ability to imagine these possibilities opens up what is actually possible, beyond the limits that are put on us. 

Good sci-fi tells us something meaningful about our own society. Imagination helps us envision better possible worlds.

Anyone else here a sci-fi fan?

I love stories that travel time and space, imagine possible futures and warn us of paths we may go down. I like fiction because of the power it holds – many of the worlds that sci-fi bring us to are far flung and fantastical, but good sci-fi tells us something meaningful about our own society. Fiction takes us to other worlds – or alternative versions of ours. 

But here’s the thing – the imagination, the capacity to reimagine, what our society looks like is much more than entertainment or escapism (although we need that sometimes too!). Our ability to create a different vision of the future opens up the paths to create those futures. Our ability to imagine these possibilities opens up what is actually possible, beyond the limits that are put on us. 

Fiction – whether writing, reading, drawing or watching – trains our minds in worldbuilding. The act of creating worlds – the history, environment and people of those worlds – is activism. But this isn’t just something that happens in fantasy novels, superhero movies or premium streaming channels. 

Worldbuilding

Worldbuilding is something that we do, that you do, every day. We live in a world impacted by our actions; how we live, eat, work, all builds up to create a version of our world. What we do and how we do it is shaped by our histories and those of the places we live in. The past interacts with our present and, depending on our actions, creates a certain version of the future. 

We are worldbuilding the future, our future, every day. So let’s make it a good one.

“We are worldbuilding the future, our future, every day. So let’s make it a good one.”

Visions of the future

Many activists, especially women of colour and Indigenous peoples, have used fiction to create alternative pasts, presents and futures that are anti-racist and decolonial – to create worlds that operate outside of current power structures. This can happen through fiction writing, public artworks, and community organizing. Imagining different versions of our society is empowering, especially for those who are marginalized in our current society.

Fiction can help us understand the massive implications of climate change. Creating narratives to understand our situation helps us cope so that we can see a path to the future instead of overwhelming uncertainty and fear. Especially when those narratives are hopeful ones.

The thing is, those kinds of futures are possible when we can imagine them. This is part of why youth are leading the calls for change – real change, the kind that transforms the systems themselves, not just making changes within the system like many adults do.

Having visions of the future that are not limited by what the current political and economic systems tell us is possible, is what makes these alternative futures possible.

We haven’t been bombarded with messages about “it’s just the way it is” as long as many adults have – we haven’t given into the acceptance and fatalism of the status quo.

A certain kind of economics, politics and social structure has been drilled into people, especially at the end of the 20th century – we didn’t get as much of this as our parents did. We are growing up at a time when these systems are in crisis, on the verge of collapse, or reckoning. We’re seeing the consequences of how things have been run.

We know that this kind of selfish, exploitative, unsustainable politics (usually called ‘neoliberalism’) can’t go on – for people or the Earth. The myth of infinite economic growth, founded on colonialism and racism, the myth of unbridled consumption, the myth that The Market will save us – we aren’t buying it.

“The myth of infinite economic growth, founded on colonialism and racism, the myth of unbridled consumption, the myth that The Market will save us – we aren’t buying it.”

Imagine a future built to care for each other and the natural world

Young people, you, can imagine new ways of living in the world that exist outside of the current systems. The world that we build through our activism, even if it starts out as a small space in your community or school, like a pocket dimension, will open up the metaphorical portals to those alternative futures that are just, sustainable, and capable of changing for new climate realities.

Worlds where our social and economic systems are built to care for each other and the natural world, where we have truly participatory decision making, where joy and love and creativity are valued – in place of this hollow machine that takes and takes.

Our activism is worldbuilding.

Together, we are more than able to create the future that we want, that aligns with our vision of the future for our communities.

This looks different in different places. It could be youth writing climate fiction that tells the story of how we had the courage to change everything; it could be art co-ops making public art works telling stories of climate adaptation that centers social justice; it could look like blockades in solidarity with Indigenous Land Protectors to create a place of activism outside of colonialism; it could be neighbourhoods that take back public space and do things differently; it could be students working together to change what their education looks like to prepare them for futures of climate crisis.

What visions of the future will you build with your community?

What alternative futures can you imagine?

Kelly, signing off.

Kelly Gingrich

Kelly Gingrich

SCGC Youth Engagement Lead

How Can You Get Involved?

  1. Send Kelly a message letting her know that you’d like to get involved. She can put you in touch with other youth organizing on the ground in Simcoe County.
  2. Work on your influencer game! Yes, you read that right. Unfortunately, most ‘influencers’ are bought and paid for by corporations who don’t have any interest in building a better world. Social media is a thing, for better or worse, and it desperately needs young people who are good at communicating important issues in a way that is fun and accessible.
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