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These days of COVID have shown us that extraordinary profound reimagining of many aspects of society are entirely possible. Might this be the time to forever do away with the idea that the only way to measure our progress, cultural, social, spiritual, economic, is purely by how much bigger our economy is than it was last year? It’s a weird metric… …
 
Let’s imagine, and this takes quite a leap in Britain in 2021 I’ll grant you, but stay with me, that we had a government who recognised that we are living through a time of imaginative contraction alongside a climate and ecological emergency, a social justice emergency and so much more. Let’s imagine that they were able to recognise this as the cri…
 
In which, with the help of specially-composed music by Ben Addicott and Rosie Issitt, we take a step into the 2030 that could result from our doing everything we could possibly do. Join Kwame Boateng, Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan, Brian Eno, Scilla Elworthy, Robert Philips, Zach Norris, Andrea J. Ritchie Roman Krznaric, Jane Davidson, Hilary Powell, Dan …
 
When was the last time you read a book cover to cover? And if you are still able to do this, do you feel you read in the same way you did, say, 20 years ago? How is the decline in our collective attention span affecting our ability to read and, by extension, our collective capacity for knowledge, wisdom and art? What do we lose when we lose our abi…
 
Welcome to Episode 23 of our journey together into the imagination and into the powers of What If. Today we are looking at street art. Street art has stood alongside the fight for climate justice, the Black Lives Matter revolution, and pretty much every mass uprising for change through history. But is it just decoration? Or does it have the power t…
 
Welcome to Episode 22 of 'From What If to What Next'. This week we are exploring failure. More precisely, what if we were able to create a culture in which failure is embraced, celebrated even, rather than feared, avoided or ridiculed? What would society look like if we embraced failure in politics, education, economics and everyday life, indeed if…
 
Welcome to Episode 20 of From What If to What Next. This feels like a bit of a landmark for us, our twentieth episode! Thank you for joining me on this journey. Do tell your friends to come join us... Any reflections on how you're finding the journey so far are most welcome. Seems like a good moment for that. The good news is that we have saved one…
 
It was recently announced that Chuck Feeney, the Irish American former airport duty free shopping entrepreneur who was worth $8bn, had, at the age of 89, succeeded in his goal of giving away all of his money to initiatives working to make the world a better place. Every cent. He suggested that to give away a huge fortune was far more fun than holdi…
 
By now, in this journey into 'From What If to What Next', it is clear that one of the key things in our world in 2021 that needs reimagining is our education system. In this episode, we explore how it might be if at the heart of that reimagining were permaculture principles. How would the underpinning of the National Curriculum with permaculture pr…
 
Welcome to our first episode of 2021! We are planning an amazing series of podcasts for this year, and love that you are part of this exploration. In today's episode we bring together Josina Calliste, a health professional and community organiser who is one of the co-founders of Land in Our Names (LION), a black-led collective addressing land inequ…
 
Of all the 17 episodes of this podcast so far, this is the one that I had to go off somewhere quiet afterwards for a while to digest. It is a very powerful and fascinating discussion. My two guests are extraordinary, and I feel so blessed that they could make the time to join me in this wonderful What If exploration. Sherri Mitchell (Weh’na Ha’mu’ …
 
In Episode 16 of 'From What If to What Next' we explore the question of play. Play is a devalued aspect of both childhood and adulthood which has been declining now for decades, and its decline has had many knock-on effects across society. What would it be like if we decided to give it a huge boost, to create the ideal conditions for a re-emergence…
 
During the first Coronavirus lockdown in the UK, a strange phenomenon was seen in towns and cities across the country. As councils became unable, or unwilling, to maintain their usual programmes of spraying weeds and cutting grass, pavements began to feature what had previously been dismissed as 'weeds'. In response, and using a hashtag #MoreThanWe…
 
One of the things we love most here at 'From What If to What Next' is stories of people bringing imagination to their activism, of impactful, thought-provoking projects that engage our imagination and our playfulness. One of the very best examples of this that we've ever seen is The Bank Job in Walthamstow, London, the work of printmaker Hilary Pow…
 
Every episode of 'From What If to What Next' begins with my inviting my guests to close their eyes and to walk us through what they imagine 2030 could be like if it were the result of our having done everything we could possibly have done. What would it feel like, taste like, sound like? It is often the most powerful and beautiful part of the podca…
 
And so we reach our thirteenth episode. Wow. Thank you so much for being with us on this journey so far. We have an amazing episode for you today. We live in a world where so much political decision-making seems to be based on short-term thinking, the next opinion poll, next quarter, next election, yet so many of the problems we face are the result…
 
You are in for such a treat today. It is my honour and privilege to share with you our twelfth episode of 'From What If to What Next'. In the US, as elsewhere, vast amounts of money are poured into mass incarceration and brutal and violent policing. What if instead that money was invested into the communities that bear the burnt of this approach to…
 
Welcome to Episode 11 of From What If to What Next. So many of those who listen to this podcast are trying, in one way or another, to bring about change in the world. Whether it is the more confrontational activism demonstrated by groups like Extinction Rebellion and Black Lives Matter, or grassroots organising and working to build the alternative,…
 
The uprising of Black Lives Matter and other organisations have led to many calls for the decolonisation of education at every level. But what does it mean to decolonise education? As Boris Johnson dismisses such calls as a "national orgy of self-embarrassment", does decolonising education mean simply changing the curriculum, or does it go much, mu…
 
Our question this time was slightly adapted from one sent in by subscriber Pamela Barnes. As the world attempts to claw its way back from the COVID19 pandemic, and as opinion polls show an overwhelming support for not ‘going back’ to how things were before, people are increasingly discussing and exploring new models for an economy that better needs…
 
In this episode we are exploring a question sent in by subscriber Joy Cherkaoui. One of the things a future in which imagination is able to flourish will need is spaces in which imagination and creativity are invited. Intentionally. These can take many forms, but we need them. What then are the ingredients of such spaces? What makes a good one? Who…
 
Doughnut Economics is rapidly moving from the fringe to the mainstream. Amsterdam in Holland was recently confirmed as the first ‘Doughnut City’, using the model to underpin its economic development strategy. Many other cities are also moving towards adopting this powerful and fascinating tool for reimagining cities and their economies. Our questio…
 
Allow me to present one of my very favourite episodes of ‘From What If to What Next’ thus far. The question we explore is ‘What if imagination were a universal right?’ It emerges from the argument in ‘From What Is to What If’ that imagination is, to a degree, a function of privilege, and that we need to create the conditions for everyone to be able…
 
This fifth episode of 'From What If to What Next' has the longest title of any of our shows thus far! It was sent in by subscriber Chris Wells. As we start, hopefully, to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disproportionately affected older people, many people have experienced an end to their lives that was lonely and traumatic. How differ…
 
In our fourth episode, we bring together two of the UK's most pioneering doctors to explore what a very different future for healthcare could be like. What would it be like if doctors' surgeries were key players in the wider Transition of the community, actively stimulating a reimagining of food, energy, community and much more? In this episode we …
 
FWIWN3.mp3In this third episode of 'From What If to What Next', we're talking about food. Taking a question from Patreon subscriber Tony Buck, we are asking "What If towns and cities set out to intentionally relocalise their food production?" How would it work? Where would you start? How would you involve the local government? How would you ensure …
 
In this second episode of 'From What If to What Next', we're talking about Universal Basic Income with Alexis Frasz, researcher and cultural strategist with Helicon Collaborative, and Phil Teer, author of 'The Coming Age of Imagination'. What would it be like to live in a world in which UBI was now an integral part of everyday life? How would life,…
 
Welcome to this, the first ever episode of 'From What If to What Next'. In this first episode, we meet singer, curator, event creator and lover of birdsong Sam Lee, speaking to us direct from a birdsong-filled forest, and Mya-Rose Craig, also known as 'Birdgirl', who is doing amazing work promoting birdwatching among young people and promoting BME …
 
Here is a taster of Episode One of 'From What If to What Next', my new podcast series. You can unlock this full episode, as well the exclusive 'Ministry of Imagination' podcast, and other exclusives, by subscribing at www.patreon.com/fromwhatiftowhatnext. This first episode speaks to Sam Lee and Mya-Rose Craig, and is deeply lovely.…
 
On Sunday 20th October, at Battersea Arts Centre, following an incredible day of 'Pop Up Tomorrow', I launched 'From What Is to What If'. Here is the audio of the evening, which also features appearances by improv expert Jeremy Finch and Ruth Sapsed of Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination. I hope it gives you an inspiring taste of the evening.…
 
One of the very best books I read while researching 'From What Is to What If' was 'Free to Learn' by Peter Gray. Peter is an evolutionary psychologist who taught for 30 years at Boston College as a Professor. He is now retired from teaching but still does research on children’s learning and children’s development. 'Free to Learn' became the most-un…
 
One of the perks of running this website and of writing 'From What Is to What If' has been the opportunity to speak to some of the people who have had the biggest impact on my own imagination. Today's interviewee, John Crowley, is one of those people. I first read his novel 'Little, Big' sometime in the mid-1980s, and it blew me away. About a year …
 
One of the finest books I’ve read recently was ‘Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter’ by Ben Goldfarb. Ben is an American environmental journalist who has taken great interest in this remarkable creature and its ability to, as he put it when we spoke, “help tackle many of our ecological problems if we just get out of th…
 
When I started writing what is now called 'From What Is to What If', the first person I spoke to was Lucy Neal. And now, as the process enters its final editing stage, the last person I'm interviewing for it is Lucy Neal. Lucy is one of the most imaginative people I know, and is hugely skilful at bringing that imagination out into the world. She is…
 
What follows is my conversation with Michele D’Alena, Director of the Civic Imagination Office. It is a multi-professional team working to build a creative bridge between the citizens of Bologna and the administration. Michele has worked for the municipality for the past 6 years, and for the past two years within the Fondazione per l'Innovazione Ur…
 
We recently spoke to Andrew Brewerton, Principal at Plymouth College of Art, about the fascinating tale of how Plymouth School of Creative Arts came to be. PSCA is a remarkable new school which puts the cultivation of the imagination at its heart, even down to how its striking new building was conceived and designed. Before Christmas I visited the …
 
Storytelling is a powerful political tool. Becoming better storytellers has been shown to make a huge difference to the impact and efficacy of activist groups and campaigns. The Centre for Story-Based Strategy ("where imagination builds power") are pioneers in this field. They work with groups giving them the tools to make the most of the power of …
 
There’s a lot of talk about Citizen’s Assemblies these days. Some people say, as the UK flounders to try and find a way through the wreckage of Brexit, that it should have done Citizens’ Assemblies in advance of any vote. Some say they should happen now, to decide the next steps forward. Citizens Assemblies are a powerful tool for hearing the thoug…
 
This post is the first of two that will be exploring the story of Plymouth School of Creative Arts, a remarkable new school in the south west of England. It is a fascinating example of a school designed around the nurturing of imagination, right in the heart of one of the UK's most deprived cities. In this post, I speak to Andrew Brewerton, Princip…
 
I would like to think that when I reach the end of my life that I will have very few regrets. I know that I will have one though, which is that I was not in London on Thursday May 4th 2006, and for the days that followed. For those 4 days, a huge puppet elephant and an 8 metre-tall girl, walked around the city, entrancing and charming the million o…
 
The scholar Richard Sennett once wrote, “modern capitalism works by colonizing people’s imagination of what is possible”. If it is the case that our current economic model thrives by creating the conditions that suppress rather than unleash the imagination, and if we recognise that now, more than any other time, we need a mass re-nourishing of the …
 
Earlier in this series of interviews, I spoke to Dr Larry Rosen who told me, "I would say that our imagination is probably on the decline, exactly in the opposite trend of our time spent on our smart phone". If, as I've been recently musing, our imaginations need time and space, and much of that time and space is currently being sucked up by smartp…
 
“It’s about how the first step to slaying a dragon is for one person to say, probably drunk in a bar somewhere, “I bet it can be done, though”. These are the words of fantasy author Alexandra Rowland, whose novel ‘A Conspiracy of Truths’ was published late last year. The quote captures the essence of an idea, a genre, which she coined, called ‘hope…
 
Welcome to our last blog of 2018. I'd like to thank you for joining me on this journey over the year and for your support and enthusiasm. Jackie Andrade is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Plymouth whose work focuses on imagination and how we can imagine different futures for ourselves and use that to help change our behaviour. Jon Ma…
 
In their book ‘Imagination First’, Eric Liu & Scott Noppe-Brandon wrote “it is pretty clear what makes young humans allergic to imagination: school”. In my search for schools or approaches to education that truly place the imagination at their heart, and which avoid this kind of allergy, I was fascinated to hear about Den Grøenne Friskole (‘The Gre…
 
Ruth Sapsed is the Director of an arts and well-being charity called Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination. She set it up 15 years ago with the artist Idit Nathan. It grew out of a group who started meeting because they were concerned about the creative opportunities that education was offering their kids, the group creating a coming together of arti…
 
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