“From What Is to What If,” Phase 1: Positive Visioning (The Heart)

In phase one of our “From What Is to What If” national campaign, we are inviting you to envision a better future with us. Positive visioning has been a key aspect of the Transition approach from the very beginning because of its ability to catalyze new ideas and perspectives, and ground our community resilience-building work in a sense of credible hope and possibility.

To facilitate this process, Transition US has recently partnered with Dr. Anna Willow, a Professor of Anthropology at the Ohio State University and creator of “Visioning a Positive Future: A Survey for Transition Participants.” This survey begins with the following statement: 

“Begin by imagining your own community 20 years from today. If you would like, you may close your eyes for a few moments to mentally step into this world. It is a positive future in which we have managed to overcome fossil fuel addiction and are adapting successfully to a changed climate. It doesn’t have to be a utopia, and you are not expected to have fully-formulated (or ‘perfect’) ideas. Your job is simply to brainstorm what life in your future community is like. Be creative and respond deeply.”

While you are more than welcome to dive right into this if you are feeling so inspired, you may want to take a walk in nature, spend a few minutes meditating on this topic, or listen to the following guided visualization first in order to begin developing your vision:

Envisioning 2040: A Guided Visualization for “From What Is to What If”

Since the survey is quite long, you may choose to skip over some of the questions. You may also want to type your answers into a word document and save them there until you’re ready to copy and paste them into the survey.

If you prefer to express your vision in a different medium, you are more than welcome to email short videos, photos, memes, songs, drawings, and other works of art to don@transitionus.org.

There are so many great examples of this kind of visioning work that we can learn from, such as Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Message from the Future,” 350.org founder Bill McKibben’s “Hello from the Year 2050,” Transition Movement founder Rob Hopkins’ “Walk Through a Day in 2030,” and Movement Generation’s “Decolonize the Future.”However, there are no right or wrong answers here. While we are not as interested in dystopian worst-case scenarios or magical silver-bullet solutions as we are in realistic but hopeful imaginings, you are encouraged to let your creativity be your guide.

After the survey collection period ends in late August, Dr. Willow will be writing up a summary report that we will share with our network. Please know that although we may choose to include excerpts from your responses in forthcoming Transition US communications, possibly including a new book or podcast, we will always do so anonymously.

Plan to take at least 30 minutes whenever you next have a chance to expand your imagination and respond to this survey. By doing so, not only will you be clarifying your own vision and sense of purpose, you will also be helping to inspire and encourage others, which may be the one of the most meaningful things we can do in these deeply uncertain times.