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Stories to Motivate Social Change: An experiment in radically hopeful everyday futures

Format: Papers, RSD12, Topic: Cases & Practice, Topic: Culture & Society

Hillary Carey and Jessica Meharry

Anti-racist projects have always explored long-term ideas of a more equitable future. However, these explorations are typically text-based and abstracted from everyday realities. There is an opportunity for collaboration with designers who are particularly adept at describing future possibilities through realistic speculations in visual, interactive, or embodied ways. However, while powerful in form-giving, typical speculative design practices often miss the opportunity to engage communities or collectives in imagining futures together. We propose that connecting the material, speculative drama of design futuring to the on-the-ground expertise of justice projects can successfully extend and celebrate social change work.

To explore ways of making better futures clear and vivid, we proposed and facilitated collective visioning for an anti-racism task force at an arts college. Drawing on and extending the theories from transition design, we propose long-term visions as a tool for motivating change. Designers for social impact can enhance the efforts of social changemakers by fostering, clarifying, and prototyping their dreams for a better world. These visions then intervene in systems change by influencing the ‘habits of thought’ that hold oppression in place. By generating more positive visions of socially just futures, we can shift mental models and ideologies of what is possible and desirable.

KEYWORDS: Anti-racism, futuring, futures workshops, social design, speculative design

RSD TOPIC(S): Cases & Practice, Society & Culture




Citation Data

Author(s): Hillary Carey and Jessica Meharry
Year: 2023
Title: Stories to Motivate Social Change: An experiment in radically hopeful everyday futures
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD12
Article No.: pre-release
Host: Georgetown University
Location: Washington DC, USA
Symposium Dates: October 6–20, 2023
First published: 30 September 2023
Last update: no update
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404
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