Today I took part in a Sustainability Action Planning Workshop organised by Forum for the Future, held at the Watershed in Bristol. The aim of the workshop was to get together a wide range of professionals from the creative industries to discuss future scenarios, their implications and our roles in them. It was interesting to meet different types of creative people and the discussions were thoughtful – however I left with mixed feelings.
I was reading the four different uncertain scenarios (uncertain because we don’t really know what will come our way) in preparation for the event on Monday evening and had contradicting feelings about the whole thing. The scenarios, impressive as they were with the depth of detail, had familiar and plausible elements but at the same time they were quite far out there, hard to connect to. At the workshop we were working in groups discussing possible upcoming challenges and opportunities and what action we could take to help positive change. Some persistent red threads came through – need for collaboration, networks, knowledge sharing, openness and transparency, bringing design thinking into business and decision making as an integral part of the process, need for champions who can reach out to educate our industry of actions anyone can take to help combat things like climate change and its repercussions… the list is actually longer than I thought!
As it can be with these “visionary” workshops, the discussion often veered off the focus at hand (building concrete short term and long term actions) and the aims and rules of how to go about the group setting could have been defined clearer. Not that the activity was without benefit, but the results could have been more fruitful and innovative if openness and playfulness would have been encouraged and guided by the facilitators.
So as not to sound like dry critic, I’d like to say that the process we went through today has made me think a lot about both useful ways of engaging with people in workshop scenarios and also about my actions. What can I do to help change happen to tackle climate change and bring sustainability into my working process and workplace? Change is coming on one level or another and I know it can be viewed as a positive thing instead of a negative threat. I’d like to bring a feet-on-the-ground ethical set of values to my work – embracing sustainability in the way I work but also assessing it for the clients I work with. If this could be part of the setting from the start, everyone involved would be aware of it. I’d like to think this would be viewed as responsible thinking and efficient action, all still making business sense as well.
Other actions are already taking place working with ARK – planning projects for social design, tackling local issues and hopefully prototyping ways of collaboration and codesign.
I hope other participants left with some thoughts on their mind rather than indifferent feelings – reaction is always a sign of engagement, be it good or bad.