The greatest opportunity of our generation: that’s what could be waiting for us, after we leave “green” behind. Saving the biosphere and spreading sustainable prosperity is going to take a lot more than doing things in a more environmentally-conscious manner; it’s going to demand we remake much of our material civilization.
And that’s good news. It frees us up to think in really new ways, to innovate, to create, to re-invent. Our day is almost defined by the exploding number of people who have access to tools and models and ways of thinking that were previously rare or expert or unimagined. If we live in an age of stark ecological limits, we also live in an age of widespread potential innovation.
We can see on the horizon the silhouette of something incredibly hopeful and exciting: a world of people whose boundless creativity within natural limits uplifts humanity and remakes civilization to be first sustainable, even restorative. This crisis could end up being the greatest opportunity of our generation.
In this work, though, we have two enemies: time and outdated thinking.
We must go fast now. We have possibilities today that we’ll lose with every passing year, and the tipping points loom ahead: beyond those, only disaster awaits.
We’ve also got to toss aside the mindset that the status quo is reasonable. The very first step in bringing on a better future is acknowledging that our ideas of what’s normal, or even what’s possible, will not outlast the next decade. If we take radical change as a given, we’ll quickly see that a number of solutions are already within our grasp.
Free our minds and our footprints will follow.
The movement towards planetary sanity has already accelerated to the point where it’s now dragging “green” (in its shallow pop-culture sense) along behind it like an anchor. We’re way past the stage of voluntary half-measures and into an era of widespread innovation, high standards and systemic change. Anything less merely distracts us from the goal.
Imagine a future that works — that’s what we must do! Not in a mushy, vague, feel-good sense, but in a concrete way; in a way that proclaims the transience of the world around us and the possibility before us.
That’s the work we see ourselves both engaged in and reporting on here. We’ve got a big book project coming up on this very topic, and we’re processing all the great feedback we’ve gotten from all of you lately about how to remake the site into a more effective vehicle for sharing stories about the kinds of creativity and innovation Worldchanging people around the world are summoning up at this critical moment. We think the result is going to be nothing less than transformative.
At the same time, we also think that this is a moment when we all need many more people iterating their ideas for real change. So, as a starter for that kind of conversation, we’re holding a little collaborative challenge.
The idea is simple: share, in words, images or sounds, your idea for the end of some outdated aspect of contemporary society and its replacement with a better way of doing things. Start with the phrase, “Imagine no…”
Then put a link to your entry (or the text itself) in the comments below.
The best examples we know about in two weeks will get prominent coverage here on Worldchanging, and we have some swanky prizes for the folks who do the best job. In the spirit of testing the rope first, we’ve come up with a few examples ourselves, merely (we hope) provocations for thought. We would love to know which ones you like!