From September to November 2022, I participated in the first edition of the Practical Utopias’ fellowship, a learning experience led by Margaret Atwood to explore new possibilities & co-create some possible, better futures. Around 200 founding fellows were selected from all over the world with the mission to co-design new ways of living -more sustainable futures to confront some of the biggest challenges of our time, e.g., the climate crisis and rising inequalities.
“There isn’t ‘the future’ that we’re doomed to enact. There are all kinds of possible futures. And which one we’re going to get is going to depend on what we do now.” — Margaret Atwood
The results? Real plans to transform our lives in the next ten years.
Here, I share the result of my group’s journey (one of the eight groups in the fellowship): it’s an example of how we could live in ten years -if we have the courage to take action & transform the “business as usual” toward a more sustainable future.
I welcome you to the city of Symbiocene, where “We learn from Nature. Respect, care, sustainability, circular economies- these are all mainstays of our way of life.”
Welcome to Symbiocene
Following the Anthropocene, the Symbiocene (coined by philosopher Glenn Albrecht) emerged as we made the human/nature connection and lived together in relationships of beneficial symbiosis.
Illustration attribution: ELFSAR | Symbiocene developed in Practical Utopias led by Margaret Atwood and powered by Disco. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International.
The digital anthology (below) represents an exploration of a possible, sustainable future where people and nature can thrive. The anthology is a collection of narratives developed by different subgroups (topics) and a series of illustrations to tell the story of this possible future. You can learn more about the other teams’ solutions at atwood.disco.co (free registration required).
Anthology Attribution: Symbiocene developed in Practical Utopias led by Margaret Atwood and powered by Disco. Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).
As stated in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: “We envisage a world in which every country enjoys sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth and decent work for all. A world in which consumption and production patterns and use of all natural resources – from air to land, from rivers, lakes and aquifers to oceans and seas – are sustainable. One in which democracy, good governance and the rule of law, as well as an enabling environment at the national and international levels, are essential for sustainable development, including sustained and inclusive economic growth, social development, environmental protection and the eradication of poverty and hunger. One in which development and the application of technology are climate-sensitive, respect biodiversity and are resilient. One in which humanity lives in harmony with nature and in which wildlife and other living species are protected.”
Such a world is possible. What’s often missing is the willpower and the vested interest of powerful people and corporations who are using tactics to divide, instigate a sense of despair and deflect attention from the systemic change needed at the government level toward the responsibility of the individuals (an eye-opening book about these tactics is “The New Climate War” by prof. Michael E. Mann).