Week 2 updates from the programme— Building Imagination Activism

Each week we will publish an update of progress, updates and what we are noticing in the Camden Imagination Activism programme — a training to build imagination capacity and practice with council officers and in the borough of Camden. Welcome to our second Weeknote.

Phoebe Tickell
Camden Imagines
5 min readOct 20, 2022


Reilly’s summary of Week 2 sessions:

This week a lot happened, and we’re hearing that a lot has started to shift.

Many participants commented on how they could feel and notice things shifting in the way they are approaching their work, free time, connecting to imagination and creativity and feeling a sense of confidence in their own ideas, imaginations and ability to drive innovation.

Others feel that this course is allowing them to reconnect with their innate sense of purpose, and ability to affect change in the world. You can read some of the reflections later on in this Weeknote.

Next week the Imagination Activists will be meeting in person for the first time, at 5PS, and experience their first collective imagination session. This will introduce the Moral Imaginations framework of working with future generations, nature, and long-term thinking.

The aim is to embed imagination into policy, practice and place, starting by building the capacity for collective imagination and then embedding into place.

What has happened in the Camden Imagines programme this week?

  • Participants are being encouraged to share creative things that make them come alive. Phil shared a poem by William Blake who was a great visionary and misunderstood or under-appreciated in his own times — see the poem below.
  • We collectively signed the Imagination Contracts, to make a clear commitment to this process and ‘step over this threshold’ deliberately. This was a key moment of creating a deliberate commitment to the imagination.
  • During the session we introduced core terminology around the Industrial Growth Society and Life Sustaining Society which is part of the essential toolkit of Imagination Activists. This enabled deep discussions about how we’ve come so far, but maybe have used the wrong tools or extractive processes to bring us to this point. We opened up about the constraints of the system and what we could do without these — we are working within the limitations we have created and are now needing to respond to the systems we’ve built.
  • We explored something called the Three Stories Model and brainstormed together all of the ways we see three stories in action, today, in the world around us. Participants explored what this is like for them in their roles at Camden and in being a council officer, and our role as Imagination Activists to put our energy and focus on the story of change, while not ignoring the others.
  • This week, participants have a new practice to reconnect to their inner voice and intuition which drives creativity. We will talk about how creativity is one of the three core elements in the Triangle of Imagination in the coming weeks.
  • Participants have started to learn how to host their own check-ins, and have been given a variety of creative check-in questions to experiment with in their pods (small groups of 4–5 whom they will meet with consistently throughout the programme and practice their new tools and skills with).
  • Participants filled out their first Learning Log, one of the graduation requirements of the programme. The themes we noticed were: people are noticing themselves thinking differently, people are connecting with an inner excitement and sense of purpose and direction, people appreciate having unstructured “playful” time each week, people are feeling their faith being restored in their own capacity to be creative, have ideas and imagine. Some of the reflections are shared (anonymously) with you further down.

London by William Blake

I wander thro’ each charter’d street,
Near where the charter’d Thames does flow.
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.
In every cry of every Man,
In every Infants cry of fear,
In every voice: in every ban,
The mind-forg’d manacles I hear
How the Chimney-sweepers cry
Every blackning Church appalls,
And the hapless Soldiers sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls
But most thro’ midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlots curse
Blasts the new-born Infants tear
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse

What are we hearing from the participants?

As part of Session 2, Participants were asked to think about what might get in the way, challenge me or create resistance to me nourishing my imagination? And on the flip side, what is really inspiring me to build my imagination muscle? Some of the thoughts that were shared included:

  • “We need planned unplanned time”
  • “How we’re taught not to let our imagination run wild, we have to get results, our drawing doesn’t mean what we thought it meant and others teach us to be different, to be rational”
  • To change things we need to return to the love of life?

Reflections from participants

“I’m learning lots of new tools and methods that I can integrate into work. I’m noticing that I love the regularity of having a space to think innovatively and creatively about my work a couple of times a week — like a kind of “meaningful adult play-time” that is coherent with the goals of my job. I’m so excited to implement more of this!”

“I am learning how to give more time to myself and try to understand what helps my mind imagine in the right way for me. I have noticed I am feeling less scared as time goes on to think and act more like myself regardless of how that comes across.”

“I am taking the time to explore other ways of doing things rather than defaulting to what is usual or expected.”

“Re-building having faith in my daydreaming, starting to believe that my ideas aren’t just a fantasy and that I can turn them into reality.”

“What’s shifting is that I am starting to make space for thinking creatively.”

What has been happening in the wider Camden Imagines movement?

We had a great chat with people in the Neighbourhoods and Housing team about the ways his team are bringing in imagination practices into their work, and the possibility to build on the Neighbourhoods work and frontline forums. Moral Imaginations is also collaborating with the Participation Team around the What Matters festival, and Sue, Caroline and Phoebe will be catching up in detail about the collective imagination session she will be hosting next week.

On the 20th October, Think and Do will be running a series of What If World Cafes as part of the launch of the environmental e-learning module. Debbie from Think and Do talked with Phoebe and they decided to open the invitation to participate, facilitate and support to the Imagination Activists, as one of the first opportunities to take the tools of collective imagination out into the work of Camden.



Phoebe Tickell
Camden Imagines

Cares about the common good. Building capacity for deep systems change. Complexity & ecosystems obsessive. Experiments for everything. 10 yrs #systemsthinking.