Weeknote 3— Future Generations

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 third Weeknote.

Phoebe Tickell
Camden Imagines
7 min readMay 6, 2023


Reilly’s summary of Week 3 sessions:

Week 3 of Camden Imagines

This week was a big milestone as the Imagination Activists came together in-person for the first time! It felt like a very special moment filled with connection, joy and of course imagination. Many of the participants commented on how they felt a deeper connection to each other and the programme being in-person, so there is a lot for us to think about as we continue to deliver the rest of the programme. Read on to find out about what we did.

It’s an exciting moment in the programme, because people are starting to notice how the tools and practices are shifting their sense of what is possible, and what they might want to work in their imagination activism project in Camden. A couple of project ideas and thematic ideas started to surface in the session, with people wanting to put their ideas and creativity towards making positive change for residents. Two people identified
a common interest in the same area, and so a potential collaboration area was born. We asked ourselves the question “what is everyone incubating?”

People were very moved by connecting with a sense of the future generations alive 200 years from now. Camden colleagues reflected that really deeply connecting with future generations gives a huge sense of momentum and purpose — and is something that cuts across all issue areas and all differences between people, because everyone cares about future generations.

Another thing people said was that they had started to go back to their teams to talk about the programme and what they were learning and uncovering. One participant said that they had been finding Reilly’s drawings very helpful to share with their team as it summarises what happened in the sessions and allowed a different way of sharing. As we go on we will be supporting imagination activists to share back what they are learning with their managers and teams.

The participants are exploring how to embed imagination activism into Camden. This looks different for all of them. We have offered the frameworks and principles of the imagination activism toolbox, and the council officers are being supported to work out how this applies and embeds in their own context, in the local council and in the Borough.

For some people, this looks like bringing the exercises of imagination activism into policy making. For others, it looks like bringing the point of view of children and young people into the work they are doing — “always having their voices in the building even if they aren’t physically present.” For another person, it means changing the red lines and boundaries between residents and staff. An example of this would be with tenants having more direct access to council staff — imagination can be an equalising force.

Next week, we will be back online and taking some time to think more about imagination practices in detail.

What has happened in the Camden Imagines programme this week?

  • We kicked off with a discussion about Rob Hopkins’ recent podcast with Cyril Dion, where he talks about Imagination Activism and asks Cyril what being an ‘imagination activist’ looks and feels like to him. You can listen to the full podcast here. Cyril talks about his take on Imagination Activism in the final 6 minutes of the episode. Here’s an excerpt of what Cyril shared:

“Of course we need Imagination Activism. To me, trying to adapt to reality in the way it is all the time is a trap. If you look at climate activists, that’s the problem. They’re just trying to adapt a little bit, current reality, having electric cars instead of fuel cars, having windmills instead of oil, without thinking about how we could live differently. And it doesn’t work! And that’s what capitalism and this society succeeded in doing, telling us that there is no alternative, and we have to live like that, and that’s the best system, or the least bad.

You don’t change the world doing that. When Martin Luther King said, I have a dream… Having a dream is about imagining a different world. When you say I have a dream where my son will grow up in a country where he has the same rights as white people, you’re just imagining a world that doesn’t exist. And that’s the same thing as all the people who fought for equality between men and women. So that is what we need to do right now — we need to imagine a world where you can’t spend your life working to just have a salary at the end of the month, to feed a capitalist monster, to have economical growth. That’s not the point of being on this planet… You could do much more interesting things.

So, what would it be? How would you make a living? Would that expression exist anymore, to “make a living”? Maybe not! What we need to do is defend life on earth, in all of its form. That’s all we need to do. To defend life is to defend all animal species, and the trees and the oceans and so on. But it’s also defending the life inside yourself. What is making you alive every day? Why do you want to get up and live your day? Why? To do what?”

  • Some of the group responded to how the excerpt made them feel, one reflection from the group was “I want urgency and I really want things to change now”
  • Phoebe responded to questions about how to handle the tension of being someone who is part of the system and yet imagining something radically new. She shared her own reflections about how she feels imagination activism isn’t necessarily about going against the mainstream, it is about weaving in and out of it, and rather than resisting the current way of doing things, invites everyone to imagine together how it could look different.
  • We then had our own discussion about what imagination activism means in Camden. One participant shared “imagination activism shouldn’t be an add-on — it shouldn’t be ‘more work’. Imagination activism should be part of our ethos and all staff should embody it. It should be rooted in Camden”. We also heard that “it is about capturing everyone’s voice and vision for the future — we want to create
    space for inclusion”
  • Some people even shared that they already feel like they are an Imagination Activist which reflects the spirit of Camden.
  • Phoebe introduced to the group to their first truly immersive imagination exercise: meeting the future generation and transporting ourselves to 2222 through a time machine
  • Participants were taken through the Moral Imaginations Future Generations exercise where they met with their 7th generation ancestor who had a cultural record of 2022 and what we are doing on the Camden Imagination Programme, as well as the wider context of what has happened in the world over the past 200 years. They then invited that perspective into their work and decisions.
  • They were guided through a process of talking through the future of what happened in Camden as imagination activism was embedded into the Borough — and imagined what happened at key milestones like 2030, when no child in Camden went hungry, or 2034, when all green spaces were transformed into rewilded nature.
  • It was a transcending experience for the Imagination Activists with much of the group feeling a sense of purpose in the work and beginning to generate their ideas about Imagination Activism in Camden.

What are we hearing from the participants?

  • “It was amazing… it was so nice to hear from the 7th generation and for them to thank us. It was also great to focus on what we can do”
  • “It made me feel like the struggle is worth it”
  • “It validated my values particularly relating to being a vegetarian and the trauma informed therapies work we do; it felt like my personal beliefs became common place and it was a powerful validation”
  • “The term ‘someone who’s name you will never know’ really triggered an emotional response in me — it resonated that we are doing it for all not just for self”
  • “It also triggered me but in the sense that I already know their name because I am already spiritually connected to my ancestors and they are guiding what I do now. I hope that what I am doing inspires them.”

What are we reading this week?

Keep imagining and see you next week!



Phoebe Tickell
Camden Imagines

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