From my friend Roq Garreau:
“Visioning means imagining. At first generally, and then, with increasing specificity, what you really want. That is what you really want. Not what someone else has taught you to want and not what you have learned to settle for. Visioning means taking off all of the constraints of assumed feasibility, of disbelief and past disappointments and letting your mind dwell upon its most noble, treasured, uplifting dreams. Some people, especially young people, engage in visioning with enthusiasm and ease. Some people find the exercise of visioning painful because a glowing picture of what could be makes what is all the more intolerable. Some people would never admit to their visions for fear of being thought impractical or unrealistic. They would find this paragraph uncomfortable to read, if they were willing to read it at all. And some people have been so crushed by their experience of the world that they can only stand to explain why any vision is impossible. That’s fine, they are needed too. Vision does need to be balanced with skepticism. We should say immediately, for the sake of the skeptics, that we do not believe that it is possible for the world to envision its way to a sustainable future. Vision without action is useless, but action without vision does not know where to go or how to go there. Vision is absolutely necessary to guide and motivate action. More than that, vision when widely shared and firmly kept in sight brings into being new systems. We mean that literally. Within the physical limits of space, time, material and energy, visionary human intentions can bring forth not only new information, new behaviour, new knowledge and new technology, but eventually new social institutions, new physical structures and new powers within human beings. A sustainable world can never come into being if it cannot be envisioned. The vision must be built up from the contribution of many people before it is complete and compelling.”
— Meadows, Donnella H., Dennis L. Meadows and JÃ¸rgen Randers
I’ve had great occaision to think about this quote this week. Roq actually sent this to me and the mayor of the island we live on. Our mayor, Bob Turner, is a guy who is pretty committed to vision, to sustainability and to participation. Yesterday Bob and I were discussing the possibility of a group of us on Bowen Island co-hosting an ongoing “vision collaboratory” which would simply be a place in which Bowen Islanders would be allowed to dream and share good ideas free from the constraints of action plans, resources and even possibility. We could harvest from these conversations using a wiki, Google Earth and other tools to create a simple but powerful ideas bank.
Why would this be important? Because many people want to participate in the life and future of their community, but they don’t want to devote large amounts of time to the formal process, or they don’t have the large amounts of money that allow them to buy and develop parts of the island. Also, there is something incredibly valuable about unfettered dreaming. A vision of 100 years has the luxury of not needing to be perfect and can often provide inspiration and solid ideas for those working on shorter timeframes with more constraints.
And so it looks like that is one project about to take shape here on Bowen Island.
But this vision quote struck me on other levels too, arising out of the experience I had last week in Denver, Colorado where I went to open space at the Placematters 06 conference. I was surrounded by visionary planners and practitioners, including people like Lyman Orton, the founder of the Orton Family Foundation, Tim Erickson from e-democracy.org and folks who run all kinds of mapping projects, visualization tools and instant sketchup kinds of things to help others envision a sustainable world.
I’m inspired to put these tools to work here in my local community, and maybe we’ll learn something about that that can be shared with other people in other communities.
Practice visioning – be sustainable and creative.
[tags]sustainability, placematters06, vision, mapping[/tags]