Our Civic Imagination Project, funded by the MacArthur Foundation, has been working with communities over the past four years to bring inspiration and imagination to our civic lives by surfacing shared values, our hopes for the future, and the models we use to think about the process of social and political change. We conduct research. We publish on the topic. And, we develop activities and workshops where participants are encouraged to connect with stories that inspire them and imagine the future together, using techniques that have been informed by the world building practices associated with speculative fiction. But we do not want simply to focus on the future — on what changes are ahead. We also want to reflect on the current moment recognizing that there are things we cherish and want to carry with us into the future with us.
In the midst of the profound turmoil that has affected us all over the past weeks, our team brainstormed ways in which our approaches could support us and others in tapping our imaginations in helpful ways. To come up with ideas, we first turned inward to understand our own unpredictable responses to fast shifting realities. We acknowledged the shock, grief, anger, uncertainty, fear, dread, and confusion. We then pivoted o what we had learned through our work on civic imagination, as a theoretical concept and practical approach to working with communities, to understand how we might begin to respond. This led to an exploration of how imagining and using imagination to connect with others could, in some small way, comfort us and help us see things differently, even for a moment. We created #ThroughMyWindow to invite people to engage and respond to the current moment in ways that encourage creative reflection and thoughtful participation.
Conceived by our graduate students, #ThroughMyWindow builds on these efforts and uses the window as a metaphor that invites people to look past their immediate spatially constrained reality and reflect more calmly and deeply on how they are connecting to the past, experiencing the present, and anticipating the future. We then ask them to make note of what they would want their future-self to remember. To build a sense of connection, we then encourage people to share their reflections with others and through this help build our #ThroughMyWindow collection, capturing the mundane, yet poignant, poetry of the current moment.
The images and reflections we gather #ThroughMyWindow will allow us to create a shareable collection that invites us to ponder and remember our individual and shared experiences in much the same way previous generations remembered, and sometimes drew inspiration from, their experiences of the Great Depression or the Second World War.
Participate in #ThroughMyWindow by tagging:
Facebook: @civicimaginationproject (Make your photo public!)
Or, by filling out the form below (will require a gmail account for photo file upload).