There is a bright future ahead

What kind of a world do I want my daughter to grow up in?

When you have kids, you can’t help but ask yourself this question. Whatever happens right now in her life is going to be her baseline of normal. What do I want her to experience growing up? How do I want her to relate to her home, neighborhood, nature and other people?

It’s easy to list all the things that bother me about how the society or education system are currently organized. It’s way harder to suggest a better alternative. But the only way to create a better future is to imagine it first, so here’s my best attempt at describing what I’d ideally want to happen in the next 5-10 years.

Experimental communities sprout up around the world

Enabled by the internet, people with the wildest dreams come together to make these dreams reality. They design whole villages and cities from scratch, rethinking everything from first principles.

How do our homes look like? Workplaces? Public halls, libraries and city squares? How do we get our energy and food? How do we organize our government? How do we spend our days?

What does it mean for us to live a good life? How will we know when we get there?

City garden by Leif Hof, one of the Solarpunk Art Contest winners

There will be as many answers to these questions as there are small groups of passionate people, each working in line with their local traditions, climate and ecosystem. Every community like this inspires a bunch of new ones, who then share their experience and support each other in their challenges. A lot of these experiments fail, but then everyone is able to learn from their mistakes, and keep iterating on what works best so far.

The most successful of these communities attract brilliant people from all around the world. Some turn to megacities, other prefer to intentionally keep it small. Some are idyllic and deeply embedded in folk traditions, others have ultra high tech everywhere. Some of them ride mostly horses, some ride mostly flying cars and drone bikes. People move freely between these cities, towns and villages to find the one that fits them best at their current stage of life.

Governance happens mostly on the local level

Every small town and community is responsible for making sure their needs are met, and if they don’t come into an agreement people can always try to move elsewhere. Each community decides for themselves how they evaluate their governments, but happiness, health and quality of life are the most common success metrics.

When large-scale collaboration on some projects is required, each community sends their experts in that area to work on a solution together. Instead of a single higher-level government, there are multiple teams each focused on one project, and then disbanding as soon as they achieve their goal.

Leisure is the default way of life

People work as much as they need to in order to contribute to their community, which thanks to automation and eliminating bullshit jobs is much less than we’re normally used to. They celebrate long siestas sitting under a tree, eating lunch together, petting friendly neighborhood cats and dogs, and discussing the wildest theories together.

Every kid has a few dozen adults in their life that they know deeply and trust, and many kid friends both younger and older. They all roam freely and safely between everyone’s houses, workshops and offices. At least one of the neighborhood grandmas is always waiting for them with a delicious lunch.

School-age kids spend most of their time outdoors, as all the spaces around them are human-friendly and inviting. Everyone knows each other, so parents happily let the younger kids go on wild adventures with their teenage friends. They build fortresses in the woods, test different bridge constructions over the local canal, and race robotic drones that they have built themselves. If they want to learn a craft, they go to work alongside the experts in that field. If they want to have fun, they just run around and have fun.

Open source becomes the standard for everything

Science, city planning, and creating new law all happen in public, with all the information freely available to everyone. Everyone can query the data however they’d like, form a hypothesis about what solution would work best and why, and try to gather support for it. Kids ideas are treated as seriously as everyone else’s, and there’s always a friendly adult willing to mentor them through the process. Most of them make serious policy proposals and then oversee the project to completion by the time they are 16.

A new open-source tool for collaboration emerges

It combines the best of Wiki, blogs, Twitter, Roam and Slack. Communities from around the world use it to make decisions in public, document their processes, onboard new members and exchange information with all the other villages and towns around the globe. The internet turns into one giant collaborative library. However niche your area of interest might be, there’s a bunch of friendly nerds somewhere enthusiastically sharing everything they know about it.

Art becomes a part of everyday life

People sing together at work and dance in the streets, celebrating life, the cycles of nature, and each other. Retired women paint flowers on their walls and fences. Every other village holds a recurring contest for the most beautifully decorated house.

Generative art evolves into generative engineering and design. Even little kids can now design tools, furniture, household appliances and outdoor structures that are beautiful, stable and resilient. Outdoor playgrounds and treehouses are unlike anything we’ve seen before.

Wise elders support their communities through life and death transitions. When grief comes to visit, everyone joins in silence and weeping song. When joy comes to visit, everyone joins in ecstatic celebration. In shared ritual and sacred spaces everybody feels fully seen, accepted and welcome.

***

I know this vision isn’t perfect. It’s just the first rough draft out of many. To make it come true, I’ll need to find many other people dreaming about similar things, and keep acting, iterating and working on them until they become reality. If this is you, let me know, and let’s keep this ball rolling.

If you’d rather live in a different kind of a world, I strongly encourage you to think about your own vision, describe it in vivid detail, and keep working on it and sharing it with the world. We need as many of these as there are small groups of passionate people, and we need all of them right now.

One response to “There is a bright future ahead”

  1. […] When I left my job three months ago, I wanted to create a beautiful world around me so that my daughter could grow up in one. Everyone seemed tired and burned out after two years of pandemic, stuck in a gloomy rut, and desperate for some positive visions of the future. I was hoping that with more time on my hands I’d create more of such bright, detailed and vivid visions. […]

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