Since my post Scenario’s With Children – How a Class of First-Graders See Life in 2026 has received some interest, I thought I would share another piece from another scenario session with a girl scout group. This group too consisted of very young elementary school age girls. The format is a little different. We talked about future challenges such as population growth, resource preservation, energy and technologies to combat these issues. We then brainstormed various future issues and the children came up with ideas. I did have to nudge them along a little bit, but there were several issues where they were already steeped in, such as Xbox Kinect. We just took it to the next level and figured out that we could use the game console to collect and reuse the energy we use when working out. This was in 2011 before Google Glass, so we predicted that. We also foresaw individualized 3-D printing, which is a rising trend and urban vertical agriculture, which I believe we will see more and more of. Finally, I put together a simple story themed around a girl scout reunion in the future where each girl was attributed a destiny they had helped forecast in the brainstorming session.
Scenario workshops with children are highly effective for two reasons. As adult we spend much of our time planning for the ‘next generation’. At least we should. The phrase “For our children and grandchildren” has been hijacked by politicians seeking to advance their odds to such a degree that had the rhetoric translated to real commitment each time it was used, ‘child poverty’ and ‘educational crisis’ would not even exist. So if we really do care about the future of the next generation, why wouldn’t we ask them directly? And what better way to ask children what they want in the future than ask their thoughts about it? Secondly, children might actually turn out to be better forecasters than adults in many cases. At least in my experience they are remarkably astute when it comes to forecasting disruptive futures. Having lived a short life they are not locked in by old paradigms and can much more easily leave conventional thought patterns. They are less inhibited and more open-minded – at least at a very young age – which is the powerhouse of imagination. In fact children spend 2/3 of their time in imaginary play. Imagination is what is at the root of creativity and visualization of disruptive futures – which actually often are more realistic than those scenarios that merely project versions of today’s reality into the future. If you have a school class, homeschooling group, scout group or similar, and you want to try this method, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
A Daisy Reunion 2036
On January 18th 2036 Molly woke up and and turned on her 3D Xbox Kinect Energy Conversion 5G for her morning exercise. Longing for summer, she decided to enter the 3D environment in “beach mode”. After a joyful and intense workout she thought happily about the energy savings she had earned. The energy from her workout had been collected by a generator, which turned it into the electricity that could charge her phone.
Molly called her old friend Sarah, who was just then reading the newspaper on her iSpectacles. Why they still called it “paper” was a mystery to Sarah because there was certainly no paper behind the text she was reading. Paper milling was considered wasteful and used up too many oxygen-producing trees. Trees were hardly used for media purposes except to produce retro art in small quantities.
After a nice chat they decided to invite all of their old girl scout friends to a party. They needed a place where the party could be held. They called Sami and Lucy, who were vertical agriculturists –or city farmers -growing delicious organic produce for the local market in a high riser downtown. Maybe a party could be held at their rose garden at the 16th floor? Lucy’s robotic assistant answered that she was busy attending a global seminar on Girl Scout Initiatives together with Hazel. They were learning about ways to help local Girl Scout groups who were affected by heavy flooding caused by a recent tsunami in south Asia. So Molly and Sarah decided to call Sami who was just then having tea with Bridget at a local café. When Sami saw who were calling, she immediately tapped an icon on her watch phone’s touch screen to invite Bridget to join the group call. Bridget tapped her screen to see the happy faces of Molly and Sarah. They all waved to each other and talked about the party.
Ava and Kayla were shopping wool shoes when they got the invitation. Wool shoes were in vogue, and the girls knew well how to stay on top of the fashion trends!
Anna was substitute teaching at the local elementary school this day. The mood was happy and cheerful, but she had to quiet down some rambunctious boys who were playing educational games on their interactive touch screen desks. At roll call she sorted the children into smaller groups. The groups were based on which subject the student needed extra training in. A group of two boys and two girls needed extra Spanish training so they went together to the Spanish corner which was decorated in bold colors and beautiful sombreros on the walls. After practicing grammar, the group decided to virtually connect with their sister group in Chihuahua, Mexico to meet their friends there and practice speaking. Anna didn’t see the party invitation until her lunch break and decided to text back after helping a group of students practicing geometry by creating virtual 3D figures in all shapes and colors.
Neveah was designing herself a new dress on her when she got the invitation. She thought, “Great! The dress I am making will be perfect for the occasion”. But to make the dress at home she needed materials for her 3D printer from “Printer Materials Inc.”, so she left home. At the printing supply store she ran into Bella who wanted to buy recycled plastic for an art design she made on her computer. But she thought she might have the 3D printing done professionally at the factory after all since her personal CAD/CAM machine probably couldn’t handle the odd shape. Neveah asked Bella if she got the invitation and she said she hadn’t seen it yet, but would read it asap.
Julia was all ready to party with her old friends. She was in a particularly good mood after just getting some good news. Her mining team was given approval from International Seabed Authority to mine the Pacific Ocean floor for precious metals such as gold. The mining was to follow rigid safety and environmental standards. Their state-of-the-art drilling technology could be patented for a maximum of two years after which local islanders were to do a phased buy-out of the equipment to develop their local economies. This was part of a UN directive that aimed to make sparsely populated areas more attractive in order to slow down some of the environmentally caused mass migrations that particularly affected the overpopulated urban areas of the world.
Zoe would have been of a different opinion. She was a marine biologist who had seen too much damage done in aquatic ecosystems over the years and was skeptical to further intrusions. Besides, now that we could artificially engineer almost any types of material, why did we have to extract them from nature and disturb the habitats? She was happy when she saw the invitation because she could really need a party to cheer her up.
Geneticist Kendall was working long hours in the lab when she finally noticed the invitation. Dr. Kendall’s research team was zealously trying to eradicate insidious diseases such as cystic fibrosis and was getting ever closer to good gene replacements.
Leila was the last one to get the invitation. She had just come home from a remote village in Southern France were she had finished writing a set of short stories on her vintage typewriter that were to be auctioned to art collectors around the world. Typewriter written stories was the new collectible item among art connoisseurs because of its exclusivity and their retro vibe of analog times past. To really find her mojo, Leila decided to leave all high-tech and digital connectedness behind; just Leila, the typewriter and her black beret.
So the big day came and they all met in the rose garden on the 16th floor of Sami’s and Lucy’s downtown farm. It was magical! The roses were beautiful and after watching the panorama view of a magnificent sunset a LED light show created twinkling stars against the night sky seen through the glass walls, and they ate delicacies grown at the farm. After a while they cheered with their glow in the dark glasses filled with probiotic strawberry milkshake, and said: “Cheers to a glorious past and even brighter future!”
Feature Image: Carrie_B @ Flickr