FutureCenter Week ~ Bob Stilger’s Notes from Japan #30 ~ May 29th

Dear Friends,

I’ve written a lot about Future Centers  over the last year because I believe they may be an important way for people in Japan to invent a new future.

We’ve just begun FutureCenter week.  A little more than a year ago it was a major effort to plan five Future Center sessions in five days.  Now, well, have a look at the  2012 Calendar.  I’ve tried to make this link to a translated image file; it may expire.  If it does, you can go to www.futuresession.net; you’ll need to view this page with a translator — like translate.google.com — to have everything pop-up in English or some other language.  Nearly 60 events are listed and the week has grown into almost a month.

People all around Japan are experimenting with this way to gather people.

This past weekend, I hosted two sessions in Shikoku, the smallest of Japan’s four main islands.  Shikoku itself means “four countries;” high mountains divide this small island and in the distant past, people thought of themselves as living in separate lands.  It was a delightful two days as people dialoged with strangers about what was important in their lives.

One person offered a nuance I’d never thought about before: thinking about the future just means thinking about my happiness, I believe.  Another was very quiet as he said you know, I realize that I’ve never really thought much about the future before.  Later a third person remarked thinking about the future is really hard.  If we’re actually going to do something different, we need things like FutureCenters to help us meet and think together.  After all, I’m not likely to go up to a stranger on the street and ask her how she feels about the ways we’re taking care of our children after school, but I can do that here.

That’s a key part of what we’re doing — creating new spaces for new behaviors and actions.

Dialog is a core process for Future Centers.  Many other things are done as part of Future Center processes — building relationships, identifying needs, generating ideas, gathering data, converging on possibilities, forming new partnerships, prototyping new solutions — and we keep talking with each other about what we’re doing and what we’re learning.

I tell people here that while I hadn’t known the word Future Center until two years ago, I’ve been working with others to build Future Centers for almost 40 years.  They are the places we create to invite people to come together to envision and build a future we want.




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We’re all in this together. Most of us know that our own ideas are only part of what’s needed to move forward.  Sometimes we grudgingly admit that the perspective of another has value. From time to time we remember that unless it works for all of us, it doesn’t really work for any of us.

AND, it is challenging to bring people with different perspectives, experience, values and beliefs into the same room and have more than rhetoric, stoney silence, posturing and mind-numbing arguments.

Communities have diverse, knowledge, resources and capacities. When we bring the people together across difference to share stories and experiences, successes and failures, magic happens. We help people in place-based communities, groups tackling particular issues, businesses and organizations get real with each other, respecting each other enough to share their experiences and their truths without blame or judgement.

We know that most people just want a good life for themselves, their families and friends. Unfortunately, we’re in a time when the knee-jerk reaction is to find someone else to blame for our problems. We’re quick to “other” people and make up stories about those with a different viewpoint. Time to stop that. Time to slow down and listen for a change. We can help.