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Reflection
Imagination infrastructures

Collective Imagination Practice Community enters its second year

Discover our plans and ambitions for the second year of the Collective Imagination Practice Community, including how to get involved, and funding available.

Written by:
Sepi Noohi
Date published:
Reading time:
5 minutes

In 2023 the Collective Imagination Practice Community (CIPC) was launched as part of the Imagination Infrastructures strand of the Emerging Futures programme at JRF. The Community is stewarded by a wonderful partnership between HuddlecraftCanopy and Centre for Public Impact.

Why we use collective imagination practice

We believe collective imagination is a capacity needed for helping us to sense, feel, imagine and build other worlds. It offers alternatives that turn us away from the extractive and broken systems that are making it impossible for people, the more-than-human world, and the planet, to thrive.

We are continuing to invest in collective imagination practice because we deeply believe that if we are to build alternative  futures, then we can only do so if we begin this work in very different soils. Collective imagination work is about resourcing that new, different soil, that shifts perception and perspective, that centres different worldviews, and ensures we are growing new patterns of the future from very different imaginations.

We also believe that growing this capacity in people and places is like a muscle. That is why we care about growing the practices, so more people are practicing the work, in more places, and trying out many different ways to grow this capacity. We believe one way to tackle the deep fatalism of our collective psyche is to develop and nourish people and places for collective dreaming and imagining, and supporting the organisation of actions towards these futures.

Why build a community for collective imagination practice?

We believe relationality is a core tenet of systems change work: we are deeply interconnected with other humans, plants, animals and the more-than-human world and our ways of learning and being must reflect that. As such, creating an ecosystem mindset of learning and collaborating is the cornerstone to generating the waves of transition needed to tackle the polycrises plaguing our world today. This work sits within our Imagination Infrastructures strand of the Emerging Futures programme, which explores how to untether from entrenched ideas and grow the capacity for people to imagine, believe and begin to enact more just, equitable, flourishing futures, always asking who gets to imagine?

As always, our intention for the CIPC is fuelled by our deep belief that we need to build infrastructure that supports collective learning, questioning, experimenting and reflecting. Our aim this year is to nourish, deepen and extend collective imagination practice within the Community and beyond, particularly seeking to engage and inspire practitioners and curious agents of change in local and national governments, policy-makers, resource holders and decision-makers in institutions and place-based organisations.

What we did in year 1

JRF began this work by creating a £100,000 fund on Open Collective to support the work of the Community of Practice. In 2023, 30 micro-grants were distributed (with decisions made via a Fund Circle) as well as supporting 7 collective imagination Huddles and hosting a programme of open activities (Seed Swaps). Here’s how the funds are distributed.

Toward the end of 2023, Arising Quo contributed an additional £50,000 to the Practice Fund, for distribution to practitioners in Europe specifically (not including the UK). £35,000 is still available, so we’re continuing to encourage requests from people in Europe. This will be added to JRF’s 2024 fund contribution of £90,000, giving the CIPC a total of £125,000 to be drawn down by the community.

To delve deeper into what happened in year 1, and our plans for year 2, you can read this comprehensive blog by Hannah McDowell. For information about accessing funding, read this blog by Zahra Davidson, who is another of our Community stewards. You can read about the individual Huddles, which explored death and the collective imagination, ecological imagination, reimagining democracy and local communities, and more, on the CIPC Medium site.

Events and funding available in year 2

This year CIPC’s programme includes:

  • £125,000 Practice Fund (available now): £90,000 from JRF + £35,000 for European practitioners, from Airising Quo.
  • Leader Talks between April and October 2024: a series of 3 online talks with people playing a leading role in using collective imagination to address complex social and environmental challenges.

    Across the 3 sessions, we will be exploring 2 big questions: how can we land this work in environments that have power and resources but do not share our culture, for example, in government? Looking across the field of imagination practice, what are the trends we can see emerging, what needs to be grown?

    Paul Kissack and Geoff Mulgan kicked off our series of Leader Talks on 23 April, exploring the question of how we land the work of collective imagination in spaces of power. To delve into their discussion, or watch the session recording, you can read this blog by the session’s host, Jake Garber.

  • 3 Huddles between June and September 2024 (available now):

    Collective Imagination X Local Government: Deepening local democracy and participation through collective imagination.

    Collective Imagination X Government Innovation: Applying collective imagination to re-shape our centres of power.

    Connected Lives (Newham, East London, UK): Enabling relationships for flourishing communities in Newham.

    Each Huddle is open to everyone, but half the attendees for each huddle are directed at a target audience, such as people working in place with (UK) local authorities, or working in innovation labs with central government. For more information, including sign up, read this blog by Anna Garland.

  • Depth Groups: unstructured and self-styled learning journeys for members of the CIPC to lead themselves, with light coaching from the CIPC stewards and support in implementing Huddlecraft’s tools.
  • Seed Swaps: continued open-access spaces for members of the CIPC to lead sessions of knowledge and practice-sharing for the wider CIPC community any curious members of the public.
  • Collaborative sensemaking sessions.
  • End of year 2 seed library/ showcase event to tell the collective story of year 1 and 2 and distil insights developed over the 2 years. You can look at the year 1 scrapbook to see what the £100,000 funded.

Get in touch

If you have any more questions about the CIPC, pleased send them to hello@imaginationpractice.info

For any questions about the Practice Fund, please email fund@imaginationpractice.info

If you have any questions about the Imagination Infrastructures strand of work, please email sepi.noohi@jrf.org.uk

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