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Imagination infrastructures

Producing, managing and developing an imagination ecosystem

In this blog, Sepi Noohi introduces the work of the Imagination Community of Practice, the three organisations that will collaboratively host the network, and our upcoming webinar - Imagination Infrastructuring no. 002: a time between worlds.

Written by:
Sepi Noohi
Date published:

One fundamental principle of Emerging Futures is a belief in the importance of cultivating communities of practice, learning and being. It’s really important to us to grow the sense that this seismic transition towards a shared horizon of alternative futures is truly a collective endeavour. Indeed, working ‘Together’ was the theme of our first Emerging Futures Community of Interest workshop in Autumn 2022, followed by ‘Intelligence and Ownership’ in workshop 2, and ‘Uncertainty and Economy’ in workshop 3. You can watch the session recordings to find out more.

Introducing the partnership

We are thrilled to announce that Canopy, Huddlecraft and Centre for Public Impact will collaboratively develop and host the growing network of collective imagination practitioners in the UK. This is a beautiful partnership which covers all bases: deep imagination practice, peer-to-peer learning ‘huddles’ and training, and an extensive international community of practitioners, respectively. We’re excited about the breadth and depth of networks that these partners can bring to the work too and how this Community of Practice (CoP) is a complement to all our other plans around resourcing the field of collective imagination.

What is the Imagination CoP, why are we setting it up, and why is it important?

This work will build upon the MAIA Group’s most recent convening of a shape-shifting peer space for imagination practitioners throughout 2022, which was funded and supported by JRF. Facilitated by Mikayla Jones, this Community of Collective Imagination manifested in a monthly Zoom circle of collective care, nuanced support and deep learning. In this recent blog, Grace Barrington from the MAIA Group shared their reflections on the experience and complexities of holding the space for a community who saw imagination from varying vantage points. The group was contending with difficulties in delivering the work whilst holding multiple demanding roles and responsibilities. They were also grappling with funders returning to pre-Covid metrics and output expectations which often left little space for the emergent, or sometimes did not properly recognise the time needed to collectively sit with ideas, and imagine and practice alternatives. This growing Directory of Practitioners was one of the collectively produced outcomes of the work.

There is a growing demand for collective imagination work, and also a desire by practitioners to experiment with new methodologies, deepen existing ones, and to develop more of these practices amongst local communities and those working with them across the UK. We’re keen to create a space for practitioners to learn more formally from each other, deepen relationships and uncover opportunities for collaboration. It’s important to us to support the people doing this work (always asking who gets to imagine), create infrastructure for practitioners to support one-another, and have a space to heal and recover from burnout. We’re also eager to link in with work happening internationally, knowing that there is much to learn and be inspired by, and hence specifically commissioning CPI to help bring those networks into this CoP. 

In order to assist the development of the network and the practitioners, we have assigned £100,000 to be used by the hosts and members to resource:

  • Continued evolution of practices (collective / public / social imagination) - not only in what the practices are and can do, but in terms of who is a ‘practitioner’ and how we widen the opportunities for that.
  • The existing network of practitioners to deepen their own capacity as well as to grow capacity and capabilities in others.
  • Opportunities for coming together to learn and share, with each other and with other communities / sectors across culture, the arts, the creative industries, policy, public services and so forth.
  • A resource pot, held on Open Collective which the community can draw on in various ways, as designed by them, to engage and exchange with each other, as well as wider communities and stakeholders.

A little introduction to our partners

Canopy is a not-for-profit organisation which centres imagination practice in the development and delivery of all their projects, working deeply with marginalised communities, organisations and ecosystems to grow and voice their imaginations to the structures and systems which govern their realities. For Canopy, it is imperative to create the conditions for new shared imagining, new stories and new action for a fairer world. Otherwise, the future will continue to be built on imaginations that are one-sided, incomplete and disconnected. 

When asked what excites them about this work, they said:

We will know some of you already but we are very excited to grow the network to include all those eager to bring the power of imagination in from the margins of social and environmental change projects and cause a joyful rumpus! We want this network to be a place which supports the growth of imagination practice as a credible approach to transformation and supports you as fellow imagineers finding and re-making this new path. We are delighted to be working with Huddlecraft and CPI to coordinate this network, and we hope to share any of the tools and frameworks we have developed in our practice to support network members, but most of all learn from everyone else.

Huddlecraft specialise in a peer-led approach to unearth and multiply human potential. They have created infrastructure to support purposeful, peer-to-peer learning and action-orientated communities and huddles through their own Host Fellowship and collaborations. One example is a network of ‘Renegade Economist’ peer learning journeys putting Doughnut Economics principles into practice in their neighbourhoods (with CIVIC SQUARE and DEAL).

When asked what excites them about this work, they said:

We’re hyped to be collaborating with Canopy, CPI, JRF, and with you - the collective imagination ecosystem. We have no doubt that bringing collective imagination and collective learning together will bear some magic fruit. We look forward to tasting it! In particular we’re excited to be stewarding the practitioner’s fund as part of this work. We’ll be using Open Collective which is a brilliant tool for resource sharing and distribution that supports collectives and networks to work in new ways. We're curious about how this will support the development and evolution of collective imagination practice.

Centre for Public Impact is a UK charity with a global reach, with a mission to support practitioners and leaders in and around government to reimagine how government could be and act. They work actively to build the mindsets, knowledge, skills and tools needed to bring about a transformation in public services. Experimentation and learning are both fundamental to CPI’s method and strategy for change, describing this approach as ‘learning as management strategy’.  

When asked what excites them about this work, they said:

We are thrilled to partner with JRF, Canopy and Huddlecraft to work with, and be part of, this emerging ecosystem of imagination practitioners. We believe in the potential of these practitioners and leaders; it is the systems, structures and processes of government today that are not set up to enable us to respond to the complex challenges we face. Producing and stewarding generative spaces to enable imagination unlocks the potential of practitioners to imagine how things could be different and supports them to build the collective bravery needed for change.

Join the webinar - Imagination Infrastructuring no. 002: a time between worlds

On Wednesday 15 March, JRF will be hosting an all-day imagination webinar, ‘Imagination Infrastructuring no. 002: a time between worlds’, which has been thoughtfully curated by Keri Facer and Gabriella Gómez-Mont. Canopy, Huddlecraft and CPI will be running an information session at the end of the day where they’ll be talking through their year-long plan for the work, different ways people can get involved, and answering any questions attendees may have. We will publish more details soon. In the meantime, please use this link for more information and to sign-up to attend the online webinar.

If you are interested in receiving updates and getting involved in the Community of Practice, please email:

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