by Elizabeth Ononiwu
A foundational activity in foresight practice is to open yourself to challenging your own assumptions. So David and I sought out the most critical minds we could find. We went to the Journalism program at Centennial College and asked them to challenge Futures Present about what we say we do for our clients. We hosted several foresight workshops with them (see the post called Live Challenge) and needless to say our exchanges with these strong communicators were very insightful. Elizabeth Ononiwu captured the testimonials of their experience and it is published here unedited.
Centennial College’s Storyworks students share their experience working as Futures Present journalists
Beginning January 2019 at Story Arts Center, four journalism students, Mary An, Margaryta Ignatenko, Carolyn Pioro and Elizabeth Ononiwu have been working with Maggie Greyson and David Buwalda to create compelling content for their company “Futures Present”.
Over the past 14-weeks, the four students got the opportunity to be immersed in the world of foresight, future and design by participating in a live challenge, interviewing professionals involved with foresight design, and getting to walk through their own Futures Present exercise. Below are the testimonials of the of the journalism students:
Margaryta Ignatenko – “I'm grateful for the opportunity to have worked with Futures Present. This opportunity has highlighted the value journalists hold as "sense-makers" in our society.
Futurism and strategic foresight is complex, but in order to engage a whole community in thinking about a smart city, for example, these concepts and ideas need to be made accessible and move beyond jargon. I have also been inspired to explore new curiosities and possibilities for my future. This experience has prompted me to think differently about the possible futures of journalism.”
Mary An – “I didn't expect much from them at first because I didn't fully understand the extent strategic thinking had on my daily life, much less everyone else's. Maggie and David helped me open my eyes to the importance of strategic thinking in everyday life. I find that it's most useful for businesses and even for myself. They ask the important questions like 'how will that impact the future' or 'what's the future look like for this'. All in all, my experience with them was a good one.”
Carolyn Pioro – “One thing I found valuable about being a Futures Present storyteller was writing about, and considering things, with different levels of seriousness. A lot of talk about the future and especially capital F "the Future" can be so downright scary — climate change, the rise of populism, issues about surveillance — and the concepts and the writing that arrive from those ideas can be so, very bleak. But we learned to consider futures — plural — because as Maggie mentions as part of her workshop "there are no facts about the future."
So, it's not necessarily all doom and gloom. At least not always. At least not yet. There is no certainty about the future. I got more comfortable with knowing that, at times, we don't need to be certain about all things, always. The future is a pretty opaque cloud and when interviewing others, and reflecting on my own opinions, I learned to keep my mind more open to that. (Flying though, flying is something everyone seems to mention. Always: flying shoes, flying houses, flying cars. No one seems to consider the future without considering more things flying!)"
Elizabeth Ononiwu - "Working with Futures Present as a journalist was a very eye-opening experience for me. From the very beginning of learning what foresight design and innovation was all about, to connecting with and researching others in the same field, it was like being exposed to a whole new world. I realized not only the importance of efficiently communicating the methods of design foresight planning to an audience, but also how much I need it in my own life. Getting to work with such patient and passionate people as Maggie and David, they really helped to bring this experience to a personal and intimate level."
We are grateful for the opportunity to see foresight through the eyes of young, curious, and determined journalists. Credibility and trust building are paramount in a profession under attack. David and my approach to the practice of foresight has become more urgent through these encounters.
We say "Carpe diem!"
See about the STORYWORKS PROGRAM at: https://www.centennialcollege.ca/programs-courses/schools/school-of-communications-media-arts-design/storyworks/