Co-Creating the Future

When we cannot see the future, where do we begin?

We are all in this together. Sometimes we forget this until we experience a disaster like the California wildfires, the floods in Houston, hurricanes in the Caribbean, or volcanoes in Hawaii and Guatemala. Or even a company going bankrupt or a relationship suddenly ending. When larger forces sweep through and destroy where we live, or how we have lived, there is no single solution. When the future we envisioned collapses in front of us, we have to find a way to come together to create what’s next.

This was what occurred in 2011 in Japan with the triple disasters of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown happened simultaneously. For a huge swath of the population, there was no going back, no home to return to, no village even, no old patterns to rely on. There was only moving forward with who was left, building a new future, creating a new possibility.

This was the work that Bob Stilger, Co-President of New Stories, stepped into as a humble outsider, to help the people of Japan begin to create the future they wanted out of the rubble of a future that they didn’t want. “When we cannot see the future, where do we begin?” (the subtitle of his book AfterNow)

spiral of co-creationWe begin by beginning. We turn to each other, talk about what’s really important in our lives, and find a place to begin. We see co-creating the future as a process that begins with listening -- always with listening. Opening ourselves to our surrounding world in all its complexity, its pain and its hope. From that listening something begins to emerge that can be named. Perhaps it is a key question, or a new action to be prototyped. The naming creates attraction and those who care begin to connect with each other to see what might come next. They have enough to begin, and often they need to be nourished with other resources. They take action, often small, and they get results. Illuminating those results creates an invitation to others, and the opportunity for more listening.

This Spiral of Co-creation is a place to start. And below are some of the people, processes and organizations that provide training in the skills needed to help groups of people come together, learn to listen to each other, find solutions within themselves and their community, and literally co-create a new story together.  


Transition US (TUS)  is a national hub organization for the international Transition Towns movement.

The Circle Way - A process to help facilitate respectful conversation

World Café -  Join "Conversations That Matter " and learn to host them

PYE's Creative Community Model - A transformative process for teachers, youth workers, managers, and anyone who works with groups.

The Center for Creative Community - Programs that explore the intersection of dialogue, cognition, creativity, and community

Open Space - A simple way to run productive meetings

Warrior Monk - A transformative retreat for men and women

Pacific Integral - A developer of educational and social change technologies and a global community of leaders and practitioners of transformative change

The Ojai Foundation - 36-acre educational nonprofit located in the Upper Ojai Valley

Ways of Council - An overview of various methodologies for holding council