Bonus episode: Thrutopia Masterclass: Writing our Way to a Future we can be Proud to leave as our Legacy

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We live on stories. We thrive on visions of futures we want – or terrify ourselves with those we definitely don’t. But when it comes to our own near-term future, we don’t have the stories that tell us how we got it right. So we need to write them – Urgently!

Come and join us on a unique 6 month Masterclass, writing our way to the futures we want and need.

One of the things that sets us apart from other species (as far as we know) is that we are forever building futures in our heads. Whenever we embark on something new: a relationship, a job, a project, a house move…it’s fired and inspired by the stories we tell ourselves of how we’ll feel, how others will engage with us, how our lives will be different – and often better. The futures might not pan out as we think, but we got ourselves where we need to be by our ability to shape ideas of a different reality.

And yet when we’re confronted by the greatest, deepest emergency our species has ever known and while we have plenty of dystopic stories of how bad it could be (think HandMaid’s tale, or The Road, or even Don’t Look Up), and a few utopias set in other worlds or other times or other realities, what we don’t have is a big – vast – body of work showing how we could get to somewhere we’d all want to go: somewhere that future generations would look back and say of us, ‘Yes, it was hard, but they did everything they could, they all pulled together, they created a vision of a flourishing world and we’re building on the foundations they left us.’

We need urgently to craft these stories: heroic journeys (or possibly post-heroic journeys) of how the world could be in the near term if we get it right, whatever that means. We need accurate, believable road maps of how to get from here to there. ‘Here be Dragons’ and big scary lines on the map doesn’t cut it any more: we have to imagine things better.

And it’s hard. We need a whole lot of research of the things that are happening now in a whole range of fields from politics and economics to food and farming through business, work, the future of cities, education, technology, social media… and we need to explore how to stitch the ideas together into workable narratives that will draw people with them, even if they’re bombarded by the ‘business as usual’ stories of our media. We need to give our media new stories to tell, that they will believe and want to share.

And finally, we need the insights from industry professionals in publishing, film, TV, theatre… to help us get our new stories in front of the most possible people.

So this is Thrutopia Masterclass. It’s an Ideas Generator, a Narrative Incubator and a Dissemination Guide. It’s a Think Tank and a community, a writing masterclass like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Come and join us! https://thrutopia.life.

Or just share the link to this mini bonus podcast…

IF you prefer to read…

This is the mini- bonus episode of the podcast where I tell you about the one thing that I think we need now above all else to help create that other, better, more flourishing future happen. This is Thrutopia.

If we were a different kind of podcast, we’d have a flourish of trumpets here. But I don’t have trumpets, I have a chime, which I think is friendlier to your ears.

So…. CHIME…

Thrutopia – I’ll give you the baselines details first.

It starts on SUNDAY MAY 1ST AND RUNS UNTIL SUNDAY OCTOBER 16TH

It’ll run from 6pm to 9pm UK time which is British Summer time throughout the course.

It’s online, so you can login from anywhere in the world – we’ll hold the meetings on Zoom unless something particularly magically better turns up between then and now – and then we’ll create an only meeting space on the website by the start of the course.

And the website is https://Thrutopia.life

That’s T.H.R.U.T.O.P.I.A – the word comes from Philosopher and Activist Rupert Read’s 2017 paper in Huffington Post and Rupert will be one of our Speakers, but..

Before I go into the granular detail, I want to explain why I think this is the single most important thing we can be doing –

We are a storied species – one of the things that sets humanity apart is our capacity – actually our hard-wired need – to create stories. Whenever we start a new job, move house, start a new creative project, take the huge risk of embarking a new relationship with a person or a puppy, or anything…we are building futures in our minds that we want to move towards. Those futures often don’t end up as we imagined, but that doesn’t matter, it’s the prospect of things we want that draw us forward, lead us each step of the way – we know what we want and we have a pretty good idea of how to get there.

BUT now, as we teeter on the edge of a climate and ecological and social emergency, we don’t have any visions of futures we’d want, … we have plenty of dystopias – we know how bad it could be. We have sprinklings of Utopias, but they’re always distant – some other time, some other place, often another planet, or another realm of reality. What we need now is a set of road maps to futures we’d want.

This is what Rupert describes as Thrutopias – visions and road maps of ways to get from here to there where ‘there’– as Rob Hopkins so often says is somewhere we’d be proud to leave to future generations. Where they look back and say, ‘it was hard, and they made some mistakes, but my goodness, they had the visions and they gave everything they had to making them right and we’re building on the foundations they laid.’

We need to lay those foundations and we need to do it first in story. All kinds of stories; Netflix blockbusters, binge-watched series, soap operas, theatre plays, novels, poetry, song, blogs…We need to get to the point where characters in soap operas are discussing the ways forward as if this is what ordinary people do – because it IS what ordinary people do.

And we don’t have this. COP26 taught us many things, but one of the most clear was that the people at the top, the people currently making decisions about the trajectory of our species, have NO vision of how the world could be that isn’t business as usual with a bit less carbon in the atmosphere. And that’s not good enough. It never was, but there was nothing offering an alternative.

So now we’re offering the alternative. I’m writing a Thrutopian novel and the past 8 months have taught me two things:

First, it’s not easy to step out of the known into the almost-but-not-quite unknown. If I hadn’t been running this podcast for the past 2 years, I would have no idea of what is happening in the world that’s leading us forward, of how everything stitches together, of how the details might work: of how to shift our economic, political, systems, our power generation, our food and farming systems, our business and work, our cities.

And Second – it needs more than me. We need dozens, hundreds, thousands of writers in every form creating their own visions of the more flourishing future our hearts know is possible. We don’t have long. The climate clock is ticking. The Sixth Mass extinction is accelerating. And so those writers need help to work it out.

What we need, I believe, is a hybrid between a THINK TANK working out the possible futures and a writing masterclass.

And Thrutopia Masterclass is designed to be exactly this.

Thrutopia is an Ideas Generator, Narrative Incubator and Dissemination Guide. Because we’ll need all 3 of these to get us forward

The ideas generator is the think tank – If we’re going to write, we need the data, we need to know what’s possible and how it works, how things interact – we’ll need to build big pictures of things that we can get to – and see a clear route through. So to achieve this, we’ll bring in thirteen speakers – one every alternate Sunday from May 1st to October 16th to outline their vision of how we could be in the 2030s IF we make good choices now – and what those good choices are. We have people like Rob Hopkins, co-founder of the Transition Town network and host of the Podcast From What IF to What Next. We’ll have Cory Doctorow, Phoebe Tickell, Indra Adnan, Howard Johns, Tamsin Omond… and others, each with a specialist area, but each also able to look at the bigger picture. We’ll have them with us for an hour to explain their vision of a possible future, then we’ll take a short break and then

We get to the Narrative Incubator – which is where we have a 90 minute masterclass to explore what the vision has brought up for us, create small cameos of possible futures, stress test them in a safe environment where I can say, “Hey guys, I just heard Rob, Tamsin, Indra, whoever say this and I think this would work, what do you think?” and have feedback from people who understand the creative process and want to engage with it. We’ll do it intensively then, and the conversations can continue online in the gaps between the sessions – any one of us can create a subgroup so that if you’re particularly interested in say- the granular detail of how a holistically functional internet and social media might look and feel and work, you can gather together a bunch of other creative people and set up a small sub group and talk about it.

There’s more to the Masterclass than this – I want to look at framing and , but that’s the gist.

And then finally, we need the Dissemination guide because it’s no good if we write the best scripts, novels, stage plays – and nobody ever sees them. SO we’ve invited some key industry professionals from publishing, theatre, film and television to come and talk to us about how THEY see their industry from the inside and to answer our questions about how best to get our work in front of the most people OR the people who will get it and be able to work with it best. Because that’s what this is about now – creating futures that will work and inspiring the most people.

We’re also, early on, going to bring in Dr Sharon Blackie, the mythologist, to talk about the Heroic Journey and what a post-Heroic journey might look like, if that’s even possible.

Because whatever we do, we’re breaking conventions and we need to do it with our eyes open.

So this is a six month intensive course building visons of the future. And it’s for ANYONE who is a creative writer in any form. It’s not about having been published before, or had a screen play made… If you have and want to come along, you’re utterly welcome – with open arms, but I don’t want anyone to think that just because they haven’t been published they can’t come – if you want to devise the futures we’d be proud to bequeath to those who follow us… if you want to be part of the conversations that make it happen, then please do come along

My aim for this, is that we end up with a cohort of people who have the ideas, the internal resilience and the tools to write amazing, outstanding, inspiring stuff that will engage people right across all the grim political divides that currently separate us – until we have a momentum for generative, regenerative change that becomes unstoppable.

What it’s not, and I need to be clear about this – is a beginner’s writing course. We’re not going to teach you how to write a bestseller – if that’s even something that can be taught, which I doubt – or a screenplay, or a poem. There are lots of places out there you can learn those… this is the other bit, the working out WHAT to write… and how to structure a plausible future.

So that’s it. The website is THRUTOPIA dot LIFE. If this sounds good to you, please do check it out. And if you know of anyone else who’d be equally inspired, then please do send them this link.

And that’s it for now – we’ll be back in the normal rhythm next week, and look forward to meeting you on May 1st. Thank you, and good bye.

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