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Hosting Conversations about Questions that Matter

Time past and time future, What might have been and what has been, Point to one end, which is always present. -T. S. Eliot


Ah, the future, that grand mystery at the intersection of here and there, the fuzzy crossroads of fact and fantasy. Inscrutable and commodified, fragile and elusive, the future is a precarious deep dive into the strange and inexplicable, an intoxicating vortex of intriguing speculation and converging possibilities, the throbbing abyss of the baffling ineffable. In other words, the future may be a far trickier process than we may have given it credit.


Given such complexity, we are surely obliged to appreciate all the ways through which people engage or interact with the future and in the process should be reminded of an important lesson: the more we look to the future, the more we must celebrate the present as a moment-by-moment experience. Our task as conscious World Cafe facilitators is to dance with the continuous intercourse between both aspects of reality.


In our dialog on the present/future interface, let us ask: How does the future emerge into the present? How does potential become actuality? How are present initiatives established as future realities? Why does past understanding appear so quaint from the present and what does this say of present understandings that are taken so seriously today?


In tackling such questions one may gratefully draw an immense deal of insight from Presenting the Future by Anthony Judge, a paper which explores ways of making understanding of the future meaningful in “the present” moment. In it Judge considers whether individuals can engage in patterns of relationship with the present moment that nourish in significant ways. In this light, he surveys “enhancement of quality of life, and sense of well-being, in the present — and the ways in which “the futures” that can emerge are necessarily embodied embryonically in the understanding of the present moment. He therefore posits “the future” as a distinct way of being in “the present”, rather than as how people might experience “the present” in some projected “future”.”


Upon humble immersion in Judge’s astute abstract, it becomes all the more obvious that any futurology we engage in will only truly be valuable if a good deal of thought is also given to learning about what actually sustains people in the present. Given such anchoring in the power of this moment, imagine how much more the future can be fruitfully understood/engendered/gardened/cultivated/composed/orchestrated/invoked?


So, let’s consider this the start of a long and enriching exchange, a conversation that should lead any futurist effort to question how it might best frame itself and any person considering the future to know that it is being created in no other spacetime than that one right here and now.


The future will be made by the people who can relate to the present. -Allan Howard

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