“Thank you for calling FutureRoots. After the tone, please state the year from which you are calling and leave a snapshot of your life from the cloud of possible futures.”


In Autumn 2015, ONCA worked with the ARTS Project at the University of Sussex on FutureRoots – part of the FutureCoast global digital storytelling project. We collected ‘voicemails from the cloud of possible futures’ from local people working towards positive, transformative change. Voicemails were shared in the gallery at ONCA’s Festival of Climate Ideas, and can be listened to online.  These were the instructions for partipicants:

“Call 07940 954541. Say your name or the name of the project with which you are involved.  Then imagine you are leaving a voicemail whilst living 10, 15 or even 50 years from now. Think about who you are calling – a family member? Friend? Colleague? What do you need to say about how the world is ‘now’? What has been the legacy of actions we made since 2015?”

Visit our Soundcloud playlist to listen to the FutureRoots voicemails.  Here is a small, joyful, hugely inspiring selection to get you started. Enjoy!

Hearty thanks to everyone who contributed FutureRoots voicemails! It’s not always easy to imagine positive futures. Perhaps it takes courage. It certainly seems to take skill to articulate visions of ecological and cultural renewal. This timeline shows some of the great ideas in the voicemails:

The messages will be a useful resource and inspiration for future projects. SPRU and ONCA welcome ideas about how to use them. More FutureRoots/ ARTS workshops, hosted by Jake Barnes of SPRU, are to follow in Spring 2016. Watch this space for more info!

After leaving voicemails, FutureRoots participants were invited to professional nurture/ network building workshops as part of ONCA’s Festival of Climate Ideas in the first week of December.

Thrivability with Bridget McKenzie

Bridget McKenzie is a researcher and evaluator of cultural and ecological initiatives. If you get funding, you have to do evaluation. Even if you don’t get funding, evaluation is useful to help you reflect, improve and share what works. Bridget is frustrated by standard thinking about evaluation, which either assumes economic goals for success or seeks to show that you haven’t wasted public money. This session was an invitation from Bridget  to participants to help her develop a new, more integrated and positive framework for evaluating cultural and ecological practice. The key concept of the framework is thrivability, aiming for more generative, biodiverse, mutual and creative communities. Workshop participants explored and played with images and words to help define thrivability, and discussed in groups how they might use evaluation to better advocate and spread good practice.

Read Miriam Steiner’s blog post about Bridget McKenzie’s Thrivability workshop

Collaborative Futures with Ben and Annabelle Macfadyen

This hands-on creative workshop was aimed at people working towards sustainability, equality and social change, or simply holding a vision. The workshop explored questions about possible futures, such as

  • How can we acknowledge both the challenging and the positive ones, and relate to them with creativity and resilience?
  • How do we move towards making the Brighton and Hove we want to see, and what can we learn from each other along the way?

The session drew from Joanna Macy’s Active Hope process and used malleable materials for inspiration in an exploration of positive steps to take forward. Over two hours, the group assembled a web of ideas across the ONCA gallery, creating connections and giving shape to their visions.

Annabelle and Ben are collaborative artists using performance and visual art to build community and engage with themes of social change and sustainability. They both trained as ‘Be the Change’ facilitators and bring their shared passion for creativity and positive change from across generations as mother and son.

Read Jake Barnes’ blog post about Ben and Annabelle Macfadyen’s Collaborative Futures workshop



Recordings made for parent project FutureCoast can be heard here.

FutureRoots forms part of the ARTs project run by SPRU at the University of Sussex. The ARTs research project investigates the role of local organisations seeking transformational change towards sustainable local carbon futures within Brighton & Hove. It aims to find ways in which to accelerate change towards a sustainable low carbon society. FutureRoots is an extension of FutureCoast Brighton, a wider programme of events and projects created by ONCA Arts & Ecology and University of Brighton media researchers, inspired by FutureCoast – an alternative reality game created by US-based designer Ken Eklund.