Futuring Overtures – a first impression

Exactly two weeks ago we arrived in Malta – ready to run our first series of Futuring activities within the cultural programme of the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2017.

Two weeks which have been keeping us busy, excited and challenged in the best sense of the word. Days which have delivered nice surprises, warm smiles, sound feedback, lovely Lampuki and a wide range of great people interacting with us.

And with today we are happy to have accomplished four “Futuring Overture” sessions. The first step within several, focussing on possible Futures of Europe with the unique perspectives of Malta.

We have had the pleasure to meet more than 100 interested people during these sessions, all of them willing to share their ideas, their concerns and knowledges with us. What a privilege! It is not often that a group of strangers come together and trust you all enough to share some of their hopes and dreams, fears and concerns.

We had people of all ages, as far as we can tell also with all sorts of diverse backgrounds and from all (far) corners of the islands. Students as well as several pensioners, artists, heads of councils, teachers, road-construction workers and many, many more. Most of the people attending have been born in Malta, some of them have been living abroad and came back, others decided Malta to be their adoptive home and a few and far between even have been tourists, visiting friends over here in Malta and have been dragged along to participate the session. Simply a great body of thoughts and philosophies.

During the preparation for these sessions we have heard several times about the difficulties we will be facing, especially since “the Maltese” are rather persuasive, very strong in opinions, there is one side, which is the correct one: a second one beside that, no way! Full stop.”Speculative discussions? Really? With Maltese people?  Much luck! What – for five hours? On a weekend? Even Sunday? Much luck!”

You know what: generalisations suck! Well, we all know that, at least we all pretend we know it, nevertheless recurrently we end up using them – and start to believe them (even worse!). We are happy to say that we didn’t meet _the Maltese_ :) For all the sessions we experienced and enjoyed an interested, concentrated crowd, willing to contribute and to listen. Sure, people are having opinions – but we have been asking for exactly those and as far as we can judge, it seemed that people have been giving space to others. Some of the participants have even returned, to invest some more time in shaping questions and concerns for Malta and Europe.

In this very moment are left with a few dozen sheets of paper covered in notes, scribbles, questions, responses and imaginations of the things that might be effecting the way that Europe and Malta will develop in the near future.

Some of the responses – collectively preferenced – and then being dealt with in more detail are as following

  • Artistic Europe and World
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Public Space and Public Goods
  • Education for achieving full potential
  • Innovation for generally sustainable solutions
  • Environmental Awareness
  • Fear and Anxiety

We will spend the next few days analysing the results from the sessions, preparing it for a display in the Esplora science center which will also include a series of interviews with participants and a documentary of the process. Then slowly we will get ready for the next round of futuring exercises with our partners from Extrapolation Factory, Changeist and FoAM. It is looking like a good few months.

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