The Cultureberg Workshop is a futures scenario-building workshop, developed from the critical futures technique Causal Layered Analysis (CLA). Building on the same processes and methods as CLA, Odd Studio have designed creative tools and tasks which help participants to form and visualise future worlds. By adding creative dimensions to the existing CLA method, we believe that engaging with current and future problems can be made more innovative and accessible.
The key to the workshop is that it looks to analyse society from multiple deepening levels (fig.1): deconstructing from the ‘tip of the iceberg’ in order to reconstruct new, future scenarios from the bottom up. The workshop does not function to predict the future, but instead makes space for the creation and consideration of alternative futures. The workshop therefore builds scenarios that come from critical reflection on current social issues (Litany), the relevant stakeholders and actors involved (Systemic Causes), and their ideologies and values (Worldview). At the deepest level, the workshop examines emotive cultural Myths and Metaphors that uphold the current status quo. By looking tocollective archetypes, proverbial sayings, subconscious preconceptions and cultural beliefs, the workshop allows these Myths and Metaphors to be reconsidered and changed, and for new future scenarios to be constructed from the ‘deep water’ up.
Through the creative visualisation of future scenarios, and speculation on the values, behaviours and relationships of stakeholders who exist within this future context, new opportunities arise, such as the design of products, services, policies or institutions necessary to mitigate, facilitate or create these new values, behaviours and relationships.
The workshop breaks down an existing theme or issue through four deepening analytical levels. It then asks participants to alter or invert the deepest level - Myth and Metaphor - on which the fundamentals of social perception are constructed, before rebuilding a new world with new stakeholders (fig.2). The final tasks of the workshop include a visualisation exercise, in which participants build the constructed world in a shoebox diorama using figurative, playful toys, and a backcasting exercise, in which participants consider the major historical events that occur between the ‘here and now’ and their designed world - the ‘there and then’.
At each level the creative tasks and tools have been designed to help contextualise and make the abstract nature of the analytical process more accessible, especially to those who are not used to futures research or scenario building. Such tools allow the subject matter to be understood from a human perspective, exploring action and events ‘on the ground level’ through the eyes of stakeholders.
It should be stated that before the workshop begins, a prior theme, issue, or problem must be decided upon. Issues addressed within the CBW so far have included food, mobility and finance, yet the application of the process could look at the structure and future of organisations, or at more theoretical concepts such as citizenship.
Produced in collaboration with Chris Strachan