Imagineering embraces any use of narrative to realize, create, or catalyze imagined potentials into real life.

I love people using imagination to create imagineering stories – narratives and narrative elements that inspire and enable people (readers and viewers) to actually live the imagined reality in/into the reality of their current and/or future work, lives, groups and communities.

Imagineering often involves complete stories in any form, from novels like The Monkeywrench Gang (which helped inspire EarthFirst!) and movies like V for Vendetta (have you seen activists wearing Guy Fawkes masks?) to “backcasting” – a kind of “journalistic reporting” but from the future (like Kim Stanley Robinson’s recent TEDTalk) – and viral videos that inspire – and provide instructions for – global imitations of activities or behaviors (like the Free Hugs Campaign and Complaints Choirs). 

My sense is that imagineering can also involve one or more story ELEMENTS – metaphors, images, themes, perspectives, conflicts, problems, questions, goals, knowledge, possibilities, and imagined characters, situations, plots, events, resolutions, dialogue, etc. Imagineers use these story elements consciously to inspire and guide people to reshape their consciousness, their lives, their work and their social and physical circumstances. Dialogue practitioners of The World Café sometimes ask “What could ____ (this community, climate action, gifting, whatever) also be?”  What an evocative invitation – masquerading as a question!

Imagineering can be used to provide a narrative infrastructure to enhance network-based organizing. Sites and campaigns can encourage imagineering activities through which people create stories of what they’d like to see and connect with others to make it happen. It’s networking that embodies the power of imagination using compelling stories of possibility.  Decades ago I created an imagineering zine filled with stories of things that hadn’t happened or didn’t exist, each followed by a contact to make it happen.

Tom Atlee is the Vice President of the Co-Intelligence Institute which works to further the understanding and development of co-intelligence in politics, governance, economics, and conscious evolution, and the author of books including Empowering Public Wisdom, The Tao of Democracy, and Reflections on Evolutionary Activism. He  is most interested in developing a vision and capacity through which ordinary people – citizens and stakeholders – can generate real, actionable collective wisdom together in a “wise democracy.”