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Future Everything 2016

Logo for Future Everything
Future Everything Manchester


By Jennifer O’Grady

Every now and then I get a chance to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. This week it was the mind blowing event Future Everything

Two days of thought leading talks on intelligence, climate, life and community. Considering how we can better manage our resources, how we can use less and yet deliver more #lessandmore.

It’s a while since I’ve afforded the time to reflect on big society thinking. My waking hours are packed keeping up with the every day. There isn’t a moment between work, kids, family, friends and an occasional glass of wine.

But I’m frustrated. Our politicians and media appear to be focused on winning the next election and reporting on the latest celebrity gossip. No one seems to be taking the tough decisions to make the changes needed to protect our world and news of climate change is reported as dry and dusty.

Here was a room of people who are working at the coal face. Each one making a difference in their own way. Growing meat, tracking climatic change, developing new treatments and spending time asking what if?

I learnt that we have already lost. The increase in the earth’s core temperature means that the next generation will witnesses the change in coast line, will understand the struggle to meet the growing demand for meat and crops and will look back on our inertia and wonder – why didn’t you act sooner?

Future Everything addressed big society issues, but also tackled what we, the individual can do. From lobbying our employers to consider energy reduction to looking at our own lives to reduce our personal impact on resources.

For me, Future Everything was transformative. It turned the conversation from a general complaint ‘something must be done’ to ‘what can I do?’. It inspired me to take responsibility for my immediate environment. To appreciate that this is my street. My home. My children. My responsibility.

I’ve always recycled, so where next? I’ll be remembering to switch off the lights (and unplugging my chargers), walking instead of driving, going meat free a couple of days a week and focusing on reducing my waste.

I thought the Solar Schools project is inspirational. Not only does it help children to value and conserve the energy made, it brings the community with them. So, we’re investigating transforming our own house into a mini power station.

I was inspired by the Care and Share Economy. Giving time and skills to others in the community in return for their help and support at a time when you need it. I think there is room for this where I live, I just need to figure out the best way to go about it.

As with all these things, it was lovely to catch up with old friends from the very early days of setting up Democracy. Imran Ali and Ian Forrester proved excellent debating partners, there was an all-to-brief hello with Herb Kim and a better-to-know-you session with Coral Granger.

I’ll leave you to share in some of the final remarks from the closing speaker, Manchester born poet Lemn Sissay. He played this and if you’ve not seen it, turn up the volume, block out distractions and ask yourself What if?


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