Prototyping Our Future: Social Labs For A Sustainable, Regenerative & Thriving Future

Guest post from Joshua Cubista:

Fifty years ago we were invited and challenged by the grand designJC 1 scientist and evolutionary strategist himself Buckminster Fuller to “Make the world work, for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation, without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone.” Decades later humanity faces systemically increasing global, complex, and accelerating social and ecological challenges. In the face of such challenges Social Labs offer a collaborative remedy to traditional planning and silo solutions as a way of prototyping, innovating, relationship building, and developing the capacity of collaborators as agents of collective impact and contribution.

As the field of Social Labs evolves so too does our research and practical knowledge; in service to this evolution I would like to introduce to you Prototyping Our Future: Social Labs For A Sustainable, Regenerative & Thriving Future a guidebook dedicated to emerging Lab designers, facilitators, and maverick artist change makers.

Prototyping Our Future incorporates academic and field research including interviews with leading Lab and Sustainability practitioners exploring questions such as:

JC 2Q: How can Labs be designed to move society toward a truly sustainable future?

Q: What could be strategic operating principles for designing and facilitating labs?

Q: How can Labs address systemic root causes and foster long-term innovation?
JC 9Part one explores the Sustainability challenge that we face in
ourworld today and emphasizes the need for new models,
prototypes and visions of the future that inspire and engage people in meaningful work and play; models that move us from fragmented to collaborative leadership.

Part two focuses on Sustainability Principles as a scientific and radically systemic means of articulating the boundary conditions within which people can envision truly Sustainable futures.

Part three highlights Backcasting from Sustainability Principles
asone effective method for envisioning and innovating toward Sustainability, the emphasis here being on prototyping and taking strategic action toward the future we want to create rather than trying to predict or forecast future events in the midst of increasing complexity.

Part four provides an introduction to the field of Social Labsexploring in brief its roots, definitions, and highlights some examples from the field.

Part five presents key findings from field notes, research, and
interviews which are offered in synthesis as an iterative model integrating the processes of Defining, Designing, Acting, and Evolving within a Lab including strategic questions practitioners can explore when designing Lab and innovation spaces.

Part six and seven offer reflections upon the Practice of Prototyping Our Future and present a set of Guiding Principles distilled from this research that can be seen as way points along the journey of experimenting, innovating, and prototyping through Social Labs:


JC 8In summary Prototyping Our Future takes the pulse of current trends in the field, offers reflections through research synthesis, and explores the system conditions for creating innovations that lead toward Sustainability. Prototyping Our Future is a freely downloadable guidebook and is licensed under Creative Commons as a free culture resource so feel free to iterate, re-mix, or mash-up to your hearts content along the collaborative path toward systemic leadership.

JC 7


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About Author: Joshua Cubista is an international experiential designer and facilitator with a focus on personal, social, and systemic leadership capacity building:

Prototyping Our Future is based upon the Master’s in Strategic Leadership Towards Sustainability thesis: Designing Labs For A Sustainable Future
By Ana Carolina Rodrigues, Joshua Cubista, and Rowan Simonsen

Special thanks to all contributing interviewees, Raquel Luna Viggiani for guidebook photography, and Zaid Hassan for his generous contributions to this research.





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