“The exercise of imagination is dangerous to those who profit from the way things are because it has the power to show that the way things are is not permanent, not universal, not necessary,” Ursula K. Le Guin observed . “We will not know our own injustice if we cannot imagine justice. We will not be free if we do not imagine freedom.”
This collection grows from an Ecological Design Collective workshop on speculative storytelling on Tuesday, May 18, facilitated by Lauren Parater and Anand Pandian. We brought our own story ideas to the workshop, and prepared by reading a few short pieces on flash fiction and environmental storytelling, by Dinty Moore, Alexis Wright, and others.
We convened for an hourlong workshop via text and video on the Speculative Worlds channel of the EDC Commons, from many different places: Baltimore, Detroit, San Diego, Dublin, Beirut, Pakistan, India, and elsewhere. We pursued a few writing exercises together in response to three prompts:
Prompt one: Look outside or imagine the world outside wherever you are. Perhaps you see a tree or a small critter, a mountain or the sky. Breathe in and imagine yourself as that being. Write a little about what that feels like.
Prompt two: Focus now on the story idea you brought to this workshop. Imagine that what you had in mind already came true, that it just happened recently. Describe, in a few sentences, what happened.
Prompt three: Think of someone or something that lives in this world you have in mind. What kind of damage or destruction have they lived through, or inherited? Do they experience any joy or delight, in being in that world? Write a few sentences about what they live for.
Then we took some time to work on our own stories, some of which you’ll find here. In this collection of flash fables, we explore storytelling as a practice of charting alternative trajectories and envisioning new worlds, in the face of ecological loss. We intend these speculative stories as catalysts for other modes of action and imagination, with the promise of transition and repair in mind.