What Kind of Future Would You Like to Live In? A Conversation With Monika Bielskytė

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Monika Bielskytė in Vilnius. ©Linas Masiokas

If you had to imagine a future that you would feel comfortable and safe in, how would it look like? How would it differ from the present? What would agriculture, education, health care or death be like? “First we imagine who we want to be and then we move towards becoming that,” says Monika Bielskytė, a guest of the NARA podcast this week.

Monika is a futurist and futures designer who consults on and prototypes culturally expansive, socially and environmentally engaged future world designs for the media industry, technology companies, and cities or countries. In this conversation with Monika, we discuss the process of prototyping futures and the feedback loop between speculative/science fiction and reality.

<p>Protopia Dreams: The Parade, Barcelona 2043. Art by Mario Mimoso. World concept by Monika Bielskyte. Protopia Futures production.</p>

Protopia Dreams: The Parade, Barcelona 2043. Art by Mario Mimoso. World concept by Monika Bielskyte. Protopia Futures production.

“Why would you create more nightmares, when you hopefully can create something that makes people dream, that opens people's eyes, that renders people curious, that makes them want to read more, to understand more, hear more, to dive deeper into that particular thing? Why would you ever feed people more fear, paranoia, doom & gloom? Honestly, life is hard enough. What we currently need most is visions of hopeful future — that inspire us to action & solidarity today,” says Monika.

<p>Monika Bielskytė in Vilnius. ©Linas Masiokas</p>

Monika Bielskytė in Vilnius. ©Linas Masiokas

Most recently, she has been working on @ProtopiaFutures – a platform for research and creative collaborations challenging and offering alternatives to dystopian/utopian stereotypes. Protopia explores visions of radically hopeful and inclusive futures centring Queerness, Indigeneity, Disability and previously marginalized cultural perspectives.

“Whenever we look into the future and especially into the deployment of any new policy, technology, scientific research, urban redesign, we have to think about how does that affect the most vulnerable people,” suggests Monika.

Kevin Kelly, the founding editor of Wired, used the word “Protopia” for the first time in 2011. Kelly’s initial idea of the concept came from the word “pronoia,” (the opposite of “paranoia”): an exuberant feeling that the entire world is rooting for you. You can read more about the Protopia Futures framework here.

<p>Visuals by Chris Bjerre. Concept by Monika Bielskyte. Graphics by Kazuhiro Aihara. Co-produced by Protopia Futures, Errolson Hugh (Acronym) &amp; Rod Chong (Race Service)</p>

Visuals by Chris Bjerre. Concept by Monika Bielskyte. Graphics by Kazuhiro Aihara. Co-produced by Protopia Futures, Errolson Hugh (Acronym) & Rod Chong (Race Service)

Music featured in this episode is from the freshly released EP called HAJAT by Vladas Dieninis. You can listen and buy it here. And more music coming from Isla to Isla record label is waiting for you here.

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Readings and books mentioned in the podcast:

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants (2013) by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Speaking of Nature by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Discourse on colonialism by Aimé Césaire

The interview was recorded at Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania.

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