Participatory Futures in the age of COVID-19

This article is a summary of a rather boisterous twitter thread which invited examples of participatory futures & collective visioning, for a COVID-19 era of social distancing.

Participatory Futures in the age of COVID-19

For the last few weeks I've been in full on COVID-19 response mode for my organisation (Conservation Volunteers), mostly focusing on marshalling internal and external communications as we moved towards a shut down of our in-person volunteering to do our bit to slow the spread of coronavirus.

My attention this week started to turn to the implications of postponing our core activities. At the moment we don't know how long COVID-19 will last, and in the meantime there's a lot that needs to be done for environmental conservation across Australia and New Zealand, especially after the bushfires ravaged Aus this summer.

So I kicked off a thread on twitter, asking for some examples of running participatory processes online, which explore possible and preferable futures with stakeholder groups. This seems like an opportunity to do the important work of imagining a new way of working together when COVID-19 passes.

And then the thread got a bit crazy with all the collective intelligence flowing. So thanks to everyone for your responses!

This article aims to collate some of the responses and next actions.


My initial hope was for maybe 2 or 3 links to share with our executive team, to show them what might be possible. Here's several links shared by people on the thread (sorry if I missed any!):

Processes / Methods / Guides

There were also several links shared which spoke more to the 'how' Futures work and collective visioning can be done. These are some of the links (again, apologies for anything I missed):

Next Steps

Several people expressed interest in jumping on a call to discuss this further, so here we go...



Just to give a slightly more full context for where I'm coming from this, and my specific agenda - I'm specifically interested in how to design and run a stakeholder engagement project to explore people's ideas for environmental action in the COVID-19 era and beyond into a new normal.

Whilst we (Conservation Volunteers) have a vested interest in this project, I'd also be interested in sharing the outcomes of such a project more widely. Potentially we'd also be open to doing this more collaboratively - with other environmental organisations who would be interested in similar questions.

As has been my drive for awhile now, I'm also interested in open sourcing the method, so other organisations could pick it up and run with it, wherever they may be. If you want to look at my track record in that space, head to my Resources page.


Cover Photo by "My Life Through A Lens" on Unsplash