It is the year 2035 Has Nova Scotia slid into steep decline or has it become an inspiring example of enduring prosperity? Here you will find both scenarios, along with several more.
Looking down a road that is already built, it is difficult to imagine new directions. The best we can do is create faster ways to arrive at the usual destination. But the future is more open than that. We could build new roads, travel cross-country, engineer space ships, or rethink the need to go anywhere at all. Imagining alternative futures sheds new light on where we are now and the choices before us.
In conversations about the future of Nova Scotia, so often we don't even stop to question the goal. We assume we need to catch up to more successful players in a globalized economy. But as many of the world's environmental, financial, and political systems careen off course, it makes good sense to widen our horizons and take another look at our options. Scenarios offer one way of doing this. They lift us off the road and drop us into futures that are plausible—that could develop out of trends and possibilities in the present. Once we've visited these futures, we begin to see their seeds all around us, in our lives and in the news. The task is then to choose, cultivate, and multiply the most promising seeds.
“The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.” —William Gibson
Why we started imagining future scenarios Warnings about economic trends in Nova Scotia are not new, but they are becoming more urgent.. Like many others, we believe it is time to think in bold new ways and to understand more deeply who we are, what we are capable of, and the options before us.
When we began this project, we found the process of imagining different futures to be fun, provocative, and sometimes sobering. It was also mind-opening. We had to look our worst fears in the eye and bring challenge and rigour to our most cherished hopes and assumptions. At the beginning we gave ourselves permission not to be experts—to do our best with the information and understanding we have. We invite you to do the same. What helpful or harmful things could happen by 2035? What shift today could change everything? The point was not to be right—to predict what will or should happen—but to open our thinking towards what could happen.
Stories as stepping stones Everyone can connect to a good story, and every community, enterprise, and cultural group in Nova Scotia already has a story about its history, identity, problems, and what it holds to be important. We believe that Likely Stories have the potential to tap into existing stories as a stepping-stone to new ones.
These future scenarios are a less formal version of scenario planning, which has been used in business, government, and civil society around the world for decades. Scenario planning helps manage risk and anticipate opportunity. It also brings people together to shape the future of their enterprise, community, or country. It was used, for example, to guide South Africa through the post-Apartheid transition. Adam Kahane documents this and other examples in his book Transformative Scenario Planning: Working Together to Change the Future.
While scenario planning usually takes place behind closed doors among a select group of players, we believe that "likely stories" about the future can help Nova Scotian communities
recognize seeds of the future they want
go beyond fear of change
welcome diverse views and possibilities
generate a shared vision (compelling story)
map next steps
inspire bold action
If you or your community are inspired to create your own “likely stories” please contact us. We'd love to hear from you.