Over two days in July 2016, the first meeting of the Everyday Futures Network took place. Twenty European researchers visited Lancaster University to discuss what ‘everyday futures’ could be as an area of research and how it is reflected in their work. Central to the workshop were discussions about how a new field could be created using specific theories and methods to illuminate the importance of the everyday in future making, and of the future in studying the everyday.
On the first day, all participants were given 5 minute slots to present relations between their research and everyday futures. These served as an opportunity get to know each others’ backgrounds and research interests. During each of the presentations, all the other members of the audience wrote a postcard to the presenter. These postcards highlighted what was inspirational about the research, and suggested potential topics for joint writing.
These postcards began a free-flowing conversation between participants by teasing out common threads from the eclectic set of talks. Mike Hazas (Lancaster University) provided an instant commentary highlighting cross cutting themes and shared interests. The need for links between approaches that follow different trajectories, and for interdisciplinary discussion and debate, is vital in the study of everyday futures, which will be constituted of social practices, infrastructures and materials, pasts and presents, continuities and change, within specific places.The postcards were distributed to each participant, so that they could reflect on the suggested topics and consider who they would like to work with to write a short think piece for the Everyday Futures website.
A walk from the university to Lancaster city centre, along the canal tow path through the countryside gave participants a further opportunity to get to know each other and discuss interests informally, whilst again finding potential links for research. Everyday futures are based on lived experience and removing the conversation from the meeting room and university space meant that we were placing ourselves in the field, literally.
The following morning the group reconvened, this time to map everyday futures as a topic of research. Tables were set up, each with a focus on a particular theme:
- Where do we find everyday futures?
- What current methods and processes can bring the everyday into future orientated methods?
- What theories and concepts can help to think about the everyday future?
- When considering everyday futures, who is the audience?
Participants moved around each one, considering and discussing how to study and conceptualize the subject matter.
Participants used post it notes, and the maps they had made to identify three potential themes which they would be interested in writing an essay on with another participant. This was followed by a period of ‘speed dating’, where each participant discussed possible collaborations with others who had identified similar areas of interest. This resulted in 9 pairs (including two ‘triplets’) who spent the remainder of the workshop planning their essays and preparing an abstract. Provisional abstracts and titles were then presented to the group in the final plenary. The collection of essays were written in the months following the workshop.