Tools for shifting problems into hopeful future visions

Hillary Carey
3 min readApr 4, 2024


An image of a collection of people holding hands and looking toward a fictional horizon.
We need descriptions of more just futures, created collectively by people working at the front lines of justice work. Image created via MidJourney.

My social justice work combines the making approaches of design with the long-term thinking of futures studies and utopian theory. And I love to create tools that are a simple and practical manifestation of those ideas.

Through this work we can give creative form to the ideas of what racially just systems might look like in a better future.

Currently, aspirations for more-just futures exist as principles, like ‘a world without police violence.’

By translating those values into specific depictions of more equitable futures, designers can make those outcomes feel more possible. These specific visions of a future where racial justice is manifested can help the larger public understand why disrupting the status quo is important and motivate a stronger desire for change.

When I run workshops with people who work toward justice, these three activities help get their visions into specific future stories.

Activity 1: Opposite Day

  • Name what frustrates you today. Flip it around to say, in the future, the opposite of this is true. What does that look and feel like?

Activity 2: More of / Less of

  • What is there too much of today that there will be LESS of in an ideal future?
  • What is there too little of today that there will be MORE of in an ideal future?
  • * This activity simplifies the popular Three Horizons activity (Sharpe et al. 2016).

Activity 3: Everyday Experiences

  • In your better future… what new future things have been manifested?
  • What new _________ exist because of the progress we have made? (Roles. Jobs. Rituals. Celebrations. Institutions. Policies. Relationships. Stories. Myths. Schools. Wellness. Wars. Weapons. Communities.)
  • * This activity simplifies the clever game, Thing from the Future, by Candy & Watson (2015).

Realistic, specific, and vivid stories of new possibilities can make the goals of justice-based advocacy clearer by describing the outcomes they hope to achieve. This is the hope of imagining racial equity: guiding people toward action through belief and desire that justice is possible and welcome.


Candy, Stuart, and Jeff Watson. 2015. “The Thing From The Future.” The APF Methods Anthology, London: Association of Professional Futurists.

Sharpe, Bill, Anthony Hodgson, Graham Leicester, Andrew Lyon, and Ioan Fazey. 2016. “Three Horizons: A Pathways Practice for Transformation.” Ecology and Society 21 (2).



Hillary Carey

Design + AntiRacism + Long-term Visions | PhD in #TransitionDesign @CarnegieMellonDesign | Coaching & Workshops @JustVisions.Co