From the Archives:

“Today, you are beginning a quest into an unknown reality: the future. You can approach this journey in many different ways. You can keep your eyes tightly shut, and let random choice take you where it will. You can conclude that the terrain will determine the course of your journey, and give up personal responsibility and choice. You can pretend that the future isn‘t really there, and assume you‘ll go on living just as you are today.

“Or you can take full responsibility for your voyage into the future, and decide where you want to go. You can map out the social terrain you are likely to encounter, and plan your travels in anticipation of it. You can make your journey into this quickly changing landscape a challenging, creative, liberating adventure - and find the pathways that are right for you.

“One way or another, you will determine the course of your journey. Only you can decide what paths you‘ll take. Only you can envision where you want to go. You‘ll follow the path of your choice - whether you drift through it half-asleep, or pursue it with full awareness and consent. And you‘ll end up in the places you choose - whether you choose them by conscious design or default.

“The terrain will not prevent you from reaching your desired goals. It may demand a price - you may have to steer your way through a difficult course. But you can‘t blame your failures on your environment. That environment is constantly providing you with new paths, new opportunities, and new alternatives. It offers an infinite number of places to go, and an incredible variety of ways to travel.

“As an individual, you play a role in designing the social terrain through which you travel. Individuals everywhere collectively mold this terrain through their assumptions, values, visions, fears and actions. You are not likely to creatively change the future by mounting a frontal attack on society and its institutions. You can learn to to exert “steersmanship” by questioning challenging assumptions, values, visions, and fears, and by modeling real alternatives. You must start with your own life, and become aware of the larger effects of your actions.

“No individual who lived before your time has moved through such a rapidly shifting landscape on such a varied canvas. If you are old enough to read these words, the world has changed more in your lifetime than it changed in most of the centuries that proceeded your lifetime. Futurists tell us that more change will occur in the next 25 years that has occurred in the last 100. We are witnessing an unprecedented explosion of social, technological, and environmental change. This is not merely an era of rapid change - this is transformation.

“This accelerating rate of change frightens many people. On a personal level, it can result in apathy, withdrawal, reaction, and “future shock.” On a social level, challenges have emerged on an unprecedented scale.

“But the landscape of the future provides more creative opportunities than ever before. And it provides you with more options and alternatives than you would have had in any previous society. Do you know another time when individuals had more real choices in work, play, belief, and lifestyle?

“Today, you can choose your career and the work you want. You don‘t have to be tied down to any particular job or way of working; you have options. You‘re not locked into a tightly-knit traditional community. You can move and travel at will, and form communities of you own choosing. You don‘t have to conform to any particular lifestyle, belief system, religion, sexual, or social code. You never did, of course - but today, there is more diversity, social tolerance, and information about alternatives than ever before.

“When you take responsibility for your life, you‘re not depending on the government, big business, the “establishment,” parents, or peer groups to design your future. And your‘re not blaming these institutions for your failures. You are making the choices in your life, and accepting responsibility for the consequences. No institution is preventing you from designing the future you want, and no institution can create it for you. If you want to change the institutions, you must change the value systems that form them - starting with your own.

“You live in an unlimited Universe of resources and opportunities. When you are fully aware of this Universe, everything seems fresh and alive, and you experience a “state of grace.” You see a world full of interesting people, all with their own talents, skills, goals, and unique personal histories. You see a world full of idea and visions, and the tools you can use to actualize those visions. You see a world full of information that allows you to clarify your vision, connect ideas and people and tools, and create the kind of future you want.

“You also see a Universe of potential within yourself. You have many talents, skills, and positive attributes, some known and many yet to be discovered. The brain/mind scientists tell us that we are using a small percentage of our total mental capability. Athletes, psychologists, and spiritual teachers tell us that we are using a small percentage of our physical, emotional and spiritual capability. What if we were to fully utilize our potential, and integrate mind, body, and spirit? Has the world yet seen what a human being can be?

“Within your Universe, there is a unique way of life that is right for you. We call this “right livelihood.” Right livelihood occurs when an individual’s work, play, lifestyle, interpersonal relationships, and physical environment are all in harmony with his/her examined inner goals and values. Your right livelihood is yours; it is not likely to “fit” anybody else. You can discover right livelihood in a spirit of cooperation and creative play. A healthy society is an expression of many individuals acting with right livelihood.

“TANSTAAFL. There Ain‘t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. Discovering and creating your preferred future requires innovative work and play. If you don‘t enjoy the process of creating right livelihood, you‘re on the wrong path. But you can‘t make visions real without values, integrity, risk, and work. There are certain steps you must take to create your desired future, and that is what this book is about.

You must develop an understanding for the time you are in, your cultural and intellectual heritage, and the probable future(s). You are deeply involved in a complex society, and you need to be aware of social and historical context. The Western tradition of the last 2,000 years has created the social background for your quest. It is now undergoing a profound revisualization of wo/man, society, and Universe. If you have a sense of this revisualization and its background, you can predict and understand the dynamic forces that will shape the social environment of tomorrow.

“The West has emphasized logic and technology in the last 150 years. It is now rediscovering intuition, emotion, and the esoteric tradition. One of the most exciting possibilities of our times is the synthesis of East and West, of “left-brain” logic and “right-brain” intuition, of rational materialism and subjective spirituality. This synthesis will have a profound impact on your future quest.

To design you future meaningfully, you need to have a concept of “the” future. Where is society going in the next five, twenty, fifty years? You need to forecast future trends, and design in anticipation of them. You cannot really make the simplest of decisions until you do so.

“Creating right livelihood requires a personal vision. How do you really want to live? What would you like to be doing ten, twenty, fifty years from now - or the next moment. Don‘t be afraid to dream. One of our greatest failings as a society is our lack of vision. We can think only of “getting by” for the moment. Rarely does one hear creative visions of what life could be like in 2005. Do you have a creative vision of your life 25 years from now?

“You won‘t find your vision by default: you must plan. Many people think that a plan is a straightjacket that stifles spontaneity. We‘re speaking of a different kind of planning. A plan is a conceptual map of the terrain, not a rigid timetable. A good plan allows and enhances spontaneity, and fits into an overall pattern.

“There are many techniques you can use to plan your quest. The Western tradition has given us the creative thinking process, the scientific method, cybernetics, and systems engineering. All these techniques can be used on a personal level. To work well, they need to be combined with older. “Right-brain” techniques - visualization, meditation, intuition, inspiration, and ritual. The important thing to remember about techniques is that they are only tools, and tools are not constructive if they are not building a larger vision. Our society has forgotten this point. It sees technology, architecture, and material wealth as end in themselves, not as tools to enhance the experience of living.

“Your quest can be more than utilitarian. It can be, in itself, a thing of beauty. It must be, for process cannot be separated from goals.

“When an artist paint a canvas, s/he has a vision of what s/he want to create. S/he knows how to use and respect tools. S/he has a sense of cultural heritage, and the evolution of transformation. S/he expresses in concrete forms personal values and goals, and communicates this vision in an elegant way to the observer. This is an aesthetic process.

“Your own life is your greatest work of art. Your entire life is the concrete manifestation of your inner goals, values, and visions. If you design your life with consciousness and grace, like a competent artist painting a canvas, you will make your journey in to the future a truly aesthetic quest.

“You can take charge of your life. You can design the future you want. On the following pages, we‘ll look at social and historical context, tools, future visions, and resources to help you do so.

“It’s your world.

“It’s your future.

“What are you going to do about it?”

Matt Taylor and Richard Goering




These words are now 25 years old. Richard Goering and I wrote them based on the “ReDesigning the Future” course I gave in 1974 and 75. This course became the agenda for the Renascense Project and for a book manuscript - which was not published (another story) - both of which formed the basis of MG Taylor’s “Solutions Box” Workshops of the 80s which have since evolved into the CHOICE Workshops of today.
This manuscript was written on a typewriter. Personal computers had just been invented and were not practical tools. The Cold War was still in full bloom and the Internet was the DARPA Net and an experiment called the EIES System. The Fortune 500 were still considered the generators of American enterprise and most people saw their career in context of a corporate “job.” Consumer electronics meant a color TV and a stereo system - the first hand calculators (with four functions) were just coming onto the market for several hundred dollars. Air travel was special. Grommet coffee shops were hard to find and organic food was considered something way out on the fringe and, perhaps, subversive.
Few people felt that they were in charge of their lives. President Carter talked about the great “morass” gripping the U.S. public and American car companies laughed at Japanese imports. The Viet Nam War was an undigested trauma. And, everywhere you looked - if you looked - alternatives to just about everything were popping up all over the landscape. The Whole Earth Catalog was a best seller. The great transformation of global society had begun.
My thinking, at this time, reflected both a personal and this social agenda. My own life had stalled and I was working to rebuild it. The society that I lived in seemed crazy to me and there was “no place” I could fit in all the competing movements and angry single-value eithor/or demands. Everywhere, were these alternatives - all struggeling, all seeking a voice, all lacking a way to get into the main-stream dialog. Intellectual stone-walling ruled as Norm Chompski was so fond of pointing out.
My personal design problem was how to find a place from which and a method by which I could seek to realize my own values - while contributing to the whole of society - and not becoming an additional destructive force in the process. I realized at the time that even those things that I opposed could be pulled down too soon, before real alternatives were engineered, making the net-out worse. The “cure” could kill the patient. Transformation was not a question - it was happening. The question was “what constituted proper transition management?”
I could not grasp how a society like ours - that had so much - could be so lacking in vision and a sense of adventure. In quest.
I wanted then - as I do now - to practice the art of architecture. By 1974, I had failed in this ambition. There was no society, no context, in which I could do what I wanted. I had several choices: I could bitch about it, become even more alienated with the culture I lived in - in other words give up; I could continue banging my head against this social wall - in other words fail; I could find a nice little city somewhere and slowly, over a long period of time, become the alternative when a rare piece of architecture was desired - in other words retreat; or, I could find a way to help make a world in which what I wanted to do had a place - in other words take responsibility for my dreams.
You see, “Designing Creative Futures” was a report of what I had learned and a set of instructions to that me who lived in that time a long distance back from today.
And, “Designing Creative Futures” was an invitation - as is this web site - to fellow adventures who want from life than just staying alive.
November 2002 Notes:
Quest is more than ambition; more than wanting things. It transcends the desire to be successful. There are many with solid values, legitimate ambitions and a healthly work ethic who still lack a developed sense of quest. It seems to me, sadly, that few actually have it.
I believe there is a part of everyone that represents their unique and greater potential. To seek this is to go at risk. It is lose oneself in something larger than the self as normally experienced. This losing of transactional identity leads to a fork; one, a joyful, creative, playful adventure; the other a maniacal, isolated and destructive path. This is, perhaps, why people fear a life of quest so much.
QUEST is demanding. It takes great self-discipline to stay the course and not descend into hell. It also requires mentoring and that is not an easy thing either - nor are great mentors abundant. I was lucky in this regard.
By definition, quest means to leave the social fold at times and go someplace alone. It is to travel without support or feedback. And, one comes back a stranger. Quest is a death and rebirth process and it is essential to sustaining life. Those who do not have it experience a living death. So much that passes in our society as work and recreation is the attempt to fill this void. The concept of “earning a living” is in reality a confession of this hurt. A world of consuming robots ultimately eating themselves, the planet and everything on it.
A true discovery of importance is the child of quest. This is different than the clever hack or a simply nice piece of innovative work. There is an abundance of this kind of applied creativity and the world is generally a better place for it - but not moved by it.
Quest does not always lead to an earth-shaking, epic defining idea. There is no questioning the journey of those who do not. I believe that all contribute, in direct and indirect ways to the great breakthroughs. The desire to be successful actually defeats quest. Quest IS its own reward. Rocking the world - or not - is a consequence and a creature of timing and circumstance. In the day-to-day world it is appropriate to thinks of such things; in QUEST it is not. You get only when you are not getting. You must follow the scent without objective other than discovery, the intent to harvest and the desire to find yourself.
Matt Taylor
Palo Alto
March 10, 1999
SolutionBox voice of this document:
click on graphic for explanation of SolutionBox

posted: March 11, 1999

revised: November 27, 2002
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(note: this document is about 90% finished)

© Copyright Matt Taylor 1978, 1979, 1999, 2000, 2002

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