Ways of doing extension work and imaginary futures

As part of the Extension Reconsidered project we are involved in a number of deliberative forums that present 3 ways of undertaking the work of extension as a basis for dialog. While these three views are not necessarily mutually exclusive they do represent different methodologies and, if taken to their logical endpoints, different future outcomes. And I am using the term outcomes in a full and robust sense – not just for our system but for society and culture writ large.

At an early age we are told to put away the crayons and deal with the real world. And so we ‘grow up’, take jobs, create families; but we never really abandon the imaginary, the hoped for. We each carry within ourselves a vision (however obscured) of how we think the world should be.  The three views we are using as a basis for deliberation in this project present arcs of work that move towards a culminating vision of how the world should be, of how things should work. It takes some imagination to move from here (the three views of work) to there (a future endpoint) but…we all undertake this work, the work of extension, because we want to change the world. We want to change the world because we know it is broken and in need of our care and attention. And we want the future to be better, we want the future to be at least one step further down the path to what we imagined life could be.

We also want to be taken seriously in our work and so the crayons –generally – remain safely in the box. And we are busy people, moving from task to task to program to meeting. But I think it’s time to open the box of crayons, sit down with some newsprint and go to town. Let’s unlock the visions and imaginations we had in youth and temper that with what we have learned so far in life. Let’s let our imaginations run rampant across the fields of our hard won experience to reconnect with and re-imagine the futures we used to dream of.

Let’s tell more stories that shine with the light of what we hope for
Let’s paint murals that enliven the villages, towns and cities of our future(s).
Let’s perform the plays, dance the dances, and sing the songs that exist in our secret dreams of a better world.
Let’s reclaim the mundane and transform it, in order to fuel visions and dreams.
Let’s remember why we do the work we do and then speak that remembrance.

Paul Treadwell

Mona Caron - Noe Valley Mural

Mona Caron – Noe Valley Mural

Image from a mural by Mona Caron -  http://monacaron.com
Mona Caron is a San Francisco-based professional artist, focusing on site-specific and community-reflecting murals in public space.

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