Prefigurating utopia framework
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This framework formulates and synthesizes a procedural view of utopia, not only understood as a “non-yet-existent place” (U-topos) but also as a more desirable one (EU-topos). It does so by articulating a set of practices along a panarchical model.

Description of the tool

Built on the foundations of co-creation and prefigurative politics, the framework identifies 8 main sets of practices and 4 movements to be held, sustained and stewarded by communities willing to envision, build and iterate utopia. Sensing the need for change - COLLECTIVE SENSE MAKING Collective and participatory futures and worldling - SPACE CHARGING & ENVISIONING Self-organization and social learning - MAKING, TESTING, LEARNING Updating the collective vision and expectation - REVISITING, ACTUALIZING & RE-ENERGIZING Sustaining and stewarding the process - PREFIGURATING EUTOPIA The framework is conceived to be used as a way-finding tool allowing communities to collectively navigate the process of emergent planification involved in futuring processes. It is based on an iterative and co-evolving understanding of collective processes and it borrows from a diverse genealogy covering among other fields: Narratology and writing: The tradition of science fiction and utopias. Specially the feminist roots (ex. Ursula K. Le Guin)‌ STS and sociology: (ex. Sociology of expectations)‌ Future studies and anticipatory research‌ Design: speculative/critical design, visioning, participatory design tradition, transition design, bringing the realm of everyday life to futures.‌ Commons approach to futures: participatory design, post-developmental work, pluriversality (ex. Arturo Escobar et al.)

Steps of application

How to use it? This framework can be understood as an overarching model for navigating the process of utopia. As a starting point several guiding principles should be taken into account before putting it into practice: This framework is thought to be used in assistance of the facilitation and orchestration transformative processes in existing or emergent communities. As in any community mobilizing effort attention should be paid to group dynamics, roles and power dynamics. Along the process several key decision making processes would need to be addressed. Tools like Generative Decision Making, present in this toolkit might be of great value. Special attention should be paid at the emotional journey navigation along the process. Proceed with care. Tools like the Emotional Mapping, present in this toolkit might be of great value. Use this framework in the same manner one would use a compass while navigating an outdoor hike. The different movements and realms of practice presented in the model might help locate the group’s current situation and help facilitate the transition towards new stages. Think of it as a non sequential process. A given community might start the process in any stage of the process. Given its iterative nature, this process is to be traversed several times during a collective transformative process. In that sense, practices associated with revisiting, actualizing and reformulating utopia take a particularly relevant role. Utopias that become fossilized pose a very dangerous threat as an instrument for coercion, imposition, polarization and even violence. Openness, flexibility and diversity need to be central mindsets to be enacted during the whole process. Transformation processes are configured as social learning instantations. As such, one of their main goals is to accelerate learning loops by making, prototyping, testing and reflecting around the process. Each of the presented movements requires a particular energy and intention as well as a set tools to be used along them. Many of the tools presented in the toolkit could be used to facilitate its progression. Hereafter, a possible journey of a given community is sketched for explanatory purposes: Sense making. Identifying the need for change. A group of young UN workers initiated an internal discussion along working towards a shared vision of a UN that fully embodies the principles it stands for. Unhappy with some of the cultures and dynamics at play in the UN they recognised the need for genuine change in the organization to effectively meet the challenges of this century and are committed to play our part. After an initial discussion they defined a decalog of collectively shared values as guiding stars for their work. Envisioning. Profiling more desirable futures. The group started shaping an alternative view about how the UN could work differently and which was their role in making that happen. The group also envisioned an alternative operating system for the UN which was prefiguratively adopted as working procedures for the group: working as a decentralised global network, with a culture closer to a start-up than a UN organization and operating through an open coordination structure. Making, Testing and Learning. Doing as a way of learning. The group defined several working areas and geographical hubs to orchestrate both action and realignment of the inner group. Every project, recommendation or paper serves not only the final purpose but the gathering of procedural knowledge to keep the network alive. Revisiting and Actualizing. The internal coordination and participatory mechanisms allows for a continuous iteration and redirection of the working group in an organic way. In the same manner every piece of work is understood under a laboratory and perpetual beta mindset. Re-energizing. Assuring continuity and motivation. The group embeds several mechanisms for assuring its preservation by both onboarding new members as well as opening new lines of work to include more members of the UN and re-energize the space.


This tool was developed by Holon as a result of the gleaning process after the configuration of a toolkit for the Home of Commons.

Context of origin

Visual representation


Ecocycle Planning by Liberating Structures Prototyping as fast learning looping Social learning


This tool might connect and be remixed with different tools from this toolkit.Recommended remixes:Check this after writing all the tools.These might be revisited after checking the other Gleaners’ work.