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From What Is to What If: Unleashing the Power of Imagination to Create the Future We Want

4.48  ·  Rating details ·  161 ratings  ·  19 reviews
The founder of the international Transition Towns movement asks why true creative, positive thinking is in decline, asserts that it’s more important now than ever, and suggests ways our communities can revive and reclaim it.

In these times of deep division and deeper despair, if there is a consensus about anything in the world, it is that the future is going to be awful. Th
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published October 15th 2019 by Chelsea Green Publishing
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Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A wonderfully thought provoking and inspiring book. Hopkins believes we need to foster imagination in order to get ourselves out the mess of climate change. He thinks that a lack of imagination (studies show imagination has been shrinking since 1990) is one of the things that got us into this problem to begin with. So much great information about our brains and the imagination and all the things imagination does for and to us as humans--it is vital to good mental health. An especially scary stat ...more
Kristy Newton
Jan 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
I finished reading this on a catastrophic fire day in NSW Australia when fires are burning destructively across our country. I couldn’t have read it at a better time. I’ve often thought that one thing the climate movement is failing at is giving people a future to fight for, imagining the what’s next. We are great at fighting against the loss of what we have had until now, but when you see so many of the natural worlds wonders slipping away before your eyes you can fall into nihilism and hopeles ...more
Camille McCarthy
Apr 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. It was full of hope, even though it made me a bit depressed because when you really think about it, the changes we should be implementing to create a better world aren't even that difficult. It's just that moneyed interests don't want to change anything or they might not have such enormous wealth if the rest of us weren't miserable automatons. The book focuses on the importance of imagination and talks about the danger we're in since we don't prioritize imagination. I ...more
Mar 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
The book wasn't really what I expected, because I thought there would be more fictional parts about what a future could look like. Instead, Hopkins collected many things that people are currently doing to build a more sustainable and social world, which is always interesting to read. The moments dedicated to how the current society is fighting hard against imagination and how it's a problem when you have to deal with new challenges was also a lot of food for the thoughts. I often use "why not" a ...more
Mar 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book if you are feeling discouraged about the state of the world. Rob sets out practical ideas of doable actions, gives a wider vision for the future, and tells stories of things that are already working in a positive direction. Hope has never felt so reasonable, change never so reachable. I wish everyone I know would read this, and pass it on.
Ellie Humphrys
Nov 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A well thought-out heartwarming account of how the world could be if we started asking 'what if?'

I had goosebumps at the end truly imagining how the world could be if we had a system where community and imagination thrived and there was more time to care about the things that matter and less about how much money is in our bank account. 🌻
Aug 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a great book for what it is - an exhortation to visioning, or dreaming as others call it. I wish that the book had gone further, but there you are, you can't have everything that you want. There is obviously a distinct slant upon the object of the dreaming, but that doesn't invalidate the whole concept of imagining an alternative state of affairs.

The Introduction and the first chapter provide the heart of the book. It occupies about a fifth of the total, with the remaining four fifths un
Jul 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Rob's bold and brilliant book is an adventurous and actionable call to imagination: an exploration of how rekindling our individual and collective imaginations is creating the world of our longing. This could prove to be the handbook we need to raise our imaginations to meet the profound and pressing challenges and opportunities of our time. I recommend the audiobook - Rob is a gifted storyteller in both spoken and written word, and I think I'd have missed his natural and enthusiastic telling of ...more
Logan Streondj
Nov 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
While it has many good points, it mostly focuses on arts, and transition towns. While it does mention a little on gardening all the imagined visions are just rehashes of transition towns, nothing rural, nothing sustainable. It does have a few ideas on how to improve creative opportunities for children such as giving them plenty of time for play, not giving them too many toys, and outdoor activities.
Apr 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: english
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Aug 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Jun 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
I would like everyone to read this book. Yep. Everyone.
Carlo Battisti
Jul 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sustainability
'We have relegated the imagination to the margins for too long, and now, as Robert Louis Stevenson put it, we 'sit down to a banquet of consequences'. Great book.
Jul 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Spelen en verbeelding als dé optie voor een toekomst waar je graag aan meewerkt en in terechtkomt
May 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A powerful call to bring imagination back into our lives, so that we can create the futures we so desperately need.
Hilary May
Feb 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Interesting and thought provoking, a different angle but like many books like this not sure anyone ‘unconverted’ would read this. Though they should.
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If you want a better world have a read of this book. Not much else I need to say.
Andy Jones
Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an inspiring read, a truly mind-blowing idea that actually imagining a better world and a better life is a big step forward to making it happen. Rob talks about how important the imagination is for adults as well and children, and also discusses how current educational processes work against supporting children's imagination. I can't wait to hear him talk at the Cheese & Grain in Frome next week ...more
Judy Merrill-Smith
Dec 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This short book is full of depressing facts (complete with footnotes), and yet managed to make me feel encouraged about the future. I appreciate Hopkins's expansive discussion of imagination and various initiatives taking place all over, but especially in Europe. Very useful for U.S. folks like myself who often don't get enough info from the rest of the planet.
Elspeth Alexander
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Rob Hopkins did his permaculture design course in 1992, and around the same time saw Bill Mollison lecture in Stroud, and both of these things dramatically changed his life. He became involved in the Bristol Permaculture Group, and at the same time did a degree in Environmental Quality and Resource Management at UWE Bristol. His dissertation, ‘Permaculture - a new approach for rural planning’ is o ...more

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From independent presses, to tales in translation, to critical darlings and new debut novels, these books (all published in the U.S. this year)...
43 likes · 3 comments
“It seems as though most of us have less and less space to think creatively or imaginatively, if at all. Even among people who work within the ‘creative industries’, their imagination seems increasingly harnessed to create demand for things nobody really needs, whose production is increasingly pushing our human and ecological systems to the brink of collapse – almost as if imagination has been coopted in the service of our own extinction.” 0 likes
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