My Future York at Utopia Fair, Somerset House (24th-26th June)

The My Future York Utopian Council stationary as designed by Reet So.
The My Future York Utopian Council stationary as designed by Reet So.

Over the weekend some of the My Future York team will be at Somerset House for the Utopia Fair. We will be asking people to write letters to the Utopian Council of 2066.

Our invitation runs:

We are the Utopian Council. We are a collaboration of minds and hands. Together we are the ears to your queries, dreams and fears and the catalyst to your actions.

The idea of this ‘council’ derives from an ancient concept left behind from earlier days, where cities, towns and constituencies were ruled by tiered management structures and elected members. However the Utopian Council is open to your interpretation. There are no limits to our duties as a council, or yours as ‘the people’, we are here for you as you are for us.

Each letter will follow a certain form. It will ask the letter writer to imagine who they are contacting. We’ve proposed a structure. It begins with a positive opening: ‘I’m looking forward to…’ ‘there’s something I’d like to share’, ‘I’d like to praise’. Then there is the offer of a contribution: ‘I want to offer’, ‘would others like to hear’. Finally, a reciprocal offer: ‘let’s keep in touch’.

In July we will then convene the Utopian Council in the Council Chamber in York’s Guildhall for an afternoon of utopian storytelling, imagining what happened next in the case of each of the contributions and writing back to each participant.

The aim here is try and reformulate the relationship between people and those we elect and those the people we elect employ. We’re thinking of this partly in terms of a more distributed sense of agency and responsibility for positive change that belongs to all of us – this is why each form creates space for a volunteered contribution. But it is also about combining in different ways direct and representational forms of democracy. Seeing our representatives as catalyst, as facilitators, as connectors, as enablers, and as employing technical support to enable decisions and desired action. In this we may find ourselves playing around with notions of representation, perhaps an imaginary of a representative elected less to ‘speak on others behalf’ and more to be the re-teller and passer on, not only of stories but also sometimes of parables; as sharer of offers of help but also of ideas and ways of thinking.

The title of our Utopian Fair stall is directly inspired by our City of York Council Chamber.

From the City of York Council Chamber in the Guildhall.
From the City of York Council Chamber in the Guildhall.

The text of the signed reads: ‘No manifestation of feeling from the public will be allowed during the council meetings.’

Our stall will be called: ‘Manifestations of feelings from all people will be encourage at all times’.

Hope to see you there or at our Utopian Council storytelling session in York. Contact us to find out more.