DIY Imaginings

We’re excited to introduce the USDAC’s newest publication: Imaginings: A DIY Guide to Arts-Based Community Dialogue.


What are Imaginings? Where did they come from?

From 2014-2016, the USDAC worked with three cohorts of volunteer Cultural Agents, each forming a learning community to support their local cultural organizing. Each Cultural Agent hosted a a public gathering using arts-based methods to envision their communities’ futures. Part performance, part facilitated dialogue, part celebration, these gatherings brought together groups of artists, organizers, and other community members to imagine what their neighborhoods (and the world) might look like in 20 years, when art’s transformative power has been fully integrated into all aspects of public life. Community members were invited not only to dream together but to catalyze collaborations to help make their dreams real.

Naturally, we called them Imaginings.

After supporting three rounds of Cultural Agents and Imaginings, we’ve learned enough about Imaginings frameworks, techniques, and approaches to give you, Citizen Artists, all you need to do it yourself.

Why Imaginings?

We wanted to invite people into a space of social imagination very different from conventional planning processes such as public hearings where everyone lines up for hours to get two minutes at the microphone to address decision-makers who may not even be listening; polls and charrettes and focus groups designed with specific outcomes in mind, making it hard to find space for what really matters in people’s lived experience. We knew Imaginings would have to give true value to first-person experience rather than privileging credentialed expertise. They would have to be flexible, with tools that people could adapt to their own needs and use in their own ways. And the art part couldn’t be an afterthought: Imaginings had to give equal value to creativity and imagination as to the desire to communicate, understand, and collaborate.

Download your free copy of Imaginings: A DIY Guide to Arts-Based Community Dialogue!

The DIY Imaginings Guide provides everything you need to know to host a vibrant, creative, equitable, and powerful community dialogue, including:

  • The basics to ensure your Imagining is right-sized, intentional, inclusive, interactive, and ethical.

  • Reasons to host an Imagining and what it can accomplish

  • Advice and examples from past USDAC Imaginings

  • Grounding your Imagining in what you know about your community—and what you need to learn

  • Building a core team

  • Promoting your Imagining

  • A Toolbox of Imagining elements you can use or adapt

  • Following up and building on your Imagining

  • A public folder full of useful how-to materials

Download your free copy now!