Hope in action by Kate Pahl

The ‘Voices of the Future’ project is a hopeful project. It aims to create a space where children and young people can re-imagine the future. We are working with philosopher Johan Siebers to actively think through hope as a concept.

In our project we have been working with primary school aged children to re-design a school field. We asked children (aged 7-8) to draw images of what they would like to see in a field. Our development of ideas, with children, was a collective and hopeful action. 


Childrens drawings of tree planning


When we explored the children’s drawings and ‘small stories’ we could see an emergent space of practice open out that provided a more expansive vision of what treescapes could be. They were imbued with bugs, and teeming with activities, which cascaded over them like water. Planting with the children revealed a fascinating with earth and worms and the lived experience of trees in the ground. The world they inhabited was full of worms, and it presented a world to us in which insects and trees were co-existing with humans in an entangled way.

Climate activism is fraught with uncertainty and is a space of vulnerability as well as hope.  When we explore the drawings of the children, we can glimpse future possibilities and a form of wishing which challenges the present. The children’s drawn fragments, small stories and tall stories, become fairytales that enact both the vulnerability of hope but also its fragmented actualisation in the world.

These ‘dreams of a better life’ are inherently partial, and glimpsed out of the corner of one’s eye, in drawings and tiny moments. Recovering these small moments of hope is the task of our project, but it is also quite daunting. Reality is what we could be, what we could become and in the drawings of the field outside the school, the future was glimpsed.