The agora is about to start, rock music resounds in the virtual reunion. Just like Rob, the main character in the 2000 film High Fidelity, we share a moment together waiting to the sound of Bob Dylan and The Velvet Underground. As Cristina Ampatzidou from the CreaTures consortium points out, we have another point in common with this fussy character desperately trying to find answers to his questions: “We are list-making lovers!” The people gathered seem to share an interest in the art of collecting projects, stories, initiatives, in order to make them visible, to understand their interconnections, or to create communities around them. Seven collectives are here to share and discuss their experience of making different types of libraries, repositories, and collections of creative and collective practices that pave paths towards sustainability and new narratives. All of them are looking for the answers to the same question: how do we enable positive change?
Daniel Kaplan and Chloé Luchs-Tassé start by presenting the purpose, methods and projects of the [Plurality University Network](<https://www.plurality-university.org/>) (U+), focusing on their digital collaborative library [Narratopias](<https://platform.plurality-university.org/narratopia/>) that gathers works of fiction, visual arts, speculation, design, or any other form of what they call “transformative narratives”. **How do you identify what is transformative, and what can be considered a narrative?** Although [a definition is available on the website](<https://www.plurality-university.org/projects/narratopias/the-library>), U+ chose to enable anyone to contribute directly to the digital library. It is a way of saying: whatever effort we make to formulate a definition and therefore draw the essential outlines of the collection, in the end it’s the people’s understanding and use of it that matters. The openness and collaboration seem to self-regulate in a relevant corpus. Kelli Rose Pearson follows with the [ReImaginary Project](<https://www.reimaginary.com/>), defined as a “search for practices, metaphors, mental models, and narratives that support ecological regeneration and the well-being of future generations”. They have multiple matters: making visible different types of intelligence, including non-human and marginalized stakeholders, combining pragmatic and “enchanting” approaches, and connecting with the depth of our feelings, values and beliefs. Kelli explains that “**change comes from the inside out**”, from the enlivening feeling of engagement that certain experiences activate. ReImaginary collects and makes accessible methods (among which a toolkit of arts-based methods) that enable this type of transformative experiments, organized according to the five steps towards change described by [Theory U](<https://www.reimaginary.com/resources/theory-u>) (convene, observe, reflect, act, harvest). Nine [transformative mindsets](<https://www.reimaginary.com/resources/nine-transformative-mindsets>) emerged from the research around the project, such as “Expanded spheres of care” or “Intersectionality**”**. If “creative methods are morally neutral”, as Kelli defends, it becomes essential for a project to assert its political purpose.
A spectacular [Baining](<https://anywayinaway.com/papua-new-guinea-baining-fire-dance/>) fire dancer appears on our screen, with this question written: how can the arts contribute to realizing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? The arts that Diego Galafassi and David Tàbara are looking for include any kinds of arts-based research approaches and creative practices, at the intersection of different types of knowledge: scientific, analytical, and practical, experimental. Starting from an analytical catalogue focused on the climate crisis, the Living Catalogue of the [Arts for Sustainability Transformations](<https://www.artsfortransformations.earth/>) network adapted the project to the SDGs. “Living” because anyone can submit an entry anytime, and the catalogue itself is enlivened with interviews, portrait films and workshops. Either by making the interface between arts and sustainability science visible, or by looking for different ways of learning and creating scientific knowledge, the catalogue pursues a single purpose: “**to turn passive audiences watching the drama of unsustainability into empowered actors engaged in SDGs**”. Two main challenges surface:
“How to turn repositories into actionable knowledge? What is the value of such a repository for artists and practitioners?”
Romain Julliard, from the research project [Mosaic](<https://mosaic.mnhn.fr/realisations/>), introduces an adorable – and critical – hedgehog, who reminds us that this is not about big data and artificial intelligence, but about quality data and collective intelligence. Mosaic helps collective projects in the conception of data exchange platforms, using participatory science methods. For example, they created a protocol to collect data on hedgehogs' state of health in France, allowing anybody to observe the animal in their garden, share the results on a [platform](<https://missionherisson.org/>) and be part of a collaborative research project. The data is as useful to science as it is fun to collect for the participants, **creating a community of people interested in their garden’s biodiversity and willing to contribute to citizen science**. Romain shares the secrets to their success: encouraging comments on the platform, allowing different kinds of data to be shared (quantitative and qualitative), and having the data validated by other participants. Romain is currently working with Joffrey Lavigne, here to present the [Comité de Science-Fiction](<https://www.su-ite.eu/cogitations/le-comite-de-science-fiction-csf/>) (CSF) that mobilizes artists and students to produce science fiction art, imagining new relationships between humans and nature. Mosaic and the CSF are collaborating on the conception of a platform for facilitators to share and discuss their methods for creative and collective practices. Using participatory science methods seems like a fertile idea, in view of the emergence of a community of practitioners.
“*What do artists know?”* The artist embedded into political programs brings new perspectives and creative processes to projects addressing climate change. This answer from the artist [Frances Whitehead](<http://www.franceswhitehead.com/>) inspired the creation of the [Library of Creative Sustainability](<https://www.creativecarbonscotland.com/introducing-the-library-of-creative-sustainability/>) that Lewis Coenen-Rowe is now presenting. The main audience for this collection are “those who can take on similar projects” (e.g. local communities, public agencies, community organizers, etc.), by re-using the information from the case studies: all the details of processes, difficulties, tools, etc... Art-lovers are welcome to use the catalogue, but the real purpose is to **encourage non-art sectors to trust artists on their ability to think differently and practically**. “Show, don’t tell” is the phrase guiding the elaboration of the library, aiming to show how deep collaborations with artists help achieve efficient – and often surprising – sustainability outcomes. “Our project aims to expand the range and diversity of better anthropocenes”, explains Garry Peterson, Professor at the Stockholm Resilience Centre. In his eyes, there is an urgent need to propose other visions of the anthropocene than what *Mad Max* and other popular dystopias offer. “We build the future based on seeds of desirable futures that exist today”, explaining how [Seeds of Good Anthropocene](<https://goodanthropocenes.net/>) went from developing desirable *scenarios* for the future, to collecting existing elements, *seeds*, that could compose these better futures. To be considered a seed, an initiative must “exist (at least as prototype), be marginal (or not yet mainstream), and contribute to creating a sustainable future (according to someone)”. The term *seed* is all the more relevant for a project focusing on humanity’s connection to nature all over the world. If “**big changes come from below, but are crushed by the dominant narratives**”, as Garry believes, it is essential for these seeds to recognize one another and “catalyze transformation by connecting people”. The workshops, organized around “seed cards” created from the project’s collection, allow participants to make these connections. But on one condition: that they **integrate the disagreements that arise on what the future will look like**.
**How can creative practices contribute to positive social transformation?** In their own way, each one of the speakers above addressed this question, but the [CreaTures](<https://creatures-eu.org/cases/>) research project described by Lara Houston focused on answering it directly. Using different methods (literature reviews, sector mapping, networking, interviews) to gather case studies of projects that creative practitioners and interdisciplinary researchers considered transformative, they managed in a second phase to analyze them and identify 25 transformative strategies. From ecological interconnectedness to friendship, these strategies are detailed in articles and interviews, making them more accessible than a cartography of 160 case studies. Sometimes, less is more, even in list-making. This abstract from the [Dark Mountain](<https://creatures-eu.org/cases/dark-mountain/>) Manifesto (one of the projects identified by CreaTures) summarizes the approach of the different collectives presented:
"Together, we are walking away from the stories that our societies like to tell themselves, the stories that prevent us seeing clearly the extent of the ecological, social and cultural unravelling that is now underway. [...] And we are looking for other stories, ones that can help us make sense of a time of disruption and uncertainty."
From the discussion after the presentations, five challenges emerged: