The Long Time Project

By Kevin Boon

We face a growing number of crises that have the potential to both endure for a long time and have long-term implications for our collective future. However, our institutional, legal and political structures and cultures lock us into short-termism. The Long Time Project has created a guide containing tools to enable policy-makers to integrate long-termism into their work. They build on statutory precedents like the Well-being for Future Generations Act and municipal-level work like the Future Design project led by economist Tatsuyoshi Saijo. The Long Time Project has created a model, Six Long Time Levers, incorporating legislative and regulatory change alongside other operational factors and cultural issues. The model tools incorporate the internal and external drivers of short-termism. The external ones are ritual and routine, norms and behaviours, symbols, stories and myths, regulatory systems and processes and power structures.

The long time project REAL Sustainability

Some of the techniques The Long Time Project set out include The Legacy Question, a tool which, in its most simple form, is just that: asking someone “What do you want your legacy for future generations to be?” They also advocate the Empty Chair for Future Generations technique used by indigenous peoples in North America. This involves leaving an empty chair in meetings for the present time’s children and those who have yet to be born. They also suggest an approach called Future Personas as a way to provoke discussion on what future citizens might need. Human Layers is an exercise inspired by the work of deep ecologist Joanna Macy. Participants engage with seven generations through the lives of people they care about. The Future Generations Impact Assessment is a process to consider the impact of an initiative on children or those yet to be born.  The Museum of Tomorrow is a participatory tool to help groups of people think about the futures they want and bring them into the present through objects and artefacts.

To read The Long Time Tools, follow this link.