Exploring better food futures for Kyoto prefecture through visioning and back-casting (Astrid Mangnus, Utrecht University)

FEAST HQ Report, WG2

At the center of FEAST’s research are the complex sustainability issues faced by modern-day agrifood systems. One of the ways in which the project aims to address these challenges is by envisioning plausible futures and initiating democracy-oriented food experiments and actions. Visioning is a method that can be used to paint a clear picture of such a plausible future. Back-casting is a method in which a pathway to the envisioned future is made, working back from the future to the present.

On the 25th and the 26th of April, FEAST put these methods to work for Kyoto prefecture. In collaboration with visiting researchers from Utrecht University, three visioning and back-casting workshops were organized. The participants were people from all parts of the prefecture’s food system, such as distribution, consumption, NPO’s and government. In each workshop, the participants chose one theme to base their vision on. Beforehand, the following three key themes were created out of in-depth interviews with actors from the system: “urban & rural areas”, “small & large actors” and “social & technological innovation”. All three groups chose a different key theme, which led to interesting and varied results. One group envisioned a future with many small-scale production and consumption networks, in which young people were eager to be farmers and farming would be “cool” again. Another group took a more abstract approach and defined a future in terms of the two concepts of space and time.

So, how to realize these desirable futures in Kyoto prefecture? That is where the back-casting begins. From one element of their future vision, the groups worked back to the present step by step. For example, to free up more time for food related activities such as going to markets and home cooking, the step just before realization would be new labour laws. But before that, a change in cultural values should be realized. So before that, people should alter their patterns – perhaps by way of a siësta? Similar solutions and strategies were found for other visioning elements. In the end, the workshops even led to some concrete steps that participants could take right away. The last group, for example, suggested to actively adopt a new type of name cards, which they call “Dai San no Meishi (third name card)” in Japan, to display their skills and interests rather than their job only. This way, it’s easier to find likeminded people to start initiatives with. All in all, many interesting ideas were discussed. They will be explored further in the upcoming gaming workshop on the 11th and 28th of May. We hope to see you then!

Workshop(Photo: Momoe Oga)

Visioning the future in 2050(Photo: Momoe Oga)