It is always good to look ahead and dream.
In my book, dreaming is the stuff that leads us comfortably from the current condition to some desired future state. While nightmares bring fear, dreams are supposed to do the opposite and allow us to move forward. Not to get too Jungian or abstract here, but looking for effective ways to knock down the barriers of fear that stop us from embracing change. And nowhere are the barriers of fear higher and more seemingly insurmountable than when we deal with our pending post-petroleum existence. Let's look at two approaches to this.
The first, which I have experienced a couple of times, is associated with the Transition Town movement. This exercise involves a facilitator who asks a group to relax and close their eyes. Everyone takes a deep breath and the exercise gets underway, slowly and peacefully as the leader asks folks to imagine various aspects of a post-petroleum life in the future. They start in various ways but generally with something like:
"Think about how you feel when you wake up in the morning. Think about what sounds you hear as electric cars pass by instead of gas-driven vehicles. Do you live in a walk-able community? Do you work from home? And what does a world with little or no auto exhaust smell like? Will you spend more time with your children or your spouse? Will you work less if there is less to buy?"
The exercise continues on various tracks for some period of time until all have been through an array of self-visions about the future. Different facilitators ask different questions and the skills of all vary, but what seems to be universal is that when people open their eyes again they are relaxed and invariably more comfortable with the future and what it holds. They do not run out and lock themselves in their cars and scream "I want to commute, I love the smell of vinyl, and I live for traffic jams"!
Sure, these are folks who are already looking for a change and embrace the data on climate change and peak oil as well as the difference between quality of life and standard of living. But even they can harbor fears about the future.
The second approach is a little less internalized. This future visioning involves reading speculative literature written by folks trying to do the imagining for you. Lots of writers are riffing on this topic, but because I had an enjoyable dinner with him the other night, I'll mention James Howard Kuntsler. He's the prophetic and profane former Rolling Stone columnist who was featured in the movie The End of Suburbia. Jim is a little bit of a provocateur with a deep intellect and an even deeper rooted sense of humor. The worlds he paints in A World Made by Hand and the newer sequel The Witch of Hebron reflect all of this and are also fun reads. The interesting thing is that you can love or hate the images in these books, but at the end of the day the formulation of your feelings almost forces you to imagine what you really expect it to be like. And that is a good exercise to undertake. Dream on and make the post-carbon age happen and happen well.