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Imaginator Start - Up

A year ago, through a nomination process, we invited artists to submit two-page solution-proposals, ideas small or large, fanciful or real, in the following areas: the New City, the New Politics, the New Body, the New Mind, and the New World.

In our first year, we incubated eight boundary-pushing artist collaborations.  We paired artists with pragmatic problem-solvers: scientists, engineers, ethicists, culture bearers, and technologists. We helped guide their ideas toward progressive stages of realization.  Each artist received seed monies to help take their inspiration to the next level.

Then, we showcased prototypes — or near-prototypes — for all seven projects in our Artist As Innovator:  Demo Day, a three-day virtual event, October 22–24, 2021. All to show how the imagination can be a lever for global change.

As a cultural incubator and learning organization, Visions2030 supports innovation and collaboration across sectors. Our goal is to remain nimble, anarchistic, and experimental. We are vested in leveraging human creativity by developing sustainable practices.

As we went, we refined our efforts to help develop projects. Collaborative teams presented in-process work to “salons” of invited audiences. They met with us for guidance twice monthly. Now we are preparing for Stage 2 — the accelerator phase — of collaborations. This has been a year of true growth.

Droppin’ Science

Droppin’ Science is an immersive gaming experience that utilizes the storytelling power of hip-hop and the interactive engagement of gameplay to teach real-life science lessons in a way that sticks. In the game, players create their own avatar emcee, then participate (as individuals or in crews) in real-time hip-hop freestyle rapping competitions with other emcees from around the world. As players “level up” in skill, they are able to outfit their avatar with different clothing, features, and visual elements. Additionally, global hip-hop music composers will be able to submit instrumentals and beats for the emcees to rap over during gameplay. In between the competitions (or cyphers, as they are known in hip-hop), players will encounter “hip-hop scientists”—avatars of actual scientists who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and who actively participate in hip-hop culture themselves. Introduced by short cinematic sequences, the scientists function as guides, teaching players short lessons in their area of specialization—for example, aerospace engineering or atmospheric science. The lessons will contain elements that players can then use in the cyphers to score large amounts of points at one time. The overarching purpose of the game is not only to make science lessons more "sticky," but to develop a community around music creation and to counter racial and cultural biases by introducing players to BIPOC scientists.


Bayeté Ross Smith


Latoya Peterson

(Collaborator), Director for the Culture, Glow Up Games

NATURESHIP: A New Municipality and A New Human Condition

In “NATURESHIP: A New Municipality and a New Human Condition,” Nicole Mackinlay Hahn explores extending the Rights of Nature (a concept, since 1972, bestowing “environmental personhood” on watersheds, rivers, and mountain ranges) to urban microhabitats. From backyards and stoops to balconies, rooftops, and flowerbeds (and notably in her own Harlem neighborhood), these microhabitats would be legally grouped together to form a new municipality—a novel self-governing entity. Nature, holds Mackinlay Hahn, requires its own municipality, a Declaration of Natureship, and a fellowship of self-governance that incorporates an indigenous understanding of nature and ecosystem literacy. NATURESHIP creates a resilience where nature and humans evolve together, not separately. This project also aims to explore who we are as individuals and communities facing the challenges that climate change, overdevelopment, and loss of space bring. Beyond conservation, this is a new kind of community movement, creating paradigms for Western culture in which nature and humans can co-evolve. Citizenship + Allyship + Fellowship + Governorship = NATURESHIP.


Nicole Mackinlay Hahn


Grant Wilson

(Collaborator), Executive Director & Directing Attorney, Earth Law Center; Local Native Knowledge Keepers and the Harlem Community (Stewards and Collaborators)


Conceived during and for this time of isolation and division, Synch.Live is a series of game-like events in which human players work together to solve a group challenge without using words. Synch.Live takes inspiration from emergent systems in nature—flocks of birds or swarms of ants—in which novel patterns emerge from a collective effort. In these self-organizing systems, no single agent can do alone what the group can do together. Using simple rules and nonverbal cues, Synch.Live sets into play the possibility of emergence (that is, where behaviors materialize when parts interact in a wider whole) and collective reward. In mobilizing our instinct to connect, Synch invites us to feel part of a greater whole, to pry open our limiting beliefs, and to experience the exhilaration of human connection for a glorious, transformative moment. In the next phase of development, Leone will work with a team of U.K.–based neuroscientists, mathematicians, and technologists to develop and test the software and hardware that will work behind the scenes to support the game experience. The team will then design the player experience and run multiple pilots to learn, iterate, and refine. Although still in the early stages of imagining, Synch.Live team members feel optimistic players will be able to figure out—without using words—how to “act” as a group and create something new together. In this way, Synch.Live can show us that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, that we have what it takes to cooperate, and that we need one another.


Hillary Leone


Daniel Bor

(Collaborator), Cognitive Neuroscientist, University of Cambridge, UK

Dagmar Divjak

(Collaborator), Cognitive Linguist, University of Birmingham, UK

Working Titles For A New Futurist Cookbook

Working Titles For A New Futurist Cookbook will be of interest to anyone who eats. Visual, informative, and absurd, the project proposes a reimagined Futurist Cookbook for our new century. If as the Futurists say, people “think, dream, and act according to what they eat and drink,” then the objective of this cookbook is to stimulate the reader to reevaluate habitual ways we use and source food. This project juxtaposes images of Wexler’s artworks with selected or commissioned “recipes.” His drawings, multimedia objects, images, and installations, on two-page spreads, investigate eating, sitting, dining, and socializing, transforming everyday activities into ritual and theater. Like a wine pairing during a fine meal, the two enhance and speak to each other, provocative and revolutionary in overturning set patterns and rituals.


Allan Wexler


Joey Rubin

(Collaborator), Owner, Gold Land BBQ; Co-Founder, Parade Agency

Seagrass: Revitalizing Our Waterways

Undulating just a few feet beneath the surface of the ocean, right at our toe tips, is seagrass—a flowering marine plant and a natural solution to environmental problems of our own creation. Seagrass’s ability to capture and store carbon provides benefits beyond combating climate change, such as protecting against storm surges and providing a habitat for aquatic species. And it does this without any need for extraction of compounds or further manipulation. Born of a desire to propagate and plant seagrass in New York City’s urban waterways, this project combines fieldwork, simple landscape design, and video documentation. It strives to create positive feedback loops between humans and subaquatic vegetation, opening up deep, haptic connections between New Yorkers and the estuary that surrounds us. In so doing, seagrass becomes a touchstone through which to probe and redirect humanity’s often violent relationship with (non-human) nature. In advance of the fast-approaching seagrass "off-season" (approximately November through April in the northeastern U.S.), Weisdorf and collaborator Willis Elkins are planting eelgrass (Zostera marina) in the Newtown Creek Alliance's Living Docks in order to see how it responds to growing on an artificial base in adverse conditions. They will use the off-season to edit video footage, plan for larger collection and planting efforts in the spring and fall of next year, generate prototypes of park designs, and create tactile experiences for positive feedback loop mechanisms between humans and aquatic species.


Kayla Weisdorf


Willis Elkins

(Collaborator), Executive Director, Newtown Creek Alliance

Binary Calculations Can Not Assess Us

Artist Stephanie Dinkins and collaborator Surya Mattu examine inherent biases in artificial intelligence. They aim to create interventions that challenge existing power structures and offer different models for building civic infrastructure. This project is a first step toward making resources that allow for care, meaningful engagement, and that redefine the dynamic between people and power. Widely deployed technology can support bottom-up decision-making and empower the public to directly engage with the systems that govern and theoretically support them.


Stephanie Dinkins


Surya Mattu

(Collaborator), Artist, Engineer, and Investigative Data Journalist

Datalogue Raisonné™

Datalogue Raisonné (a play on “catalogue raisonné,” an art-world term for a comprehensive listing of all the known artworks by an artist) is a universal, cloud-based, blockchain inventory tool that inventories the original provenance data of individual works of art. Its purpose is to facilitate inclusive documentation and expedite creative legacy planning by using artist-friendly technological innovations in image and data management. Too often, identifying data about art objects (e.g., size, medium, year made) originate outside of the artist studio, often at the point of sale or exhibition. For artists who do not have a robust commercial support structure, a lifetime’s output cannot be easily organized, and that vital information will eventually be lost. As a result, intellectual property and creative ownership can often become ambiguous. The Datalogue Raisonné, a project of The Living Trust for the Arts (LTA), a creative community trust collectivizing legacy planning and studio management for visual artists, provides a tool for permanent record-keeping. Its original image-recognition device, currently in development, allows for the potential for cataloguing all visual output anywhere in the world.


Dena Muller

Conceptual Designer

John Lee

(Collaborator), Filmmaker, Writer and Hacker

Ethical Imagination

The foundation of impactful and effective questioning is engaging our “Ethical Imagination” (E.I.), a term first presented as a call to action in 2015 in Nairobi by Kenyan writer and scholar Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor. Utilizing the mechanism of blockchain, which is the record-keeping technology behind the cryptocurrency network known as Bitcoin, “E.I.” will create a conceptual framework in the form of an indelible registry of ideas that can be committed to as “thinking acts.” These ideas have the potential to positively change society in a radical manner—to be just, equitable, and scalable. Upon the establishment of the E.I. registry, the ideas will be voted on using a more representational method of apportioned voting (A.V.), also known as quadratic voting (Q.V.) E.I. and A.V. will be deployed in and of themselves, as models of processes that reflect and are in themselves just and equitable systems. Ultimately the goal of this process is to address large-scale issues that seem insurmountable, such as climate change. This process and the effects will be disseminated to the public through a website and in the form of a video/podcast titled What, the Tech?


Mary Ellen Carroll

Conceptual Artist

Meredith Finkelstein

(Collaborator), Technologist

Collective Dreaming

How do we dream forward as a society?
Signature Visions2030 workshops engage participants in imagination-opening exercises.  Our techniques join participants together on shared dreams, pushing us past our limits, mapping out safe spaces for collaborative visioning, and pioneering interactive scenario-planning tools.

Local Labs

Inspired creativity belongs to everyone.

The program adapts the principles of the “wild-and-crazy” idea brought into reality (the core of Visions2030). It introduces the power of imagination to underserved populations—at-risk teens, seniors, rural communities, and the incarcerated—to show that everybody is an inventor. We have been partnering with Exalt Youth, a NYC-based initiative for court-involved young people.


Inspired, thought-provoking, and at times moving conversations before an invited Visions2030 community have included groundbreaking playwright Anna Deavere Smith and Union Theological President Serene Jones discussing art, spirit, and racial justice, and Dr. Jones in conversation with Spiderwoman Theatre found Muriel Miguel on Indigenous Issues, Mortality, and the Miraculous. Visions2030 collaborating teams were featured presenting their projects, topics such as the restaurant of the future and a blockchain app capable of classifying and preserving art, quadratic voting and race-informed ethics of artificial intelligence, the rights of nature; seagrass as a solution to ocean regeneration; STEM pioneers in the Black community; new consciousness; indigenous issues; the future of food.

The New City

Navigating the Future, a How-To

Check out our past events here

A virtual conference offering a chance to deeply re-imagine what our urban spaces might be – for now, and for the future.

We ask YOU…what is the city you dream of?  

Visions2030 dreams forward. We ask not what we’re upset about, but rather what we want to move toward.  What new possibilities does this moment offer for  true equity, safety, unity, progress.       

In collaboration with Union Theological Seminary. Keynote speeches by inspirational civic leaders Energizing examples of models, large and small sparking the imagination and providing solutions. 

There will be sessions of scenario planning and “collective dreaming” tackling “The City We All Dream of.” 

Using dynamic virtual platforms, the conference will provide narrative experiences to mimic an in-person event, a multiverse of experiences and encounters. The pillars will be five visionary models of cities, planned for Istanbul, Senegal, Malaysia, China.  How are these centers grappling with climate change and inequity?   More importantly, on a granular level, the conference will present many ingenious models proposed or successfully in existence, community-based, tackling neighborhood equity, police reform, Black and female entrepreneurship, equal access, urban farming – even bicycle storage. 

The city, always evolving, is more than a collection of buildings – it’s an architecture of relationships.  The conference will address our largest aspirations. It will culminate in next steps: an Open Call for proposals redesigning urban reality, and opportunities for attendees to engage in and support ongoing projects.    

Visions2030 is dedicated to harnessing the artistic imagination to creat new paradigms and new models of society. Drawing upon the imagination and experiences of artists in particular, it will reimagine the world we live in.

Come dream with us!