Three Horizons

A model has been developed which will help all those struggling with projects whose adherents hope will bring about transformational change. The International Futures Forum’s Three Horizons framework certainly helps explain my feelings in my quest to get the concept of bioregions widely discussed.


Horizon 1 (H1) is the current system (business as usual), whilst H3 is a completely different, just, healthy and resilient system which will take decades to fully emerge. H2 is the transition from the one system to the other and is full of the tension between the old system declining in importance and the new beginning to emerge.
I feel as if I am very much working along the H2 horizon. It’s often confusing and frustrating. Where do I put my energies most effectively in order to make a difference? Fruitful ideas that should be contributing to the emergence of H3 are picked on or up by those whose aim is to keep the status quo. The ideas are either attacked or coopted and merely paid lipservice to.
However, the vision that is H3 is a constant source of hope. The concept of the bioregion is just one of the numerous nested patterns that will help create the new system, so why not get working on it now, so that it can come about sooner rather than later? Now that Transition Kintyre exists, people are starting to come together, bringing with them their own transformative patterns of repair and recycling, citizen empowerment, energy reduction, local food growing and community woodlands.
For all these – and many more – initiatives to flourish, its adherents need to both think and act in integrated ways, recognising that as we grow together we will combine the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to help bring about the eventual transformation that is H3.
I am inspired by Phil Hanlon and Sandra Carlisle’s book “AfterNow: What next for a Healthy Scotland?” which introduced me to the Three Horizons model. As the title suggests the book’s theme is health and wellbeing. The authors recognise that obesity and over-consumption of alcohol are systemic problems and can only be addressed through change that permeates the whole of society. I finish with a quotation from page 115.
“With a third horizon in mind we can use the creative energy of innovation to help it into being, rather than allowing that energy to be sucked into keeping the existing system going a little longer.”

About edwardtyler

I live in Kintyre, the long peninsula acting as a natural breakwater for the Firth of Clyde, west of Glasgow. A Permaculture and Transition practitioner, I am working with fellow community activists to co-create a resilient and vibrant local bioregion.

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