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Coming soon: The Heroic Future


Here's the latest info on our upcoming talk series

“Free your mind,” the philosopher George Clinton wrote, “and your ass will follow.”

Wise words, and never wiser than in this time of planetary crisis. Living surrounded as we are by massive climate and environmental problems, struggling to meet the development needs of billions, and bogged down by economic inequality and political corruption, it’s easy to focus on all the ways humanity seems locked in a downwards spiral. When every successful future seems to demand heroic efforts, it’s easy to look ahead and see only darkness and failure.

What if we could see the future in a different light? What if we could unpack the problems around us, in a way that broke down massive change into graspable parts? What if we could discover better solutions scattered all around us? What if we could learn new, disruptive approaches to creating sustainable prosperity that could blow past delay, denial and corruption? What if doing the heroic was not a matter just of power, but of vision? What if seeing the future we want is the key to actually building it?

That’s the premise of The Heroic Future — a three-part series of talks given by planetary futurist Alex Steffen, delivered in San Francisco’s historic Marines’ Memorial Theatre over three nights (September 20th, 21st and 22nd).

The Heroic Future takes us on a journey into the kind of future we need to build — but have not yet imagined.

The first night is all about the big picture. We’ll discover new, empowering insights into the steepening problems we face as billions of people seek to make good lives on a planet of strained limits and growing conflicts. Having strong systems insight, we’ll find, gives us leverage on all the problems we face, from the planetary to local.

The second night, we’ll hear about the heartening capacities (and unexpected limits) of our current tools for building a more sustainable, dynamic, equitable future. Power from the sun, wind and waves; affordable green building; bicycles and transit in pedestrian-focused cities; cleantech, the sharing economy and sustainable design: all point the way towards sustainable prosperity. At the same time, our need to act on a massive scale, very quickly, makes us question the ability of today’s sustainability solutions to measure up.

Most of all, though, Steffen will take us into the future itself. On the third night, we’ll explore a world in which shifting generational politics, worldchanging designs and technologies, radical new models of organizing work and creating value, new mental tools (from design thinking to futurecraft) and a cultural renaissance are combining to give us the power to rapidly remake the world around us — if we’re bold enough to act. To wrap it all up, Steffen will offer a sneak peek into the work he and his team have been doing on a new approach to foresight and storytelling, one that may well be able to help us more easily “free our minds.”

Along the way, Steffen will share his humor, his personal stories and a wealth of insights gleaned from 25 years as a trailblazer in the field of planetary futurism.

These will be exciting, adventurous, mind-blowing talks. You won’t want to miss them.

A few tickets for these talks are still available:

About Alex Steffen

  • Alex Steffen is an award-winning writer, speaker and foresight consultant, “One of the world’s leading voices on sustainability and the future of the planet” (Vancouver Sun).
  • In 2013–2014, he was Planetary Futurist in Residence at the design and innovation firm IDEO. He has also advised some of the world’s most forward-looking institutions, investors, philanthropists and NGOs.
  • His 2012 book Carbon Zero: Imagining cities that can save the planet is an exploration of the kinds of design, technological and policy innovations that can transform our cities into low-carbon engines of prosperity.
  • From 2003–2010, he ran the pioneering sustainability and social innovation project, and edited two best-sellingWorldchanging books, with introductions by Al Gore and Bill McKibben.
  • Alex is a prolific writer and public thinker, having written thousands of pieces, been profiled in numerous media interviews and given hundreds of talks to audiences around the world, including two TED Conference talks.
  • He can be found at, on Twitter, on Facebook, on Medium and through his newsletter.

About The Heroic Future:

  • The Heroic Future is the product of five years of research by Steffen and his team.
  • These talks will be presented at the lovely and historic Marines’ Memorial Theatre.
  • Each of the three nights (September 20th, 21st and 22nd) will cover different content.
  • Each night, doors will open at 6:30pm with curtain at 7:00pm.
  • These talks were made possible by the 575 backers who pledged $77,253 on Kickstarter to fund their creation.

Select media coverage of the project can be found:

For more information, check back at and RSVP on Facebook at

“There are two kinds of futurists. The first explore the variations of what exists and project the future from those tea leaves. The second, and by far the rarer, peer around the curve of time and reimagine the future as much as foresee it. Alex Steffen is the latter!”
–Paul Hawken, author of Natural Capitalism and CEO, OneSun
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50 days until The Heroic Future

Friends, we’re delighted to be able to finally announce the details for The Heroic Future, the three-part series of performances we're putting on in September.

As you recall, The Heroic Future is about reimagining the world of tomorrow, so we can redesign the world today. We're living in a time of planetary crisis. Meeting that crisis demands that we build a new form of sustainable prosperity, on a massive scale, quickly, in innovative and unprecedented ways—and often in the face of opposition from powerful interests. We can't build what we can't imagine, though. The Heroic Future is about liberating our thinking and inspiring our creativity to do just that: imagine a future where humanity succeeds.

These three nights will be inspiring, insightful and bold. You won't want to miss them.

The series will be split across the three nights of September 20th, 21st and 22nd. Doors are at 6:30 p.m., and all three shows begin at 7:00.

Our venue is the very cool Marines Memorial Theatre, in San Francisco’s Lower Nob Hill neighborhood. It’s a classic space, with great sightlines and acoustics, and a surprisingly intimate feel for a 526-seat theater:

Marines Memorial Theatre
609 Sutter Street (at Mason)
San Francisco, CA 94102

If you don’t yet have your tickets, or would like to bring friends and colleagues, we’re offering the remaining available tickets for sale here:

Please act quickly, though. We do expect this to be a sold-out event, and we’d really like our friends and supporters to get the tickets they need.

This whole project has been an incredible experience. A whole community of great people has come together to support The Heroic Future, give advice, offer help and spread the word. It’s been heartening, inspiring and fun, and the best is yet to come. Thank you!

Looking forward to seeing you in September,


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Success! Thank you

On March 17th, with 10 hours to go, we reached our $75,000 fundraising goal! The campaign ended with a total of $77,253 pledged and we are so, so grateful to all of you who helped make it happen. We can't wait to bring this project to life, and thanks to your generous contributions, we can do just that.

Keep up with the project by following this page. In the meantime, check out this list of our incredible backers. Thank you!

 Series Sponsor

NXT Level You

Show Sponsor

Reuben Munger

Dinner with Alex

Ashley Doherty
Carol Coletta

Team Future: Curators

Shana Rappaport
Anima Sarah LaVoy
Caen Contee
Malcolm Handley
Kyra Davis
Sarah Austin
Daniel Barcay
Adam Menter

 Team Future: Heroes

Paul Hawken
Cameo Wood
Matthew Crane
Karin Frick
Ruth Ann Harnisch
Sean Schmidt
The Cinemart
Cycle Architecture
Sustainable Brands
Sarosh Kumana
Andre Heinz

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The Heroic Hour

We're in the final sprint! To make it over the finish line, we need to make sure everyone who wants to support this project hears about it. For them to hear about it, we need to ask you to help us make some noise. To make the loudest noise possible, we're asking everyone to come together to spread the word at the same time. Will you join us for one heroic hour?

Tuesday, March 15th, from 11:30am-12:30pm PST: that's when we need you to get loud about The Heroic Future

Here are five easy ways to help the #heroicfuture have a #heroichour on Tuesday:


1. Tweet, post, share on all of your favorite social media sites using the hashtag #heroicfuture and #heroichour.

The best outreach always comes from the heart, but we're all pressed for time, so if you need quick inspiration we've created some images (at the bottom of this post) for you to share. You also can use this text in your messages:

"We can't build what we can't imagine. Want to build a fantastic world? Join the #heroicfuture now! #heroichour" 

Every message of support will help us reach critical mass.


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Six things you can do to support The Heroic Future

1. Back the project!

There's still time to be a part of this worldchanging work. Buy tickets to the live events, or simply show your enthusiasm, here:

2. Invite your friends to join you as backers!

There are links to share the project on Twitter, Facebook, even Tumblr, directly from the Kickstarter page. Help us find our audience.

3. Invite your friends to the Facebook event!

The public Facebook event is here: Inviting your friends is easy! This is also a great place to follow for updates.

4. Share other people’s messages of support.

Retweet from @AlexSteffen’s timeline! This tweet from Bill McKibben would be a great place to start: Bill McKibben backs The Heroic Future

5. Share the media coverage about the project. 

Choose from any or all of these fantastic write-ups:

fastcompany-co-exist_.png- This Planetary Futurist Wants Us To Fundamentally Reimagine A Sustainable Future

Design-Intelligence.png- The Heroic Future

TreeHugger- Alex Steffen to try "reimagining the world of tomorrow in order to rebuild the world today."

Core77- The Heroic Future: How Do We Imagine the Better World That We Need?


- Kickstarting performances and videos about a future where things get better

6. Share one of these images.

Tell the world that you're ready for The Heroic Future!



Thank you!

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An Update on The Heroic Future

This September (the 20th, 21st & 22nd) I’m performing a “live documentary,” The Heroic Future.

Having you there, in the audience, would be awesome. 

We’re putting together a great show. Three nights with a live audience to film a three-part documentary series—an incredible experience mixing spoken word narration, film, photography, music, sound and lights to take you on an epic adventure into the future, looking for stories that can help us answer three huge questions:

When are we? What can we do? Who do we choose to become?

The first night we’ll answer the question, “When are we?” Most of us now know where we are. We get that we live on an astonishing world, but that our Earth has limits. What fewer of us understand is that we live at the moment when our ability to ignore those limits has come to its end, and for the rest of our lives we’re going to be working to reshape a global society of ten billion people to fit within a small world, while fixing the damage done by the 20th century. Is success for humanity still possible? We’ll discover that it is, but that every successful future now demands heroic change.

On the second night we’ll ask, “What can we do?” We’ll explore our power to change, and discover just how heroic that power can be. We’ll range across the landscape of disruptive solutions we can now find all around us. We’ll come to see that while the challenges of our moment are huge, what we most lack are not the tools to build a better world, but the visions to guide our building.

The third night we ask “Who do we choose to become?” We look at the stories about the future that surround us, and see the need for new stories that illuminate the world we want for our children. Then we embark on the adventure of imagining the heroic future humanity needs.

In short, when I take the stage, I will give you what 25 years of travels, research, and hard thinking have shown me about the world and its future. This is the best work I’ve ever done.

To join for any or all of the three nights, all you (or your guests) have to do is back the Heroic Future on Kickstarter at any level of $100 or more. For about the price of dinner for two at a good restaurant in the Bay Area, you and your friends and colleagues could be part of an innovative, worldchanging, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Your help creating this series will make or break us. We’re a small team working hard to tell a big story. If we can fill the theater, we can make this series. 

If we can make this series, we can distribute it globally, reaching millions. Since humanity can’t build what we can’t imagine, millions of people getting the opportunity to imagine a thriving, prosperous, sustainable world is a powerful step towards our children actually living in that world.

We can’t do it without you. A full theater is the difference between sharing new stories of the human future… and silence.

Our campaign ends Thursday, March 17th at 11pm PST. Please back the project now:

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Announcing our new project, The Heroic Future


I want to invite you on an adventure.

Our culture is full of dire predictions, disaster scenarios and post-apocalyptic tales. It’s astonishing, though, how few stories we tell about futures where humanity succeeds.

That’s a problem. I believe it’s literally true that we can’t build what we can’t imagine. The fact that we haven’t compellingly imagined a thriving, dynamic, sustainable world is a major reason we don’t already live in one.

Our challenges are epic. If building a better world seems out of our reach, then we need to become people who can reach farther. We extend that reach by embracing bigger visions. To become people capable of doing heroic things together, we have to imagine a heroic future.

That’s the quest I’m asking you to join me on: imagining that heroic future, and the paths we take to get there.


For the last five years, I’ve been passionately committed to exploring planetary futurism — working to understand both the kind of world we need to build and what kind of creativity can help us imagine that world. Now I’m ready to share what I’ve discovered, and it all starts with a three-part “live documentary,” The Heroic Future. It’s going to be innovative, awesome, and maybe even important. It’s definitely the best work I’ve ever done.

Each 90-minute show is centered around a talk, incorporating stage presentation, film and photography, visual design and motion graphics, sound, music and lighting to tell a powerful story of where we are, where we need to go, and the kind of stories that might guide us through the planetary crisis we face.

The series will run three nights, September 20th, 21st and 22nd. Each of these performances will be presented in an intimate venue to a live audience in the Bay Area, and filmed and recorded for those who can’t be there in person. But whether you’re in the room, watching the videos or listening to the recordings, you’ll be part of creating something special and powerful: a new way of looking at the future.

I need your help. We’re running a Kickstarter campaign to fund The Heroic Future:

Here are two quick things you can do today:

1) Back the project. You know how crowdfunding works. Early support on these things is critical. It would mean the world to me if you’d go show your support right now.

2) Share the project. The Kickstarter page has buttons you can use to tweet your support and share the project on Facebook or Tumbler. Please use social media to spread the word. Just a few clicks will do it.

Your support is critical. Thank you!

As seen on:


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