Looking ahead, right here on planet Earth

A person is suspended in a hammock while wearing an otherworldly space helmet.
Earth Force Climate Command/Courtesy Photo

Ajax artist Ax wants us to think about the future. The year 2222, to be exact. The West burned a century ago. People have abandoned the land. The forest, abandoned, has grown back.

Enter “The Burnt States Federation,” an imaginary cohort of “scientists, ecologists, natural philosophers” who return to explore and study the region and wrestle with a question of existential variety.

“We are trying to figure out: how can we possibly repopulate this region more sustainably than our ancestors? Ax said in a phone interview this week.



The premise is a driving force behind “The Wild Future Outpost,” this year’s iteration of the Aspen Space Station initiative that encourages people to believe that we might still have a shot at creating an ideal future here on Earth. Programming kicks off on Saturday with a strategic brainstorming session on solutions for a sustainable future; art installations, dinners, book clubs, workshops and other events on the program until September.

“Our attempt right now is to bring the community together to talk about the future, to create ideas and programs and opportunities for people here to feel that this place is working for them again as a community – that we let’s come together and create a vision of a shared future in which people feel included,” said Ax.



Event descriptions from thefutureisearth.org/events where available. For all events requiring registration, email director@aspenspace.org.

Aspen Year 2022: The Wild Outpost of the Future

Saturday July 23 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“A war room strategy session for anyone who thinks NOW is the right time to start working on new ideas for the future.”

Registration required.

Earth Force Climate Command Pledge Day at Intersect Aspen

Sunday July 31 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Join the Earth Force Climate Command, collect wildflower seed bombs and take the Future Proof exam at the Aspen Ice Garden.

Open to the public.

The Wild Future Feast: Kairos Futura Benefit Dinner

Tuesday, August 2 from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

“A private wild feast prepared over the fire and from foraged ingredients.”

Limited to 30 people by invitation only. E-mail director@aspenspace.org to learn more about Kairos Futura.

Members of the Federation of States burned at the Fire Pod

Thursday August 4 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

See artist Chris Erickson’s Fire Pod and interact with “savage futurists” at the Red Brick Center for the Arts.

Open to the public.

Into The Wild: Secret Art Mission and Portrait Premiere of Another NFTS

Saturday August 7 from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

An NFT art exhibit featuring a digital portrait of director and photographer DJ Furth.

Registration required; must pass the Future Proof exam (link available online via thefutureisearth.org).

Savage Future Book Club

Thursday August 11 from 8 p.m. to 9:35 p.m.

Meet to discuss the book “A Brief History of the Future”.

Registration required.

Wild Food Lab

Friday August 12 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“Experiment with Wild Cooking and Foraged Ingredients” at the Wild Future Culinary Lab. Registration required.

Future Ritual

Sunday, August 15 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Discover the interactive installation “Future Ritual” by artist Clarity Fornell.

Registration required; must pass the Future Proof exam (link available online via thefutureisearth.org). Participants will be blindfolded and taken to a secret location for the event.

Beyond Fire and Fear

Saturday August 20 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“A biology-based future design workshop with biologists and artists in conversation about the future of the West.”

Registration required.

Climate Collapse Happy Hour

Monday August 22 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Drinks and brainstorming on “how the hell are we going to turn climate collapse into something positive”.

Open to the public. Location to be specified.

Are you scared of the future ? Scary stories about the future Campfire

Sunday September 4 from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

A campfire evening looking to the future.

Registration required.

Party like it’s 2222

Friday, September 9 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Celebrate an “Aspen Utopia Redux” from the perspective of a “future nomad” The theme is “solar punk”.

Open to the public. Location to be specified.

This is part of the broader efforts of the Earth Force Climate Commandwhich is based in Aspen and includes artists, activists, thinkers and organizers who are focused on finding solutions and building community.

This year’s Wild Future Outpost will feature 11 performers, up from four at the Aspen space station in 2021, Ax said. After debuting last year at the back of Aspen Mountain, the lineup is expanding to multiple locations in and out of town.

(Some are more secret than others: participants will have to register and obtain a high level score on the “Future Proof” philosophical exam to obtain the coordinates of certain events, and for one thing, participants will wear the blindfolded in transit to their final destination. .)

A “redux utopia” is also part of the premises this year. Organizers want people to think about what that ideal future looks like on Earth here in Aspen — “the world’s most successful failed utopia,” according to one of this year’s slogans, Ax said.

Some seven decades after Walter and Elizabeth Paepcke first imagined a community that celebrated mind, body, and spirit here in Aspen in the mid-twentieth century, what remains?

Ax sees Aspen as “a victim of its own success” and a manifestation of Elizabeth Paepcke’s assessment in 1987 that this place becomes “a pâté so rich that none of us can digest it anymore”.

“There are many kinds of utopian attempts to create communities all over the United States, most of which have not been successful,” Ax said. “Here has been incredibly successful, in terms of what they’ve created, but I think it’s left a lot of people behind.”

Hence the redux, which is as much a local ethos as a global one. The Earth Force Climate Command also has projects in Kenya and Greece, with plans to expand programming to other places as well, “to bring people together, and creatively try to build a world around the idea to create a local future,” said Ax.

“If we don’t have a North Star, a direction we want to go as a community – here and everywhere else in the world – we’re like a boat without a sail,” Ax said. “We’re just going around in circles, and nothing gets achieved, and we’re not going anywhere, and that’s what you see in so many places all over the world is that without any direction, we just fail again and again.”

The space station metaphor is an example of this “polar star,” Ax said. Visionaries touted the wonders of space travel in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, with messages that would lead to the next half-century’s otherworldly exploration, and more.

“We were given a vision and a direction to go, and so that’s the vision and the direction that we all went – it was that we were going to leave Earth and go to another planet, isn’t it? right?” says Axe. “It’s collective fantasy storytelling that happens on a subconscious societal level and transforms the way we see the world.”

Now, with today’s billionaires engaged in an escape space race, the principles of the Aspen space station attempt to redirect the message that is a guideline of the project.

One: “Stay on Earth”. Two: “Enjoy it.” Three: “Stop thinking that we can burn this planet down and then flee to another. »

“This project asks people to look around and say, ‘What if we were to create our imagined future right here in our own communities? “Ax said.

kwilliams@aspentimes.com

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