Introducing Futuregazing — Empowering & Sensemaking Teens’ Futures

A Cygnus Venture Demonstrating our Guild’s Social Impact with Young People — plus Two Upcoming Events & Ways to Get Involved

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” — Anne Frank, ‘Anne Frank’s Tales From The Secret Annex’

We’ll bookend what we would love you to do after reading our post now and at the end of this post:

Details on our Two Atelier Events, Thursday June 9th:

Atelier #11a


Intro : Atelier 11 Geeta Dhir, Futuregazing Leader — ‘Futuregazing : The Project, The Perspective, The Plan’

Segment 1 — Eleni Karayianni , PsyD. Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Clinical Training Coordinator, Department of Psychology, University of Cyprus— ‘Addressing Adolescent Health Needs’

Segment 2 — Joelle Neish & Sarah Sheehan , Teacher & Educational Psychologist — ‘The Results of our Futuregazing Survey : The Current & Future State of Early Teens — Insights Sharing and Interactive Q&A

Segment 3 — Victor Sarat Catalan , Foresight Advocate with Gina Clifford, Omni Futures Host & Interviewer — ‘Futuregazers. Getting Teens to Think Hopefully About the Future’

The Path Ahead — Sean Moffitt, Guild Founder — ‘Recap, Concluding Remarks, Planning Ahead and How to Get Involved’


Intro : Atelier 11 — Geeta Dhir, Futuregazing Leader — ‘Futuregazing : The Project, The Perspective, The Plan’

Segment 1 — — Alethia Berenice Montero Baena, Director, Teach the Future and World Future Society Mexican Chapter Director — ‘The Future Can Sound Strange but is Wonderful and Starts with The Mind’

Segment 2 — Joelle Neish & Sarah Sheehan , Teacher & Educational Psychologist — ‘The Results of our Futuregazing Survey : The Current & Future State of Early Teens — Insights Sharing and Interactive Q&A’

Segment 3 — Mercedes (Marimer) Baltazar Lobato — ‘Futuregazing — Roll Up Your Sleeves Session, A thought-provoking exercise and future thinking deliverable brought to you by one of Latin America’s foremost storytellers, strategists and futurists.”‘

The Path Ahead — Sean Moffitt, Guild Founder — ‘Recap, Concluding Remarks, Planning Ahead and How to Get Involved’

A Crisis Moment — the COVID Pandemic

The pandemic has given us a moment to reappraise our worlds. For many things COVID and post-COVID related to teens, the verdict is not good.

On Mental Health & Hope of the Future:

On State of Anxiety & Depression:

Academics, Social & Emotional Development, Behaviors From Lockdown

Source: KFF

…But Perhaps Hope

“Post-traumatic growth … really does require a kind of reckoning and a rebuilding. That’s what post-traumatic growth is: bouncing forward in some ways, bouncing toward a new set of values and perspectives.” Jean Rhodes

Futuregazing — Focus on Young People : Background

Our Grey Swan Guild was founded two years ago on the notion of helping everybody interested enough to make sense of the world’s biggest challenges and next future scenarios and wildcards (we call them Grey Swans).

Historically, this mission has led us into many interesting & rewarding content, experience, networking and intelligence directions. This year, it’s also leading us into new ventures that create demonstrable value and learning/training forums. On our Futuregazing project, perhaps more than any other venture, it does all that and is also spearheading our social impact agenda of improving the state of the world.

Marrying the importance of what we do in Guild (making sense of challenges and future) and young people’s limitless capacity and important ownership of it, we have built a core of people who passionately have come together to improve the state of young people in the world, the flowering minds, purpose-driven leaders and progressive beacons of tomorrow. We hope to cover off gaps left behind from other institutions in getting teens, and specifically young teens (13–16 years old), ready for the complex, accelerated challenges of today and tomorrow (more on our why below).

“Futuregazing” is the second Grey Swan Guild venture out of the gate from a palette of twelve we had identified earlier this year (The Craft Building Event Series was first, Cygnus Sprints has also now launched). The project is being spearheaded by:

  • Gina Clifford (USA), Futures Thinker and strategic communicator
  • Sean Moffitt (Canada), Venture Innovator and guild co-founder
  • Mercedes Baltazar Lobato (Mexico), Foresight Strategist & storyteller
  • Sarah Sheehan (Gibraltar), Teacher, psychologist and multidisciplinarian
  • Joelle Neish (Gibraltar), Specialist teacher, mental health advocate & face painter

Others have contributed along the way and we may be called upon yet again as this venture takes on more tentacles. We are encouraging others to join our mission here (see a bigger description of what’s involved below).

From the outset, the one thing we wanted to build within this effort that doesn’t just imitate other well-meaning but paternalistic causes, was to focus on building the scaffolding for teens to role model and build capacity for themselves, and by themselves.

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” — Ferris Bueller, ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’

Futuregazing — The Big Why

One of the intriguing aspects of people that have taken part in our effort, is a real visionary purpose behind it. In truth, of our 12 Guild ventures, this was the only project that became real based on the intensity of engagement and passionate ambassadorship of a core group of team members.

Sensemaking, futurology, psychology, sociology, critical thinking, media literacy, purposeful leadership may be activities predominantly associated with adulting. Even moreso, it may be seen as the domain of adults with vast knowledge, wisdom and life experiences. Whilst, this may be the case in some situations, if we look at the core of these activities, we can recognise that all of us need to be engaging in these thought processes, at a daily level. And as evidenced by the pandemic, especially young people.

The actual delivery of our Futuregazing venture may take on many formats (we are also open to teens shaping our project’s name), but our outcomes are to ensure teens are able to:

  • Build a sense of empowerment to lead & create change for the better, aiding themselves and others, applying what they have learnt and becoming change agent role models
  • Find ways of navigating threats and opportunities, with a sustained interest in an array of futures, design, critical and sensemaking approaches
  • Foster a sense of global community where the collective are a group of caring, conscious individuals coming together for common purposes
  • Manifest a direction for innovation and perceived enhancement to people’s lives, become pivotal young role models and participants in key projects
  • Produce a way of safeguarding the real-life and digital future of all living things, local & online communities, the planet and beyond

“Age is foolish and forgetful when it underestimates youth.” – J. K. Rowling

Futuregazing — The Need for Teens

We are taking an initial three year view on this venture and know that we’ll likely try things that flourish, and perhaps some that don’t. Regardless of possible tangible learning forums, inspirational events or collaborative efforts, we’ve drafted eight pivotal needs with teens that will be a compass for our work.

A. Empathy — teenagers typically become self-absorbed during their adolescent years, but it is not due to having no empathy. It is because they are going through a process of self-discovery and what may seem like an unwillingness to engage may actually be a sign of having little to no confidence to engage on an emotional level. We would like to catalyze and accelerate this curve via:

  • ii) Collaboration & Listening — the ability to collaborate well with others is an important part of life and work, and it contributes to a teen’s capacity to respect the perspectives of others, to solve problems creatively, and to resolve conflicts appropriately. Whether through building things, playing video games or participating in competition, teens learn valuable skills of active listening, group empathy & affiliation and cooperative learning that they can bank for the future.

B. Systems Thinking — encouraging young people to understand and lean into the complexity and a non-binary way of seeing the world is integral. Can they see complexity as a feature and a systemic working of the world — a guide, and not an enemy? Can we get them to feel confident they can solve complex problems and together, innovate their way to healthier futures? Can we stoke their curiosity for further discovery? For us, literacy and learning about future, interdisciplinary and experiential opportunities to improve our ability to see, understand and work with interdependent systems is a key answer.

  • ii) Futures & Sustainability Thinking —teens have a right to be heard in decision-making processes that affect their lives, and when it comes to the future, it likely is even more imperative as they live with the consequences longer than many policy makers. In experience, prospective thinking teens produce better outcomes. preferred visions and more ambitious goals. Intense traits of teenage years — pessimism & optimism bias, helplessness, fantasy, fear of the unknown, desire of social approval or perfectionism all play into this capacity and can be modulated and reframed.

C. Community Engagement — young people need safe spaces to form and voice their opinions, and strong advocates who support their efforts to influence policy-making and hold leaders to account. Teens have long been encouraged to get involved in their communities through voting, volunteering, engaging in activism or instructive play. Technology has both harmed and promoted this aspect of their lives. Community engagement can help teens feel more connected to others and confident that they are making a difference and are frequently connected to physical and mental health improvements:

  • ii) Changemaking, Sensemaking & Action — for most teens, the opportunity to make their mark on the world will flow from their environment, confidence, network and involvement in either academics, sports, theater, activism, community service or heartfelt issue that springs them to action. For the first time in history, anyone can raise their hand and spread ideas, connect with millions, and lead our people on a journey, let’s provide the grease and positive engineering to that conveyor belt of ingenuity.

D. Agency over the Current & Future — there have been 31% more mental health emergencies and 50% more suspected suicide attempts among U.S. teens during the pandemic. One in four teens are experiencing clinically elevated depression symptoms, while one in five youth are experiencing clinically elevated anxiety symptoms globally. There is a level of hopelessness over their lives not seen previously. “persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness” in teens have risen from 26% in 2009, to 37% in 2019 to an all-time an all-time high in 2021 at 44% (Source; CDC, 2022):

  • ii) Creativity, Design Thinking & Embodiment - in a world where administrative, routine and rote learning jobs have been commodified or on the road to being automated away, the generation of ideas or products that are both original, valuable and empathetic to customer or citizen need are at a premium. Aiding the craft of building user-centered & novel objects, ideas and sensations, and also helping teens understand the role that the actions of the body can play a role in the development of thoughts and ideas is a distinct learning change for lifelong value.

Three caveats to this focus and direction:

  • the language used here is for the professional, the language used by teens on what this feels and looks like will be much different
  • as a project about teen empowerment, our teen leaders are going to have a big say

“As citizens, our voices need to be heard — and our desires too — because an individual problem affects the collective. We are making changes. It can happen through small actions.” — Kauanne Santos Patrocínio, 16, Brazil

Futuregazing — The What

“Don’t downgrade your dream just to fit your reality. Upgrade your conviction to match your destiny.” – Stuart Scott.

Like what you have heard so far. We have three tangible call to actions at the end of this post (a teen survey, an Atelier event and joining our circle). Before signing up, people do like to hear what this project could become, where could it actually go. We have teased out a number of ideas that may be shaped, added to or shifted by our global teens that eventually join us.

Twenty+ ideas that this venture turns into have been already proffered up, more will surface in the future:

  • A Futuregazing Podcast — going deeper on views by teens, for teens in audio format
  • Open Futuregazing —a partnered, open source challenge/hackathon to globally make sense of the world
  • The Futuregazing Council — a global network of teen leaders from 50+ different countries engaged and judging Futuregazing activity
  • Futuregazing Audit — developing a benchmarking and diagnosis tool for teen world- and future-readiness
  • Teen Masterclasses — unlike other academic and thought-leader courses, have classes taught by and through the lens of teens
  • Young Voices, Global Prism — relevant global teen commentary on the most important issues of today and tomorrow
  • 1,000 Day Radar, Teen Viewpoints — considering mid-futures scenarios from a young person’s perspective
  • Futuregazing Book Club — the top of the Reader/Book shelf of books uniquely interesting to teens
  • Futuregazing Decentralized U.N. — a refreshing change from state-sponsored to individual general assembly forum on future policy
  • Visual Futuregazing — research, insight and foresight regular editions of infographics and well-designed intelligence
  • Play Life— building out and kickstarting a newly invented game or sport that brings together many of the teens skills and needs under one roof
  • Young Advisory LLC — create a tribe of youth committed to helping organizations, causes and governments to do better, bolder & faster
  • The Futuregazing Gallery — a leading edge virtual art gallery crafted by youth
  • The Hour of Mad Skillz — learning life and fun activities in less than an hour through DIY Video
  • The Futuregazing Feed — a top Reddit-like universe of leading headlines for the month aimed to help enlighten, inspire and lift teens up
  • Would I.Wouldn’t I ?— posing questions and canvassing our lead Futuregazing audience to decide on what they would do in similar situations
  • Spin the Futuregazing Wheel — connect, infer, abstract and ideate 1st & 2nd level future actions, reactions and scenarios on subjects teens care about
  • The Three Minute Storygazers — provide a regular forum for teen video autobiographies with punch, speed, emotion and relatable perspectives and lessons
  • The Scoop — the most interesting and voted on concepts, things and ideas just-breaking, important and improving our world as identified by teens

“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.”– Michael Jordan.

Futuregazing — Three Calls to Action

“The memories of one’s youth make for long, long thoughts.”– Finnish proverb.

We have three things people want to do after reading our post:

A. The Futuregazing Survey — Your Voice:

We have a survey we would love to have young people (13–16 years old) respond to about their feelings about the pandemic, the future they want and the future they think they might get. If you have access to youth in your personal or professional circles, we would love to generate some traction and input.

(Note in our privacy policy, treatment of & access to survey results have taken young safeguarding into accounts).

We’re hopeful to get the bulk of responses back by July:
Futuregazing Survey :

II. The Futuregazing Atelier — June 9th

We have a two interactive forums at 4am BST and 4pm EDT that bring futures and thinking excellence, creativity, teen brilliance and interactive conversation and making at its core. Adult stakeholders, Guild members and teens are all welcome.

Pre-register for Futuregazing Atelier #1: June 9th 4pm-5:45pmBST (UTC+1) here. Event Link here.

Pre-register for Futuregazing Atelier #2: June 9th 4pm-5:45pm EDT (UTC-4) here. Event Link here:

June 9th — Futuregazing Atelier 11a — Futuregazing Atelier 11b —

C. The Futuregazing Circle

We are not actively recruiting our key constituency teens (13–16 years old) yet, but

We are canvassing for passionate experts and committed helpers from around the world:

Join our Futuregazing Circle focused on advancing young people in the world :

“Never let your emotions overpower your intelligence.” – Drake.

Grey Swan Guild — Making Sense Momentum

Hopefully some of you will think about joining our collective that tries to make sense of thee world and the future.

We are a post-modern version of the Guild — this is what we like to do:

Other Guild Activities — Feature City of the Month

Vancouver, Rain City itself, and one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Town Hall — Wednesday, June 29th, 12pm PST —

Craft-Building Series #32 — Futures Thinking, Possibilities & Wild Cards

Clubhouse Friday, June 17th 1pm ET

Profile Member Shade This Week #16 —Design Thinkers, Human-Centred Designers and Experience Developers



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Grey Swan Guild

Making Sense of the World’s Biggest Challenges & Next Grey Swans — curating and creating knowledge through observation, informed futurism, and analysis🦢