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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?  

2020Visions 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.    

2020Visions 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!


In late 2019, artists were invited to contribute a two-page idea-proposal addressed to a problem/challenge, large or small, in the following areas: the New City; the New Politics; the New Body; the New Consciousness; the New World. Proposals could be technical—for example, a desalinating water pipeline to fertilize the Sahara. Or tiny — like a new widget to help open smartphones easily. They could be global and sweeping—a vision for a new metropolis or international social structure. They might propose an ideal condition, or even be a whim of the imagination—pure poetry. In short, they could be as wild or impractical as desired—or as pedestrian.

Allan Wexler

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

The Futurist Cookbook, published in 1932, is a collection of nonsensical “recipes” that challenge readers’ sensory experiences of eating. Artist Allan Wexler and collaborator Joey Rubin reimagine that concept for the 21st century in Working Titles For A New Futurist Cookbook, a visual feast of drawings, multimedia objects, images, and installations paired with recipes that provoke the reader to reevaluate the habitual ways we use and source food—our patterns and rituals of eating, farming, cooking, and dining.

Bayeté Ross Smith

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

Imagine a science class that’s as fun and interactive as a multiplayer video game. That’s what artist Bayeté Ross Smith and collaborator Latoya Peterson are creating in Droppin’ Science, a game that combines the improvisational creativity of hip-hop with actual science lessons to create an engaging, brain-expanding experience—and to introduce players to real-life BIPOC scientists at the same time. 

Dena Muller

John Lee (Collaborator), Filmmaker, Writer and Hacker

A lifetime of artwork lost—or collected, permanently stored, and saved. Datalogue Raisonné is a cloud-based, blockchain inventory tool that not only scans individual works of art and transforms visual information into a permanent digital record, but also correlates and sites that information with the work’s original provenance data

Hillary Leone

Daniel Bor (Collaborator), Cognitive Neuroscientist, University of Cambridge, UK; Dagmar Divjak (Collaborator), Cognitive Linguist, University of Birmingham, UK

We can do together what we can’t do alone. In Synch.Live, artist Hillary Leone and collaborators Daniel Bor and Dagmar Divjak take inspiration from self-organizing systems found in nature—like flocks of birds or swarms of ants—to create a series of game-like events in which people learn to work together to solve a group challenge without using words.

Kayla Weisdorf

Willis Elkins (Collaborator), Executive Director, Newtown Creek Alliance

Seagrass is alive, abundant, and a potential answer to some of our most pressing environmental problems. In Seagrass: Revitalizing Our Waterways, artist Kayla Weisdorf engages in a yearlong project to grow eelgrass in the Newtown Creek Alliance’s Living Docks, documenting through video the world’s largest seagrass restoration project. She also creates public landscape designs intended to help spark a new relationship between people and the living creatures in their environment.

Mary Ellen Carroll

Meredith Finkelstein (Collaborator), Technologist

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. 

Nicole Mackinlay Hahn

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

Your backyard. A neighbor’s stoop. The line of shrubs along the sidewalk. In NATURESHIP, artist Nicole Mackinlay trains an eye on these urban microhabitats and explores their relevance to how we, as individuals and communities, are facing the challenges of climate change, overdevelopment, and loss of space. Combining technology with ecology, she imagines a new kind of resilience in which nature and humans, in ecosystems as local and small as a rooftop or a balcony garden, can learn to evolve together.

Stephanie Dinkins

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

Using the growing reach and influence of algorithmic systems, Binary Calculations Can Not Assess Us explores what care and governance of the people, by the people, and for the people can look like in an A.I.-mediated world. Artist Stephanie Dinkins and collaborator Surya Mattu aim to create interventions that challenge existing power structures and offer different models of building civic infrastructure. This project is a first step towards making resources that allow for care, meaningful engagement, and that redefine the dynamic between people and power. 

Collective Dreaming


Local Labs

A three-session program, aimed in particular at pre-teen and teen afterschool student groups,  Local Labs seeks to unlock the power of the imagination to solve problems. The core belief is that inventors are artists, and artists, inventors, and that the creative imagination belongs not just to artists – but to everyone.

Leonardo da Vinci didn’t just paint the Mona Lisa, he invented the parachute, a flying machine, the prototype of a helicopter and armored tank.  Contemporary artist Vito Acconci envisaged glass walls full of water with swimming fish; a park with bicycles hanging from trees; and a “garbage city,” a futuristic urban colony built atop an abandoned dump, powered by methane fumes left behind from years of festering trash.

Local Labs seeks to bring these same ideas of creation — about imagination offering solutions to real-world problems — into mentored settings of supervised development, to individuals often left out of these sorts of discussions: underserved afterschool programs, senior centers, Native reserves, even prisons.

For our October pilot program, we are partnering with Exalt Youth, a New York City-based initiative for court-involved youth.