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connected communitites

What if, collectively, we shifted our values toward community and sustainability?

The scenario at a glance

This scenario explores what could happen if, around the world and especially in the Yahara Watershed, there is a widespread social values transformation that, in turn, transforms the environment and how we live.

By the 2020s, the world seemed at the edge of environmental and political collapse. Climate-related disasters overwhelm the United States, and political gridlock prevents meaningful measures to mitigate and adapt to the changes occurring.

Despite this predicament, youth culture becomes empowered to shift the course of humanity. Disenchanted with the country’s highly consumptive culture, the younger generations embrace community building and sustainability and work together through grassroots action to get their voices heard. By the 2040s, when these youth have aged into leadership positions, they incorporate their ideals into their work, catalyzing a dramatic change: the Great Transition.

By 2070, the Transition has established a “new normal”—a normal in which connectivity, community, and environmental sustainability pervade policy and cultural decisions. In the Yahara Watershed, people live a community-oriented lifestyle and live by a strong sense of connection to nature, which is reflected in land and natural resource use. Improving and maintaining a high quality of life becomes the central focus of economic activity, as people become “rich in time; sufficient in things.” Government, civil society, and businesses act in partnership, and there is meaningful public participation in policy-making. Agriculture has shifted away from large-scale farming and towards cooperatives and small-scale farms. Crop diversity has increased, and the harvest primarily feeds people directly, especially as national meat consumption drops dramatically due to meat’s social and environmental impacts.

This values shift also happened at the global scale, and there is widespread action for climate change mitigation. As a result, climate change impacts are beginning to moderate. Fossil fuel consumption has dropped, and land use practices better minimize environmental impacts. However, the watershed must still deal with the legacy effects of carbon at the global level and phosphorus at the regional level. While recovery is slow, conditions are gradually getting better, including slowly improving water quality.

This scenario’s protagonists are a grandmother and her granddaughter, Rosa and Emilia. Rosa was a community leader in the youth movement during the Great Transition. The story gives a snapshot of what life is like for them.

Read their story.