The main output of a communications work-package in the Horizon2020 project REINVENT Decarbonisation, the aim of The Rough Planet Guide to Notterdam 2045 (RPGN) was to depict how a large mid-C21st European city might look and feel to a non-expert, assuming the decarbonisation strategies explored by the project as a whole were successfully deployed in the intervening years.
The original brief for this part of the project was to produce a “handbook of best practice for innovation”. Not only was this something of an oxymoronic proposition—if something is genuinely innovative, how can one claim to know what “best practice” might be?—but it ran the risk of us producing yet another of the countless number of such policy-oriented outputs: well-intentioned documents suggesting changes to an imagined audience unlikely to find the time or motivation to read them.
RPGN emerged firstly, then, from the decision to write not for policymakers alone, but for a much more general audience: how might we communicate the possibilities of decarbonisation to non-experts? Meanwhile, the choice of the travel guide as the containing “form” for this work of narrative prototyping was a happy accident: a chance suggestion, made perhaps to some extent in jest, which quickly revealed itself to be just the thing we needed.
I could write a lot more about RPGN—and indeed have done so already, in various academic publications—but this is not the place! If you want to know exactly how we went about making it, and what the research ingredients were, you can read the methodology section we put in the back of the book.
(Physical copies are all long gone, I’m afraid, but you can download a PDF right here.)