Kelly Kornet | Causing an Effect
Professional Futurist and Design Researcher. Helping organizations generate forward-looking solutions.
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Causing an Effect

Design Fiction & Research

Causing an Effect

Advisors: Helen Kerr and Stuart Candy

How might individuals transform into changemakers and take action in their communities? Causing an Effect is a futures exhibition and research project that uses design research and experiential futures to explore community engagement and long-term change.


Drawing from the work of changemakers in Sarnia, ON and Niagara Falls, New York, this project combines foresight and ethnography as a means to bring a new perspective to environmental challenges in industrial communities. The project goals were to discover possible future scenarios, give voice to agents of change and initiate a strategic conversation.


Several methods were used to gather qualitative insights towards how individuals develop the capacity to think and act in future-minded ways. The research methodology began with a formal literature review followed by primary research based on the Ethnographic Futures Research (EFR) method. Sandy, Ada, and Jay – three changemakers from Sarnia, Aamjiwnaang and Niagara Falls, NY were individually interviewed in order to discover their optimistic, pessimistic and probably scenarios for the future. The insights and output were then processed and illustrated with an experiential futures approach. Causing An Effect: An Exhibition of Changemakers, Uncertainty and Images of the Future was developed to explore the stories and possible future scenarios of Sandy, Ada and Jay. Supplied with artistic license, I translated the scenarios and concepts from the interviews into “found artifacts” from the future using the Reverse Archaeology method (Candy, 2013). The artifacts intended to immerse and engage visitors with fragments of possible futures inspired by the interviews.


Reflecting on the images of the future offered in interview by Sandy, Ada, and Jay; despite demonstrating some excitement about the optimistic scenarios, there was a noticeable tone of doubt, which perhaps is understandable given how events in their communities have unfolded to date. Jay and Ada were visibly upset when describing their worst-case scenarios. Sandy’s outlook was quite composed, yet her view involved few changes from today; for her, it seems, our current situation may not be far removed from the worst-case scenario. Based on these observations, these individuals’ advocacy and activism could be understood primarily as pushing away from a perceived negative future, rather than as pulling towards a preferred one.

Project Scope

> Ethnographic Futures
> Futures Research
> Design Fiction
> Experiential Futures
> Stakeholder Engagement


March 8, 2015


Design Fiction, Foresight Research