Enacting the Future Now

Enacting the future, now

Trying to make systemic change is really hard work. How do you escape the dominant structures of the moment? How do you navigate the tension between striving for a future that is different and addressing the urgent issues of the moment? How can you resource work that is inherently challenging to the status quo? What do you do when you make mistakes? This panel invites people that are trying to put change into action to share their stories.

This panel is the third event in our Hopeful Futures seminar series.

Chair: Jo Lansdowne

Panel: Melz Owusu, Cameron Tonkinwise and Zahra Ash-Harper


This discussion will have BSL interpretation and there will be the option of enabling the zoom auto transcription feature. Please let us know if you have any specific access requirements and we will do our best to ensure they are accommodated.

Melz Owusu, Decolonial theorist and founder, Free Black University

Melz is the Founder of the Free Black University. They are an activist that works in a number of spaces such as; Black Lives Matter UK, decolonising education, and trans visibility. They are a multifaceted artist and academic, and their work explores the radical Black imagination and building transformative worlds. Their passion is research and they currently undertaking a PhD at the University of Cambridge exploring new visions for our collective world. Melz takes this decolonial analysis forward into all aspects of their life and work. Melz's work is influenced by their identity, being Black British, growing up in South East London, being a queer transgender person, and by the black women in their life.


Zahra Ash-Harper, Independent Inclusion Consultant

Zahra is an independent Creative Director for inclusion, she steers, designs and delivers inclusion programmes for her communities as well as a range of creative sector clients. Her practice is focused on delivering meaningful relationships and engagements, developing thought leadership (and joy!) through playful and innovative provocations of the creative communities in the Southwest. She currently mentors 15 practitioners and works with cultural organisations such as Rising, Rife Magazine, Babbassa, Knowle West Media Centre, Acta.

Zahra has worked with universities to develop richer understandings of POC students, alumni and the communities they represent. She has supported the sector in creating welcoming and respectful spaces, with workshops, conference sessions and away days for NESTA, We the Curious, Spike Island and Watershed.

Cameron Tonkinwise, Professor of Design Studies, University of Technology, Sydney.

Cameron has a background in continental philosophy and continues to research what design practice can learn from material cultural studies and sociologies of technology. His primary area of research and teaching is Sustainable Design. Cameron is widely published on the ways in which Service Design can advance Social Sustainability by decoupling use and ownership – what these days is referred to as the ‘Sharing Economy.’ He has also been a strong advocate for the importance of critical practice-based design research. Cameron’s current focus, in collaboration with colleagues at CMU School of Design, and an international network of scholar-practitioners, is Transition Design – design-enabled multi-level, multi-stage structural change toward more sustainable futures.


Jo Lansdowne, Executive Producer, Watershed

Jo leads Watershed's Creative Technology team; supporting research activity, talent development and the resident community to deliver brilliant work. She is also Executive Producer of the Bristol+Bath Creative R+D project and the South West Creative Technology Network.

Jo joined Watershed as a Producer on REACT, a four year project based in the Pervasive Media Studio which connected creative companies and academic researchers. In that role she led the design and delivery of Sandbox, an R&D programme that supports people to experiment and produce new prototypes.