(by Ezio Manzini, DESIS Network founder)
20th October 2021

In a few weeks the DESIS Assembly 2021 will happen. It is good that it will happen now: we must make it into a non-formal meeting in which to share our vision of where the world is going. And of us with him.

Indeed, the pandemic was a huge accelerator. And also, an unprecedented social experiment in which everything, at all levels, had to change. And this has set in motion a chain of other ongoing transformations, for good and for bad.

Let’s see better. Past experience tells us that a change like this will certainly lead to a new wave of scientific innovation. The drivers will be the environmental crisis, the social and economic inequalities, and the difficulties of democracy. In the midst of all this, it would be up to us to recognize them, identify those innovations that go towards environmental and social sustainability, and do our best to amplify the promising signals they produce and work to support and disseminate them. It will be exactly what we did with the first wave of social innovation, but 15 years later, in a very different context since then.

Are we doing it? Maybe yes, but the Assembly will help us understand it. In the past year, and the one before that, the way has changed, DESIS has also been in motion, both in terms of the modalities of action and content. Initiatives such as DESIS Students and DESIS Café are bringing to the fore new protagonists and new forms of encounter and exchange of experiences. At the same time, the DESIS event at the Cumulus Conference in Rome, the various Philosophy Talks and, finally, the first meeting of the DESIS Conversations for the Planet have placed at the center of our conversation themes that until now had only been touched marginally: the cultural dimension social innovation and its different cultural declinations; the need to overcome of the western anthropocentric vision; the acknowledgment of being already in a catastrophic phase and the discussion of what the social innovation that emerged in previous catastrophic conditions tells us to do.

Finally, but for us of great importance, on 11 November there will be the Crafting new Social Economies: an online roundtable that will explore how can we craft new social economies and mobilise creative action in an age of emergency. This event, promoted by the DESIS Network and the UAL “Carnival of Crisis” is for us twice as significant: for the theme itself, which until now had not been at the center of our discussion, and for its political sense, being organized in parallel to the COP26 UN Climate Summit.

In short: it is still early to say what DESIS is becoming. In the Assembly we will try to understand it better. But already we can say we are not stopped. And, therefore, that we are alive and responsive. Which is already something. The rest we will see.