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  • Writer's pictureMichael Chomse Artist

Imagineering - New Frontiers

Updated: Mar 19, 2018

If you visit my Facebook page, and I suggest you do, you'll find that I bill myself as an 'imagineer'. It's a strange word, and one that you might have not come across before. Looking at its etymology you'll find this: " a person who devises and implements a new or highly imaginative concept or technology, in particular one who devises the attractions in Walt Disney theme parks."

We both learned something. The Disney connection is new for me, too. According to Wikipedia, although Disney has trademarked the word, they didn't invent it. "The word was "invented" by Alcoa around 1940, and appeared widely in numerous publications of several disciplines such as urban design, geography and politics, evolutionary economics, corporate culture and futures studies."

My relationship to the word goes back about a decade and I couldn't remember where I saw it for the first time. Yesterday I was cleaning up my bookmarks, and I came across a bookmark I didn't recognise. And there it was, my link to the word, and the first time I saw it.

"Imagineering has three elements - story, vision, and guidance. A story tends to be more powerful than data and ideas partly because we can place ourselves in it vicariously and sense our own reactions and roles, real and potential. It is almost like we are practicing for a different future. Vision adds to the power because it points us in a direction and paints a picture of possibility. We can only create what we can imagine. This pulls us into the creative tension between "what is" and "what could be", inspiring us to action. Imagineering combines story and vision, infusing them with guidance that gives people what they need to make the story a reality - motivations and rationales, role models, compelling drama, realistic situations, appropriate values struggles, all the necessary instructions and precautions - and sometimes even resources and compatriots - to help their beloved product of imagination blossom in the world around them." (Tom Atlee - Harvested from

I came across this quote while writing a drama series, and struggling with the issues surrounding nurturing a vision into reality. It has stuck with me all these years, and now if I describe myself to myself, imagineering is at the core of who I am. The fact that I see myself as an artist and a storyteller says it all.

I'll let other people be visionaries. I sense that visionaries have the picture of the far destination but not the road map on how to get there. Where I'm going there isn't a clear picture or a road map anyway, just a set of creative obstacles and opportunities. These are the hurdles that challenge the mind and heart of an engineer with imagination. An imagineer.

I've been on the journey towards that fabled destination for a long time now. I feel qualified to call myself an imagineer. Will you come along for the ride?

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