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This newsletter will explore the margins, fringes, and emergent to see how belonging is being redefined and renegotiated over the next decade as the traditional understanding, places and institutions fall apart.

Isolation continues to accelerate as millennials and Gen Z report declining real and meaningful relationships with people who really understand and connect with them. These generations have turned away from consumerism and the rush to acquire physical possessions as minimalist culture and climate action dominate cultural narratives amid a backdrop of declining economic and social mobility. Lastly, evaporating community institutions like libraries, houses of worship, public squares, and social clubs in an era of declining trust means fewer and fewer people don't see any institution as competent, ethical and inclusive.

This newsletter will explore principles of technology development that build and reinforce real and meaningful relationships missing IRL. As ties to place become less and less common with gentrification, climate disruption, conflict and violence, the search for belonging to place may shift to articulating trust building signifiers, literacies and approaches that people to make safe spaces wherever and whenever needed and desired. This newsletter will investigate how cultural expression and norms are challenged and directed toward emerging systems for making meaning within new communities and networks.

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About the Author

Vanessa Mason is the research director at the Institute for the Future, a 52 year old nonprofit organization that helps individuals, organizations and communities think systematically about the future. Her futures research explores how we can redesign and reimagine well-being and belonging across business, social, and civic spheres.

Vanessa has written for and been quoted in several media outlets including NPR and Fast Company. She writes about the future of belonging at belonging.substack.com.

Vanessa has been recognized as a 2018 Aspen Ideas Festival Spotlight Health Scholar, 40 Under 40 Tech Diversity Silicon Valley, 2016 New Leaders Council San Francisco Fellow, 200 Black Women in Tech to Follow on Twitter and as a 2016 TEDMED Research Scholar. She serves on the American Heart Association's Social Impact Fund Investment Advisory Committee. Vanessa earned her BA in psychology from Yale University and her MPH in global health from Columbia University.

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Future of Belonging explores disruptions, innovations and trends in how people will fulfill the universal need to belong as loneliness, alienation and displacement grow over the next generation.


Vanessa Mason

@IFTF wellbeing design futurist | writing about future of belonging and community | teaching about body confidence | passions include wit, wanderlust, whiskey