The near future is upon us. It’s inevitable, invisible, incredible, prescient. We pretend we don’t see it coming. We know more of it than we think.

Perhaps it always seems that society is on the cusp of some great and momentous change. Or perhaps now, more than ever, we approach the future’s precipice more urgently, with even more at stake. Given all these evolutions in technology, society, ecology, we can’t forget that what we do and dream today decides the course of things. We all play a part in making the possible probable. Our visions and actions determine the promises the future holds.

In DC, images of the future occupy the imagination a bit more readily and regularly. It is a city of policies, bureaucracies, and monuments. It’s a cinematic landscape fit for apocalypse, a stage set for American heroes and villains. Here, symbols are super-charged. This fact makes for an incredible opportunity, since the things that happen here everyday are models for the nation, much-amplified examples of great qualities and grave burdens.

Amidst the national monuments and political theater, the district—a city—a home—is growing and changing, and ever-more-quickly transforming its neighborhoods and neighbors. National decisions have surprising reverberations, with echoing, often untold effects on the public and private life of everyday citizens. In hindsight and with foresight, generations forge forward filled at once with skepticism, hope, creativity. We chose what to value, we compose new systems for fairly living and working and playing together. People in numbers seeking vision, equity, compassion.

Near Futures calls upon the good people of Washington DC to join five internationally-born, US-based artists in participatory projects that present collective futures. Near Futures re-imagines the impact of national policies—immigration, security, energy, housing, communication—in neighborhoods throughout the District. Art actions include light projections, musical data, flooded lectures, street printworks, and bilingual radio. In collaboration with local artists, activists, communities, and visitors, Near Futures proposes shared tomorrows.

Near Futures is a project of the 5x5 Public Art Festival in Fall 2014. We’ve partnered with Furthermore, a DC art and design company, along with and other non-profit groups across the district in project creation, activation, and education. #nearfutures