ScifiEcon Residency Prep - Collaborative Character Development

This is where we collaboratively develop 3 characters for the narration breakout session exercise. Propose your own character in a comment below using the following prompts (or suggest new ones by editing this wiki)

deas for Character Creation Prompts:
What is your name?
Where feels like home?
What is your history?
What is yourr relationship with the state?
What is your relationship with your neighbours?
Portrait Picture?
Gender?
Abilities?
Technologies?
What is your secret?
Who do you hate?
Who do you fear?
Who will you come to aid without hesitation?
What are your tasks?

@alberto @Tim_Reutemann @dkaplan @zazizoma - would you be up for having a stab at this before sunday? that way we can point participants here if they want to participate in character development

My shot at a character - I guess it’s too detailed, but in the absence of further guidelines, I’m just pasting it as it is. Let me know whether that’s what you expected or not, I will help others as well as me :slight_smile:

What is your name? Amina.

Where feels like home? Wherever I can stay put for a while and feel welcome, or at least accepted. Currently, that’s Messina.

What is your history? I was born 30 years ago in Nefta, Southern Tunisia. My parents cultivated olive trees and were reasonably well off before the 2020s. I studied in Tunis and Paris, Geography then Urban Planning with a major in Ecology. Back in my hometown, I saw the chott el-Jerid dry, our agriculture wither (and my parents’ activity with it), before the city itself became uninhabitable. I tried to move North, but I wasn’t the only one and there was no job for me. I tried the official migrations channels to Europe, America, even Brazil, and got rejected (when they answered at all, which wasn’t often). So I took a boat and was lucky enough to be rescued before it capsized. Then a year in a camp, an escape during the night a few days before I was due to be repatriated, two years as a clandestine all over Europe, another boat, another night, and Messina. I’ve been here for two years now.

What is your relationship with the state? States, be they my home State or those of Europe, either ignore me or see me as an inconvenience. The less I interact with them, the better. I have a semi-regular status in Messina, I pay my taxes, but I keep a very low profile. I don’t even apply for benefits I might be entitled to, for fear of the State noticing my existence and deciding I shouldn’t be there.

What is your relationship with your neighbours? The opposite of my relationship with States. Neighbours have saved me more than once, and I think I can say the reverse is true as well. Where I come from, neighbours were friends and family at the same time (to the point that it became oppressive at times). I try to reproduce this wherever I live, hopefully leaving out the oppression part. This was kinda difficult in Northern Europe, but it’s much easier in Messina! People are nice, they help each other, they’re not nosy nor (too) judgmental. They’d like me to be Christian, I guess, but to be honest, my relation with God has become distant over time.

Portrait Picture? Amina_Insaf

Gender? Female. I intellectually understand Europeans’ obsession with gender, however, it’s not a question I tend to dwell on myself.

Abilities? I was a gifted student, but never got to exercise precisely the professions I was trained for. My main ability is repurposing: I’m really good at imagining how to reorient infrastructures, activities, organizations and people when their activity has become impossible because of climate change, or other changes such as A.I.

Technologies? On the one hand, I’m good with data and mapping software. On the other hand, my life experience has taught me to use more practical “techs” such as water filtration, repairing and retrofitting mechanical and electronic equipment, creating simple but functional shelters… I try to mix these high and low-tech in what I do today. I also believe most people should master these know-hows (or at least know someone close who does), so I try to document or teach them.

What is your secret? Somewhere inside me (in my belly, I think, at least that’s what my body tells me), there’s a little ball of hope and trust that refuses to disappear even at the worst moments. It has saved me more than once.

Who do you hate? Migrant smugglers. Politicians making their career out of hatred for foreigners. Imams, priests, gurus.

Who do you fear? See above, plus corporate executives and civil servants who do their job, whatever it is, in the narrow pursuit of efficiency and excellence. They will run over you without even seeing you, and with the cleanest conscience.

Who will you come to aid without hesitation? In my life, I’ve met some people – not many – who helped me without knowing a thing about me. Therefore, I hope my honest answer to this question is: anyone, of course!

What are your tasks? I’m a repurposer. I help organizations, places, etc., figure out what to do when climate change will make their current activity impossible or unacceptable, define a way to transition from here to there. The harder part of the job is the renunciation: You just can’t take all your assets, people, status with you on that journey. There are things that just need to be given up. Giving up is hard, and being given up is even harder. Therefore, a big part of my job includes dealing with that in concrete, material ways.

SHORTER VERSION using the new set of questions:
What is your name? Amina

Gender? Female

Age 30

Abilities
I studied Geography, Urban planning and Ecology but never practiced. Good with data. Life taught me more practical techs such as water filtration, repairing and retrofitting mechanical and electronic equipment, creating simple but functional shelters, etc. My main ability is repurposing: I’m really good at imagining how to reorient infrastructures, activities, organizations and people when their activity has become impossible because of climate change, or other changes such as A.I.

Origin/Dest - Where do u come from and how did u end up here?
I was born in Nefta, southern Tunisia. Had to move when it became inhabitable after the chott dried up. No opportunity for me elsewhere in Tunisia, so I started the long trip towards and within Europe, from rejection to short-term opportunity to rejection to clandestinity, on and on until, 2 years ago, I found a home in Messina. So far, so good.

Motto
Yes you can, but not on your own.

Portrait (see above)

2 Likes

What is your name?
Pinchy

Where feels like home?
Under an Olive tree, out in the hills, chewing on a blade of gras.

What is your history?
Sometimes I’m here, sometimes I’m there, magic is my only care.

What is your relationship with the state?
The state? Oh, I have an identity. Good citizen, quiet, likes to keep to themselves. Works something with computers.

What is your relationship with your neighbours?
Neighbours? I’m a nomad.

Portrait Picture?

Gender?
404

Abilities?
Quick hand at all work steps in Olive growing
Network engineering

Technologies?
IP Addresses and Ports, a machete

What is your secret?
I ran from prison during the fascist period in the 2030ies. While my initial crime was forgiven after the revolution, the prison break was not. My biometrics are still in the database.

Who do you hate?
Those from whom I run away.

Who do you fear?
Those who command those from whom I run away.

Who will you come to aid without hesitation?
All the others on the run.

What are your tasks?
I make sure the network is up and lead a crew of field hands through the olive orchards.

3 Likes

This process is very new to me and not one for which I have a natural affinity. I am at a loss as to where to begin. I’m very happy to learn in May, but don’t have much to contribute to characters at this point.

1 Like

I wanted to experiment in creating a brittle antagonist :slight_smile:

What is your name?
Salvatore Greco

Where feels like home?
Scopello, Palermo, Sicily

What is your history?
I was born in Palermo in 1985, and spent my childhood between the city and Scopello, a wondrous stretch of coast nearby. My parents were local landowners from a long line of Sicilian nobility who had survived and bested the various and plentiful forces who contested domination of the land. My family has had to be cunning in order to remain on the estate, with it’s huge fan palms, fragrant orange groves and exuberant, cascading oleanders. With the latest technology, the 500 year old - now fully off grid - great house still stands, however, I suspect that my two daughters and their two daughters are feeding and sheltering others while I’m on my business trips to Rome.

In my lifetime the land has become bone-dry, but we tapped into a deep aquifer in the nearest hamlet and pipe this water back home to keep our plants flowering. The locals know about this, and resent the loss of the precious water, all water is a public good of course and water limits are strictly enforced. But their elected official ultimately bows to the money and the pressure we assert. This little water deal is in danger though, as change continues to sweep through the island, removing any quid-pro-quo.

What is your relationship with the state?
I was schooled in Palermo and advanced early through regional Italian politics to begin my 23 year political career in Rome before living and working for long stretches in Brussels and New York City. The ‘state’ is less a tangible, fixed concept than most believe. To me 'the state’ describes the current way of things, and the way of things is easily turned towards whoever provides the best return.

What is your relationship with your neighbours?
My neighbours in Scopello have no choice but to respect me. My neighbours in Rome politely look down on me due to my unsophisticated southern accent. My neighbours in Brussels rarely see me. And New York City, who really knows anyone there.

Portrait Picture?

Gender?
Male

Abilities?
Negotiation, strategy, policy setting, gardening.

Technologies?
I have a better understanding than most of my peers about the digital technologies that control our lives but I rarely let them perceive the depth of what I know.

What is your secret?
I do not like people to know that I love to garden. To feel the soil on my elegantly manicured hands. To see seeds unfurl with the tenacity of life. I especially love flowers.

Who do you hate?
Throughout my life and my career I have seen things as they are. The ugly, brutal nature of things. Hate is too inelegant a word and involves too much rousing of emotion best left for other pursuits, but I am amused by those who labor to change the course of human history and who glide like swans on the surface of an immense lake, unaware of the frenzied activity underneath that determines their survival. These ‘progressives’, like the swans, have been largely irrelevant to the ecosystem, kept alive by their other-worldliness, until it seems, recently. Have they started to evolve?

Who do you fear?
I fear those who would trample my history. Those who feel righteous in reducing my land to an experiment in new-world making, covered with photovoltaic panels, and too-efficient ‘smart-ag’ plots devoid of beauty. I am fearful of the citizens collectives that sprung up all over Sicily following the Messina Accord, of their taking of the land and its stories.

Who will you come to aid without hesitation?
Lately, and more than a bit out of character, I do find myself donating assiduously to the 20 associations who best represent my values. Those old associations with their scant meetings rooms in the villages and cities, where the (mostly) elderly gather to find meaning in familiarity and the places that bind them. The associations that I donate to in Palermo, Catania and Messina bring people together to take care of the historic quarters, with their buildings, monuments, and museums. I fund the public flower gardens and parks, even while they become mostly edible.

I did notice that these groups are integrated with immigrants as well as the Neo-chic revolutionary types and yet I still donate, enough to cover their costs for the next 5 years.

What are your tasks?
To secure the regulatory situation that reflects the needs of those who pay our bills. Who ‘we’ are, I cannot say.

3 Likes

What is your name?

Tāne Goodwin

Where feels like home?

Native forest

What is your history?

I was lucky enough to be born in New Zealand to a mixed couple made up of a descendant of Scottish settlers and a Māori. I have a complex identity which, even within the same day, allows me to think through different worldviews.

I am among the founders of an independent non-partisan non-profit registered charity working on energy, climate, and electrification research, advocacy, and supporting communities through the energy transition.

About twenty years ago at the beginning of our project we mapped symbolic places around the world. In Italy at the time we were intrigued by the story of the ridiculous Messina bridge project. Consider that at the time transport was the main cause of emissions in the city. We managed to support the growth of a group of local politicians on the topic of converting the money allocated for the bridge in favor of the electrification (starting from transport and residential homes) of Messina, making it become the prototype for the entire region.The European institutions then copied us by mapping idiotic macro public works to be converted into projects to combat climate change all around the continent

What is your relationship with the state?

The part of my family of European origins gave me confidence in institutions and in the possibilities of improving them. I grew up with progressive values. My fellow electro-fighters accuse me of being a statist

What is your relationship with your neighbours?

Working in energy networking is everything. I learn from nature. I love help designing places where neighbours are or become communities

Portrait Picture?

I would use some cool ancestors old (from XVI century, it’s all relative) pic

Gender?

I don’t believe that gender is a question of being but a question of doing

Abilities?

Very good in team building. Terrible in material building

Technologies?

A lot

What is your secret?

I’m very good at keeping secrets. When friends want to hide something they come to tell me because they know that this way it will remain more secret

Who do you hate?

Fascists and conspiracy theorists

Who do you fear?

lack of education in beauty, in the meaning of Friedrich Schiller

Who will you come to aid without hesitation?

anyone who asks for help

What are your tasks?

Pushing

2 Likes

I think of them as a way to get from a Policy Wiki to a narrative story by having two or three of these characters interact within the infrastructure created by the policy described. Also provide an anchor on what kind of things you need in a character to start moving it.

Next question will be how they relate to each other.

Thank you!
Does this assume the policy wiki already exists?
Was thinking the characters were how we created the wiki . . .

1 Like

Not entirely sure how it will play out. Assuming parallel processes.

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Name: Jennifer Lacram
Home: I live in a fragile neighborhood in Messina.
History: I have migrant origins even though I was born in Messina. My father is unemployed, my mother is a housewife, and I have three brothers. I’m 17, I left school two years ago. now I support myself by inventing things to do and I only come home to sleep. I have no passions and I always have close to me 3 friends. I’m angry and disappointed in everyone, the only adults I’ve met have always been strict with me,
Relationship with the state: I hate school and don’t want any relation with the state: I’ve never even met it :slight_smile:
Relationship with neighbors: I usually hang out with other young people in the main square of the neighborhood, always trying to invent something to do.
Portrait: [No image provided]
Gender: Female
Abilities:
I’m very resourceful because I have to invent everything: food, clothes, entertainment… I always find things to do without any support.
Technologies: My mobile phone is always in my hand. I usually buy and sell things on different web platforms; it’s the only source of income for me. I also use a pornographic photo exchange platform to get some money.
Secret: I don’t believe in anything.
Hate: I hate my parents.
Fear: I fear the future; I know it will be even worse for me and my generation.
Aid: I won’t get any help from anyone
Tasks: My task is to constantly invent ways to survive.