The Great Retrofit world: start here

This is the landing page of the Great Retrofit world. It documents the work of one of the groups at the Science Fiction Economics Residency, that took place in Messina, Sicily, from the 6th to the 9th May 2024. The residency’s main purpose was to prototype a form of collective intelligence that combines the approaches of science fiction and economic thinking to suggest alternative futures that hover at the edge of possibility. They may not be immediately available, but evoking them brings clarity on the ultimate goals of collective action. Additionally, courses of action and policies available to actors can be assessed on the basis of whether they lead us closer to the futures we desire, or, on the contrary, further away from them. In the course of the residency, it was suggested that such science-fictional futures could be used as an element of the ex ante evaluation of candidate public policies.

The Great Retrofit is a near-future version of Messina. Its science fictional element is the rise, and success beyond expectations, of a new type of economic agent, a form of for-benefit company that follows a quintuple bottom line approach, having the objective to improve its own performance across five dimensions: surplus (rather than profit), people, planet, beauty and truth, or knowledge sharing. It is based on the real-life vision by a group of actors, led by Fondazione Comunità Messina, to achieve a green-and-social economic transformation of a the local economy.

What is documented here is the worldbuilding part of the group’s work (documentation about the characters and the plot is to be added at a later stage). One of its possible uses is as a backdrop for one or more works of science fiction.

  • Timeline. A bird’s eye chronological view of the salient events, looking back from 2050.
  • Priu (social cooperative). A history and profile of Priu, the poster child for the quintuple bottom line movement and Messina’s social economy, written in the style of Wikipedia.
  • The Great Retrofit (policy). A review of the portfolio of policies that created the conditions for the Great Retrofit, written in the style of Wikipedia.

Huge thanks to the entire group, which consisted of:

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